Baseball in the US
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Baseball In US
Anything for love of the game—baseball inspires millions of Americans across North America, especially in the USA. The history of baseball in US finds its first recorded evidence in 1791 in Pittsburgh, Massachusetts. It is said that there was a bylaw that banned the game from being played within 80 yards of the town meeting house. The reason become obvious as there was a great deal of cheering and noise that went with baseball events.
Historical evidence points at Alexander Cartwright’s New York Knickerbockers for playing baseball based upon modern rules in 1845. The club established in September 1845 was primarily a social club with members from upper middle class families. It was not until Alexander Cartwright published a book on baseball rules that the club was taken seriously. One important published rule was the ban of "soaking" or "plugging" the runner. With the prevailing baseball rules, a fielder could put a runner out by hitting the runner by just a thrown ball. The rules added a clause that required fielders to force the runner, seen in today’s game of baseball. The earlier rules lead to arguments and fights that were straightened up by this new rule.
It is said that Cartwright pulled out 20 rules based upon his experience of playing town ball at Manhattan. Interestingly, the Manhattan play rules were not published and it is believed that Cartwright’s rules are essentially based upon Manhattan rules that he transformed according using his experience and diligence.
Baseball teams in New York speedily accepted the Knickerbocker Rules. It is amusing to note that their version of baseball gained popularity as the New York Game, distinguishing it from the Massachusetts game popularly played in the Boston area. It was in the year 1857 when 16 New York Clubs came together to establish the National Association of Base Ball Players. It was first such organization that administered the game and organized a championship. The club membership soared to almost 100 by the year 1865. The initial most prominent professional club of the NABBP era undoubtedly was the Cincinnati Red Stockings.
The growing racism in 1860s also reached contours of the sport. Dated as early as 1867, the National Association of Baseball Players, which was rated an amateur association, voted to eliminate any club that had black players from playing with them. The year 1871 witnessed first professional white league and Bud Fowler was their first professional black baseball player. In 1884, Fleet Walker who was a catcher also showed up in 42 games with the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association.
In 1887, the International League's tabled against any further contracts with black baseball players. Following the ruling, Black baseball established its own network that had official, non-official, informal pro and semi-pro leagues. In 1885, the first black baseball club known as the Cuban Giants was established.
Owing to financial pressures in 1890s professional black baseball started falling apart. Near the 20th century, leagues began to surface in two centers at Chicago, the Midwest and the New York-Pennsylvania hall. It was the gifted black player Rube Foster who established the Negro National League in 1920. Following it in the year 1923, a second league known as the Eastern Colored League was established, and these leagues became popular as ‘Negro Leagues’.
The period from 1942 to 1848 was the golden era of Negro League baseball a time when. The rise saw some brilliant stars and a good financial standing. The year 1920 saw change in rules forbidding ball tampering. Pitchers would often play foul by producing shiny balls and generally tampering. The rule saw strict following after death of Ray Chapman, who was struck in the temple by a pitched ball from Carl Mays in a game in 1920.
Faded balls were also banned. This allowed easy visibility for the batter and the pitchers were also restricted to control spinning.
By the late 1920s and 1930s Chicago's Hack Wilson, the Yankees' Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Fox in Philadelphia, Hank Greenberg in Detroit grew very popular. Yankees won the American League Championship and some games in World Series to win great popularity.
Whilst the American League championship, and to a lesser extent the World Series, would be dominated by the Yankees, there were many other excellent teams in the inter-war years. The legendary Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics side and the National League's Saint Louis Cardinals were also very popular. The war years saw a brief silence. After the World War II, Jackie Robinson baseball was a big hit in 1945.
The equilibrium between pitching and hitting rolled in favour of pitchers in late 60s. The first serious challenge came with a lawsuit in 1970. Curt Flood of St. Louis Cardinals lost the case in the Supreme Court by 5 to 3 but gained a wave of public sympathy from all quarters.
Starting with 1980, the major league game has seen islands of changes. Development of sport science, free agencies, media and marketing escalated brand names for higher popularity. Game audience rose to 20,000 in 1979 and a spectacular 30,000 in 1993. Even in 2005, we see a few improvements and nothing in comparison to the spectacular 1993 records.
Baseball has been a hot favorite with TV viewers since the 19th century. The love and passion for the game is difficult to describe. As they say, it’s all in the game…the game of baseball.
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