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In 1791, the town of Pittsfield, Mass., passed an ordnance banning the playing of baseball within 80 yards of the town meetinghouse. The news reports of that ordinance may well have been the first printed notice of the game being played in the United States.

What later became "the national pastime" probably was a matter of local teams facing off in vacant fields. The game may have evolved out of a British game called "rounders," that came to America with emigrants. It was reportedly played regularly in 1893 in what became the Greenwich Village area of New York. Ultimately, Abner Doubleday was recognized as the man who defined the game in the U.S.

The New York Knickerbockekrs were the first team to play under modern rules. It was founded in September 1845. They lost their first game to the Gotham Club 23-1. Even so, the Knickerbocker Rules stuck and were adopted by other teams in the area. This particular version of baseball became known as the New York Game. The Masssachusetts Game was the rage in the Boston area.

The first formal organization created to watch over the game was the National Association of Base Ball Players, established in 1857. The organization developed some of the ongoing basic rules, inlcuding 90 feet between bases, nine-man teams and nine inning games. Beginning in 1869, the NABBP accepted professional pla;y because it was becoming such an issue. The first professional team was the Cincinnati Red Stockings, a group that only lasted two years. The Boston Red Stockings followed, born on Jan. 20, 1871.

Baseball competed with cricket before the Civil War, but by the 1860s it had evolved into a widely-recognized sport. During the war, as would be expected, most of the notable teams were in the northeast sector of the country. Expansion.Team membership in the NABBP ballooned to more than 400 by 1867. The western and southern parts of the country didn't go into baseball in a big way until after World War I.

Racist practices among the baseball teams began as a "gentlemen's agreement" that black players would not be allowed, although some played on pretext of being Hispanics. In the wake of the agreement, such competent players as Moses Fleetwood Walker and his brother Weldy Walker were unceremoniously dropped from the rosters. In 1947 when Jackie Robinson joined the National League and Larry Doby the American League, the ban ended and black athletes became stars in many instances.

The farm system, with likely baseball players trained in the "minor leagues" began in 1930. The term "minors" wasn't recognized until the farm system was fully entrenched. Long-standing problems with selling players among teams and players themselves going team-jumping and failing to abide by contracts led to warfare among several leagues. Several highly publiczed cases of players "throwing" games for pay rocked the sporting world.

Through it all, the popularity of the game mushroomed and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was not just a popular song, but a national mania.

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