Major League baseball is born
MAY 4, 1871
The first major league baseball game was played on this date in 1871 – “major” meaning it was an organized league consisting of players under professional contract. Interestingly, the first game was not between teams of either of the leagues that survive today. And it was not played in any of the major cities identified with the burgeoning sport. The first major league baseball game was played in
Kekiongas beat the Cleveland Forest Cities 2 – 0 in the first National Association game.
If you went back in time to May 1871 the game would be recognizable with some notable exceptions:
The home team often took its last at bat in the bottom of the ninth inning even if they were ahead.
The home team could choose to bat first, which happened from time to time.
Who leads off the inning was not determined the way it is today. Back then, t
he rule was that the man after the one who made the last out would lead off the next inning. This brought interesting developments. For example, say batter A walks, batter B strikes out (out #1), batter C strikes out (out #2), and batter D hits into a fielder’s choice –
batter A is forced out at second base (out #3). The first batter in the next inning is batter B because he is literally "the next batter after the one who made the last out."
Also back in 1871, batters were out on foul balls which were caught on a bounce.
Information for the May 4, 1871 game was gathered by Bob Tiemann, who donated it to Retrosheet [see below]
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