Sullivan: 3 big-league reasons why Chicago is the birthplace of big-league baseball

From SABR member Floyd Sullivan at ChicagoNow on May 6, 2015:

During a year that has seen the NFL Draft, the James Beard Awards, the Lucas Museum, the Obama Presidential Library, and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) annual convention name Chicago as their site of choice, it might be a fun diversion, as the Cubs try to figure out how to win again, to take a look at Chicago’s crucial role in the history of the major leagues, as in the AL and the NL. 

It is difficult to determine when the game of baseball itself was born. You can’t put a specific date on a specific historic event. The game evolved over the course of many years, based on the English game of “rounders” and an informal American game called “town ball.” The idea that a man named Abner Doubleday invented the game out of the blue one afternoon in 1839 in Cooperstown, NY, has been pretty much debunked.

The first recorded game of organized baseball (or base ball, two words, as it was called for many years) was played in 1846 in Hoboken, NJ, on that town’s legendary Elysian Fields. The two teams were both based (so to speak) in New York City, but established the first so-called modern rules in NJ. I guess this is something like the two “New York” NFL teams playing their games in NJ.

The first professional baseball team was formed in 1869 in Cincinnati, OH, but disbanded after one season. Other professional teams followed their example, such as the Chicago White Stockings, founded in 1870. They joined one of the original professional “leagues” called the National Association of Base Ball Players (NA) in 1871, but were put out of business for two years by the Chicago Fire of October, 1871. The franchise was rebuilt and rejoined the NA in 1874.

What happened next is Reason #1 why Chicago can lay claim to being the birthplace of MLB.

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Originally published: May 6, 2015. Last Updated: May 6, 2015.