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The History of Baseball

-America's Pastime-


       The origins of baseball has been a subject of controversy and debate for hundreds of years.  Baseball and other modern games such as cricket were developed as early folk games in England and then grew into mainstream sports in America.  “Base-ball” was a very simple bat and ball game that had been a source of entertainment for kids since at least the 1700’s.  In the United States in the early 1800’s the game took on different forms and names, which quickly scattered throughout the country.  The general population still saw baseball as a children’s game because the rules were not set and there was not a great deal of popularity established.  However, a group of men challenged this opinion and commenced a journey that would create America’s greatest game and past time.

       The Knickerbockers were a group of local baseball enthusiasts that gathered at the McCarthy’s Hotel in Hoboken, New Jersey to coordinate the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club.  They created twenty rules to regulate the game and create a more efficient, organized game.  For example, Rule 10 - A ball knocked out of the field, or outside the range of the first and third base, is foul.  These key rules proved to promote this New York game to the forefront.  On June 19, 1846 the first game of baseball in history under the “Knickerbocker Rules” was played between the Knickerbockers and the New York Club.  The Knickerbockers, despite being the creaters of the rules suffered a 23-1 defeat.

         Daniel “Doc” Adams was elected the true “father of baseball,” and as president of the Knickerbockers they continued the next years playing intrasquad games.  In 1852, the next important step in the increasingly popular game was created when the Knickerbockers found a rival, the New York Gothams.  In 1855 the rules of the game were published in the sports magazine, “Spirit of the Times.”  On December 5, 1856 the “New York Mercury” newspaper put it another way by calling it the “National Pastime.”  On January 22, 1857, New York area clubs came together for a very signifigant event, the First Baseball Convention.  The meeting was formed by the Knickerbockers in order to protest a rule that allowed an out to be made if the ball was caught after one bounce. 

           The popularity sky rocketed after these rivalries were born, however the Civil War from 1861 to 1865 took its toll on the National Association of Base Ball Players.  However, in 1865 membership exploded to nearly one hundred teams and by 1867 there were more than three hundred teams playing in twenty three of the thirty seven states in the union.  After the 1870 season, the professional teams decided they needed a separate league, and on march 4, 1871, formed the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players.  Over the years the league has changed greatly with the development and division of several leagues.  The game has constantly changed but it has forever remained America’s past time. 

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