|Founded||February 2, 1876 in Manhattan, New York|
|Founder|| William Hulbert |
|President||Bill Giles (honorary)|
|No. of teams||15|
|Los Angeles Dodgers (24th title)|
|Most titles||Los Angeles Dodgers (24)|
The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the National League (NL), is the older of two leagues constituting Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Canada, and the world's oldest extant professional team sports league. Founded on February 2, 1876, to replace the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP) of 1871–1875 (often called simply the "National Association"), the NL is sometimes called the Senior Circuit, in contrast to MLB's other league, the American League, which was founded 25 years later and is called the "Junior Circuit".
Both leagues currently have 15 teams. After two years of conflict in a "baseball war" of 1901–1902, the two eight-team leagues agreed in a "peace pact" to recognize each other as "major leagues", draft rules regarding player contracts, prohibiting "raiding", regulating relationships with minor leagues and lower level clubs, and with each establishing a team in the nation's largest metropolis of New York City, and the league champions of 1903 arranged to compete against each other in the new professional baseball championship tournament with the inaugural "World Series" that Fall of 1903, succeeding earlier similar national series in previous decades since the 1880s. After the 1904 champions failed to reach a similar agreement, the two leagues also formalized the new World Series tournament beginning in 1905 as an arrangement between the leagues themselves. National League teams have won 50 of the 115 World Series championships contested from 1903 to 2020.
By 1875, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP, often referred to as the "National Association"), founded four years earlier, was suffering from a lack of strong authority over clubs, unsupervised scheduling, unstable membership of cities, dominance by one team (the Boston Red Stockings), and an extremely low entry fee ($10) that gave clubs no incentive to abide by league rules when it was inconvenient to them.
William A. Hulbert (1832–1882), a Chicago businessman and an officer of the Chicago White Stockings of 1870–1889, approached several NA clubs with the plans for a professional league for the sport of base ball with a stronger central authority and exclusive territories in larger cities only. Additionally, Hulbert had a problem: five of his star players were threatened with expulsion from the NAPBBP because Hulbert had signed them to his club using what were considered questionable means. Hulbert had a great vested interest in creating his own league, and after recruiting St. Louis privately, four western clubs met in Louisville, Kentucky, in January 1876. With Hulbert speaking for the four later in New York City on February 2, 1876, the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs was established with eight charter members, as follows:
The National League's formation meant the end of the old National Association after only five seasons, as its remaining clubs shut down or reverted to amateur or minor league status. The only strong club from 1875 excluded in 1876 was a second one in Philadelphia, often called the White Stockings or later Phillies.
The first game in National League history was played on April 22, 1876, at Philadelphia's Jefferson Street Grounds, at 25th & Jefferson Streets, between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Boston baseball club. Boston won the game 6–5.
The new league's authority was soon tested after the first season. The Athletic and Mutual clubs fell behind in the standings and refused to make western road trips late in the season, preferring to play games against local non-league competition to recoup some of their financial losses rather than travel extensively incurring more costs. Hulbert reacted to the clubs' defiance by expelling them, an act which not only shocked baseball followers (New York and Philadelphia were the two most populous cities in the league) and the then sports world, but made it clear to clubs that league schedule commitments, a cornerstone of competition integrity, were not to be ignored.
The National League operated with only six clubs during 1877 and 1878. Over the next several years, various teams joined and left the struggling league. By 1880, six of the eight charter members had folded. The two remaining original NL franchises, Boston and Chicago, remain still in operation today as the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs. When all eight participants for 1881 returned for 1882—the first off-season without turnover in membership—the "circuit" consisted of a zig-zag line connecting the eight cities: Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Troy (near the state capital of Albany, New York), Worcester (Massachusetts), Boston, and Providence.
In 1883, new New York and Philadelphia clubs began National League play. Both teams remain in the NL today, the Phillies in their original city and the New York franchise (later named Giants) now in San Francisco since 1958.
The NL encountered its first strong rival organization when the American Association began play in 1882. The AA played in cities where the NL did not have teams, offered Sunday games and alcoholic beverages in locales where permitted, and sold cheaper tickets everywhere (25 cents versus the NL's standard 50 cents, a hefty sum for many in 1882). The NL struck back by establishing new clubs in 1883 in AA cities Philadelphia (later called "Phillies") and New York (the team that would become the Giants).
The National League and the American Association participated in a version of the World Series seven times during their ten-year coexistence. These contests were less organized than the modern Series, lasting as few as three games and as many as fifteen, with two Series (1885 and 1890) ending in disputed ties. The NL won four times and the AA only once, in 1886.
Starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1887, the National League began to raid the American Association for franchises to replace NL teams that folded. This undercut the stability of the AA.
Other new leagues that rose to compete with the National League were the Union Association and the Players' League. The Union Association was established in 1884 and folded after playing only one season, its league champion St. Louis Maroons joining the NL. The Players' League was established in 1890 by the Brotherhood of Professional Base-Ball Players, the sport's first players' union, which had failed to persuade the NL to modify its labor practices, including a salary cap and a reserve clause that bound players to their teams indefinitely. The NL suffered many defections of star players to the Players' League, but the P.L. collapsed after one season. The Brooklyn, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and New York franchises of the NL absorbed their Players' League counterparts.
The labor strike of 1890 hastened the downfall of the American Association. After the 1891 season, the AA disbanded and merged with the NL, which became known legally for the next decade as the "National League and American Association". The teams now known as the Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers (originally Brooklyn) and Pittsburgh Pirates (as well as the now-defunct Cleveland Spiders) had already switched from the AA to the NL prior to 1892. With the merger, the NL absorbed the St. Louis Browns (now known as the St. Louis Cardinals), along with three other teams that did not survive into the 20th century (for those three teams, see Partnership with the American League below).
While four teams that moved from the AA remain in the NL today (Pittsburgh , Cincinnati , Los Angeles [originally Brooklyn; 1890], and St. Louis ), only two original NL franchises (1876) remain in the league: the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves (originally in Boston, and later Milwaukee). The Cubs are the only charter member to play continuously in the same city. The other two pre-1892 teams still in the league are the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants (originally New York), both of which joined in 1883.
The National League became a 12-team circuit with monopoly status for the rest of the decade. The league became embroiled in numerous internal conflicts, not the least of which was a plan supported by some owners (and bitterly opposed by others) to form a "trust", wherein there would be one common ownership of all twelve teams. The NL used its monopsony power to force a $2,400 limit on annual player wages in 1894.
As the 20th century dawned, the NL was in trouble. Conduct among players was poor, and fistfights were a common sight at games. In addition to fighting each other, they fought with the umpires and often filled the air at games with foul language and obscenities. A game between the Orioles and Boston Beaneaters (a precursor to today's Atlanta Braves) in 1894 ended up having tragic consequences when players became engaged in a brawl and several boys in the stands of the South End Grounds started a fire. The blaze quickly got out of hand and swept through downtown Boston, destroying or damaging 100 buildings. Team owners argued with each other and players hated the NL's $2,400 salary cap. Many teams also ran into trouble with city governments that forbade recreational activities on Sunday.
Billy Sunday, a prominent outfielder in the 1880s, became so disgusted with the behavior of teammates that he quit playing in 1891 to become one of America's most famous evangelical Christian preachers. Most fans appear to have felt the same way, because attendance at games was plummeting by 1900.
After eight seasons as a 12-team league, the NL contracted back to eight teams for the 1900 season, eliminating its teams in Baltimore, Cleveland, Louisville (which has never had another major league team since), and Washington. This provided an opportunity for competition. Three of those cities received franchises in the newly christened American League (AL) when the minor Western League changed its name to the AL in 1900, with the approval of the NL, which regarded the AL as a lesser league since they were a party to the National Agreement. The AL declined to renew its National Agreement membership when it expired the next year, and on January 28, 1901, the AL officially declared itself a second major league in competition with the NL. By 1903, the upstart AL had placed new teams in the National League cities of Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis, as well as the "abandoned" NL cities Cleveland and Washington (and, temporarily, Baltimore). Only the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates had no AL team in their markets. The AL among other things enforced a strict conduct policy among its players.
The National League at first refused to recognize the new league, but reality set in as talent and money was split between the two leagues, diluting the league and decreasing financial success. After two years of bitter contention, a new version of the National Agreement was signed in 1903. This meant formal acceptance of each league by the other as an equal partner in major-league baseball, mutual respect of player contracts, and an agreement to play a postseason championship—the World Series.
Major League Baseball narrowly averted radical reorganization in November 1920. Dissatisfied with American League President and National Commission head Ban Johnson, NL owners dissolved the league on November 8 during heated talks on MLB reorganization in the wake of the Black Sox Scandal. Simultaneously, three AL teams also hostile to Johnson (Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and New York Yankees) withdrew from the AL and joined the eight NL teams in forming a new National League; the 12th team would be whichever of the remaining five AL teams loyal to Johnson first chose to join; if none did so an expansion team would have been placed in Detroit, by far the largest one-team city at that time. Four days later, on November 12, both sides met (without Johnson) and agreed to restore the two leagues and replace the ineffective National Commission with a one-man Commissioner in the person of federal Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
The National League circuit remained unchanged from 1900 through 1952. In 1953 the Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee; in 1966 they moved again, to Atlanta. In 1958 the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants moved to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, bringing major league baseball to the West Coast of the U.S. for the first time.
The NL remained an eight-team league for over 60 years. (For the eight teams, see Expansion (1887–1899) above, and "Classic Eight" below.) In 1962—facing competition from the proposed Continental League and confronted by the American League's unilateral expansion in 1961—the NL expanded by adding the New York Mets and the Houston Colt .45s. The "Colts" were renamed the Houston Astros three years later. In 1969, the league added the San Diego Padres and the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals), becoming a 12-team league for the first time since 1899.
In 1969, as a result of its expansion to 12 teams, the National League—which for its first 93 years had competed equally in a single grouping—was reorganized into two divisions of six teams (respectively named the National League East and West, although geographically it was more like North and South), with the division champions meeting in the National League Championship Series (an additional round of postseason competition) for the right to advance to the World Series.
In 1993 the league expanded to 14 teams, adding the Colorado Rockies and the Florida Marlins (which became the Miami Marlins shortly after the end of the 2011 season). In 1998, the Arizona Diamondbacks became the league's fifteenth franchise, and the Milwaukee Brewers moved from the AL to the NL, giving the NL 16 teams for the next 15 seasons.
In 1994, the league was again reorganized, into three geographical divisions (East, West and Central, all currently with five teams; from 1994 to 1997 the West had one less team, and from 1998 to 2012, the Central had one more team). A third postseason round was added at the same time: the three division champions plus a wild card team (the team with the best record among those finishing in second place) now advance to the preliminary National League Division Series. Due to a players' strike, however, the postseason was not actually held in 1994.
Before the 1998 season, the American League and the National League each added a fifteenth team. Because of the odd number of teams, only seven games could possibly be scheduled in each league on any given day. Thus, one team in each league would have to be idle on any given day. This would have made it difficult for scheduling, in terms of travel days and the need to end the season before October. In order for MLB officials to continue primarily intraleague play, both leagues would need to carry an even number of teams, so the decision was made to move one club from the AL Central to the NL Central. Eventually, Milwaukee agreed (after Kansas City declined) to change leagues; the National League now had 16 teams, the American League 14 with the switch.
Often characterized as being a more "traditional" or "pure" league, the National League did not adopt the designated hitter rule until the shortened 2020 season. Only the American League previously adopted the rule in 1973. In theory, this meant that the role of the manager was greater in the National League than in the American League, because the NL manager must take offense into account when making pitching substitutions and vice versa. However, this was disputed by some, such as former Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who claimed that the American League is more difficult because AL managers are required to know exactly when to pull a pitcher, whereas an NL manager merely pulls his pitcher when that spot comes up in the batting order.Overall, there were fewer home runs and runs scored in the National League than in the American, due to the presence of the pitcher in the NL batting order. As the collective bargaining agreement came closer to expiring after the 2021 season, owners expressed their intentions to use the designated hitter in all games starting in 2022. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, rule changes were instituted in both leagues for the 2020 season, which included an abbreviated 60-game schedule, the use of the designated hitter in all games, and expanded rosters. Discussions continued at that point as to whether the designated hitter rule would return for 2021.
For the first 96 years of its coexistence with the American League, National League teams faced their AL counterparts only in exhibition games or in the World Series. Beginning in 1997, however, interleague games have been played during the regular season and count in the standings. As part of the agreement instituting interleague play, the American League's designated-hitter rule is used only in games where the American League team is the home team.
In 1999, the offices of American League and National League presidents were discontinued and all authority was vested in the Commissioner's office. The leagues subsequently appointed "honorary" presidents to carry out ceremonial roles such as the awarding of league championship trophies. Additionally, the distinction between AL and NL umpires was erased, and instead all umpires were unified under MLB control. Following these actions, as well as the institution of interleague play, little remains to differentiate between the two leagues.
By 2011, MLB had changed its policy on interleague play, deciding to schedule interleague games throughout the season rather than only during specially designated periods. This policy would allow each league to have 15 teams, with one team in each league playing an interleague game on any given day. As a condition of the sale of the Astros to Jim Crane in November 2011, the team agreed to move to the American League effective with the 2013 season.
As of the end of the 2020 season, the Dodgers have won the most NL pennants, with 24. Representing the National League against the American, the Cardinals have won the most World Series (11) followed by the Giants (8), Dodgers (7), Pirates (5), and Reds (5). St. Louis also holds the distinction of being the only AA club to defeat an NL club in the 19th-century version of the World Series, having done so against their now-division rival Cubs.
Note: Team names are given here according to the convention used by The Baseball Encyclopedia, which regularized them into the familiar form of modern team names. However, most teams in the early period had no name, aside from that of the club (as in "Hartford Base Ball Club" or "Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia"), and nicknames like "Beaneaters," "Perfectos" and the many allusions to uniform colors were inventions by the florid sportswriters of the day.
The eight charter teams were the following:
Joined in 1878
Joined in 1879
Joined in 1880
Joined in 1881
Joined in 1883
Joined in 1885
Joined in 1886
Joined in 1887
Joined in 1889
Joined in 1890
Joined in 1892
The eight-team lineup established in 1900 remained unchanged through 1952. All franchises are still in the league, with five remaining in the same city.
|Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Abraham G. Mills||1883–1884|
|John K. Tener||1913–1918|
|A. Bartlett Giamatti||1986–1989|
|Leonard S. Coleman, Jr.||1994–1999|
Following the 1999 season, the American and National Leagues were merged with Major League Baseball, and the leagues ceased to exist as business entities. The role of the league president was eliminated.In 2001, Bill Giles, son of Warren Giles, was named honorary president of the NL.
The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League (AL), is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major league status. It is sometimes called the Junior Circuit because it claimed Major League status for the 1901 season, 25 years after the formation of the National League.
The following is a list of United States Major League Baseball teams that played in the National League during the 19th century. None of these teams, other than Athletic and Mutual, had actual names during this period; sportswriters however often applied creative monickers which are still, mistakenly, used today as "team names" following a convention established in 1951.
Interleague play in Major League Baseball refers to regular-season baseball games played between an American League (AL) team and a National League (NL) team. Interleague play was first introduced in the 1997 Major League Baseball season. Prior to that, matchups between AL teams and NL teams occurred only during spring training, the All-Star Game, other exhibition games, and the World Series. Unlike modern interleague play, none of these contests, except for the World Series, counted toward official team or league records.
The American Association (AA) was a professional baseball league that existed for 10 seasons from 1882 to 1891. Together with the National League (NL), founded in 1876, the AA participated in an early version of the World Series seven times versus the champion of the NL in an interleague championship playoff tournament. At the end of its run, several AA franchises joined the NL. After 1891, the NL existed alone, with each season's champions being awarded the Temple Cup (1894–1897).
The following are the baseball events of the year 2001 throughout the world.
The following are the baseball events of the year 1998 throughout the world.
The Western League was the name of several minor league baseball leagues that operated between 1885 and 1899. These leagues were focused mainly in the Midwestern United States.
The following are the baseball events of the year 1995 throughout the world.
The following are the baseball events of the year 1997 throughout the world.
The following are the baseball events of the year 1996 throughout the world.
The Major League Baseball (MLB) season schedule generally consists of 162 games for each of the 30 teams in the American League (AL) and National League (NL), played over approximately six months—a total of 2,430 games, plus the postseason. The regular season runs from late March/early April to late September/early October, followed by the postseason which can run to early November. The season begins with the official Opening Day, and, as of 2018, runs 26½ weeks through the last Sunday of September or first Sunday of October. One or more International Opener games may be scheduled outside the United States before the official Opening Day. It is possible for a given team to play a maximum of 20 games in the postseason in a given year, provided the team is a wild card and advances to each of the Division Series, Championship Series, and World Series with each series going the distance.
The National League West is one of the three divisions of the National League of Major League Baseball in North America. This Division was formed for the 1969 season when the National League expanded to 12 teams by adding the San Diego Padres and the Montreal Expos. For purpose of keeping a regular-season of 162 games, half of the teams were put into the new East Division and half into the new West Division. Within each division, the teams played 18 games each against their five division mates, and also 12 games against the teams in the opposite division, totaling 162 games.
This is a summary of the evolution of names of the current professional Major League Baseball teams in the National League and subsequent rival American League, and also of selected former major and minor league teams whose names were influential, long-lasting, or both. The sources of the names included club names, team colors, and city symbols. The names have sometimes been dubbed by the media, other times through conscious advertising marketing by the team, or sometimes a little of both.
The 1957 Major League Baseball season was played from April 15 to October 10, 1957. The National League's Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants played their final seasons as New York City-based franchises before their moves to California for the 1958 season, leaving New York without a National League team until the birth of the Mets in 1962.
The 1952 Major League Baseball season was contested from April 15 to October 7, 1952. The Braves were playing their final season in Boston, before the team relocated to Milwaukee the following year, thus, ending fifty seasons without any MLB team relocating.
The 1958 Major League Baseball season was played from April 14 to October 15. It was the first season of play in California for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants. Three teams had relocated earlier in the decade: the Milwaukee Braves, Baltimore Orioles, and Kansas City Athletics. New York went without a National League team for four seasons, until the expansion New York Mets began play in 1962.
Throughout its history, Major League Baseball rivalries have occurred between many teams and cities. Rivalries have arisen for many different reasons, the primary ones including geographic proximity, familiarity with opponents, various incidents, and cultural, linguistic, or national pride.
The Atlanta Braves, a current Major League Baseball franchise, originated in Boston, Massachusetts. This article details the history of the Boston Braves, from 1871 to 1952, after which they moved to Milwaukee to become the Milwaukee Braves, and then eventually to Atlanta to become the Atlanta Braves. The Boston franchise played at South End Grounds from 1871 to 1914 and at Braves Field from 1915 to 1952. Braves Field is now Nickerson Field of Boston University. The franchise, from Boston to Milwaukee to Atlanta, is the oldest continuous professional baseball franchise.