The Major League Baseball From Zero to Hero
Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization in North America composed of 30 teams, 29 from the United States and 1 from Canada (the Toronto Blue Jays). MLB is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the US and Canada, and it is also the oldest of them. Baseball was first popularized in the US in the 19th century, and the first professional baseball league was founded in 1871. The MLB was established in 1903 as a result of the merging of two earlier professional baseball leagues.
Today, the MLB is organized into two leagues, the National League and the American League, each consisting of 15 teams. The two leagues compete against each other through a regular season that runs from April to October. The winners of each league’s championship series face off in the World Series in a best of 7 series to crown the MLB champion.
The Oldest MLB Teams
The Atlanta Braves (originally the Boston Redstockings) and the Chicago Cubs are the two oldest teams in Major League Baseball. Both teams were founding members of the National League, which formed in 1876 and is now the oldest extant professional sports league in the world.
The Boston Americans, who are now known as the Boston Red Sox, won the first modern World Series in 1903. They defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5 games to 3.
The Negro League & Integration
The Negro Leagues were professional baseball leagues in the United States for African American players who were not allowed to play in Major League Baseball. These leagues existed from the late 1800s until MLB began integrating in 1947.
The most successful team in the league was the Homestead Grays, who won nine league championships between 1920 and 1948.
In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American player to play in MLB when he suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He faced significant challenges and racism during his career, but he persevered and was later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. Since Robinson’s debut in 1947, MLB has slowly become more diverse. In 2020, 42.5% of MLB players were people of color, up from the first reported stat 8.4% in 1959.
The Babe Ruth Era
Babe Ruth is widely considered to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He played for the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Boston Braves over the course of his 22-year career.
He was a prolific hitter and was especially known for his power hitting. In 1927, he set the single-season home run record with 60 homers. He would go on to hit 714 homers in his career, a record that stood for 39 years until Hank Aaron broke it in 1974.
Ruth was also an excellent pitcher and helped lead the Red Sox to victory in the first modern World Series in 1903.
MLB & WW2
Like many other professional sports leagues, the MLB was affected by World War II. Many of the league’s best players were drafted into military service and many teams had to field lineups of replacement players. This included future hall of famers like Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio.
Despite the challenges, the MLB continued to operate during the war years and even saw a boost in popularity. Baseball provided a much-needed distraction for Americans during a time of national crisis. The war years also brought about the formation of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which proved to be a major force in women’s baseball for decades.
The Steroid Era
The late 1990s and early 2000s were tainted by accusations of steroid use in MLB. Some of the game’s biggest stars, like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds, were accused of using performance-enhancing drugs to gain an advantage.
While steroid use was never proven definitively, there is no doubt that it was a factor in the inflated offensive numbers of the time. Home run records fell left and right and batting averages reached unprecedented levels.
The steroid era came to an end in 2005 when MLB instituted stricter testing and penalties for drug use. The league has since been working to regain the trust of fans who were disillusioned by the scandal.
American League Vs National League
The MLB is made up of two leagues, the National League and the American League. These leagues were formed in 1876 and 1903 respectively. Each league is made up of three divisions (East, Central, and West) and each division has five teams. The top team in each division automatically qualifies for the playoffs.
The three remaining playoff spots in each league are given to the wild card teams, which are the three teams with the best records who did not win their division. In the playoffs, the American League and National League champions face off in the World Series to determine the baseball champion of the world.
Since the creation of the two leagues, a total of 117 World Series have been played, with the AL champion winning 66 and the NL champion winning 51.
Most Valuable MLB Franchises
The New York Yankees are the most valuable MLB franchise, worth an estimated $4 billion. The Yankees are followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers ($3 billion), the Boston Red Sox ($2.8 billion), and the Chicago Cubs ($2.7 billion). The Yankees’ value is largely due to their prolific history both in terms of on-field success as well as aggressive pursuit of baseball’s greatest players. The Dodgers’ value is driven by their global popularity and their recent success, having won the World Series in 2020. The Red Sox are one of the most popular teams in baseball, and their 8 World Series titles help drive up their value. The Cubs are one of the most popular teams in the Midwest, and their 2016 World Series win ended a 108-year drought, which helped increase their value.
In 2002, MLB implemented a revenue-sharing plan in order to level the playing field between small and large market teams. Under the current plan, 34% of all MLB revenue is evenly divided amongst all 30 teams. An additional 16% is distributed based on team performance (i.e. how many games they win) and 50% is paid out based on market size (i.e. how many fans a team has).
The revenue-sharing plan has helped small-market teams compete with larger market teams by giving them a greater share of MLB’s overall revenue. However, some critics argue that the plan has not done enough to level the playing field, as large market teams still have a significant advantage in terms of their ability to generate revenue.
MLB average salary
In 1972, after MLB players Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally refused to sign their contracts, they became the first free agents in baseball history. 4 years later, Marvin Miller, head of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBA), negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
Since free agency began, the average MLB player’s salary has increased dramatically, even when accounting for inflation. In 1975, the average salary was $44,000; by 1985 it had risen to $540,000, and by 2005 it had reached $2.4 million. As of 2021, the average MLB player’s salary is $4.41 million per year. In 2022 the five highest-paid players in Major League Baseball are:
|Max Scherzer||New York Mets||$43,333,333|
|Gerrit Cole||New York Yankees||$36,000,000|
|Mike Trout||Los Angeles Angels||$35,541,667|
|Carlos Correa||Minnesota Twins||$35,100,000|
|Stephen Strasburg||Washington Nationals||$35,000,000|
|Anthony Rendon||Los Angeles Angels||$35,000,000|
MLB Opening Day, Playoff Schedule, and other Key Dates
In 2022, MLB opening day was held on April 7th, with the regular season concluding on Wednesday, October 5th. The 2022 MLB playoff schedule will commence shortly thereafter and run until the end of the World Series sometime in late October or early November.
All-Star Week will take at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles between July 15-19, 2022, and include the ever-popular home-run derby (more below). The MLB Draft — which will see teams select the best high school and college players in the country — will also take place during this time, happening on July 17th. August will usher in the next marker on the MLB schedule with the trade deadline falling on August 2nd. All scores and stats will be available in real-time on MLB gameday.
MLB All-Star Game & Home-Run Derby
The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is an annual event that takes place each July and pits the best players from the American League against the best players from the National League. The Home Run Derby is a popular event that takes place during All-Star Week and features some of baseball’s best sluggers hitting as many home runs as possible.
The Home Run Derby was first held in 1985 and has been won by some of baseball’s most iconic sluggers, including Hank Aaron, Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey Jr., and Barry Bonds. The All-Star Game has been played every year since 1933, with the exception of 1944 and 1945, when it was canceled due to World War II. The game has been won by both the AL and NL an equal number of times, each winning 43 games apiece.
MLB All-Star Game & Home-Run Derby
The popularity of baseball has led to it being featured in many forms of popular culture. Baseball has been the subject of books, movies, television shows, and music. One of the most famous baseball-themed books is The Natural by Bernard Malamud, which was adapted into a 1984 movie starring Robert Redford.
The 1989 film Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner is another popular baseball movie, as is the 1992 film A League of Their Own, which starred Tom Hanks and Geena Davis as the coach and star-player of an all-female baseball league during World War II.
Many popular television shows have also featured baseball as a central theme or plot point, including The Simpsons, The Office, Seinfeld, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
The sport has also been the subject of songs by artists such as Bruce Springsteen, John Fogerty, and REM.
Cool Baseball Facts
Here are 10 baseball facts you may not know:
- Baseball is the national sport of the Dominican Republic.
- Babe Ruth once called his shot, pointing to the center-field bleachers before hitting a home run to that exact spot.
- The Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000 in 1918. The move is often cited as the reason for the “Curse of the Bambino,” which supposedly led to the Red Sox not winning a World Series for 86 years.
- Hank Aaron holds the record for most career home runs, with 755. He surpassed Babe Ruth’s record of 714 in 1974.
- Nolan Ryan holds the record for most career strikeouts, with 5,714.
- The first professional baseball team was the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who played their first game in 1869.
- Ty Cobb is MLB’s all-time leader in batting average, with a .366 career average.
- Walter Johnson is MLB’s all-time leader in shutouts, with 110. He also holds the single-season record with 11 shutouts in 1913.
- The longest game in MLB history was played between the Boston Red Sox and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1920. The game lasted 26 innings and was eventually won by the Red Sox, 3-2.
- The Philadelphia Phillies are the only team in MLB history to lose 11,000 games. In 2007 they became the first US sports franchise to lose 10,000 games.
How is MLB organized?
The MLB is organized into two leagues, the American League (AL) and the National League (NL).
How is the MLB divided?
Each league is further divided into three divisions: the East, Central, and West. There are 30 teams in total, with 15 teams in each league.
Who has lost the most World Series?
The team with the most losses in the World Series is the Philadelphia Phillies, who have lost 10 times.
What is the hardest division in MLB?
The AL East is widely considered to be the hardest division in MLB, due in large part to the success of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
What is the highest-scoring game in MLB history?
The highest-scoring game in MLB history was between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers on August 25, 1922. The final score was 26-23, in favor of the Cubs. Chicago had a seemingly comfortable 25-6 lead heading into the 5th inning.
Who is the youngest player to win the World Series?
Jim Palmer was the youngest player to win a World Series game. He pitched a complete-game shutout in Game 2 of the 1966 World Series, just nine days before turning 21. The Baltimore Orioles went on to sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0, earning Palmer a World Series ring.
What is the designated hitter rule in baseball?
The designated hitter rule, which is now used in both the American League and National League, allows a team to have a player hit in place of the pitcher. This rule was first used by the American League in 1973. The National League adopted the rule in 2022.
Who has never won a World Series?
There are several teams who have never won a World Series, including the Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies, Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers.
What does SS mean in baseball?
SS is the abbreviated form of shortstop, which is a position in baseball. Shortstops are typically known for their fielding prowess and are considered to be one of the most important defensive positions on the field.
Has anyone hit 5 home runs in a game?
The record for most home runs in a MLB game is 4. This record is shared by more than a dozen players, including Rocky Colavito, Gil Hodges, Carlos Delgado, Lou Gehrig, and Willie Mays.
What is the average runs per game in MLB?
As of 2021, the average runs per game in the MLB is 4.47, more than a run higher than it was in 1968.
What is the fastest pitch ever recorded?
The fastest pitch ever recorded was thrown by Aroldis Chapman, who reached 105.1 mph on the radar gun.