|PLAY BALL--With this Norman Rockwell like photograph we are reminded that Major League Baseball begins this weekend. America’s game begins its 145th year.|
EARLY YEARS--In the 1860s, aided by the Civil War, "New York"-style baseball expanded into a national game and spawned baseball's first governing body, The National Association of Base Ball Players. The NABBP existed as an amateur league for 12 years. By 1867, more than 400 clubs were members. Most of the strongest clubs remained those based in the northeastern part of the country.
For professional baseball's founding year, MLB uses the year 1869—when the first professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was established.
A schism developed between professional and amateur ballplayers after the founding of the Cincinnati club. The NABBP split into an amateur organization and a professional organization. The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, often known as the National Association (NA), was formed in 1871. Its amateur counterpart disappeared after only a few years.
The modern Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves franchises trace their histories back to the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in the 1870s.
In 1876, the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs (later known as the National League or NL) was established after the NA proved ineffective. The league placed its emphasis on clubs rather than on players. Clubs could now enforce player contracts, preventing players from jumping to higher-paying clubs. Clubs were required to play the full schedule of games instead of forfeiting scheduled games when the club was no longer in the running for the league championship, which happened frequently under the NA.
The first game in the NL — on Saturday, April 22, 1876 (at the Jefferson Street Grounds, Philadelphia) — is often pointed to as the beginning of Major League Baseball.