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Baseball Case

Essay by   •  February 15, 2012  •  Essay  •  2,277 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,739 Views

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The history of baseball in the United States can be traced to the 18th century, when amateurs played a baseball-like game by their own informal rules using improvised equipment. The popularity of the sport inspired the semipro and professional baseball clubs in the 1860s.

The earliest known mention of baseball in the United States was a 1791 Pittsfield, Massachusetts, ordinance banning the playing of the game within 80 yards (73 m) of the town meeting house.Another early reference reports that "base ball" was regularly played on Saturdays in 1823 on the outskirts of New York City in an area that today is Greenwich Village.

In 1828, an article published in a Hagerstown, Maryland, newspaper briefly describes a young girl who's drawn away from her daily chores to play a familiar game with her friends. In "A Village Sketch," author Miss Mitford wrote: "Then comes a sun-burnt gipsy of six, beginning to grow tall and thin and to find the cares of the world gathering about her; with a pitcher in one hand, a mop in the other, an old straw bonnet of ambiguous shape, half hiding her tangled hair; a tattered stuff petticoat once green, hanging below an equally tattered cotton frock, once purple; her longing eyes fixed on a game of baseball at the corner of the green till she reaches the cottage door, flings down the mop and pitcher and darts off to her companions quite regardless of the storm of scolding with which the mother follows her runaway steps.

The first team to play baseball under modern rules were the New York Knickerbockers. The club was founded on September 23, 1845, as a social club for the upper middle classes of New York City, and was strictly amateur until it disbanded. The club members, led by Alexander Cartwright, formulated the "Knickerbocker Rules", which in large part dealt with organizational matters but which also laid out rules for playing the game. One of the significant rules prohibited "soaking" or "plugging" the runner; under older rules, a fielder could put a runner out by hitting the runner with the thrown ball, similar to the common schoolyard game of kickball. The Knickerbocker Rules required fielders to tag or force the runner, as is done today, and avoided a lot of the arguments and fistfights that resulted from the earlier practice.

Writing the rules didn't help the Knickerbockers in the first known competitive game between two clubs under the new rules, played at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey on June 19, 1846. The self-styled "New York Nine" humbled the Knickerbockers by a score of 23 to 1. Nevertheless, the Knickerbocker Rules were rapidly adopted by teams in the New York area and their version of baseball became known as the "New York Game" (as opposed to the "Massachusetts Game", played by clubs in the Boston area).

As late as 1855, the New York press was still devoting more space to coverage of cricket than to baseball.

In 1857, sixteen New York area clubs, including the Knickerbockers, formed the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP). The NABBP was the first organization to govern the sport and to establish a championship. Aided by the Civil War, membership grew to almost 100 clubs by 1865 and to over 400 by 1867, including clubs from as far away as California. During the Civil war, soldiers from different parts of the United States played baseball together, leading to a more unified national version of the sport. Beginning in 1869, the NABBP permitted professional play, addressing a growing practice that had not been permitted under its rules to that point. The first and most prominent professional clubs of the NABBP era were the Cincinnati Red Stockings in Ohio, which lasted only two years. Businessman Iver Whitney Adams then courted manager Harry Wright and founded the "Boston Red Stockings" and the Boston Base Ball Club January 20, 1871.

Before the Civil War, baseball competed for public interest with cricket and regional variants of baseball, notably town ball played in Philadelphia and the Massachusetts Game played in New England. In the 1860s, aided by the War, "New York" style baseball expanded into a national game, as its first governing body, The National Association of Base Ball Players was formed. The NABBP soon expanded into a true national organization, although most of the strongest clubs remained those based in the northeastern part of the country. In its 12-year history as an amateur league, the Brooklyn Atlantics won seven championships, establishing themselves as the first true dynasty in the sport, although, the New York Mutuals were widely considered to be one of the best teams of the era as well.

By the end of 1865, almost 100 clubs were members of the NABBP. By 1867, it ballooned to over 400 members, including some clubs from as far away as San Francisco and Louisiana. One of these clubs, the Chicago White Stockings, won the championship in 1870. Today known as the Chicago Cubs, they are the oldest team in American organized sports. Because of this growth, regional and state organizations began to assume a more prominent role in the governance of the sport.

The NABBP of America was initially established upon principles of amateurism. However, even early in its history some star players, such as James Creighton of Excelsior, received compensation, either secretly or indirectly. In 1866, the NABBP investigated Athletic of Philadelphia for paying three players including Lip Pike, but ultimately took no action against either the club or the players. To address this growing practice, and to restore integrity to the game, at its December 1868 meeting the NABBP established a professional category for the 1869 season. Clubs desiring to pay players were now free to declare themselves professional.

The Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first to so declare themselves as openly professional, and were easily the most aggressive in recruiting the best available players. Twelve clubs, including most of the strongest clubs in the NABBP, ultimately declared themselves professional for the 1869 season.

The first attempt at forming a "major league" produced the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, which lasted from 1871 to 1875. The now all professional Chicago White Stockings, financed by businessman William Hulbert, became a charter member of the league along with the Red Stockings, who had dissolved and moved to Boston. The White Stockings were close contenders all season, despite the fact that the Great Chicago Fire had destroyed the team's home field and most of their equipment. The White Stockings finished the season in second place, but ultimately

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