Baseball Writers Get in the Game
Baseball is the most written about and analyzed sport in history of America. The game lends itself to all kinds of statistics and record keeping. It is a true sportswriter’s dream. It didn’t take long for the early reporters to begin writing about baseball, even about games between members of the same club. Henry Chadwick, a New York journalist, became the first prominent baseball writer. Chadwick made the box score, the batting average and the ERA (earned run average) part of baseball. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938.

The First League
1858 was a big year for the young game of baseball. In that year the first organized league was formed. The National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) formed and agreed to play under the Knickerbocker Rules. That was also the year that another major factor entered the game– money. Enterprising baseball organizers set up a series of games between all-star players from Brooklyn and New York. More than 5,000 fans paid to watch the games. Now it was evident that baseball could be a moneymaking venture.

Though the NABBP prohibited players from receiving salaries, clubs found a way around these rules. The first official baseball salaries were paid in to players on the Rockford, Illinois, club in 1867. The Cincinnati Red Stockings (now the Red Sox) became the first semi-pro team when they hired “ringers” to help avenge a loss to the Washington Nationals. The Red Stockings went on a 57-game barnstorming tour. They won 56 of those games and tied one. The Red Stockings were also the first team to have a labor dispute. When players demanded higher salaries, club directors disbanded the team

Major League Baseball MVPs

YearNational LeagueAmerican League
1931Frankie Frisch, St. LouisLefty Grove, Philadelphia
1932Chuck Klein, PhiladelphiaJimmie Foxx, Philadelphia
1933Carl Hubbell, New YorkJimmie Foxx, Philadelphia
1934Dizzy Dean, St. LouisMickey Cochrane, Detroit
1935Gabby Hartnett, ChicagoHank Greenberg, Detroit
1936Carl Hubbell, New YorkJoe Medwick, St. LouisLou Gehrig, New York
1937Ernie Lombardi, CincinnatiCharlie Gehringer, Detroit
1938Bucky Walters CincinnatiJimmie Foxx, Boston
1939Frank McCormick, CincinnatiJoe DiMaggio, New York
1940Dolph Camilli, BrooklynHank Greenberg, Detroit
1941Mort Cooper, St. LouisJoe DiMaggio, New York
1942Stan Musial, St. LouisJoe Gordon, New York
1943Marty Marion, St. LouisSpud Chandler, New York
1944Phil Cavarretta, ChicagoHal Newhouser, Detroit
1945Stan Musial, St. LouisHal Newhouser, Detroit
1946Bob Elliot, BostonTed Williams, Boston
1947Stan Musial, St. LouisJoe DiMaggio, New York
1948Jackie Robinson, BrooklynLou Boudreau, Cleveland
1949Jim Konstanty, PhiladelphiaTed Williams, Boston
1950Roy Campanella BrooklynPhil Rizzuto, New York
1951Hank Sauer, ChicagoYogi Berra, New York
1952Ray Campanella, BrooklynBobby Shantz, Philadelphia
1953Willie Mays, New YorkAl Rosen, Cleveland
1954Roy Campanella, BrooklynYogi Berra, New York
1955Don Newcombe, BrooklynYogi Berra, New York
1956Hank Aaron, MilwaukeeMickey Mantle, New York
1957Ernie Banks, ChicagoMickey Mantle, New York
1958Ernie Banks, ChicagoJackie Jensen, Boston
1959Dick Groat, PittsburghNellie Fox, Chicago
1960Frank Robinson, CincinnatiRoger Maris, New York
1961Maury Wills, Los AngelesRoger Maris, New York
1962Sandy Koufax, Los AngelesMickey Mantle, New York
1963Ken Boyer, St. LouisElston Howard, New York
1964Willie Mays, San FranciscoBrooks Robinson, Baltimore
1965Roberto Clemente, PittsburghZoilo Versalles, Minnesota
1966Orlando Cepeda, St. LouisFrank Robinson, Baltimore
1967Bob Gibson, St. LouisCarl Yastrzemski, Boston
1968Willie McCovey, San FranciscoDenny McLain, Detroit
1969Johnny Bench, CincinnatiHarmon Killebrew, Minnesota
1970Joe Torre, St. LouisBoog Powell, Baltimore
1971Johnny Bench, CincinnatiVida Blue, Oakland
1972Pete Rose, CincinnatiRichie Allen, Chicago
1973Steve Garvey Los AngelesReggie Jackson, Oakland
1974Joe Morgan, CincinnatiJeff Burroughs, Texas
1975Joe Morgan, CincinnatiFred Lynn, Boston
1976George Foster, CincinnatiThurman Munson, New York
1977Dave Parker, PittsburghRod Carew, Minnesota
1978Keith Hernandez, St. LouisJim Rice, Boston
1979Mike Schmidt, PhiladelphiaWillie Stargell, Pittsburgh
1980Mike Schmidt, PhiladelphiaDon Baylor, California
1981Dale Murphy, AtlantaGeorge Brett, Kansas City
1982Dale Murphy, AtlantaRollie Fingers, Milwaukee
1983Ryne Sandberg, ChicagoRobin Yount, Milwaukee
1984Willie McGee, St. LouisCal Ripken Jr., Baltimore
1985Mike Schmidt, PhiladelphiaWillie Hernandez, Detroit
1986Andre Dawson, ChicagoDon Mattingly, New York
1987Kirk Gibson, Los AngelesRoger Clemens, Boston
1988Kevin Mitchell, San FranciscoGeorge Bell, Toronto
1989Barry Bonds, PittsburghJose Canseco, Oakland
1990Terry Pendleton, AtlantaRobin Yount, Milwaukee
1991Barry Bonds, PittsburghRickey Henderson, Oakland
1992Barry Bonds, San FranciscoCal Ripken Jr., Baltimore
1993Jeff Bagwell, HoustonDennis Eckersley, Oakland
1994Barry Larkin, CincinnatiFrank Thomas, Chicago
1995Ken Caminiti, San DiegoFrank Thomas, Chicago
1996Larry Walker, ColoradoMo Vaughn, Boston
1997Sammy Sosa, ChicagoJuan Gonzalez, Texas
1998Chipper Jones, AtlantaKen Griffey, Jr., Seattle
1999Jeff Kent, San FranciscoJuan Gonzalez, Texas
2000Barry Bonds, San FranciscoIvan Rodriguez, Texas
2001Barry Bonds, San FranciscoJason Giambi, Oakland
2002Barry Bonds, San FranciscoIchiro Suzuki, Seattle
2003Barry Bonds, San FranciscoMiguel Tejada, Oakland
2004Albert Pujols, St LouisAlex Rodriguez, Texas
2005Ryan Howard, PhilidelphiaVladimir Guerrero, Anaheim
2006Jimmy Rollins, PhilidelphiaAlex Rodriguez, New York
2007Albert Pujols, St. Louis Justin Morneau, innesota
2008Albert Pujols, St. LouisDustin Pedroia, Boston
2009Albert Pujols, St. LouisJoe Mauer, Minneapolis
2010Joey Votto, Cincinnati
Josh Hamilton, Texas
2011Ryan Braun, MilwaukeeJustin Verlander, Detroit
2012Buster Posey, San Francisco
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
2013Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
2014Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
Mike Trout, Los Angeles
2015Bryce Harper WSNJosh Donaldson CHC
2016Chris Bryanat CHCMike Trout LAA
2017Giancarlo Stanton MIAJose Altuve HOU

(See the book”Heroes of the Hall: Baseball’s Greatest Players by Ron Smith at Amazon.com)

Professional Baseball Becomes Firmly Established
Numerous baseball leagues came and went for 13 years. In 1871, nine teams formed the National Association of Professional Baseball Players. The nine teams were from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Washington, D.C., Rockford, Troy, New York and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Brooklyn joined the league in 1872. These teams paid just $10 to join the league. Problems including teams folding, domination by the Boston team, players moving between teams and even signing with more than one team, and gambling plagued the league and it folded after five seasons.

Out of the problematic NAPBP (Are you keeping all of these initials straight?), came the beginnings of the National League. William Hulbert talked to other financial backers about starting a professional league run by owners, not players. In early 1876, while the NAPBP was technically still in operation, Hulbert called a meeting with representatives from seven other teams. The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs (no more initials, just the plain old National League) played its inaugural season in the summer of 1876.

The National League brought stability and respectability to baseball. Other rival leagues formed but only one would last—the Western League, which in 1901 became the American League.

The Rivalry Begins
When the Western League started it had teams in midwestern cities that had no National League clubs. In 1900, however, the new league started invading National League cities. Charles Comiskey moved his club from Minnesota to Chicago. Moves followed into Cleveland, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.

Needless to say, there was no love lost between to the two leagues. In 1903, the leagues did sit down and create the concept of their respective champions meeting in the World Series. The Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League met the Boston Pilgrims of the American League in the first World Series. Boston won the eight-game series 5-3. The next year, the National League champion New York Giants refused to play Boston. Since 1905, the World Series has been played every year except 1994 when it was canceled by a players’ strike.