The History of
For the past 150 years, some of the world’s greatest disrupters have made their mark on the diamond. From Babe Ruth changing the way the game was played to Jackie Robinson reshaping the way society operated, we owe a lot to the history of this game. It’s our entertainment, it’s their legacies, and it will always be America’s Pastime.
Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown, NY
One of baseball’s biggest mysteries is who actually invented the game. While it remains unsolved, evidence points in favor of Doubleday having an impact on the creation of baseball.
The first official game of baseball is played in the Tri State Area
Baseball’s first game was played on June 19, 1846, at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey. The game matched the “Knickerbockers” and the “New York Nine” (also known as the New York Baseball Club. The New York Nine won the game 23-1 in four innings.
The first all-women team is created at Vassar College
Two all-women teams were formed in 1866 at Vassar College. The teams, Laurel and Abenaki, each featured nine women. While the women were serious about their long-term success, they disbanded a year later.
Cincinnati’s Red Stockings become the first professional baseball team
Ten salaried players made up baseball’s first-ever professional baseball team. The Red Stockings were led by their aggressive businessman, Harry Wright, and played multiple barnstorming tours around the country.
Moses Fleetwood Walker becomes the first African-American player in the Major Leagues
As the first professional Black baseball player, Walker hit .263 in 42 games for the Toledo Blue Stockings. Walker’s brother, Weldy, also played during the same year for the Blue Stockings.
The Boston Americans defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first-ever World Series
Boston (the American League Champions) defeated Pittsburgh (the National League Champions) 5-3 in a best-of-nine series. Boston was led by their notable pitcher, Cy Young, while Pittsburgh had a talented young shortstop named Honus Wagner.
Alta Weiss becomes the first woman to play professional baseball
Weiss began her career as a pitcher at the age of 17 for the Vermilion Independents. She later became the only woman to receive a Doctor of Medicine from the Starling College of Medicine in the class of 1914.
Rube Foster organizes the founding of Negro Leagues Baseball
Foster and a group of Black businessmen organized a baseball league entirely dedicated to Black baseball players. Negro Leagues Baseball would thrive for the next three decades before MLB’s integration removed the need for a Black-only league.
Check out the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Collaboration
Baseball is broadcasted for the first time over radio
On Friday, August 5, 1921, KDKA in Pittsburgh broadcasted the Pittsburgh Pirates games against the Philadelphia Phillies. Harold Arlin became MLB’s first full-time radio announcer. Arlin called the Pirates defeat of the Phillies by a score of 8-5.
The first MLB All-Star Game is held at Comiskey Park in Chicago, IL
The All Star Game was an event designed to engage fans around the league during the longest years of the Great Depression. Besides the World Series, the All Star Game was the first time in league history that American League players played against National League players. Babe Ruth hit a home run as the AL won 4-2.
Ted Williams hits .406 for the season and Joe DiMaggio secures a 56-game hitting streak
In one of the most remarkable years in baseball history, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio set hitting records that still stand today. Williams also hit 37 home runs during 1941, while DiMaggio finished the season with a batting average of .357.
The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is founded during WWII
With over 300 men away at war, women stepped up to the plate to fill the baseball-sized hole in American entertainment. The league was comprised of 15 teams and lasted for 11 seasons before disbanding in 1954. The final and still reigning champion of the league was the Kalamazoo Lassies.
Jackie Robinson signs his first contract with the KC Monarchs
Well recognized for his athletic talents at UCLA, Jackie Robinson went on to sign a contract with the Kansas City Monarchs. Robinson slashed an impressive .375/.449/.600 along with 13 steals in his lone season in the Negro Leagues.
Jackie Robinson makes his Major League debut on April 15, 1947
After spending a season with the Dodgers minor league affiliate, Montreal Royals, Robinson made his MLB debut on April 15, 1947, against the (then) Boston Braves. Robinson played first base and scored a run as the Dodgers won the game 5-3.
Be sure to check out the We All Wear 42 Collection
Willie Mays makes his iconic World Series basket catch at Polo Grounds
On September 29, 1954, during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series, Willie Mays claimed his baseball stardom on the game’s biggest stage. With the score tied in the 8th inning, Mays ranged back to make ‘The Catch’ that he’s still known for today. Mays and the Giants went on to win the game 5-2 in extra innings before ultimately taking the World Series title.
The Dodgers and Giants move from New York to California
Both the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants agreed to move across the country to play in Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively. This move marked the first time in league history that any team played their home games on the West Coast. More teams followed shortly after, marking the biggest geographical shift in baseball history.
The MLB becomes becomes integrated as the Boston Red Sox sign Elijah “Pumpsie” Green
Born in Oklahoma, Elijah “Pumpsie” Green grew up in California and was offered a scholarship to play baseball for Fresno State University. Green starred on the diamond with the Bulldogs before signing a contract with the Oakland Oaks out of college. Later, Green would sign with the Boston Red Sox and make his first appearance in Major League Baseball as a pinch-runner on July 21, 1959.
Roger Maris breaks Babe Ruth’s long-standing record of 60 home runs in a season
The long-vaunted home run record was toppled by a kid from Fargo, North Dakota who was traded from the Kansas City Athletics to the New York Yankees just a few years prior. Maris held off his teammate, Mickey Mantle, to take the all-time home run crown. Maris would never go on to hit more than 33 home runs in a season for the rest of his career.
The Astrodome opens as the MLB’s first indoor stadium
Deemed the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Astrodome offered a reasonable means to play baseball in Houston, TX, during the heat of the summer. The portion of the field intended to represent “grass” would go on to aptly be referred to as Astroturf.
The American League adopts the designated hitter rule
Back in 1906, Connie Mack suggested that a 10th player be added to the lineup to hit in the pitcher’s place. Fast forward 67 years, and the American League voted by a majority to allow the DH to be used in all American League-hosted baseball games. Cuban native Tony Oliva of the Minnesota Twins would become the first DH in baseball history to hit a home run.
Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth’s career home run record by smashing number 715 on April 8, 1974
Henry “Hank” Aaron began his career as a skinny, cross-handed shortstop for the Indianapolis Clowns. During his short stint in the Negro League Baseball, his talents were made apparent as the Milwaukee Braves signed him to a contract. Aaron, a model of consistency, never hit more than 45 home runs in a single season.
Pete Rose becomes baseball’s all-time hit leader, passing Ty Cobb
Although Rose would become a controversial figure following his career, his 4,256 career hits and 3,562 games played both still stand as MLB records to this day.
Nolan Ryan throws his seventh, and final, no-hitter at the age of 44
The Ryan Express had a knack for missing bats. Toting a triple-digit fastball well into his 27-year career, on May 1, 1991, Ryan shut down the best-hitting team in the American League, the Toronto Blue Jays, striking out 16 en route to a 3-0 victory. Ryan’s seven no-hitters are the most in baseball history. Sandy Koufax was in second place with four.
The players strike, causing the season to come to an abrupt end
On August 12, 1994, the MLB season came to a halt. For the first year since 1904, there was no World Series. Baseball became the first professional sport to lose its postseason as a result of a strike. On April 2, 1995, after 232 days, both sides reached an agreement. The Atlanta Braves went on to win the 1995 World Series.
Cal Ripken Jr. passed Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,131 consecutive games played
Baltimore’s “Iron Man” Cal Ripken Jr. was a 19-time All Star and first-ballot Hall of Famer. Ripken Jr. ended his streak on September 20, 1998, after walking into his manager, Ray Miller’s office and simply telling him he wanted out of the lineup. The streak still stands as a record at 2,632 consecutive games.
To honor Jackie Robinson, the number ‘42’ is retired by every club
During a ceremony held by the New York Mets on April 15, 1997, MLB’s commissioner, Bud Selig, declared that Jackie Robinson’s number ‘42’ would be permanently retired from Major League Baseball. Mariano Rivera, and all other players who previously sported the number, were allowed to continue to wear the number until the conclusion of their careers. A player last wore the number ‘42’ when Rivera toed the rubber for the final time on September 26, 2013.
Be sure to check out the We All Wear 42 Collection
Mark McGwire (70) and Sammy Sosa (66) engage in the greatest home run race in history
There may never be another spectacle in sports history like the one McGwire and Sosa put on in 1998. McGwire ultimately won the battle of the sluggers, and both players followed up 1998 with 60+ home run seasons in 1999. Needless to say, this was a summer baseball fans won’t soon forget.
Barry Bonds hits his 756th career home run to break Hank Aaron’s record
On August 7, 2007, Barry Bonds launched career home run number 756 deep into the right-center stands at AT&T Park. In doing so, Bonds became the MLB all-time career leader in home runs. Bonds ultimately ended his career with 762 home runs. A record that still stands today.
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Ichiro Suzuki becomes the first Japanese born player to record 3000 hits
After taking the league by storm in 2001, Ichiro continued his hit barrage for the better part of the next two decades. Then on August 7, 2016, Ichiro blasted a triple off the right field wall at Coors Field to record his 3,000th hit. Ichiro retired in 2019 and is eligible for the MLB Hall of Fame in 2024.