March 17, 1871: The evolution of baseball
Submitted by BTGrimes on Sun, 03/17/2013 - 9:00am
Major League base ball evolves
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK - Major league baseball didn't just happen, it evolved in fits and starts. One of those starts took place on March 17, 1871. Representatives of ten clubs; some professional, some amateur, some amateur only in name, met at Collier's Café on Broadway in New York City to form The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players.
Up until this time, baseball had been considered an amateur sport, but the Cincinnati Red Stockings led by former cricket player Harry Wright was an exception. They showed people would pay to see good baseball.
According to Leonard Koppett, author of Koppett's Concise History of Major League Baseball, the Red Stockings drew an estimated 200,000 fans playing about 60 games around the country in 1869. In 1870 the Red Stockings played a memorable extra inning game before 20,000 paying customers in New York. The commercial viability of professional baseball was no longer in question.
The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players only lasted 5 years, but several of its teams became the foundation of the National League, established in 1876 and going strong to this day.