Baseball History 101

For Christmas, I received a great gift from my mother; it was a small book title Fun Facts for Baseball Fans, compiled by Paul Kent. It is a great read because it doesn’t take you all that long to get through, and you learn so much about the game in such a short period of time.

One of the facts that I thought was the most interesting was the amount of professional leagues that were formed before the American and National Leagues were formed, stabilized, and have obviously stood the test of time. It was back in 1839 when Abner Doubleday is credited with inventing the game of baseball in his hometown of Cooperstown, New York. I took another 19 years until fans paid to watch baseball for the first time in 1858. So, as professional baseball became a reality, there needed to be governing bodies present.

Since 1871, Paul Kent noted that there have been seven different leagues that had been in existence:

  • National Association (1871-1875)
  • National League (1876-present)
  • American Association (1882-1891)
  • Union Association (1884)
  • Players League (1890)
  • American League (1901-present)
  • Federal League (1914-1915)

Now, if you were like me when I read this, I was thoroughly confused because I never knew that there were five other “major leagues” that were formed and failed. What I also thought was cool was that Kent listed some of teams that eventually moved to the leagues we know today, and told us about the teams that were forever lost to history.

In the American Association, there were four organizations that are still around today that moved to the National League in 1891, which are: the Dodgers, reds, Pirates, and Cardinals. The teams that (thankfully) were lost in history forever from the American Association were: Brooklyn Gladiators, Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers, Columbus Solons, and the Rochester Hop Bitters.

For the short-lived Union Association, some little known teams that didn’t stand the test of time were: the Baltimore Monumentals, Altoona Mountain City, Pittsburgh Stogies, St. Louis Maroons, St. Paul Apostles, and Wilmington Quick Steps. In the Players League, the Brooklyn Wards Wonders, Cleveland Infants, and Pittsburgh Burghers didn’t make the cut.

Finally, the last league Kent touched upon that lost organizations after they folded was the Federal League, which lost the Baltimore Terrapins, Brooklyn Tip-Tops, Buffalo Buffeds, Chicago Whales, Indianapolis Hoosiers, Kansas City Packers, Newark Peps, Pittsburgh Rebels, and St. Louis Terriers.

I don’t know about you, but I had tons of fun just reading all of the ridiculous names of these unsuccessful organizations. If you think that the recent expansion teams names were kind of silly, just take a look back at what the names used to be…it was a lot worse back in the day.

this is part of the reason why baseball is such a wonderful game; there is so much history that goes uncovered by the ordinary fan that you could literally spend days going through and digesting it all. I hope you enjoyed this trip back through time with me, because even though this is the first history lesson, it surely won’t be the last, thanks to these awesome Christmas gifts from my family and loved ones!

Like what you’re reading? Feel free to take a look at my MLB blog titled “On The Way Home” .