Baseball leagues in North America are dominated by Major League Baseball (MLB). The battle of bat-and-ball, baseball is very popular in the U.S., parts of South and Central America and the Caribbean. The game is divided into hierarchal levels such as professional, amateur and youth. Each of these levels is made up of a variety of leagues. Besides Major League Baseball, which is divided into the American League (AL) and National League (NL), other well known baseball leagues include the Minor League, the Winter League and the Semi Pro League.
A Brief History
The history of major baseball leagues dates back to 1870, when the split between professional and amateur baseball players led to the division of the National Association of Baseball Players (NABBP). The National Association of Professional Baseball Players operated between 1871 and 1875 and was responsible for the first major baseball league.
The early days of the National League were turbulent with threats from other rival leagues. Competitive leagues were continuously formed and changed. Some of the baseball leagues that followed were the American Association, the Union Association, the Players League, the Eastern League and the Western League.
The Western League changed its name to the American League prior to the 1900 season.
A war between the American League and the National League followed, shaking the baseball world. Negotiations by the other baseball leagues were necessary in order to maintain autonomy. The second National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NABPL) was formed in 1901.
Modern Professional Baseball Leagues
The modern professional baseball leagues are dominated by Major League Baseball (MLB). MLB is made up of players from the American League and the National League, two separate legal entities since the year 2000. Currently, MLB has 30 teams – 29 teams from the U.S. and one team from Canada. MLB, along with the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and other baseball associations, oversees the World Baseball Classic international baseball tournament. The MLB season starts on the first Sunday of April and continues through the first Sunday of October, with each team playing 162 games (and additional games due to ties).
Besides MLB, North America also has minor league baseball teams. Although all minor baseball leagues operate independently, many are part of Minor League Baseball. Teams under Minor League Baseball have direct affiliate contracts with Major League Baseball teams. Independent leagues however have no ties to MLB and are therefore not part of organized baseball.
The minor leagues have several classes such as Triple-A, Double-A, Class A Advanced, Class A, Class A Short Season and Rookie. Since Minor League Baseball teams are also associated with MLB teams, many minor league players have the opportunity to work their way up to the Major League. The Minor League is also used to rehabilitate injured players from the Major League.
Besides the Major and Minor Leagues, there are also other leagues such as the Golden League, the Northern League, the CanAm League, the Frontier League and the Atlantic League.
Spring training consists of pre-season exhibition games played by Major League Baseball teams. Spring training showcases new players and allows existing players a chance to practice before the regular season starts. Spring training consists of two separate leagues, the Grapefruit League and the Cactus League.
Other Professional Baseball Leagues
Many professional baseball leagues are organized outside the United States and Canada as well. These include:
- Colombian Professional Baseball League (Colombia)
- Cuban League (Cuba)
- Dominican Winter Baseball League (Dominican Republic)
- Mexican Pacific League (Mexico)
- Mexican League (Mexico)
- Nicaraguan Professional Baseball League (Nicaragua)
- Puerto Rico Baseball League (Puerto Rico)
- Venezuelan Professional Baseball League (Venezuela)
- China Baseball League (China)
- Israel Baseball League (Israel)
- Central League (Japan)
- Pacific League (Japan)
- Korean Baseball Organization (Korea)
- Baseball Philippines (Philippines)
- Chinese Professional Baseball League (Taiwan)
- Division Elite (France)
- Irish Baseball League (Ireland)
- Serie A1 (Italy)
- Honkbal Hoofdklasse (Netherlands)
- Division de Honor de Beisbol (Spain)
- Elitserien (Sweden)
- National League (United Kingdom)
- Greater Brisbane League (Australia)
- New South Wales Major League (Australia)
Last updated on Thu, 03/11/2010 - 10:52.