Though the exact date and year when baseball was first launched in United States of America is not recorded, the history of baseball in the USA can be traced back to the 19th century, where the game was played by amateurs using their own rules and homemade equipment. The game then became common and inspired the semi-pro national baseball clubs in the 1860s.
The first time baseball was mention in the USA was in 1791 Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in accordance to the law banning the playing of the game within 80 yards of the meeting house in town. According to a British sportswriter, Henry Chadwick who wrote and published an article in 1903 claiming that baseball was derived from a British game known as rounders, which Chadwick himself had played when he was a young boy in England.
However, these claims were later disputed by a baseball executive in the USA known as Albert Spadling. According to Spadling, baseball was an American game and it was invented on the American soil. Following the disagreement between the two sportsmen, Albert and Chadwick, a commission was put in place to come out with findings on who invented the game. The commission did their research for three years and it was found that Abner Doubley, a civil war hero in the USA is the one who invented the game. Fifteen years after his death, he was anointed as the father of the game.
According to another early reference report, it is said that in 1823 baseball was played regularly Saturdays on the outskirts of New York City in an area that is today known as Greenwich Village. The first team to play baseball under the modern baseball rules was believed to be the New York Knickerbockers. The club was founded as a social club for the upper middle classes of New York on 23rd September in the year 1845 and was solely amateur until it was disbanded. The club had a committee that formulated the rules of the game and they included William R. Wheaton and William Tucker. The rules dealt with organizational matters as wells as rules for playing the game.
According to Wheaton Tucker, the rules that he and Wheaton wrote for the Knickerbockers in one way or the other duplicated the rules he had written for another club known as Gotham in the year 1837. The Knickerbockers was founded after Gotham broke away. The knickerbockers rules was the quickly adopted by several teams in the New York area and their version of baseball was later known as ‘New York Game” and different from the “Massachusetts Game” which was played by most club in the Boston Area.
In 1857, about sixteen New York clubs including the knickerbockers, came together and formed the National Association of Baseball players (NABBP). NABBP then became the first organization to govern the game and to establish the championship competitions. As the civil war continued, the membership of NABBP increased to almost 100 by the year 1965 and to over 400 clubs by 1867 and this include clubs that came as far as California. During the civil war, soldiers from all over the USA played baseball together leading to a unified national version of the game.
At the beginning of 1869, NABBP allowed professional play and the first prominent professional club to be formed was Cincinnati Red Stockings in Ohio which only lasted two years. Cincinnati was later bought by a business man known as Whitney Adams who changed the name and founded Boston Red Stockings and Boston Baseball club on the 20th January 1871.
Growth of the Game
As the game became more popular, NABBP membership grew to over 400 clubs. Baseball the quickly spread to other states of in USA and today as we speak, baseball is among the most popular games in the USA. Major leagues have been formed and the game has become more competitive than before.