Uniquely American, baseball is a game played throughout the United States. Like many things in America, it originated from England, where older ball-and-bat games were played. In the 1700s, there was a game called “rounders.” A description of “rounders” appears in a children’s book published in 1744, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, but there the game was named “baseball.” For decades now, this ever-popular game has been recognized as the national sport and “America’s pastime.”
How Baseball as a Sport Grew
During the early 19th century, small towns formed teams while baseball clubs organized in the larger cities. In 1845, after the formation of such teams and clubs, Alexander Cartwright wanted to establish rules by which all teams would play. Interestingly, much of the original code is yet in place today. Also, despite Abner Doubleday’s receiving the credit for the creation of modern baseball, the true father of baseball was Mr. Cartwright. In 1846, Cartwright’s Knickerbockers and the New York Baseball Club played in the first recorded baseball game in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Baseball’s Development and Changes
After the Civil War began, the number of baseball clubs waned; however, interest in the game spread by the Union soldiers in other parts of the country with new teams forming. In 1868, delegates from more than 100 clubs attended the league’s annual convention. In 1871, a professional association was created. Three years later, the National League was formed, and in 1901, the American League began. As these leagues grew, expenses increased; consequently, many teams began to charge admission.
Early games were not as exciting as they are today because pitchers were allowed to scuff and tamper with the balls, preventing balls that were hit from traveling far because of their marred surface. So, low-power hits, such as the “Baltimore Chop” were employed to get batters on base. Once on first base, a batter could steal a base or be bunted to the next base. He could also score on a hit-and-run play. These strategies made the game exciting, but scores remained low. When the powerful Babe Ruth entered the game, changes occurred because he was able to hit home runs despite scuffing. Today, scuffing is prohibited. The home runs by power hitters are exciting to fans, especially when other players are on base as more scoring and faster action occur for spectators to enjoy.
Baseball Outside of the United States
Professional baseball leagues were formed in Canada as early as 1877. But, only Montreal has a team in a U.S. league. Baseball also spread to numerous countries in the 1800s and 1900s. It was played in the Olympics as a medal sport from 1992 to 2008. Other competitions between national teams include the Baseball World Cup and the World Baseball Classic, which was first held in 2006.