A Brief History
On February 2, 1876, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs was founded, replacing the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, which had been founded in 1871 as a replacement itself for the National Association of Base Ball Players (note no mention of “professional”) which operated from 1869 to 1871.
Known today as Major League Baseball’s “Senior Circuit” as simply the National League, the original league had 8 teams, including Chicago White Stockings (which actually became the Cubs, not the White Sox!), the Louisville Grays, the Philadelphia Athletics (not the ones that became the American League team), Cincinnati Red Stockings (did not become the Reds), Boston Red Stockings (that became the Boston, then Milwaukee, now Atlanta Braves, not the Red Sox!), the Hartford Dark Blues, St. Louis Brown Stockings and the Mutual of New York. As you can see, only the Cubs and the Braves can claim to be original National League teams.
The American League was founded in 1901 as a rival “major” league of professional baseball, and the rivalry was formalized in the advent of the World Series in 1903. (There was no Series in 1904, but has been since except for the strike shortened 1994 season. Incredibly, in 1902 there had nearly been a game between the 2 League champions, but the challenge was for a football game between the 2 baseball champs!
The National League Champion has been bested in 64 of the 112 World Series by the American League Champion, and the New York Yankees have won 27 of those World Series. The National League team with the most Series wins are the St. Louis Cardinals with only 11 World Series Championships. The National League has fared better in the 87 All Star Games that have been held, winning 43 games to 42 won by the American League (and 2 ties).
Both Leagues went to a playoff format in 1969 instead of just crowning the regular season best record posting team as League champ, but when the American League went to the designated hitter rule in 1973 the National League has yet to follow, with this rule remaining the main difference between the Leagues. In 1997 regular season play between the National and American Leagues became normal, further decreasing the difference between the circuits. Still, being the “Senior Circuit” does give the NL’ers a certain superior air, justified or not.
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