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Noting history of baseball in US

Dr. Jim Surrell, Journal columnist

As we continue to recover and make progress dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, we are starting to see the return of professional, amateur, and school baseball games. Today we will briefly review the game of baseball in the United States.

First, let me review what I find to be some very interesting items about the game of baseball. Of all the major sports played world-wide, baseball is very unique due to the following two facts. First, baseball is the only major sport played with a ball that the team that is on defense has possession of the ball. As you know, the baseball team playing defense has the ball in the possession of the baseball pitcher. Second, baseball is the only major sport that the team who does not have possession of the ball is the only team that can score.

The history of baseball in the United States dates back to the 18th century, when boys and amateur enthusiasts played a baseball-like game by their own informal rules using home made equipment. The popularity of the sport grew and amateur men’s ball clubs were formed in the 1830-50s. 

Semi-professional baseball clubs followed in the 1860s, and the first professional leagues arrived following the American Civil War in the 1870s.

In 1871 the first professional baseball league was born. By the beginning of the 20th century, most large cities in the eastern United States had a professional baseball team. The teams were divided into two leagues, the National League and the American League. During the regular season, a team played only against other teams within its own league. The most victorious team in each league was said to have won their league pennant. The two pennant winners then met after the end of the regular season in the World Series. The winner of at least four games (out of a possible seven) was the World Series champion for that year. This arrangement still holds today, although the leagues are now subdivided into divisions and pennants are decided in post-season playoff series between the winners of each division.

Baseball became very popular in the 1920s, when Babe Ruth (1895-1948) led the New York Yankees to several World Series titles and became a national hero on the strength of his hitting so many home runs. Over the decades, every team has had its great players. One of the most noteworthy was the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson (1919-1972). Jackie Robinson was a true patriot and professional sports pioneer who was a very gifted and courageous athlete. He became the first black American professional baseball player in the major leagues in 1947.

Today, baseball is played as a very popular professional sport, and it is also played in many school systems and cities and communities throughout the USA. Let me close with making you aware of a major sports accomplishment that happened recently by the Newberry High School baseball team. Josh Magnusson is a senior at Newberry High School and is a pitcher on the high school baseball team. On Tuesday, April 27th, Newberry played a double header high school baseball game against Manistique, and the games were played in Manistique. Manistique won the first game of the double header and I congratulate them on winning that first game.

Then, in the second game of the double header, Josh Magnusson pitched a perfect no-hitter game to lead Newberry to victory in that second game. This is an absolutely fantastic and rare sports event accomplished by Josh and the Newberry High School baseball team. The entire Newberry school system (Tahquamenon Area Schools) and all the Newberry community is very proud of Josh and his team for this truly outstanding sports accomplishment. My sincere congratulations to Josh Magnusson and the entire NHS baseball team.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Jim Surrell is the author of “The ABC’s For Success In All We Do” and the “SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet” books.Contact Dr. Surrell by email at sosdietdoc@gmail.com.

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