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 popular ball games like
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?
1330 - A game called "stoolball" is mentioned in a poem by William Pagula.
1550 - References to a game called "cricket" begin to appear around 1550.
1621 - In his diary William Bradford mentioned "stoole-ball" being played in the
1672 - There is a disputed reference to "baseball" in the writing of Anglican
bishop Thomas Wilson; the original text may have mentioned "stoolball."
1744 - A similar game appears in the 1744 children's book A Little Pretty
Pocket-Book where it was called "Base-Ball."
1749 - The Prince of Wales is mentioned playing "Bass-Ball" in Walton-on-Thames,
Surrey, against Lord Middlesex.
1755 - 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 - By this time rules similar to baseball's are being mentioned, such as the
batter at home plate having three attempts to hit the ball.
1798 - Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey mentions cricket and "base
Other games that have been proposed as precursors of baseball include Oină, Cat,
Cat-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 baseball evolved from
British rounders and cricket. For instance, baseball has rather obviously
adopted cricket terminology such as "outs," "innings," "runs" and "umpires."
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
1819 - Spain cedes Florida to the U.S. The population of the U.S. is less than
1820 - The Missouri Compromise attempts to establish a balance between slave and
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
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
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.
1835 - The first mentions of "innings" and "diamonds" appear in relation
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
1837 - The Gotham Base Ball Club is formed in Manhattan; it will split
to form the Knickerbockers.
1837 - Elijah P. Lovejoy, an abolitionist printer, is killed by a mob of slavery
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.
Abner Doubleday has been credited with inventing baseball in Cooperstown, New York.
1839 - Charles Goodyear invents rubber vulcanization.
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.
Alexander Joy Cartwright, called "The Father of Baseball," develops the first
official baseball rules.
1845 - Texas joins the Union. The U.S. goes to war with Mexico.
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!
California joins the Union.
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.
1860 - The Philadelphia Athletics baseball club is formed.
1860 - Abraham Lincoln is elected president; he opposes the spread of slavery.
South Carolina secedes.
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
1862 - President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation.
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
1864 - Baseball is being played on campus at Penn State University.
1865 - Robert E. Lee surrenders to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, ending the
1865 - Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by actor John Wilkes Booth during the
play Our American Cousin.
1866 - The Rockford Forest Citys feature superstars Al Spalding and Ross Barnes.
The first female baseball team is started by a group from Vassar College.
Candy Cummings throws the first curveball.
1869 - The first all-professional baseball team is the Cincinnati Red Stockings.
1871 - George Wright, an early star shortstop, debuts at age 24.
1871 - Deacon White, a two-time batting champion, debuts at age 23.
1872 - Jim O'Rourke, a lifetime .310 hitter with 1,729 runs, debuts at age 21.
1875 - Al Spalding is baseball's first superstar pitcher, winning 55 games.
1875 - Pud Galvin, who won 365 games with a 2.85 ERA, debuts at age 18.
Custer is defeated and killed at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
The National League is established, with William Hulbert as president.
1876 - Ross Barnes is the first MLB player to hit .400, batting .429.
Four players are banned from baseball for accepting bribes.
1878 - John Ward, who scored 1,410 runs and stole 540 bases, debuts at age 18.
1878 - King Kelly, a two-time batting champion who scored 120+ runs five times,
debuts at age 20.
1879 - Tommy Bond wins 40 games for the third consecutive year, a record that
1879 - Dan Brouthers, a lifetime .342 batter, debuts at age 21.
1880 - Cap Anson, baseball's first superstar hitter, debuts at age 19.
1880 - Cap Anson leads the NL in RBI, his first of eight RBI titles.
1882 - Pete Browning debuts at age 21 and hits .378 with a 223 OPS+.
The American Baseball Association, also known as the Beer and Whiskey League, is
The Brooklyn Bridge opens.
1884 - Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn sets a record with 59 wins.
Moses Fleetwood Walker becomes the first African-American player in the Major
Pete Browning uses the first Louisville Slugger bat.
1886 - Matt Kilroy sets the MLB record with 513 strikeouts; Toad Ramsey has 499.
1887 - Pete Browning hits .402 with 118 RBI and 103 steals!
1887 - Sam Thompson hits .372 with 166 RBI.
1888 - Silver King wins 45 games with a 1.64 ERA.
1888 - Ed Delahanty debuts at age 20.
The Players' League is created.
Cy Young takes the mound in the majors for the first time, at age 19.
Ellis Island opens as an immigration station.
1892 - Benjamin Harrison becomes the first president to attend a MLB game while
1892 - Wee Willie Keeler debuts at age 20.
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 198 runs and 100 steals!
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
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
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.
The American League is created.
1900 - Honus Wagner hits .381 and wins the first of seven NL batting titles.
Christy Mathewson pitches in the majors for the first time, at age 19.
1901 - Nap Lajoie hits .426 with 232 hits, 145 runs and 350 total bases.
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.
The Wright brothers make their first flight at Kitty Hawk.
1903 - Ed Delahanty retires with a .346 batting average, which is fifth
1904 - Jack Chesbro wins 41 games.
The World Series is not played, due to a squabble between Giants
player-manager John McGraw and AL president Ban Johnson.
Albert Einstein publishes his special theory of relativity with the equation
1905 - Rube Waddell wins 27 games with a 1.48 ERA.
1905 - Christy Mathewson wins 31 games with a microscopic 1.28 ERA.
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
1906 - The
San Francisco Earthquake.
The Chicago Cubs win 116 games and lose 36.
1906 - "Three Finger" Mordecia Brown wins 26 games with an unfathomable 1.04
Alta Weiss is the first woman to play professional baseball.
Walter Johnson pitches in the majors for the first time.
1907 - Tris Speaker debuts at age 19.
1908 - Shoeless Joe Jackson debuts at age 20.
1908 - Ed Walsh wins 40 games with 269 strikeouts.
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.
Ty Cobb stabs an African-American hotel watchman.
President William Howard Taft attends opening day.
1910 - Walter Johnson wins 25 games with a 1.36 ERA and 313 strikeouts.
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.
The first MLB players' strike.
Fred Snodgrass drops the ball and costs the Giants the World Series.
Fenway Park opens.
Ebbets Field opens.
The Federal League is created.
1913 - Walter Johnson wins 36 games with a 1.14 ERA.
The Panama Canal opens.
1914 - Babe Ruth debuts at age 19 as a left-handed pitcher.
1915 - Grover Cleveland Alexander wins 31 games with a 1.22 ERA and 241
1915 - Rogers Hornsby debuts at age 19.
is fired because of his African-American ancestry.
1917 - Honus Wagner retires as the best shortstop in MLB history; no one else is
The United States enters World War I.
Many MLB players serve in World War I.
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 eleven.
1919 - Babe Ruth almost triples his home run output, to 29.
1919 - Lefty O'Doul debuts at age 22, but doesn't catch fire until his thirties.
In the most famous scandal in baseball history, eight "Black Sox" players are accused of throwing the World Series
to the Cincinnati Reds.
1920 - Prohibition goes into effect.
Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians is killed by a beanball.
Babe Ruth is sold by the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees, where he hits
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.
Baseball is broadcast on radio for the first time.
1921 - Babe Ruth hits 59 homers with 171 RBI.
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.
Yankee Stadium, called "The House that Ruth built," opens.
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.
Lou Gehrig replaces Wally Pipp in the Yankee lineup.
Charles Lindburgh's famous trans-Atlantic flight.
1927 - Babe Ruth sets a record for the ages with 60 home runs.
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.
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
1928 - Goose Goslin hits .379 for the AL batting title.
Babe Ruth hits his 500th career home run.
1929 - Lefty O'Doul hits .398 for the NL batting title.
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. /bookmark/
Josh Gibson of the Negro League hits over 70 home runs.
Babe Ruth hits his legendary "called shot" home run against Charlie Root and the
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president.
Major League Baseball's first All-Star game is played.
Brothers Dizzy and Daffy Dean combine to win 49 games.
1934 - Lefty O'Doul retires with a .349 batting average, which is fourth
1935 - MLB's first night game.
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
The Baseball Hall of Fame inducts its first five players.
Bob Feller makes his MLB debut at age 17.
1937 - Rogers Hornsby retires with a .358 batting average, which is second
Johnny Vander Meer pitches two consecutive no-hitters.
Ted Williams makes his MLB debut.
Lou Gehrig takes himself out of the Yankees lineup.
Joe DiMaggio hits safely in 56 consecutive games.
1941 - Ted Williams hits .406 for the season; he's the last .400 hitter.
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.
Branch Rickey is hired as President of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is formed.
Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis dies at age 71.
World War II ends.
Jackie Robinson makes his Major League debut.
1947 - The first televised World Series.
Larry Doby is the first African-American player in the American League.
Babe Ruth dies.
Satchel Paige makes his Major League debut.
NATO is formed.
The Korean War begins.
Martin O'Malley maneuvers Branch Rickey out of his job.
Bobby Thomson hits his pennant-winning home run against the Dodgers.
Mickey Mantle trips on a drainpipe and injures his knee.
Joe DiMaggio announces his retirement.
Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.
Willie Mays robs Vic Wertz with a catch in the World Series.
Don Larsen pitches a perfect game in the World Series.
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.
The New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers relocate to California.
1958 - Ted Williams signs a whopping $135,000 contract extension with the Red
Sox, making him the highest paid player in baseball history.
Bill Mazeroski wins the World Series for the Pirates with a home run.
Ty Cobb dies.
1961 - Roger Maris breaks Babe Ruth's 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 ...
Casey Stengel becomes manager of the expansion New York Mets.
March on Washington in support of 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.
Branch Rickey dies.
1965 - The Angels become the California Angels ... until 1997 ...
Sandy Koufax announces his retirement in his prime, due to arm problems.
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
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.
1972 - Roberto Clemente dies in a plane crash after getting his 3000th hit
on the last day of the season.
Jackie Robinson dies.
George Steinbrenner buys the New York Yankees.
The AL adopts the designated hitter rule.
1973 - Pete Rose wins his third batting crown (.338), leads the league with 230
hits, and is named NL MVP.
Richard Nixon resigns the presidency.
Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth's career home run record.
Arbitrator Peter Seitz casts the deciding vote, ending the reserve clause.
1976 - Pitchers Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith become the first free agents.
1978 - Pete Rose ups the free agent ante with a $4 million contract with the
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.
1981 - At age 40, Pete Rose hits .325 and leads the NL in hits.
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 and is named to his 17th
all-star team at age 44.
Kirk Gibson hits a pinch-hit game-winning home run in the World Series.
Pete Rose is banned from baseball for betting on games. /bookmark/
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.
Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. are the first father and son to hit back-to-back home runs.
At 44, Nolan Ryan becomes the oldest player to throw a no-hitter.
1991 - Terry Pendleton is the NL MVP and Cal Ripken Jr. is the AL MVP (2).
1992 - The Toronto Blue Jays become the first team outside the US to win a World
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).
There is no World Series due to the longest and costliest strike in baseball
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.
Cal Ripken breaks Lou Gehrig's streak 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 - The California Angels change their names to the Anaheim Angels ...
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).
Mark McGwire (70) and Sammy Sosa (66) both surpass Roger Maris's single-season home run record.
1999 - Chipper Jones is the NL MVP and Ivan Rodriguez is the AL MVP.
For the first time, the MLB season opens in Tokyo, Japan.
2000 - Jeff Kent is the NL MVP and Jason Giambi is the AL MVP.
2001 - Barry Bonds is the NL MVP (4) and Ichiro Suzuki is the AL MVP.
2002 - Barry Bonds is the NL MVP (5) and Miguel Tejada is the AL MVP.
2003 - Barry Bonds is the NL MVP (6) and Alex Rodriguez is the AL MVP.
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 - 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
2012 - Miguel Cabrera wins the AL triple crown (.339, 44, 139) and is named AL
2013 - Clayton Kershaw wins the NL Cy Young Award (2) with a 16-9 record and
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 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
2017 - Giancarlo Stanton is the NL MVP, leading the league with 59 homers and
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, Mike Trout, Matt Chapman and Alex Bregman.
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