The History and Evolution of Baseball
Posted by Courtney Clem on
Whether you played it as a kid or have tuned in for different games throughout the season, chances are you know what baseball is. But what about the history of baseball? Baseball didn’t become America’s favorite pastime overnight, it has changed and evolved throughout the years into the game we know and love today.
Aber Doubleday is credited for creating baseball in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. However, baseball took inspiration from other stick and ball games like cricket from England. Eventually, the Knickerbocker Baseball Club of New York created a set of rules that set foul lines, called for a diamond-shaped infield, limited people to three outs, and other famous rules that are still used as guidelines for the way baseball is played today.
In June of 1846, these rules were used in a game between the Knickerbockers and the New York Nines. This is known as the first game of baseball played. Baseball became very popular throughout the country. During the Civil War, soldiers on both sides would play it during their free time.
Years later in 1876, a national baseball league was formed. The first world series was played between the Boston Pilgrims and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1903. The Boston Pilgrims made history by being the first World Series Champions.
The Civil War wasn’t the only time that Americans used baseball to distract themselves. During the World Wars, baseball was used to boost morale. From raising money for war efforts at home to the military creating baseball diamonds in France, baseball was used to bring Americans together during tough times.
However, war often meant that players were fighting as soldiers. During World War II, there were 340 major league players serving. Leagues continued to play during the war, but with players being gone the games and statistics took a noticeable hit. This didn’t stop baseball from continuing to gain popularity.
Although you may know baseball as America’s pastime, other countries enjoy playing the game as well. The history of baseball in Canada is similar to the United States and baseball is widely played in Canada today. After World War II, professional leagues were formed in multiple Latin American countries like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. European countries started to form leagues as well.
At some point in time, baseball was even a medal sport in the Olympics! Baseball was introduced in the 1992 Olympics and in 2005 it was decided that the sport would be removed. This took effect and the last baseball game played at the Olympics was in the summer of 2008.
Civil Rights issues also helped shape Baseball. For many years black players were not allowed to join baseball leagues. Some black players, like catcher Moses Fleetwood, played early on in some leagues but they were faced with hostility and even violence from teammates, opponents, and the crowd.
Rube Foster launched the Negro National League in 1920 with 8 teams across the midwest. Negro leagues eventually lost popularity and were discontinued in the 1950s thanks to the accomplishments of players like Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, and Ernie Banks. Although the Negro leagues were no longer present, it still took many years to integrate baseball and get more black players on teams. It took even longer for black players to be recognized for their achievements on the field. However, On December 16th, 2020, the MLB declared that the Negro Leagues would be recognized as official major leagues. This meant that players’ records and statistics could be recorded in record books!
If you want to learn even more about the history and evolution of baseball, you can get exciting facts from Memory Road’s Know It All Baseball KardLet®! Each KardLet® is printed in the USA and has fun facts, pictures, and more about the history of baseball in America.
The booklet contains several pictures and infographics to make the learning experience fun and engaging. You can explore different baseball magazine ads from over the years, see all the teams that have won the world series, major news events/headlines, and so much more.
The KardLet® also allows you to personalize a message inside the book and on the back. It’s the perfect gift for any baseball fanatic.
Get the perfect gift that won’t be thrown away for the baseball lover in your life. You will be able to learn along with them as they read about baseball timelines, records, unwritten rules of the game, and explore other unique and engaging activities.