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Major League Baseball

American professional baseball league

Top 10 Major League Baseball related articles

Major League Baseball
Upcoming season or competition:
2020 Major League Baseball season
SportBaseball
Founded1903; 117 years ago (1903)[1]
(National League, 1876)[2]
(American League, 1901)[2]
CommissionerRob Manfred[3]
No. of teams30[4]
CountriesUnited States (29 teams)
Canada (1 team)
Headquarters1271 Avenue of the Americas[5]
New York City, New York, United States
Most recent
champion(s)
Washington Nationals
(1st title)
Most titlesNew York Yankees
(27 titles)[6]
TV partner(s)
Official websitemlb.com

Major League Baseball (MLB) is an American professional baseball organization and the oldest of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in Major League Baseball: 15 teams in the National League (NL) and 15 in the American League (AL). The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901, respectively. Beginning in 1903, the two leagues cooperated but remained legally separate entities. Both leagues operated as legally separate entities until they merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000.[9][10]

MLB also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the major league clubs. MLB and the World Baseball Softball Confederation jointly manage the international World Baseball Classic tournament.

Baseball's first openly all-professional team was the Cincinnati Red Stockings founded in 1869. Before that, some teams had secretly paid some players. The first few decades of professional baseball were characterized by rivalries between leagues and by players who often jumped from one team or league to another.

The period before 1920 is known as the dead-ball era, during which players would rarely hit home runs. Professional baseball in the United States survived a conspiracy to fix the 1919 World Series, which came to be known as the Black Sox Scandal. The sport rose in popularity in the 1920s, and survived potential downturns during the Great Depression and World War II. Shortly after the war, Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier.

The 1950s and 1960s were a time of expansion for the AL and NL, then new stadiums and artificial turf surfaces began to change the game in the 1970s and 1980s. Home runs dominated the game during the 1990s, and media reports began to discuss the use of anabolic steroids among MLB players in the mid-2000s. In 2006, an investigation produced the Mitchell Report, which implicated many players in the use of performance-enhancing substances, including at least one player from each team.

Today, MLB is composed of 30 teams: 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada. Teams play 162 games each season and 5 teams in each league advance to a four-round postseason tournament that culminates in the World Series, a best-of-seven championship series between the two league champions that dates to 1903. Baseball games are broadcast on television, radio, and the Internet throughout North America and in several other countries. MLB has the highest total season attendance of any sports league in the world with more than 69.6 million spectators in 2018.[11]

The MLB is the second wealthiest professional sport league after the NFL by revenue.[12][13][14]

Major League Baseball Intro articles: 20

Organizational structure

MLB is governed by the Major League Baseball Constitution. This document has undergone several incarnations since its creation in 1876.[15] Under the direction of the Commissioner of Baseball, MLB hires and maintains the sport's umpiring crews, and negotiates marketing, labor, and television contracts. MLB maintains a unique, controlling relationship over the sport, including most aspects of Minor League Baseball. This is due in large part to the 1922 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Federal Baseball Club v. National League, which held that baseball is not interstate commerce and therefore not subject to federal antitrust law. This ruling has been weakened only slightly in subsequent years.[16] The weakened ruling granted more stability to the owners of teams and has resulted in values increasing at double-digit rates.[16][17] There were several challenges to MLB's primacy in the sport between the 1870s and the Federal League in 1916; the last attempt at a new major league was the aborted Continental League in 1960.[16]

The chief executive of MLB is the commissioner, currently Rob Manfred. The chief operating officer is Tony Petitti. There are five other executives: president (business and media), chief communications officer, chief legal officer, chief financial officer, and chief baseball officer.[18][19]

The multimedia branch of MLB, which is based in New York City, is MLB Advanced Media. This branch oversees MLB.com and each of the 30 teams' websites. Its charter states that MLB Advanced Media holds editorial independence from the league, but it is under the same ownership group and revenue-sharing plan. MLB Productions is a similarly structured wing of the league, focusing on video and traditional broadcast media. MLB also owns 67 percent of MLB Network, with the other 33 percent split between several cable operators and satellite provider DirecTV.[20] It operates out of studios in Secaucus, New Jersey, and also has editorial independence from the league.[21]

Major League Baseball Organizational structure articles: 19

League organization

In 1920, the weak National Commission, which had been created to manage relationships between the two leagues, was replaced with the much more powerful Commissioner of Baseball, who had the power to make decisions for all of professional baseball unilaterally.[22] From 1901 to 1960, the American and National Leagues fielded eight teams apiece.

In the 1960s, MLB expansion added eight teams, including the first non-U.S. team (the Montreal Expos). Two teams (the Seattle Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays) were also added in the 1970s. From 1969 through 1993, each league consisted of an East and West Division. In 1993, the National League expanded with two teams, the Florida Marlins and the Colorado Rockies, to even up the number of teams in both leagues. A third division, the Central Division, was formed in each league in 1994. Until 1996, the two leagues met on the field only during the World Series and the All-Star Game. Regular-season interleague play was introduced in 1997.[23]

In March 1995 two new franchises, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now known as the Tampa Bay Rays), were awarded by MLB, to begin play in 1998. This addition brought the total number of franchises to 30. In early 1997, MLB decided to assign one new team to each league: Tampa Bay joined the AL and Arizona joined the NL. The original plan was to have an odd number of teams in each league (15 per league, with five in each division), but in order for every team to be able to play daily, this would have required interleague play to be scheduled throughout the entire season. However, it was unclear at the time if interleague play would continue after the 1998 season, as it had to be approved by the players' union. For this and other reasons, it was decided that both leagues should continue to have an even number of teams; one existing club would have to switch leagues. The Milwaukee Brewers agreed in November 1997 to move from the AL to the NL, thereby making the NL a 16-team league. At the same time, the Detroit Tigers agreed to move from the AL East to the AL Central (to replace Milwaukee), with the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays joining the AL East.[24] Later, when the Houston Astros changed ownership prior to the 2013 season, the team moved from the NL Central to the AL West,[25][26] resulting in both leagues having three divisions of five teams each and allowing all teams to have a more balanced schedule.[26] Interleague play is now held throughout the season.[26]

In 2000 the AL and NL were dissolved as legal entities, and MLB became a single, overall league de jure, similar to the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL)—albeit with two components called "leagues" instead of "conferences." The same rules and regulations are used in both leagues, with one exception: the AL operates under the designated hitter rule, while the NL does not.[27][28] This difference in rules between leagues is unique to MLB; the other sports leagues of the U.S. and Canada have one set of rules for all teams.

Major League Baseball League organization articles: 17

Teams

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Division Team City Stadium Capacity Coordinates Founded Joined Ref
American League
East Baltimore Orioles Baltimore, Maryland Oriole Park at Camden Yards 45,971 39°17′2″N 76°37′18″W / 39.28389°N 76.62167°W / 39.28389; -76.62167 (Baltimore Orioles) 1901* [29]
Boston Red Sox Boston, Massachusetts Fenway Park 37,949 42°20′47″N 71°5′51″W / 42.34639°N 71.09750°W / 42.34639; -71.09750 (Boston Red Sox) 1901 [30]
New York Yankees New York City, New York Yankee Stadium 47,309 40°49′45″N 73°55′35″W / 40.82917°N 73.92639°W / 40.82917; -73.92639 (New York Yankees) 1901* [31]
Tampa Bay Rays St. Petersburg, Florida Tropicana Field 31,042 27°46′6″N 82°39′12″W / 27.76833°N 82.65333°W / 27.76833; -82.65333 (Tampa Bay Rays) 1998 [32]
Toronto Blue Jays Toronto, Ontario Rogers Centre 49,282 43°38′29″N 79°23′21″W / 43.64139°N 79.38917°W / 43.64139; -79.38917 (Toronto Blue Jays) 1977 [33]
Central Chicago White Sox Chicago, Illinois Guaranteed Rate Field 40,615 41°49′48″N 87°38′2″W / 41.83000°N 87.63389°W / 41.83000; -87.63389 (Chicago White Sox) 1901 [34]
Cleveland Indians Cleveland, Ohio Progressive Field 35,225 41°29′45″N 81°41′7″W / 41.49583°N 81.68528°W / 41.49583; -81.68528 (Cleveland Indians) 1901 [35]
Detroit Tigers Detroit, Michigan Comerica Park 41,297 42°20′21″N 83°2′55″W / 42.33917°N 83.04861°W / 42.33917; -83.04861 (Detroit Tigers) 1901 [36]
Kansas City Royals Kansas City, Missouri Kauffman Stadium 37,903 39°3′5″N 94°28′50″W / 39.05139°N 94.48056°W / 39.05139; -94.48056 (Kansas City Royals) 1969 [37]
Minnesota Twins Minneapolis, Minnesota Target Field 38,871 44°58′54″N 93°16′42″W / 44.98167°N 93.27833°W / 44.98167; -93.27833 (Minnesota Twins) 1901* [38]
West Houston Astros Houston, Texas Minute Maid Park 41,676 29°45′25″N 95°21′20″W / 29.75694°N 95.35556°W / 29.75694; -95.35556 (Houston Astros) 1962 (NL) 2013 (AL) [39]
Los Angeles Angels Anaheim, California Angel Stadium 45,957 33°48′1″N 117°52′58″W / 33.80028°N 117.88278°W / 33.80028; -117.88278 (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) 1961 [40]
Oakland Athletics Oakland, California Oakland Coliseum 35,067 37°45′6″N 122°12′2″W / 37.75167°N 122.20056°W / 37.75167; -122.20056 (Oakland Athletics) 1901* [41]
Seattle Mariners Seattle, Washington T-Mobile Park 47,943 47°35′29″N 122°19′57″W / 47.59139°N 122.33250°W / 47.59139; -122.33250 (Seattle Mariners) 1977 [42]
Texas Rangers Arlington, Texas Globe Life Field 40,300 32°45′5″N 97°4′58″W / 32.75139°N 97.08278°W / 32.75139; -97.08278 (Texas Rangers) 1961* [43]
National League
East Atlanta Braves Atlanta, Georgia Truist Park 41,500 33°53′24″N 84°28′4″W / 33.89000°N 84.46778°W / 33.89000; -84.46778 (Atlanta Braves) 1871* (NA) 1876 (NL) [44]
Miami Marlins Miami, Florida Marlins Park 36,742 25°46′41″N 80°13′11″W / 25.77806°N 80.21972°W / 25.77806; -80.21972 (Miami Marlins) 1993 [45]
New York Mets New York City, New York Citi Field 41,922 40°45′25″N 73°50′45″W / 40.75694°N 73.84583°W / 40.75694; -73.84583 (New York Mets) 1962 [46]
Philadelphia Phillies Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Citizens Bank Park 43,651 39°54′21″N 75°9′59″W / 39.90583°N 75.16639°W / 39.90583; -75.16639 (Philadelphia Phillies) 1883 [47]
Washington Nationals Washington, D.C. Nationals Park 41,313 38°52′22″N 77°0′27″W / 38.87278°N 77.00750°W / 38.87278; -77.00750 (Washington Nationals) 1969* [48]
Central Chicago Cubs Chicago, Illinois Wrigley Field 41,268 41°56′54″N 87°39′20″W / 41.94833°N 87.65556°W / 41.94833; -87.65556 (Chicago Cubs) 1874 (NA) 1876 (NL) [49]
Cincinnati Reds Cincinnati, Ohio Great American Ball Park 42,319 39°5′51″N 84°30′24″W / 39.09750°N 84.50667°W / 39.09750; -84.50667 (Cincinnati Reds) 1882 (AA) 1890 (NL) [50]
Milwaukee Brewers Milwaukee, Wisconsin Miller Park 41,900 43°1′42″N 87°58′16″W / 43.02833°N 87.97111°W / 43.02833; -87.97111 (Milwaukee Brewers) 1969* (AL) 1998 (NL) [51]
Pittsburgh Pirates Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PNC Park 38,362 40°26′49″N 80°0′21″W / 40.44694°N 80.00583°W / 40.44694; -80.00583 (Pittsburgh Pirates) 1882 (AA) 1887 (NL) [52]
St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis, Missouri Busch Stadium 43,975 38°37′21″N 90°11′35″W / 38.62250°N 90.19306°W / 38.62250; -90.19306 (St. Louis Cardinals) 1882 (AA) 1892 (NL) [53]
West Arizona Diamondbacks Phoenix, Arizona Chase Field 48,519 33°26′43″N 112°4′1″W / 33.44528°N 112.06694°W / 33.44528; -112.06694 (Arizona Diamondbacks) 1998 [54]
Colorado Rockies Denver, Colorado Coors Field 50,398 39°45′22″N 104°59′39″W / 39.75611°N 104.99417°W / 39.75611; -104.99417 (Colorado Rockies) 1993 [55]
Los Angeles Dodgers Los Angeles, California Dodger Stadium 56,000 34°4′25″N 118°14′24″W / 34.07361°N 118.24000°W / 34.07361; -118.24000 (Los Angeles Dodgers) 1884* (AA) 1890 (NL) [56]
San Diego Padres San Diego, California Petco Park 40,162 32°42′26″N 117°9′24″W / 32.70722°N 117.15667°W / 32.70722; -117.15667 (San Diego Padres) 1969 [57]
San Francisco Giants San Francisco, California Oracle Park 41,915 37°46′43″N 122°23′21″W / 37.77861°N 122.38917°W / 37.77861; -122.38917 (San Francisco Giants) 1883* [58]

An asterisk (*) denotes a relocation of a franchise. See respective team articles for more information.

History

Founding

In the 1860s, aided by soldiers playing the game in camp during the Civil War, "New York"-style baseball expanded into a national game and spawned baseball's first governing body, The National Association of Base Ball Players. The NABBP existed as an amateur league for 12 years. By 1867, more than 400 clubs were members. Most of the strongest clubs remained those based in the northeastern U.S. For professional baseball's founding year, MLB uses the year 1869—when the first professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was established.[59]

A schism developed between professional and amateur ballplayers after the founding of the Cincinnati club. The NABBP split into an amateur organization and a professional organization. The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, often known as the National Association (NA), was formed in 1871.[60] Its amateur counterpart disappeared after only a few years.[61] The modern Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves franchises trace their histories back to the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in the 1870s.[62]

In 1876, the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs (later known as the National League or NL) was established after the NA proved ineffective. The league placed its emphasis on clubs rather than on players. Clubs could now enforce player contracts, preventing players from jumping to higher-paying clubs. Clubs were required to play the full schedule of games instead of forfeiting scheduled games when the club was no longer in the running for the league championship, which happened frequently under the NA. A concerted effort was made to curb gambling on games, which was leaving the validity of results in doubt. The first game in the NL—on Saturday, April 22, 1876 (at the Jefferson Street Grounds, Philadelphia)—is often pointed to as the beginning of MLB.[2][63]

National League Baltimore Orioles, 1896

The early years of the NL were tumultuous, with threats from rival leagues and a rebellion by players against the hated "reserve clause", which restricted the free movement of players between clubs. Teams came and went; 1882 was the first season where the league's membership was the same as the preceding season's, and only four franchises[64] survived to see 1900. Competitor leagues formed regularly and also disbanded regularly. The most successful was the American Association (1882–1891), sometimes called the "beer and whiskey league" for its tolerance of the sale of alcoholic beverages to spectators. For several years, the NL and American Association champions met in a postseason championship series—the first attempt at a World Series. The two leagues merged in 1892 as a single 12-team NL, but the NL dropped four teams after the 1899 season. This led to the formation of the American League in 1901 under AL president Ban Johnson, and the resulting bidding war for players led to widespread contract-breaking and legal disputes.

The war between the AL and NL caused shock waves throughout the baseball world. At a meeting at the Leland Hotel in Chicago in 1901, the other baseball leagues negotiated a plan to maintain their independence. A new National Association was formed to oversee these minor leagues.[65] While the NA continues to this day (known as Minor League Baseball), at the time Ban Johnson saw it as a tool to end threats from smaller rivals who might expand in other territories and threaten his league's dominance.

After 1902, the NL, AL, and NA signed a new National Agreement which tied independent contracts to the reserve-clause contracts. The agreement also set up a formal classification system for minor leagues, the forerunner of today's system that was refined by Branch Rickey.[66]

Several other early defunct baseball leagues are officially considered major leagues, and their statistics and records are included with those of the two current major leagues. These include the AA, the Union Association (1884),[67] the Players' League (1890),[68] and the Federal League (1914–1915).[69][70] Both the UA and AA are considered major leagues by many baseball researchers because of the perceived high caliber of play and the number of star players featured. Some researchers, including Nate Silver, dispute the major-league status of the UA by pointing out that franchises came and went and that the St. Louis club was deliberately "stacked"; the St. Louis club was owned by the league's president and it was the only club that was close to major-league caliber.[71]

Dead-ball era

Cy Young, 1911 baseball card

The period between 1900 and 1919 is commonly referred to as the "Dead-Ball Era." Games of this era tended to be low scoring and were often dominated by pitchers, such as Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Mordecai Brown, and Grover Cleveland Alexander. The term also accurately describes the condition of the baseball itself. The baseball used American rather than the modern Australian wool yarn and was not wound as tightly, affecting the distance that it would travel.[72] More significantly, balls were kept in play until they were mangled, soft and sometimes lopsided. During this era, a baseball cost three dollars, equal to $44.24 today (in inflation-adjusted U.S. dollars), and owners were reluctant to purchase new balls. Fans were expected to throw back fouls and (rare) home runs. Baseballs also became stained with tobacco juice, grass, and mud, and sometimes the juice of licorice, which some players would chew for the purpose of discoloring the ball.[73]

Also, pitchers could manipulate the ball through the use of the spitball. (In 1921 use of this pitch was restricted to a few pitchers with a grandfather clause). Additionally, many ballparks had large dimensions, such as the West Side Grounds of the Chicago Cubs, which was 560 feet (170 m) to the center field fence, and the Huntington Avenue Grounds of the Boston Red Sox, which was 635 feet (194 m) to the center field fence, thus home runs were rare, and "small ball" tactics such as singles, bunts, stolen bases, and the hit-and-run play dominated the strategies of the time.[74] Hitting methods like the Baltimore Chop were used to increase the number of infield singles.[75] On a successful Baltimore chop, the batter hits the ball forcefully into the ground, causing it to bounce so high that the batter reaches first base before the ball can be fielded and thrown to the first baseman.[76]

The adoption of the foul strike rule in the early twentieth century quickly sent baseball from a high-scoring game to one where scoring runs became a struggle. Prior to the institution of this rule, foul balls were not counted as strikes: a batter could foul off any number of pitches with no strikes counted against him; this gave an enormous advantage to the batter. In 1901, the NL adopted the foul strike rule, and the AL followed suit in 1903.[77]

After the 1919 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds, baseball was rocked by allegations of a game fixing scheme known as the Black Sox Scandal. Eight players—Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Claude "Lefty" Williams, George "Buck" Weaver, Arnold "Chick" Gandil, Fred McMullin, Charles "Swede" Risberg, and Oscar "Happy" Felsch—intentionally lost the World Series in exchange for a ring worth $100,000 ($1,064,705.88 in 2016 dollars).[78] Despite being acquitted, all were permanently banned from Major League Baseball.[79]

Rise in popularity

Baseball's popularity increased in the 1920s and 1930s. The 1920 season was notable for the death of Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians. Chapman, who was struck in the head by a pitch and died a few hours later, became the only MLB player to die of an on-field injury, a tragedy which led directly to both leagues requiring the placing into play new, white baseballs whenever a ball became scuffed or dirty, helping bring the "dead-ball" era to an end. The following year, the New York Yankees made their first World Series appearance.[80] By the end of the 1930s, the team had appeared in 11 World Series, winning eight of them.[81] Yankees slugger Babe Ruth had set the single season home run record in 1927, hitting 60 home runs; a few years earlier, Ruth had set the same record with 29 home runs.[82]

Affected by the difficulties of the Great Depression, baseball's popularity had begun a downward turn in the early 1930s. By 1932, only two MLB teams turned a profit. Attendance had fallen, due at least in part to a 10% federal amusement tax added to baseball ticket prices. Baseball owners cut their rosters from 25 men to 23 men, and even the best players took pay cuts. Team executives were innovative in their attempts to survive, creating night games, broadcasting games live by radio and rolling out promotions such as free admission for women. Throughout the period of the Great Depression, no MLB teams moved or folded.[83]

World War II era

The onset of World War II created a significant shortage of professional baseball players, as more than 500 men left MLB teams to serve in the military. Many of them played on service baseball teams that entertained military personnel in the US or in the Pacific. MLB teams of this time largely consisted of young men, older players, and those with a military classification of 4F, indicating mental, physical, or moral unsuitability for service. Men like Pete Gray, a one-armed outfielder, got the chance to advance to the major leagues. However, MLB rosters did not include any black players through the end of the war.[84] Black players, many of whom served in the war, were still restricted to playing Negro league baseball.[85]

Wartime blackout restrictions, designed to keep outdoor lighting at low levels, caused another problem for baseball. These rules limited traveling and night games to the point that the 1942 season nearly had to be canceled.[85] On January 14, 1942, MLB Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis wrote a letter to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and pleaded for the continuation of baseball during the war in hopes for a start of a new major league season. President Roosevelt responded, "I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before. And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before."[86]

With the approval of President Roosevelt, spring training began in 1942 with few repercussions. The war interrupted the careers of stars including Stan Musial, Bob Feller, Ted Williams, and Joe DiMaggio, but baseball clubs continued to field their teams.[87]

Breaking the color barrier

Branch Rickey, president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, began making efforts to introduce a black baseball player to the previously all-white professional baseball leagues in the mid-1940s. He selected Jackie Robinson from a list of promising Negro league players. After obtaining a commitment from Robinson to "turn the other cheek" to any racial antagonism directed at him, Rickey agreed to sign him to a contract for $600 a month. In what was later referred to as "The Noble Experiment", Robinson was the first black baseball player in the International League since the 1880s, joining the Dodgers' farm club, the Montreal Royals, for the 1946 season.[88]

The following year, the Dodgers called up Robinson to the major leagues. On April 15, 1947, Robinson made his major league debut at Ebbets Field before a crowd of 26,623 spectators, including more than 14,000 black patrons. Black baseball fans began flocking to see the Dodgers when they came to town, abandoning the Negro league teams that they had followed exclusively. Robinson's promotion met a generally positive, although mixed, reception among newspaper writers and white major league players. Manager Leo Durocher informed his team, "I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a fuckin' zebra. I'm the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What's more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded."[89]

After a strike threat by some players, NL President Ford Frick and Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler let it be known that any striking players would be suspended. Robinson received significant encouragement from several major league players, including Dodgers teammate Pee Wee Reese who said, "You can hate a man for many reasons. Color is not one of them."[90] That year, Robinson won the inaugural Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award (separate NL and AL Rookie of the Year honors were not awarded until 1949).[91]

Less than three months later, Larry Doby became the first African-American to break the color barrier in the American League with the Cleveland Indians.[92] The next year, a number of other black players entered the major leagues. Satchel Paige was signed by the Indians and the Dodgers added star catcher Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe, who was later the first winner of the Cy Young Award for his outstanding pitching.[93]

Women in baseball

MLB banned the signing of women to contracts in 1952, but that ban was lifted in 1992.[94] As of 2020, there have been no female MLB players.

Expanding west, south and north

From 1903 to 1953, the two major leagues consisted of two eight-team leagues. The 16 teams were located in ten cities, all in the northeastern and midwestern United States: New York City had three teams and Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis each had two teams. St. Louis was the southernmost and westernmost city with a major league team. The longest possible road trip, from Boston to St. Louis, took about 24 hours by railroad. In 1953, the NL's Boston Braves became the Milwaukee Braves. In 1954, the St. Louis Browns became the Baltimore Orioles. In 1955, the Philadelphia Athletics became the Kansas City Athletics.

Baseball experts consider the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers' boss Walter O'Malley to be "perhaps the most influential owner of baseball's early expansion era."[95] Before the 1958 Major League Baseball season, he moved the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles.[96] When O'Malley moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn, he appeared on the cover of Time.[97] O'Malley was also influential in persuading the rival New York Giants to move west to become the San Francisco Giants. The Giants were already suffering from slumping attendance records at their aging ballpark, the Polo Grounds. Had the Dodgers moved out west alone, the St. Louis Cardinals—1,600 mi (2,575 km) away[98][99]—would have been the closest NL team. The joint move made West Coast road trips economical for visiting teams.[100] O'Malley invited San Francisco Mayor George Christopher to New York to meet with Giants owner Horace Stoneham.[100] Stoneham was considering moving the Giants to Minnesota,[101] but he was convinced to join O'Malley on the West Coast at the end of 1957. The meetings between Stoneham, Christopher and O'Malley occurred against the wishes of Ford Frick, the Commissioner of Baseball.[102] The dual moves were successful for both franchises—and for MLB.[96] The Dodgers set a single-game MLB attendance record in their first home appearance with 78,672 fans.[100]

In 1961, the first Washington Senators franchise moved to Minneapolis–St. Paul to become the Minnesota Twins. Two new teams were added to the American League at the same time: the Los Angeles Angels (who soon moved from downtown L.A. to nearby Anaheim) and a new Washington Senators franchise. The NL added the Houston Astros and the New York Mets in 1962. The Astros (known as the "Colt .45s" during their first three seasons) became the first southern major league franchise since the Louisville Colonels folded in 1899 and the first franchise to be located along the Gulf Coast. The Mets established a reputation for futility by going 40–120 during their first season of play in the nation's media capital—and by playing only a little better in subsequent campaigns—but in their eighth season (1969) the Mets became the first of the 1960s expansion teams to play in the postseason, culminating in a World Series title over the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles.

In 1966, the major leagues moved to the "Deep South" when the Braves moved to Atlanta. In 1968, the Kansas City Athletics moved west to become the Oakland Athletics. In 1969, the American and National Leagues both added two expansion franchises. The American League added the Seattle Pilots (who became the Milwaukee Brewers after one disastrous season in Seattle) and the Kansas City Royals. The NL added the first Canadian franchise, the Montreal Expos, as well as the San Diego Padres.

In 1972, the second Washington Senators moved to the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex to become the Texas Rangers. In 1977, baseball expanded again, adding a second Canadian team, the Toronto Blue Jays, as well as the Seattle Mariners. Subsequently, no new teams were added until the 1990s and no teams moved until 2005.

Pitching dominance and rule changes

Graph showing, by year, the average number of runs per MLB game

By the late 1960s, the balance between pitching and hitting had swung in favor of the pitchers. In 1968—later nicknamed "the year of the pitcher"[103]—Boston Red Sox player Carl Yastrzemski won the American League batting title with an average of just .301, the lowest in the history of Major League Baseball.[104] Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain won 31 games, making him the only pitcher to win 30 games in a season since Dizzy Dean in 1934.[105] St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Bob Gibson achieved an equally remarkable feat by allowing an ERA of just 1.12.[106]

Following these pitching performances, in December 1968 the MLB Playing Rules Committee voted to reduce the strike zone from knees to shoulders to top of knees to armpits and lower the pitcher's mound from 15 to 10 inches, beginning in the 1969 season.[107]

In 1973, the American League, which had been suffering from much lower attendance than the National League, sought to increase scoring even further by initiating the designated hitter (DH) rule.[108]

New stadiums and artificial surfaces

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, as baseball expanded, NFL football had been surging in popularity, making it economical for many of these cities to build multi-purpose stadiums instead of single-purpose baseball fields. Because of climate and economic issues, many of these facilities had playing surfaces made from artificial turf, as well as the oval designs characteristic of stadiums designed to house both baseball and football.[109] This often resulted in baseball fields with relatively more foul territory than older stadiums. These characteristics changed the nature of professional baseball, putting a higher premium on speed and defense over home-run hitting power, since the fields were often too big for teams to expect to hit many home runs and foul balls hit in the air could more easily be caught for outs.

Teams began to be built around pitching—particularly their bullpens—and speed on the basepaths. Artificial surfaces meant balls traveled quicker and bounced higher, so it became easier to hit ground balls "in the hole" between the corner and middle infielders. Starting pitchers were no longer expected to throw complete games; it was enough for a starter to pitch 6–7 innings and turn the game over to the team's closer, a position which grew in importance over these decades. As stolen bases increased, home run totals dropped. After Willie Mays hit 52 home runs in 1965, only one player (George Foster) reached that mark until the 1990s.

Scandals and a changing game

During the 1980s, baseball experienced a number of significant changes the game had not seen in years. Home runs were on the decline throughout the decade, with players hitting only 40 home runs just 13 times and no one hitting more than 50 home runs in a season for the first time since the Dead-ball era (1900—1919).[110][111] Teams instead focused on building their rosters around speed and defense.

The 1981 Major League Baseball strike from June 12 until July 31 forced the cancellation of 713 total games and resulted in a split-season format.

In 1985, Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb's all-time hits record with his 4,192nd hit, and in 1989 Rose received a lifetime ban from baseball as a result of betting on baseball games while manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Rose was the first person to receive a lifetime ban from baseball since 1943.[110][112] 1985 also saw the Pittsburgh drug trials which involved players who were called to testify before a grand jury in Pittsburgh related to cocaine trafficking. Eleven players were officially suspended, but all the suspensions were commuted in exchange for fines, drug testing, and community service.

The 1994-95 Major League Baseball strike from August 12, 1994 to April 25, 1995 caused the cancellation of over 900 games and the forfeit of the entire 1994 postseason.[113]

In 2019, Major League Baseball opened an investigation into allegations that members of the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros stole signs from opposing teams using technology during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The Astros were found guilty in January 2020 and while no active players faced any repercussions, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and field manager A. J. Hinch were suspended for the entire 2020 season. The Astros were fined the maximum allowable $5 million and forfeited their first- and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts.[114]

Steroid era, further expansion and near contraction

Routinely in the late 1990s and early 2000s, baseball players hit 40 or 50 home runs in a season, a feat that was considered rare even in the 1980s. It has since become apparent that at least some of this power surge was a result of players using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

In 1993, the NL added the Florida Marlins in the Miami area and the Colorado Rockies in Denver. In 1998, the Brewers switched leagues by joining the National League and two new teams were added: the NL's Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix and the American League's Tampa Bay Devil Rays in St. Petersburg, Florida.

After the 2001 season, the team owners voted in favor of contraction. Several MLB teams had been considered for elimination in early talks about contraction, but the Montreal Expos and the Minnesota Twins were the two teams that came closest to folding under the plan. Plans for MLB contraction were halted when the Twins landlord was awarded a court injunction that required the team to play its 2002 home games at their stadium. MLB owners agreed to hold off on reducing the league's size until at least 2006.[115]

The Montreal Expos became the first franchise in over three decades to move when they became the Washington Nationals in 2005. This move left Canada with just one team, but it also returned baseball to Washington after a 33-year absence. This franchise shift, like many previous ones, involved baseball's return to a city which had been previously abandoned. Not counting the short-lived Federal League, Montreal is the only city granted an MLB franchise since 1901 that does not currently host a team.

Major League Baseball Teams articles: 144

Uniforms

A baseball team and its uniforms in the 1870s. Note that the team is integrated, in contrast to 20th century MLB, which was segregated until 1947.

A baseball uniform is a type of uniform worn by baseball players, and by some non-playing personnel, such as field managers and coaches. It is worn to indicate the person's role in the game and—through the use of logos, colors, and numbers—to identify the teams and their players, managers, and coaches.[116]

Traditionally, home uniforms display the team name on the front, while away uniforms display the team's home location. In modern times, however, exceptions to this pattern have become common, with teams using their team name on both uniforms.[117] Most teams also have one or more alternate uniforms, usually consisting of the primary or secondary team color on the vest instead of the usual white or gray.[117] In the past few decades throwback uniforms have become popular.[118]

The New York Knickerbockers were the first baseball team to use uniforms, taking the field on April 4, 1849, in pants made of blue wool, white flannel shirts (jerseys) and straw hats.[119][120][121] Caps and other types of headgear have been a part of baseball uniforms from the beginning.[122][123] Baseball teams often wore full-brimmed straw hats or no cap at all since there was no official rule regarding headgear.[124] Under the 1882 uniform rules, players on the same team wore uniforms of different colors and patterns that indicated which position they played.[125]

In the late 1880s, the Detroit Wolverines and Washington Nationals of the National League and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms of the American Association were the first to wear striped uniforms.[126] By the end of the 19th century, teams began the practice of having two different uniforms, one for when they played at home in their own baseball stadium and a different one for when they played away (on the road) at the other team's ballpark.[117] It became common to wear white pants with a white color vest at home and gray pants with a gray or solid (dark) colored vest when away.[117] By 1900, both home and away uniforms were standard across the major leagues.[127]

Major League Baseball Uniforms articles: 14