Baseball and Its History

Powerful Essays
Baseball is an immensely popular American game,

known as the "national pastime," played between two

teams of nine players each. The basic implements used in

the game are a leather-covered ball, wooden bats for

hitting the ball, and gloves for catching it. Baseball is played

on a large scale in Latin America, Japan, and other places

besides the United States, but it is in the United States that

it thrives both as a participant's and spectator's sport.

It is played at its highest level in the United States and two

Canadian cities, where 26 teams make up the American

and National Leagues (each with two divisions, East and

West). Combined, these leagues are called major-league

(professional) baseball. Most players who reach the major

leagues have worked their way up through Little League,

scholastic, college, and minor-league (professional) ball.

The vast majority of major-league players are

American-reared, although since the 1960s the sport has

seen an influx of Latin American players. Following a

regular season of 162 games, the division winners vie for

each league's pennant; the American and National League

champions then compete in the World Series. Both rounds

of competition employ best-of-seven series of games.

Baseball's popularity is in part a result of the fact that

almost every American boy plays the game at one time or

another, and the lore of the game is intertwined with

American life. Baseball has supplied the American culture

with a wide range of legendary heroes, as well as books,

magazines, movies, and songs. The game has contributed

hundreds of words and phrases to the American language.

The History of Baseball The popular myth that Abner

DOUBLEDAY invented baseball in Cooperstown, N.Y.,

in 1839, is without foundation. Actually, baseball evolved

from cricket and rounders, with town ball and the New

York game, popular in the eastern United States by the

1820s, as intermediaries. On June 19, 1846, a New York

team defeated the Knickerbocker Baseball Club of New

York, which had drafted (1845) rules establishing the

nine-player team and the four-base diamond. The score at

Elysian Fields in Hoboken, N.J., that day was 23-1 in four

innings. In 1857 a convention of baseball clubs established

the length of a game as nine innings instead of 21 runs. One

year later the first organized league, the National


... middle of paper ...

...Reviewed by Jim Benagh


Alexander, Charles C., Our Game: An American Baseball History (1991)

Angell, Roger, Once More around the Park (1991)

Allen, Ethan N., Baseball Play and Strategy, 3d ed. (1983)

Appel, Martin, and Goldblatt, Burt, Baseball's Best: The Hall of Fame Gallery,

rev. ed. (1980); Baseball Encyclopedia, 6th rev. ed.(1985)

Honig, Donald, Baseball: When the Grass Was Real (1975)

James, Bill, The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, rev. ed. (1988) and The Baseball Book 1990

Kahn, Roger, Good Enough to Dream (1985);

Laird, A. W., Ranking Baseball's Elite: An Analysis Derived from Player Statistics, 1893-1987 (1990)

Levine, Peter A. G., Spalding and the Rise of Baseball: The

Promise of American Sport (1985)

Mullarkey, Karen, Baseball in America (1991)

Peterson, Robert, Only the Ball Was White (1970; repr. 1985)

Reichler, Joseph L., The Baseball Encyclopedia, 6th ed. (1985)

Ritter, awrence, The Glory of Their Times, enl. ed. (1984)

Seymour, Harold, Baseball: The Early Years (1960), Baseball: The Golden Age (1971), and Baseball: The People's Game (1990); Sporting News, Official Baseball Guide (annual).
Get Access