We explain the history of baseball, its background, origin, and flourishing also, how the “Big Leagues” were born.
What is the history of baseball?
Baseball is among the most popular and practiced sports in the West, especially in the Americas, and is listed, along with soccer and tennis, among the most broadcast on international television. This Olympic discipline has uncertain origins, although its modern variant originated in the United States in the 19th century.
There is documentary evidence that, from the very beginning of human civilization, the idea of playing hit a ball with a stick has been present. This, of course, does not mean that baseball was also involved, but it does mean that its antecedents date back thousands of years before the Christian era. In ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian or Persian societies, there were similar rituals of religious ceremonies.
Presumably, these practices were emulated by the Saracen peoples of the time. In later centuries, they reinserted into the West thanks to the Muslim invasions, which were in close contact with Europe between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries,
Thanks to this influence, similar games arose, such as Jai Alai (or fronton), cricket and, possibly, the previous variants of baseball, such as the 17th century English “Stool Ball” or “Bat and ball,” which was soon imitated in the American colonies. It is estimated that this is how “Rounders” was born in English America, a sport quite close to baseball that was practiced in what would later become the United States for almost 100 years.
The first formal references to baseball emerged in 18th century England in numerous publications aimed at children and young people, which were later imitated in Germany, possibly because the sport was already played there. In that European country in 1796, the first collected baseball rules were published.
However, it was in the United States that the sport gained significant importance. The first mention of baseball in this country is a reference to Private George Ewing’s diary in 1778, where he states that he “played base”; or the prohibition of playing “…games called Wicket, Cricket, Base Ball, Football, Cat, Fives or any other ball game” in the town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1791, to protect the windows of the Casa de Juntas.
Modern baseball was also born there when the topographer and soldier Abner Doubleday designed in 1839 the typical diagonal layout of this sport for the first time in Cooperstown, where today the Hall of Fame of the Major Leagues and museum of sport. Or at least that’s what specific versions claim.
More formally, however, modern baseball was born with the publication in 1845 of the rules of the game as played by the New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club team, the first in history. This publication was the work of Alexander Cartwright, who led the team since 1842, and it contained the first 20 rules of the game from which the variant of the sport we play today was born.
Those were, in turn, the rules of the first official modern baseball game in history, on June 19, 1846, when the Knickerbockers faced the New York Club on the so-called “Champs-Elysées” in Hoboken, New Jersey. At that time, the sport had begun to be called the “New York Game,” that is, the New York game, until, after the Civil War, it was renamed baseball, that is, baseball.
With the flourishing of the sport and player clubs throughout the United States, the first Players Association was also born, whose last meeting was in 1871, to start in its place the National Association of Professional Baseball Players, considered the first league of players from around the world, made up of 23 different teams.
However, the lack of budget and the difficulties of moving ended up sinking that league, opening the way for the National Professional Baseball League that emerged in 1876 and still exists today. It is essential to point out that players of color were not accepted in it, for whom separate leagues were created; the so-called “Black Leagues, existed until 1960.
The so-called “Big Leagues” expanded from then on. It gained international renown, causing numerous similar variants to emerge in Latin American countries such as Mexico (whose first game was played in 1847), Panama (1850), Cuba (1878), Venezuela ( 1890), and Puerto Rico (1896).
Thus, throughout the 20th century, baseball began to be played internationally in the Baseball World Cup (founded in 1938) and the Summer Olympics (among which it would finally be accepted in 1992), among many other championships and tournaments devoted to this sport.