The national sport is one that has a symbolic tie to our American culture, but what is the story behind how it came to be? Today we celebrate baseball as a main competitive sport across the nation like football and basketball. Originally, baseball was known before the American Civil War as rounders: a simple game played on sandlots. It later gained popularity when skill and score keeping was implemented. In 1871, the first professional baseball league was made. The sport came of age in the 1920s in America with Babe Ruth playing for the New York Yankees and in later decades Jackie Robinson for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Both men defined history through baseball, which we still acknowledge today.
The baseball teams that were created at the time were split into two leagues, the American League and the National League. Throughout the season, teams would play others from the league and the winner of that tournament would face the opposing league’s best team. This is what we know today as the World Series. The World Series began in 1903, with the Boston Red Sox as the first team to claim victory.
In the American League, the New York Yankees are the ones with the most World Series victories, with 27 wins. They are the only team in both leagues to win consecutive championships. 5 in a row to be exact! The National League’s St Louis Cardinals are their most common winner, with 19 wins total.
Today we have a total of 30 teams in both the National and American leagues. Back in the beginning, American teams only amounted to 16 altogether, some with names you may still know today.
National League Original 8:
- Athletics of Philadelphia from National Association
- Boston Red Stockings (exist today as the Atlanta Braves)
- Chicago White Stockings (exist today as the Chicago Cubs)
- Cincinnati Red Stockings
- Hartford Dark Blues
- Louisville Grays
- Mutual of New York from National Association
- Louis Brown Stockings
American League Original 8:
- Original Baltimore Orioles replaced in 1903 by the New York Highlanders (became the New York Yankees in 1913)
- Boston Americans (became the Boston Red Sox in 1908)
- Chicago White Stockings (became the Chicago White Sox in 1904)
- Cleveland Blues (became the Cleveland Indians in 1915)
- Detroit Tigers (name and locale unchanged from 1894 forward)
- Original Milwaukee Brewers (became the St. Louis Browns in 1902 and the new Baltimore Orioles in 1954)
- Philadelphia Athletics (became the Kansas City Athletics in 1955 and the Oakland Athletics in 1968)
- Original Washington Senators (became the Minnesota Twins in 1961)
The leagues still play a series of games among their own league, like how it originally was constructed. However, now there is a series of seven playoff games the teams compete in before the final rounds of the series. Still, the final game is a team from each league.
This pastime is woven into our culture, along with apple pie and fireworks on the Fourth of July. The best thing about this activity is that anyone can play it. You don’t have to be an all-star player to truly appreciate the game and all the fun that goes into it. Professionals are known to train hard for their seasons, but you can get into shape or build up your wellness all the same without following a rigorous pattern of exercise.
In the next part of this blog series, we will dive into what makes a player tick, and what they look to achieve through their training. Follow and like us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for content like this and more.
Until next time, Play Ball!