The HyperTexts

Baseball Timeline / Chronology / History

Did Abner Doubleday invent the game of baseball? Doubleday was a Civil War hero who aimed the canon that fired the first shot in defense of Fort Sumter. Was his famous name used for "marketing purposes," perhaps? It seems more likely that baseball evolved over time, from (or along with) popular ball games like stoolball, cricket and rounders. But one thing is certain: by the time of the Civil War, baseball was becoming the American pastime. This baseball timeline helps put things in perspective. Did you know that baseball was being played as Native Americans walked the Trail of Tears, as Sam Houston and Davey Crocket defended the Alamo, as covered wagons crossed the Oregon Trail, and as Custer made his last stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn?

First References and Medieval Origins

1086 - It has been claimed that the Domesday Book mentions "bittle-battle" (which may be the name of an early baseball-like game). We have not been able to verify this claim, but we do find it interesting, since the Domesday Book was written soon after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066!

1330 - A medieval game called "stoolball" was allegedly mentioned in a poem by William de Pagula, the Vicar of Winkfield, when he cautioned children not to play ball games with "bats" and "bares" (bases?) in churchyards. "Watch out for that expensive stained glass, kids!" It does not seem absolutely certain that Pagula referred to stool-ball himself, at this time. But it certainly sounds like children were playing with bats, balls and possibly bases or wickets, in his day. A rose by any other name, perhaps?

What kind of ball game was stool-ball? Milkmaid's stools may have been used as wickets, giving the game its name. A milk bowl called a "bittle" may have been used as a bat, giving the game another name: "bittle-battle." The game apparently originated in Sussex, England, and has been called the "national sport" and "national pastime" of Sussex. The same or similar games may have been called "stump ball," "stow ball," "stob ball" and "trap-ball." This was apparently a unisex game, played on the village green, with rewards (or wagers) including "kisses," alcoholic beverages and "tansy cakes" according to various sources. Tansy cakes are associated with Easter, so a possible explanation for the game's origin is as part of an Easter festival, after a typical long, cold, damp English winter. Is this why baseball begins with spring training?

Do "cricket" and "stool-ball" not only have the same ancestry, but mean the same thing? According to the book Cricket (Steel, Lyttelton): "Certainly 'cricket' is an old word for a stool ... In Todd's 'Johnson' we find, 'Cricket: a low seat or stool, from German kriechen, to creep.'"

Pre-1800

1550 - Cricket (spelled "creckett") goes back as far as 1550, according to the court testimony of a Surrey coroner, John Derrick.
1591 - The poet Robert Herrick (1591-1674) mentions "stool-ball" and prizes: "At stool-ball, Lucia, let us play / For sugar, cakes, and wine."
1611 - Two Sussex men are prosecuted for playing cricket on Sunday! Randall Cotgrave mentions cricket being played with a "crooked staffe."
1613 - In the play Women Beware Women, Isabella plays "stool-ball" and claims to have caught two balls in her lap. A risqué joke?
1614 - Nicholas Breton plays "stoole-ball" to win a "tanzey" (tansy cake). George Chapman has "stool-ball" in his famous Odyssey.
1619 - A bawdy poem has "country wenches" playing "with stoole and ball" until they fall and the "country lads" get them pregnant!
1621 - In his diary William Bradford mentions "stoole-ball" being played in the American colonies.
1634 - William Shakespeare and/or John Fletcher mention "stool ball" in their play The Two Noble Kinsmen. Fletcher was from Sussex.
1672 - There is a disputed reference to "baseball" in the writing of Anglican bishop Thomas Wilson; the original text may have mentioned "stoolball."
1694 - Thomas D'Urfey has a bawdy match for "kisses at stool-ball" in his Comical History of Don Quixote.
1744 - A similar game appears in the 1744 children's book A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, where it was called "Base-Ball."
1747 - A group of 28 women are reported playing a "fine match of stoolball" at Warbleton, East Sussex, England.
1748 - Lady Hervey reports the Prince of Wales and Prince George (later King George III) playing "base-ball," a game known to all schoolboys.
1749 - The Prince of Wales is mentioned playing "Bass-Ball" in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, against Lord Middlesex.
1755 - Samuel Johnson's dictionary includes "stoolball." A book entitled The Card by John Kidgell mentions baseball.
1786 - The earliest explicit American reference appears in the diary of a Princeton student, John Rhea, who mentioned "baste ball."
1791 - The playing of baseball is banned within 80 yards of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts town meeting hall.
1796 - German scholar Johann Gutsmuth's article on Englische Base-ball describes the batter at home plate having three attempts to hit the ball.
1798 - Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey mentions cricket and "base ball."

According to baseball historian David Block, the English game of baseball had been essentially defined by the late 18th century, and it was this game that had arrived in the U.S. as part of "a sweeping tide of cultural migration" during the colonial period. And our timeline so far seems to confirm this theory, since the rules were known to a German author, and the game was being played by British royals!

Other games that have been proposed as ancestors and precursors of baseball include Oină, Cat, Cat-Ball, Cat-and-Dog, Club-Ball, Dog-and-Cat, Horne-Billets, Trap-Ball, Goal-Ball, Field Ball, Bat-and-Ball, Town-Ball, Round-Town, Round-Ball, Rounders and Base (the latter sounds suspiciously familiar). There is also a game called "British Baseball" which dates back to at least 1892, but it may have been influenced by American baseball by that time. The most likely explanation is that English baseball evolved from (or along with) British stool-ball, rounders and cricket. For instance, American baseball has rather obviously adopted cricket terminology such as "outs," "innings," "runs" and "umpires." Of course the American version of baseball took on a life of its own, but some of the most basic features of the game originated in England well before the appearance of Abner Doubleday and Alexander Cartwright. For instance: the ball, the bat, the bases, making it back to home base to score, "three strikes and you're out," catching the ball to make outs, and much of the terminology.

1800-1865

Have you ever wondered why it's called "home plate" and why it looks different from the other bases? Before official rules emerged toward the end of the century, home plate could actually be a dinner plate or other table dish! Around 1899/1900 new rules ordained that home plate would be fashioned of marble or stone and had to be square (12" x 12") rather than circular. But sharp edges could make sliding into home a dangerous affair and catchers in those days didn't wear gloves! So in 1900/1901 rubber replaced more dangerous materials and the current pentagonal shape was adopted.

1800 - The United States capitol is moved from Philadelphia to Washington D.C.
1801 - Thomas Jefferson is inaugurated as the third American president.
1803 - Jefferson's "Louisiana Purchase" allows the U.S. to double in size.
1804 - Lewis and Clark cross the Rockies and reach the Pacific Ocean.
1812 - The U.S. and Great Britain go to war; the Brits set fire to the White House.
1819 - Spain cedes Florida to the U.S. The population of the U.S. is less than ten million.
1819 - The birth of Abner Doubleday, who would be credited with inventing baseball, probably incorrectly.
1820 - The birth of Alexander Cartwright, who did create the first official rules for baseball.
1820 - The Missouri Compromise attempts to establish a balance between slave and free states.
1820 - To prove that tomatoes are not poisonous, Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson eats one in public.
1823 - An edition of the (New York) National Advocate mentions "base ball" being played.
1824 - Andrew Jackson, a slaveowner and author of the Trail of Tears, is elected president.
1825 - "Bass-Ball" is being played for money, according to the (New York) Delhi Gazette.
1826 - American founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both die on Independence Day.
1827 - Slavery is abolished in the state of New York but rules half the U.S.
1829 - Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. recalls baseball at Harvard, from which he graduated in 1829.
1830 - The Indian Removal Act will pave the way for the Trail of Tears. 
1831 - A version of rounders/baseball called "Philadelphia Town Ball" is being played.
1835 - The first mentions of "innings" and "diamonds" appear in relation to baseball.
1835 - Under Sam Houston, Texas attempts to secede from Mexico. Cherokees walk the Trail of Tears.
1836 - The Battle of the Alamo. The patent for the first revolver is awarded to Samuel Colt.
1837 - The Gotham Base Ball Club is formed in Manhattan; it will split to form the Knickerbockers.
1837 - William R. Wheaton drafts rules for the Gotham Club that predate the official rules of 1845.
1837 - Elijah P. Lovejoy, an abolitionist printer, is killed by a mob of slavery supporters.
1838 - The first recorded game of modern baseball was at Beachville, Ontario in 1838.
1839 - In Jackson, Mississippi, the first state law allowing women to own property is passed.
1839 - Abner Doubleday has been credited with inventing baseball in Cooperstown, New York.
1839 - Charles Goodyear invents rubber vulcanization. Early baseballs are made with shoe rubber cores!
1840 - There are no "official" baseballs in the 1840s, so pitchers and cobblers create their own "unique" balls.
1840 - In some cases, fish eyes are used to form a baseball's core!
1842 - The second organized wagon train travels the Oregon Trail.
1844 - Samuel Morse sends the first telegraph message.
1845 - The New York Herald is the first major newspaper to mention baseball. The first box score.
1845 - Alexander Cartwright, called "The Father of Baseball," develops the first official baseball rules.

1845 - The "New York Game" makes home plate circular with a 12-inch diameter, fashioned of iron or enameled.
1845 - Texas joins the Union. The U.S. goes to war with Mexico.
1846 - The first official baseball game is played by Cartwright's Knickerbockers against cricket players.
1848 - The California Gold Rush. Mexico cedes Texas, New Mexico and California to the U.S.
1849 - The Knickerbockers introduce the first baseball uniforms: blue and white cricket outfits with stylish straw hats!
1850 - California joins the Union. An account of "tut-ball" makes it sound very much like baseball.
1852 - Harriet Beecher Stowe writes Uncle Tom's Cabin as a condemnation of slavery. It becomes a bestseller.
1853 - With the Gadsden Purchase, the U.S. buys remaining Arizona and New Mexico territories from Mexico.
1854 - The Republican Party is founded; it opposes slavery.
1857 - In the Dred Scott decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that slaves were property and could not vote.
1857 - The birth of Mike "King" Kelly, perhaps the first baseball player to "star" with the public in books, songs and (later) movies.
1858 - The first baseball convention is held. Rules are established for the batter's box.
1858 - The "Massachusetts Game" is a set of rules drawn up by the Massachusetts Association of Base Ball Players.
1860 - The Philadelphia Athletics baseball club is formed.
1860 - Abraham Lincoln is elected president; he opposes the spread of slavery. South Carolina secedes.
1861- The Civil War begins. Captain Abner Doubleday aims the first canon fired in defense of Fort Sumter.
1861 - Baseball was played by soldiers nearly every day during the Civil War, "weather permitting."
1861 - Abner Doubleday is promoted to major.
1862 - Abner Doubleday is promoted to lieutenant colonel for his actions at Antietam.
1862 - President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation.
1862 - Jim Creighton is baseball's first superstar; he bats 1.000, getting hits in all 65 at-bats. He also throws the first recorded shutout. 
1863 - Abner Doubleday is promoted to major general and leads 9,500 men at the Battle of Gettysburg.
1863 - Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Doubleday rode with Lincoln on the train to Gettysburg.
1864 - Baseball is being played on campus at Penn State University.
1865 - Al Spalding, age 16, joins the Rockford Pioneers.
1865 - Robert E. Lee surrenders to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, ending the Civil War.
1865 - Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by actor John Wilkes Booth during the play Our American Cousin

1866-1899

1866 - The Rockford Forest Citys feature youthful superstars Al Spalding and Ross Barnes.
1866 - The first female baseball team is started by students at Vassar College.
1866 - The birth of "Sliding" Billy Hamilton, who would set records for runs and steals.
1867 - Candy Cummings throws the first curveball.
1867 - The birth of Cy Young, baseball's all-time winningest pitcher.
1868 - Home plate is changed from circular to square (12" x 12") and placed in a diamond position.
1869 - The first all-professional baseball team is the Cincinnati Red Stockings.
1869 - Three fouls is an out.
1870 - American missionaries introduce baseball to Japan; it would catch on in a big way.
1870 - The batter's box is now to be drawn with chalk.
1870 - Nat Hicks is the first catcher to position himself immediately behind the batter.
1870 - George Wright created a rubber "mouth protector" for catchers.
1870 - Doug Alison caught with the first catcher's mitt: a pair of "buckskin mittens."
1870 - Catching was dangerous. Nat Hicks would suffer severe facial injuries and almost lose an eye.
1870 - The first baseball gloves are used around this time; they would become prevalent in the 1890s.
1871 - The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players is the first "major league."
1871 - Al Spalding wins 19 games as a major league rookie, age 20.
1871 - Ross Barnes hits .401 as a rookie, age 21.
1871 - Cap Anson, baseball's first superstar hitter, debuts at age 19. 
1871 - George Wright, an early star shortstop, debuts at age 24.
1871 - Deacon White, a two-time batting champion, debuts at age 23.
1871 - In the NA, the batter can demand a high or low pitch.
1872 - Al Spalding leads the league in wins, going 38-8, with a 1.85 ERA.
1872 - Ross Barnes hits .430 with a 211 OPS+ and leads the league in hits, doubles and total bases.
1872 - Jim O'Rourke, a lifetime .310 hitter with 1,729 runs, debuts at age 21.
1872 - In the NA, home plate must be white marble or stone.
1873 - Al Spalding has a 41-14 record with 46 complete games.
1873 - Ross Barnes hits .431 and leads the league in most major offensive categories.
1874 - Batters must now stay inside the batter's box until contact has been made.
1874 - Al Spalding has a 52-16 record with 65 complete games.
1875 - Pud Galvin, who won 365 games with a 2.85 ERA, debuts at age 18.
1875 - Al Spalding has baseball's greatest season to this day, going 54-5 with a 1.59 ERA and 14.2 WAR.
1876 - Around this time, Al Spalding begins wearing a padded black baseball glove.
1876 - Al Spalding has a 47-12 record, then retires at age 25.
1876 - Al Spalding opens a sporting goods store and creates the first "official" baseball.
1876 - During the "dead ball" era the balls were softer and often became unraveled during play.
1876 - Fred Thayer adapts a fencing mask into a catcher's mask for Alexander Tyng of the Harvard Nine.
1876 - Custer is defeated and killed at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
1876 - The National League is established, with William Hulbert as president and Al Spalding heavily involved.
1876 - Ross Barnes hits the first home run in NL history on May 2, 1876.
1876 - Ross Barnes hits .429 with a 235 OPS+ and leads the league in hits, walks, runs, doubles, triples and total bases.
1876 - George Hall sets the single-season home run record with five.
1877 - James Tyng of Harvard uses the first catcher's mask.
1877 - Four players are banned from baseball for accepting bribes.
1877 - Thomas Edison invents the phonograph.
1878 - John Ward, who scored 1,410 runs and stole 540 bases, debuts at age 18.
1878 - Mike "King" Kelly debuts at age 20. He will be the first "larger than life" baseball star.
1878 - Al Spalding retires at age 27, begins selling catcher's masks, and goes on to become a sporting goods magnate and influential owner/executive.
1879 - Mike "King" Kelly is one of the first catchers to use a mask, chest protector and glove.
1879 - Tommy Bond wins 40 games for the third consecutive year, a record that still stands.
1879 - Dan Brouthers, a lifetime .342 batter, debuts at age 21. 
1879 - Charley Jones sets the single-season home run record with nine.
1880 - Lee Richmond pitches the first perfect game.
1880 - Cap Anson leads the NL in RBI, his first of eight RBI titles.
1880 - The Chicago team feature stars Anson, King Kelly, Abner Dalrymple, George Gore, Silver Flint.
1880 - The White Sox finish with a 67-17 record. Their .798 winning percentage remains the NL record. 

Early baseball historian Maclean Kennedy wrote this about King Kelly: "There was never a better or more brilliant player. Colorful beyond description, he was the light and the life of the game … He was one of the quickest thinkers that ever took a signal. He originated more trick plays than all players put together … As a drawing card, he was the greatest of his time. Fandom around the circuit always welcomed the Chicago team, with the great Anson and his lieutenant, King Kelly."

1882 - Pete Browning debuts at age 21 and hits .378 with a 223 OPS+.
1882 - The American Association (AA), also known as the Beer and Whiskey League, is created.
1883 - The Brooklyn Bridge opens.
1883 - The first baseball game under electric lights is played in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
1883 - Buck Ewing sets the single-season home run record with ten.
1884 - Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn sets a record with 59 wins.
1884 - Moses Fleetwood Walker becomes the first African-American player in the Major Leagues.
1884 - Pete Browning uses the first Louisville Slugger bat.
1884 - NL pitchers are allowed to throw overhand, underhand or sidearm.
1885 - Abner Dalrymple sets the single-season home run record with 11.
1885 - The New York Gothams change their name to the Giants because first baseman Roger Connor is 6-foot-3!
1886 - Matt Kilroy sets the MLB record with 513 strikeouts; Toad Ramsey has 499.
1886 - Al Spalding creates "spring training" in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
1886 - Al Spalding hires detectives in an attempt to curb the drinking of King Kelly and other Chicago players.
1886 - King Kelly hits .388 with 155 runs. His contract is sold for a record $10,000. He is the first player to sign autographs.
1887 - Pete Browning hits .402 with 118 RBI and 103 steals!
1887 - Billy O'Brien sets the single-season home run record with 19.
1887 - Sam Thompson hits .372 with 166 RBI and sets the single-season home run record with 20.
1887 - The birth of "Shoeless" Joe Jackson.
1887 - The NL and AA agree that home plate can no longer be marble or stone, and must be whitened rubber.
1887 - Mighty Dan Casey struck out in a game with the Giants, perhaps inspiring the famous poem "Casey at the Bat"?
1888 - "Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Lawrence Thayer is first published. 
1888 - Silver King wins 45 games with a 1.64 ERA.
1888 - Ed Delahanty debuts at age 20.
1888 - George Barnard patents his "open view" catcher's mask.
1888 - King Kelly has the first baseball autobiography with Play Ball.
1888 - Al Spalding organizes baseball's first world tour, with stops in England, France, Italy, Egypt and Australia.
1889 - "Slide, Kelly, Slide" about baseball star King Kelly becomes a hit for Maggie Cline.
1889 - The Players' League is created.
1889 - Dinner plates can no longer be used for home plate, which now must be square (12" x 12") and fashioned of marble or stone.
1889 - Ex-catcher Harry Decker files a patent on a padded catcher's mitt.
1890 - The short-lived Players' League would be depicted in the 2015 movie Deadball. Al Spalding helped nip it in the bud.
1890 - Cy Young takes the mound in the majors for the first time, at age 19, and gets the first of 511 wins.
1891 - The American Association folds and four of its teams join the National League.
1892 - Ellis Island opens as an immigration station.
1892 - Benjamin Harrison becomes the first president to attend a MLB game while in office.
1892 - Wee Willie Keeler debuts at age 20.
1889 - The first hit record for Edison Studios is "Slide, Kelly, Slide" about baseball star King Kelly.
1893 - The elevated pitcher's mound debuts around this time, at the current distance of 60 feet, 6 inches. 
1893 - Mike Kelly is billed on vaudeville as "King Kelly, the Monarch of the Baseball Field" and "the $10,000 peach."
1894 - Jerry Denny is the last MLB player to play barehanded.
1894 - Hugh Duffy hits a record .440 with 160 runs, 145 RBI and 374 total bases!
1894 - Slidin' Billy Hamilton hits .403 with a still-record 198 runs and 100 steals!
1895 - The birth of George Herman Ruth, better known as Babe Ruth and the Bambino.
1895 - Around this time most baseball players are wearing gloves, but they don't have pockets (see 1920).
1896 - The birth of Rogers Hornsby.
1896 - Hughie Jennings hits .401 with 209 hits and 125 runs.
1896 - Jesse Burkett hits .410 with 240 hits and 160 runs!
1896 - Dan Brouthers retires with a career batting average of .342, which is 9th all-time.
1897 - Honus Wagner debuts at age 23.
1897 - Wee Willie Keeler hits .424 with 239 hits and 145 runs.
1897 - Cap Anson is the first MLB player to retire with 3,000 hits and 2,000 RBI.
1898 - The Spanish-American War begins.
1898 - Wahoo Sam Crawford joins a baseball team that travels on a lumber wagon from town to town.
1899 - Ed Delahanty hits .410 with 238 hits and 338 total bases.
1899 - Buck Freeman sets the single-season home run record with 25.

1900-1910

1900 - The American League is created.
1900 - The National League settles on a rubber home plate in the current pentagonal shape, 17 inches wide.
1900 - Honus Wagner hits .381 and wins the first of seven NL batting titles.
1900 - Christy Mathewson pitches in the majors for the first time, at age 19.
1900 - President McKinley makes Al Spalding commissioner of the Summer Olympic Games.
1901 - Nap Lajoie hits .426 with 232 hits, 145 runs and 350 total bases.
1901 - The NL requires catchers to stay in the catcher's box immediately behind the batter.
1903 - The Boston Americans (later, Red Sox) and the Pittsburgh Pirates play the first World Series.
1903 - The first World Series features hall-of-famers Fred Clarke, Jimmy Collins, Honus Wagner and Cy Young.
1903 - The Wright brothers make their first flight at Kitty Hawk.
1903 - Ed Delahanty retires with a .346 batting average, which is fifth all-time.
1903 - The birth of James "Cool Papa" Bell, a star of the Negro League.
1904 - Alta Weiss of the Vermilion Independents is the first woman to play professional baseball.
1904 - Claude Berry is the first catcher to wear a protective cup.
1904 - Jack Chesbro wins 41 games.
1904 - The World Series is not played, due to a squabble between Giants player-manager John McGraw and AL president Ban Johnson.
1905 - Albert Einstein publishes his special theory of relativity with the equation e=mc2.
1905 - Rube Waddell wins 27 games with a 1.48 ERA.
1905 - Christy Mathewson wins 31 games with a microscopic 1.28 ERA.
1905 - Ty Cobb plays his first game in the majors, at age 18.
1905 - Every game in the 1905 World Series was a complete-game shutout won by a hall-of-fame pitcher.
1906 - The San Francisco Earthquake.
1906 - The Chicago Cubs win 116 games and lose 36, setting the all-time record for wins in a single regular season.
1906 - "Three Finger" Mordecia Brown wins 26 games with an unfathomable 1.04 ERA.
1907 - Alta Weiss is the first woman to play professional baseball.
1907 - Roger Bresnahan is the first catcher to wear shin guards.
1907 - Walter Johnson pitches in the majors for the first time.
1907 - Tris Speaker debuts at age 19.
1908 - "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" becomes a hit, but the songwriters had never been to a game!
1908 - Shoeless Joe Jackson debuts at age 20.
1908 - Ed Walsh wins 40 games with 269 strikeouts.
1908 - Fred Merkle makes a base running error known as "Merkle's Boner" that costs the Giants the pennant.
1908 - Henry Ford produces the first Model T automobile.
1909 - Ty Cobb stabs an African-American hotel watchman.

1910-1920

1910 - President William Howard Taft attends opening day.
1910 - Walter Johnson wins 25 games with a 1.36 ERA and 313 strikeouts.
1910 - The "live ball" era begins with the introduction of baseballs with cores made of cork.
1910 - Batting averages and home runs will soar, thanks to the livelier balls.
1911 - Cy Young retires with a record 511 wins.
1911 - Ty Cobb hits .419 with 248 hits, 367 total bases and 83 steals!
1911 - Shoeless Joe Jackson hits .408 with 233 hits, 337 total bases and 41 steals as a qualified rookie!
1912 - At age 22, Smoky Joe Wood has a season for the ages, going 34-5 with a 1.91 ERA and 258 strikeouts.
1912 - The first MLB players' strike.
1912 - Fred Snodgrass drops the ball and costs the Giants the World Series.
1912 - Fenway Park opens. It is the oldest MLB stadium still in use today.
1913 - Ebbets Field opens.
1913 - The Federal League is created.
1913 - Walter Johnson throws 56 consecutive shutout innings and wins 36 games with a 1.14 ERA.
1914 - The Panama Canal opens.
1914 - Frank "Home Run" Baker leads the AL in home runs for the fourth year in a row, earning the nickname.
1914 - Babe Ruth debuts at age 19 as a left-handed pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles.
1914 - The Boston Red Sox purchase Babe Ruth from the Baltimore Orioles.
1914 - Joe DiMaggio is born.
1915 - Grover Cleveland Alexander wins 31 games with a 1.22 ERA and 241 strikeouts.
1915 - Rogers Hornsby debuts at age 19.
1915 - The death of Al Spalding, one of baseball's earliest superstars and most influential organizers.
1916 - The Chicago Cubs merge with the Chicago Whales and play at Wrigley Field.
1916 - Jimmy Claxton is fired because of his African-American ancestry.
1917 - Honus Wagner retires as the best shortstop in MLB history; no one else is close.
1917 - The United States enters World War I.
1918 - Many MLB players serve in World War I.
1918 - The birth of Ted Williams, who would be called "the greatest hitter who ever lived."
1918 - The "Star-Spangled Banner" is sung at a baseball game for the first time.
1918 - Babe Ruth leads the AL in homers for the first time, with 11.
1919 - Babe Ruth is credited with the invention adding knobs to his bats ...
1919 - Babe Ruth almost triples his home run output, to 29, a new single-season record.
1919 - Lefty O'Doul debuts at age 22, but doesn't catch fire until his thirties.
1919 - In the most famous scandal in baseball history, eight "Black Sox" players are accused of throwing the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

1920-1929

1920 - Prohibition goes into effect.
1920 - The first National Negro Baseball League game is played in Indianapolis.
1920 - Bill Doak invents a baseball glove with a webbed pocket.
1920 - Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians is killed by a beanball.
1920 - Thanks to livelier baseballs the 1920s will produce a "blind orgy of hitting."
1920 - Babe Ruth is sold by the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees, where he hits an unheard-of 54 homers, a new record.
1920 - The Yankees are the first team to have uniform numbers, which are based on batting order, so Babe Ruth is number three.
1920 - Shoeless Joe Jackson is forced out of baseball due to the Black Sox scandal; his .356 batting average is third all-time.
1920 - George Sisler hits .407 with 257 hits and 399 total bases.
1921 - Baseball is broadcast on radio for the first time.
1921 - Babe Ruth hits 59 homers, a new record, with 171 RBI.
1922 - Babe Ruth is suspended for 39 days after disregarding Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis's order forbidding him from barnstorming between seasons.
1922 - George Sisler hits .420 with 246 hits.
1923 - Yankee Stadium, called "The House that Ruth built," opens. Ruth hits a three-run homer and the Yankees win 4-1. 
1923 - The Negro National League is a huge success.
1923 - Harry Heilmann hits .403 with 211 hits and 331 total bases.
1924 - Rogers Hornsby hits .424 with 227 hits and 373 total bases.
1924 - Dazzy Vance wins 28 games with a 2.16 ERA and 262 strikeouts.
1925 - Lou Gehrig replaces Wally Pipp in the Yankee lineup; the "Iron Horse" will go on to play in 2,130 consecutive games.
1926 - Satchel Paige makes his pitching debut in the Negro Southern League.
1927 - Charles Lindburgh's famous trans-Atlantic flight.
1927 - Babe Ruth sets a record for the ages with 60 home runs in a single season.
1927 - The 1927 Yankees are considered one of the greatest baseball teams of all time.
1927 - "Big Poison" Paul Waner hits .380 and his brother "Little Poison" Lloyd Waner hits .355 as a rookie.
1927 - Thomas Edison predicts a rubber shortage if there is a second World War. He proves correct.
1928 - Ty Cobb retires with a .366 batting average, which is first all-time.
1928 - Tris Speaker retires with a .345 batting average, which is seventh all-time.
1928 - Goose Goslin hits .379 for the AL batting title.
1929 - Babe Ruth hits his 500th career home run.
1929 - Lefty O'Doul hits .398 for the NL batting title.

1930-1939

1930 - Babe Ruth signs a contract paying $80,000 a year.
1930 - Bill Terry hits .401; he's the last NL hitter to hit .400 or better.
1930 - Lefty Grove wins 28 games with a 2.54 ERA.
1930 - Hack Wilson hits 56 homers with a record 191 RBI.
1931 - Balls that bounce over the fence are now ground-rule doubles, not homers.
1931 - Josh Gibson hits 75 homers in his first full season with the Homestead Grays. 
1931 - Babe Ruth hits his 600th homer.
1931 - Willie Mays is born. 
1931 - Japan's first television broadcast is a baseball game. 
1932 - Babe Ruth hits his legendary "called shot" home run against Charlie Root and the Chicago Cubs.
1932 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president.
1933 - Major League Baseball's first All-Star game is played.
1934 - Brothers Dizzy and Daffy Dean combine to win 49 games.
1934 - Lefty O'Doul retires with a .349 batting average, which is fourth all-time.
1934 - Babe Ruth plays his last game for the Yankees.
1934 - Hank Aaron is born, weighing over 12 pounds. He would break Ruth's record for career homers.
1935 - MLB's first night game is played at Cincinnati's Crosley Field. 
1935 - Babe Ruth ends his career by hitting three home runs in one game.
1935 - Babe Ruth retires with a record 714 home runs and .690 slugging percentage.
1936 - The Baseball Hall of Fame inducts its first five players: Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Matthewson, Babe Ruth, Honus Wager.
1936 - Joe DiMaggio plays his first game for the Yankees, getting three hits.
1936 - Bob Feller makes his MLB debut at age 17.
1937 - Rogers Hornsby retires with a .358 batting average, which is second all-time.
1938 - Johnny Vander Meer pitches two consecutive no-hitters.
1939 - Ted Williams makes his MLB debut.
1939 - Lou Gehrig takes himself out of the Yankees lineup; it turns out that he has the disease that now bears his name.

1940-1949

1941 - Joe DiMaggio hits safely in a record 56 consecutive games.
1941 - Ted Williams hits .406 for the season; he's the last .400 hitter. 
1941 - Pearl Harbor is bombed by Japan and the U.S. enters World War II.
1941 - Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and 340 MLB players will serve in World War II.
1941 - As Thomas Edison predicted, the Pearl Harbor attack leads to a rubber shortage.
1941 - Lou Gehrig dies.
1941 - Pete Rose is born.
1942 - Branch Rickey is hired as President of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
1943 - The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is formed.
1943 - Due to the rubber shortage and less bouncy baseballs, batting averages plummet.
1944 - Fortunately, synthetic rubber saves the day and batting averages "rebound" in 1944.
1944 - Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis dies at age 71.
1945 - World War II ends.
1946 - Jackie Robinson breaks the minor league color barrier, playing for the Montreal Royals.
1947 - Jackie Robinson breaks the major league color barrier, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
1947 - The first televised World Series.
1948 - Larry Doby is the first African-American player in the American League.
1948 - Satchel Paige makes his major league debut, as does Roy Campanella.
1948 - Babe Ruth dies.
1949 - Joe DiMaggio is baseball's first player to earn $100,000 for a single season.
1949 - NATO is formed.

1950-1959

1950 - The Korean War begins.
1950 - Martin O'Malley maneuvers Branch Rickey out of his job.
1951 - Bobby Thomson hits his pennant-winning home run against the Dodgers.
1951 - Joe DiMaggio announces his retirement.
1951 - Mickey Mantle trips on a drainpipe and injures his knee, in his rookie season.
1951 - Willie Mays is a rookie with the New York Giants.
1951 - Topps, a chewing gum company, issues its first baseball cards.
1953 - Mickey Mantle hits the longest home run on record, a 565-foot clout, at Washington's Griffith Stadium on April 17, 1953. 
1953 - Ted Williams, a fighter pilot, is shot down in Korea but is uninjured.
1954 - Ted Williams fractures his collarbone in the first game of spring training after flying 39 combat missions without injury in the Korean War. 
1954 - Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.
1954 - Willie Mays robs Vic Wertz with his iconic over-the-shoulder catch in the World Series.
1955 - The play Damn Yankees opens on Broadway.
1956 - Don Larsen pitches a perfect game in the World Series.
1956 - Jerry Sacharski, a baseball instructor, creates a T-Ball league in Albion, Michigan.
1957 - Sputnik is launched by the Soviet Union.
1958 - The United States launches its first satellite, Explorer I.
1958 - The first trans-Atlantic passenger jet service.
1958 - The New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers relocate to California.
1958 - Stan Musial gets his 3,000th hit.
1958 - Ted Williams signs a whopping $135,000 contract extension with the Red Sox, making him the highest paid player in baseball history.

1960-1969

1960 - Players' names now appear on their uniforms.
1960 - Bill Mazeroski wins the World Series for the Pirates with a home run.
1961 - Ty Cobb dies.
1961 - Roger Maris breaks Babe Ruth's single-season record by hitting 61 home runs.
1961 - A new franchise starts out as the the Los Angeles Angels but can't keep its name straight ...
1962 - Casey Stengel becomes manager of the expansion New York Mets.
1962 - Jackie Robinson is the first black player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1962 - Stan Musial breaks Honus Wagner's NL record and will finish with 3,630 hits.
1963 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington for civil rights.
1963 - Pete Rose is the NL Rookie of the Year. He will retire as the all-time leader in games, wins, hits and times on base.
1964 - The New York Yankees are purchased by CBS.
1964 - Construction winds down on the Houston Astrodome, baseball's first domed stadium with its first animated scoreboard.
1965 - The Houston Astrodome opens and Mickey Mantle hits the first indoor home run there.
1965 - Willie Mays hits his 512th home run, breaking Mel Ott's NL record of 511.
1965 - Branch Rickey dies.
1965 - The Angels become the California Angels ... until 1997 ...
1965 - Sandy Koufax pitches a perfect game. It's the first perfect game by a lefty since 1880!
1966 - Sandy Koufax announces his retirement in his prime, due to arm problems.
1967 - Johnny Bench debuts at age 19. He will popularize one-handed catching with a hinged mitt.
1968 - Pete Rose wins his first batting crown (.335) and leads the NL in hits (210) and OBP (.391).
1969 - Pete Rose wins his second batting crown (.348) and leads the NL in runs (120).
1969 - Mickey Mantle retires with 536 home runs and ten thousand thrills.
1969 - The World Series acquires more meaning when the first MLB game is played in Montreal, Canada.
1969 - The "Amazing" Mets win the World Series.
1969 - Curt Flood refuses trade to the Phillies, starting a long legal battle against baseball's reserve clause that will create the free agent market and cause player salaries to soar.

1970-1989

1970 - Baseball umpires call "Strike!" ... of the not-working sort.
1970 - Jim Bouton publishes his eye-raising Ball Four.
1971 - Satchel Paige is the first Negro League player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1972 - Roberto Clemente dies in a plane crash after getting his 3,000th hit on the last day of the season.
1972 - Jackie Robinson dies.
1972 - Another baseball strike, but this one only lasts 13 days.
1973 - George Steinbrenner buys the New York Yankees.
1973 - The AL adopts the designated hitter rule. The first DH, Ron Blomberg, walks.
1973 - Pete Rose wins his third batting crown (.338), leads the league with 230 hits, and is named NL MVP.
1974 - Richard Nixon resigns the presidency.
1974 - Hank Aaron ties then breaks Babe Ruth's career home run record by hitting his 714th and 715th.
1974 - Frank Robinson becomes MLB's first black manager, with the Cleveland Indians.
1974 - Gaylord Perry admits that he threw illegal spitters, but still makes the Hall of Fame/Shame.
1975 - Arbitrator Peter Seitz casts the deciding vote, ending baseball's reserve clause.
1976 - Pitchers Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith become modern baseball's first free agents.
1976 - Hank Aaron hits his 755th and last home run.
1977 - Japan's Sadaharu Oh hits his 756th homer to pass Aaron. (Sorta. He didn't face Koufax, Gibson, et al.)
1978 - At age 37, Pete Rose hits in 44 consecutive games.
1978 - Pete Rose ups the free agent ante with a $4 million contract with the Phillies.
1979 - At age 38, Pete Rose hits .331 and leads the NL with a .418 OBP.
1980 - Pete Rose and the Phillies win the World Series. Free agents say, "Back up the Brinks trucks!"
1981 - At age 40, Pete Rose hits .325 and leads the NL in hits. The Phillies got their money's worth, and more.
1984 - Pete Rose returns to the Reds as a player-manager and hits .365 in 107 plate appearances at age 43.
1985 - Pete Rose breaks Ty Cobb's all-time hit record (4,192) and is named to his 17th all-star team at age 44.
1985 - Nolan Ryan becomes the first pitcher to strike out 4,000 batters.
1985 - Tom Seaver gets his 300th victory.
1985 - Rod Carew gets his 3,000th hit.
1988 - Kirk Gibson hits a pinch-hit game-winning home run in the World Series.
1989 - Nolan Ryan strikes out his 5,000th batter. No other pitcher is even close.
1989 - Pete Rose is banned from baseball for betting on games.

1990-1999

1990 - Nolan Ryan wins his 300th game.
1990 - The Reds win their first World Series since the glory days of the 1975-1976 "Big Red Machine."
1990 - Barry Bonds is the NL MVP (1) and Rickey Henderson is the AL MVP.
1990 - Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. are the first father and son to hit back-to-back home runs.
1991 - At age 44, Nolan Ryan becomes the oldest player to throw a no-hitter, a record seventh.
1991 - Rickey Henderson sets a new stolen base record with his 939th, breaking Lou Brock's record of 938.
1991 - Terry Pendleton is the NL MVP and Cal Ripken Jr. is the AL MVP (2).
1992 - The movie A League of Their Own is about women’s pro baseball in the '40s and '50s.
1992 - The Toronto Blue Jays become the first team outside the US to win a World Series.
1992 - Barry Bonds is the NL MVP (2) and Dennis Eckersley is the AL MVP.
1993 - Barry Bonds is the NL MVP (3) and Frank Thomas is the AL MVP (1).
1994 - There is no World Series due to the longest and costliest strike in baseball history.
1994 - Jeff Bagwell is the NL MVP and Frank Thomas is the AL MVP (2).
1995 - Barry Larkin is the NL MVP and Mo Vaughn is the AL MVP.
1995 - Cal Ripken breaks Lou Gehrig's "iron man" record with his 2,131st consecutive game.
1996 - Ken Caminiti is the NL MVP and Juan Gonzalez is the AL MVP (1).
1997 - Interleague play begins.
1997 - Jackie Robinson's number 42 is retired by all major and minor league teams.
1997 - The California Angels change their names to the Anaheim Angels ... temporarily ...
1997 - Larry Walker is the NL MVP and Ken Griffey Jr. is the AL MVP.
1998 - Sammy Sosa is the NL MVP and Juan Gonzalez is the AL MVP (2).
1998 - Mark McGwire (70) and Sammy Sosa (66) both surpass Roger Maris's single-season home run record.
1999 - Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs both get their 3000th hits.
1999 - Chipper Jones is the NL MVP and Ivan Rodriguez is the AL MVP.
1999 - Joe DiMaggio dies.

2000-2019

2000 - For the first time, the MLB season opens in Tokyo, Japan.
2000 - Cal Ripken gets his 3000th hit.
2000 - Jeff Kent is the NL MVP and Jason Giambi is the AL MVP.
2001 - Barry Bonds sets a new single-season record with 73 homers.
2001 - Barry Bonds is the NL MVP (4) and Ichiro Suzuki is the AL MVP.
2002 - The first Japanese player, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, plays in a World Series. 
2002 - Barry Bonds is the NL MVP (5) and Miguel Tejada is the AL MVP.
2002 - The death of Ted Williams.
2003 - Barry Bonds is the NL MVP (6) and Alex Rodriguez is the AL MVP.
2004 - The Boston Red Sox finally break the "curse of the Bambino" by winning the World Series.
2004 - Barry Bonds is the NL MVP (7) and Vladimir Guerroro is the AL MVP.
2005 - The Angels become the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ... temporarily ...
2005 - Albert Pujols is the NL MVP (1) and Alex Rodriguez is the AL MVP.
2006 - Ryan Howard is the NL MVP and Justin Morneau is the AL MVP.
2007 - Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's career record of 755 home runs.
2007 - Senator George Mitchell publishes his report about steroid abuse in pro baseball. 
2007 - Jimmy Rollins is the NL MVP and Alex Rodriguez is the AL MVP.
2008 - Albert Pujols is the NL MVP (2) and Dustin Pedroia is the AL MVP.
2009 - Albert Pujols is the NL MVP (3) and Joe Mauer is the AL MVP with a record .365 BA for a catcher.
2010 - Joey Votto is the NL MVP and Josh Hamilton is the AL MVP.
2011 - Ryan Braun is the NL MVP and Justin Verlander is the AL MVP.
2011 - Clayton Kershaw wins his first NL Cy Young Award at age 23 with a 21-5 record and 2.28 ERA.
2012 - Mike Trout sets the record for wins above replacement by a rookie, with 10.5 WAR.
2012 - Miguel Cabrera wins the AL triple crown (.339, 44, 139) and is named AL MVP.
2013 - Clayton Kershaw wins the NL Cy Young Award (2) with a 16-9 record and 1.83 ERA.
2013 - Andrew McCutcheon is the NL MVP and Miguel Cabrera is the AL MVP (2).
2014 - Mike Trout is the AL MVP (1) at age 22, leading the league in runs, RBI and total bases.
2014 - Clayton Kershaw is the NL MVP and wins the Cy Young Award (3) with a 21-3 record and 1.77 ERA.
2015 - Bryce Harper is the NL MVP at age 22, leading the league with 42 homers and 118 runs.
2016 - The Chicago Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years.
2016 - The Angels return to their original name: the Los Angeles Angels.
2016 - Mike Trout wins the AL MVP (2), leading the league in runs, OBP, OPS+ and WAR.
2017 - Giancarlo Stanton is the NL MVP, leading the league with 59 homers and 132 RBI.
2018 - Mookie Betts is the AL MVP with a .346 batting average, 129 runs, a Gold Gove and 10.9 WAR.
2019 - In early 2019 the leading MVP candidates are Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich, Anthony Rendon, Mike Trout, Matt Chapman and Alex Bregman.

Related Pages: The Greatest Baseball Infields of All Time, Is Mike Trout the GOAT?, Best Baseball Nicknames, Weird Baseball Facts and Trivia, Baseball Hall of Fame: The Best Candidates, Why Pete Rose Should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Big Red Machine Timeline/Chronology, Baseball's All-Time Leaders in WAR per Season, Baseball's All-Time Leaders in WAR7, Baseball's WAR 100 Team, Weird Sports Trivia, Baseball Timeline

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