1968: Expansion of Major League Baseball

By | July 11, 2021

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National League President Harry C. Pulliam and the 8 NL teams (1907). (wikimedia)

America’s original pastime, baseball, dates way back to 1846. As with America, over 150 years the game has changed and gone through many different “eras.” From the days of “Whites only” to the “Dead Ball Era” then the “Live Ball Era” before the “Expansion Era” and the much-discussed “Steroid Era.” Each stretch of time represents various changes within the sport and attempts at keeping the game relatively the same over several centuries. Many of these eras also mirrored the zeitgeist of society.

For example, the “Integration Era” obviously followed the fraught integration of America, as Black players and other minorities took their rightful place alongside whites. The “Expansion Era” on the other hand, follows greedy owners fleeing for more lucrative cities and baseball the sport’s attempt to keep relative balance.

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American League President Ban Johnson and the 8 AL teams (1907). (wikimedia)

The Beginning

Baseball started with the National League in 1876. Through 1901 baseball teams joined and exited the National League like parents signing their kids up for karate classes. Between 1876 and 1891 an astounding 27 different franchises participated in “Major League Baseball.” However, only eight ever played at one time.

Since baseball then functioned as the be-all and end-all of sports entertainment at that time, the “American Association” began in 1881 to vie with the National League. To compete they instituted a few differences to set themselves apart. The American league played on Sundays, sold beer at the park, and also charged 25 cents rather than 50.