In this blog we are going back to 1876 in Manhattan, New York to talk about the oldest league in MLB. It’s also the world’s oldest current professional team sports league. On February 2, 1876 The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, (aka The National League) was formed. Midwesterners William Hulbert of Chicago, and Albert G. Spalding of Rockford, Illinois organized, finalized and agreed upon this formation. The National Association that was formed in 1871 included involved members Hulbert and Spalding. Both strongly believed that the east coast dominated the National Association but that is was no way to run a major league. The strong love that both of them had for the game made them do something to make sure that professional baseball would survive. Spalding being a star of this era himself, foresaw professional baseball as a viable commercial enterprise, and also wanted to sell his own sporting goods.
The National Association at time allowed poor, and unbecoming behaviors such as gambling, alcohol, and players the ability to switch from team to team freely. The scheduling was also an issue. It allowed teams to work together on their own schedules.
The National League wanted there to be a strict policy that didn’t allow gambling and alcohol. They also required every team to play out its full schedule.
With the start of the next season approaching Hulbert and Spalding needed a solid plan to get east coast National Association teams. They started obtaining team from the Midwest. Teams from Cincinnati, Louisville, and St Louis gave commitments to join. This is where the February 2, 1876 meeting came to be.
The meeting was held at the Central Hotel in New York. There were representatives from Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Hartford. Once it was all agreed upon the National League was born. That first spring play began with 8 teams.