The History of Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball has a long and colorful history. Check out some its key moments below:
1876 The creation of the National League The National League was formed as a way for club owners of existing franchises to centralize their power, control player movement and develop a profitable business model.
1901 The creation of the American League In 1893, the Western League was born as a minor league for the National League. In 1901, it gave itself an upgrade to Major League status and changed its name to the American League 1903 First World Series The Pittsburgh Pirates of the upstart American League defeated the Boston Americans of the National League 5 games to 3 in the first World Series. This apparently wasn’t enough for New York Giants Manager John McGraw who had his team boycott the 1904 World Series because he still didn’t think the American League was up to snuff. The World Series resumed in 1905.
1919 The Dead Ball Era ends By switching from hand sewn baseball to tighter machine made ones offense jumped in the Major Leagues, as the tighter balls travelled further off the bat. This paved the way for sluggers such as Babe Ruth and Rogers Hornsby to dominant the game.
1919 The Black Sox scandal Eight Chicago White Sox players, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, were suspended for life from Major League Baseball for accepting cash bribes from underworld figures and throwing the 1919 World Series.
1933 First All-Star game The 1933 All-Star game was initially supposed to be a one time deal, but it really caught on with fans and became a midseason staple.
1935 First night game is played The electric lights shined in a Big League baseball park for the first time at Crosley Field in Cincinnati on May 24, 1935 when the Reds played the Philadelphia Phillies. Considered a novelty at the time, night baseball has since become the norm.
1941 Joe DiMaggio hits in 56 straight During the summer of 1941 New York Yankee star Joe DiMaggio hit in a record 56 straight games. It is considered by many to be the most unbreakable record in all of sports. Amazingly, DiMaggio also had a 61-game hitting streak when he was in the minor leagues.
1947 Jackie Robinson breaks the color barrier Before Jackie Robinson stepped onto the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 there had never been a black player in Major League history. His entry paved the way for African American stars such as Willie Mays and Hank Aaron and changed the baseball landscape forever.
1957 Baseball moves out West Two of the three New York teams, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants, moved to Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively after the 1957 season. More geographical diversity cemented baseball’s place as “America’s Pastime” and the westward move also mirrored the migratory shifts that were going on in the nation as a whole.
1961 Roger Maris Breaks the all-time homerun record Yankee slugger Roger Maris knocked 61 home runs in ‘61, breaking the record of 58 previously held by Babe Ruth. His achievement became highly political when American League Commissioner and Babe Ruth enthusiast Ford Frick demanded an asterisk be placed on Maris’ total in the record books because he played a 162 game season whereas Ruth’s then-record breaking season was just 154 games. 1969 The mound is lowered With the pitchers increasingly dominating baseball, MLB made the decision to lower the mound five inches and shrink the strike zone to encourage more offense. It worked.
1969 The Free Agent Era begins By refusing a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Curt Flood legally challenged baseball’s reserve clause which tied a player to a team for life. While the Supreme Court ultimately ruled against Flood, his lawsuit put into motion negotiations which would end with players who had played a certain number of years being granted free agency.
1974 The American League institutes the designated hitter In the last major rule change to Major League Baseball, the American League enacted the designated hitter (DH) rule which allowed a team to replace the pitcher’s spot in the lineup with a hitter who doesn’t play the field. It remains the only difference between National League and American League play
1974 Hank Aaron is the all-time Home Run King Braves slugger Hank Aaron broke what most fans consider baseball’s most sacred record when he slugged his 715th home run, passing the 714 Babe Ruth had put up. Aaron would go onto hit 755 dingers.
1985 Pete Rose breaks Ty Cobb’s hit record Another big record fell in 1985, when Pete Rose got his 4256 base hit, taking the title of all-time hit king from Ty Cobb. In 1989 Pete Rose was banned from baseball for life for gambling on games.
1994 Strike cancels World Series There had been player strikes before, including a long one in 1981. But the ‘94 strike was the first to ever cancel the World Series. By the time the player’s returned to the field in 1995 baseball’s popularity had taken a big hit.
1997 interleague play is introduced When the Texas Rangers hosted the San Francisco Giants on July 12 1997 it was the first time in Major League history that a team from the National League and team for the American League had met in regular season game. Over the years inter-league play has become more and more of a part of the baseball schedule.
1998 Mark McGwire shatters home run record After 37 years of nobody seriously challenging Roger Maris’ 61 home run season, both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa blew right by it, with McGwire ending up with 70 homers and Sosa 66. McGwire’s record and Sosa’s incredible season were later tainted by steroid allegations.
2001 Bonds sets another tainted home run record It only took three years for somebody to top McGwire’s mark, with Giants slugger Barry Bonds crushing 73 homers in ‘01. Five years later Bonds would also break Hank Aaron’s all-time home run mark, but both his records have been called into questions thanks to Bonds’ association with steroids and other PEDs.
2013 Biogenesis Scandal Former MVP’s Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun were among the 13 players who received long suspensions for their association with the Biogenesis of American clinic, who stand accused of providing players with illegal human growth hormones.