Baseball is believed to have evolved from a combination of different games of yore and English influences are not denied. Initially baseball was played in America in the early 1800s with rules changing with the locality where it was being played. Alexander Joy Cartwright is credited with devising some of the first standard rules and regulations of the game as we know it today. The history of baseball as most people know it dates back to the first recorded baseball game which was played in 1845 in New Jersey. By 1900, the game was almost the same as today.
Baseball was initially popular in the Northeast but eventually broadened its reach. The first professional baseball team was the Cincinnati Red Stockings formed in 1869 and was unbeaten through its first season. The 1870s saw the formation of various competing leagues including the now famous National league. The Depression supported the popularity of night baseball. The period from 1920 to the Second World War can be termed the Golden Years of baseball and were the heydays of legends such as Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson and Joe DiMaggio. During the war, many stars enlisted and went on to serve in the armed forces.
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The 1950s were an unsettling time for the sport and many major upheavals occurred during this period. The 1960s and 1970s were much the same, though for different reasons. Youth disillusionment with established institutions, increasing popularity of football, and rule changes, all contributed to the turmoil. Conflict between team owners and the players was also an issue that needed to be resolved.
The situation improved in the 80s and major league baseball continued on its upward trend through the 90s. The pinnacle was perhaps attained in 1992 when baseball was officially designated an Olympic sport. Today it is enthusiastically watched and played in many countries including Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba and the Caribbean nations. Softball, a variation of baseball, which requires a larger ball and a smaller field, is also popular today.