Since its early inception in the late 18th century, baseball has captured the hearts of Americans for centuries. From the era of Babe Ruth to Hank Aaron’s record-breaking frenzy, fans unite over the popping of Cracker Jacks, fight songs and the devotion to their team. From April until October, an average of 75 million people tune in every year to share in the excitement of America’s Pastime.
Some argue the sport’s origin stemmed from community games such as stoolball or goal ball, or possibly the British game of Rounders. Historians attest that the earliest reference to modern-day baseball in the United States was in 1791 in Pittsfield Massachusetts, when an ordinance passed banning the playing of the sport within 80 yards of the town meeting house. While the inventor of the sport is still up for debate, the earliest team to play under present-day rules was the New York Knickerbockers Baseball Club in 1845. Although the amateur club was eventually disbanded, it did notably contribute to the game with its formation of modern baseball rules.
In the late 1850s, the National Association of Base Ball Players was born, and grew to over 400 clubs in only a decade. With the rise of the NABBP, the world was introduced to the very first systematic baseball league. The upsurge of baseball as a professional sport continued to climb, and in 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings were credited as the first all-professional team.
For approximately 180 days a year, baseball enthusiasts can relish in the love of the game on a daily basis. The significance of baseball in our culture isn’t only about the game; it’s as American as the family outing, the whistling of Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and the stadium hot dogs that go along with it.