National League

The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the National League (NL), is the older of two leagues constituting Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Canada, and the world's oldest current professional team sports league. Founded on February 2, 1876, to replace the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP) of 1871–1875, (often called simply the "National Association"), the NL is sometimes called the Senior Circuit, in contrast to MLB's other league, the American League, which was founded 25 years later.

Both leagues currently have 15 teams. After two years of conflict in a "baseball war" of 1901–1902, the two leagues of 8 team franchises each, agreed in a "peace pact" to recognize each other as "major leagues", draft rules regarding player contracts, prohibiting "raiding", regulating relationships with minor leagues and lower level clubs, and with each establishing a team in the nation's largest metropolis of New York City, and the league champions of 1903 arranged to compete against each other in the new professional baseball championship tournament with the inaugural "World Series" that Fall of 1903, succeeding earlier similar national series in previous decades since the 1880s. After the 1904 champions failed to reach a similar agreement, the two leagues also formalized the new World Series tournament beginning in 1905 as an arrangement between the leagues themselves. National League teams have won 48 of the 114 World Series championships contested from 1903 to 2018.

Due to its length, the National League's full name is rarely used. Historically up until about the 1970's, the term National League was widely considered an informal term to be used for any North American major sports league that included those two words in its name, especially the National Football League (NFL) and National Hockey League (NHL). By the 21st century, that practice had mostly fallen out of favor in North America, with the terms National League and NL reserved for the baseball league and similarly-named leagues in other sports being referred to by their full names or initials.

National League
MLB National League logo
SportBaseball
FoundedFebruary 2, 1876
PresidentBill Giles (honorary)[1]
No. of teams15
CountryUnited States
Most recent
champion(s)
Los Angeles Dodgers (23rd title)
Most titlesLos Angeles Dodgers (23) and San Francisco Giants (23)

History

Foundation

By 1875, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP, often referred to as the "National Association"), founded four years earlier, was suffering from a lack of strong authority over clubs, unsupervised scheduling, unstable membership of cities, dominance by one team (the Boston Red Stockings), and an extremely low entry fee ($10) that gave clubs no incentive to abide by league rules when it was inconvenient to them.

William A. Hulbert (1832–1882), a Chicago businessman and an officer of the Chicago White Stockings of 1870–1889, approached several NA clubs with the plans for a professional league for the sport of base ball with a stronger central authority and exclusive territories in larger cities only. Additionally, Hulbert had a problem: five of his star players were threatened with expulsion from the NAPBBP because Hulbert had signed them to his club using what were considered questionable means. Hulbert had a great vested interest in creating his own league, and after recruiting St. Louis privately, four western clubs met in Louisville, Kentucky, in January 1876. With Hulbert speaking for the four later in New York City on February 2, 1876, the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs was established with eight charter members, as follows:[2]

The National League's formation meant the end of the old National Association after only five seasons, as its remaining clubs shut down or reverted to amateur or minor league status. The only strong club from 1875 excluded in 1876 was a second one in Philadelphia, often called the White Stockings or later Phillies.

The first game in National League history was played on April 22, 1876, at Philadelphia's Jefferson Street Grounds, at 25th & Jefferson Streets, between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Boston baseball club. Boston won the game 6–5.

The new league's authority was soon tested after the first season. The Athletic and Mutual clubs fell behind in the standings and refused to make western road trips late in the season, preferring to play games against local non-league competition to recoup some of their financial losses rather than travel extensively incurring more costs. Hulbert reacted to the clubs' defiance by expelling them, an act which not only shocked baseball followers (New York and Philadelphia were the two most populous cities in the league) and the then sports world, but made it clear to clubs that league schedule commitments, a cornerstone of competition integrity, were not to be ignored.

The National League operated with only six clubs during 1877 and 1878. Over the next several years, various teams joined and left the struggling league. By 1880, six of the eight charter members had folded. The two remaining original NL franchises, Boston and Chicago, remain still in operation today as the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs. When all eight participants for 1881 returned for 1882—the first off-season without turnover in membership—the "circuit" consisted of a zig-zag line connecting the eight cities: Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Troy (near the state capital of Albany, New York), Worcester (Massachusetts), Boston, and Providence.

In 1883, the New York Gothams and Philadelphia Phillies began National League play. Both teams remain in the NL today, the Phillies with their original name and city and the Gothams (later renamed Giants) now in San Francisco since 1958.

Competition with other leagues

The NL encountered its first strong rival organization when the American Association began play in 1882. The AA played in cities where the NL did not have teams, offered Sunday games and alcoholic beverages in locales where permitted, and sold cheaper tickets everywhere (25 cents versus the NL's standard 50 cents, a hefty sum for many in 1882).

The National League and the American Association participated in a version of the World Series seven times during their ten-year coexistence. These contests were less organized than the modern Series, lasting as few as three games and as many as fifteen, with two Series (1885 and 1890) ending in disputed ties. The NL won four times and the AA only once, in 1886.

Starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1887, the National League began to raid the American Association for franchises to replace NL teams that folded. This undercut the stability of the AA.

Other new leagues that rose to compete with the National League were the Union Association and the Players' League. The Union Association was established in 1884 and folded after playing only one season, its league champion St. Louis Maroons joining the NL. The Players' League was established in 1890 by the Brotherhood of Professional Base-Ball Players, the sport's first players' union, which had failed to persuade the NL to modify its labor practices, including a salary cap and a reserve clause that bound players to their teams indefinitely. The NL suffered many defections of star players to the Players' League, but the P.L. collapsed after one season. The Brooklyn, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and New York franchises of the NL absorbed their Players' League counterparts.

Expansion (1887–1899)

The labor strike of 1890 hastened the downfall of the American Association. After the 1891 season, the AA disbanded and merged with the NL, which became known legally for the next decade as the "National League and American Association". The teams now known as the Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers (originally Brooklyn) and Pittsburgh Pirates (as well as the now-defunct Cleveland Spiders) had already switched from the AA to the NL prior to 1892. With the merger, the NL absorbed the St. Louis Browns (now known as the St. Louis Cardinals), along with three other teams that did not survive into the 20th century (for those three teams, see Partnership with the American League below). While four teams that moved from the AA remain in the NL today (Pittsburgh [1887], Cincinnati [1890], Los Angeles [originally Brooklyn; 1890], and St. Louis [1892]), only two original NL franchises (1876) remain in the league: the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves (originally in Boston, and later Milwaukee). The Cubs are the only charter member to play continuously in the same city. The other two pre-1892 teams still in the league are the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants (originally New York), both of which joined in 1883.

The National League became a 12-team circuit with monopoly status for the rest of the decade. The league became embroiled in numerous internal conflicts, not the least of which was a plan supported by some owners (and bitterly opposed by others) to form a "trust", wherein there would be one common ownership of all twelve teams. The NL used its monopsony power to force a $2,400 limit on annual player wages in 1894.

As the 20th century dawned, the NL was in trouble. Conduct among players was poor, and fistfights were a common sight at games. In addition to fighting each other, they fought with the umpires and often filled the air at games with foul language and obscenities. A game between the Orioles and Boston Beaneaters (a precursor to today's Atlanta Braves) in 1894 ended up having tragic consequences when players became engaged in a brawl and several boys in the stands started a fire. The blaze quickly got out of hand and swept through downtown Boston, destroying or damaging 100 buildings. Team owners argued with each other and players hated the NL's $2,400 salary cap. Many teams also ran into trouble with city governments that forbade recreational activities on Sunday.

Billy Sunday, a prominent outfielder in the 1880s, became so disgusted with the behavior of teammates that he quit playing in 1891 to become one of America's most famous evangelical Christian preachers. Most fans appear to have felt the same way, because attendance at games was plummeting by 1900.

Partnership with the American League

After eight seasons as a 12-team league, the NL contracted back to eight teams for the 1900 season, eliminating its teams in Baltimore, Cleveland, Louisville (which has never had another major league team since), and Washington. This provided an opportunity for competition. Three of those cities received franchises in the newly christened American League (AL) when the minor Western League changed its name to the AL in 1900, with the approval of the NL, which regarded the AL as a lesser league since they were a party to the National Agreement. The AL declined to renew its National Agreement membership when it expired the next year, and on January 28, 1901, the AL officially declared itself a second major league in competition with the NL. By 1903, the upstart AL had placed new teams in the National League cities of Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. Only the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates had no AL team in their markets. The AL among other things enforced a strict conduct policy among its players.

The National League at first refused to recognize the new league, but reality set in as talent and money was split between the two leagues, diluting the league and decreasing financial success. After two years of bitter contention, a new version of the National Agreement was signed in 1903. This meant formal acceptance of each league by the other as an equal partner in major-league baseball, mutual respect of player contracts, and an agreement to play a postseason championship—the World Series.

Major League Baseball narrowly averted radical reorganization in November 1920. Dissatisfied with American League President and National Commission head Ban Johnson, NL owners dissolved the league on November 8 during heated talks on MLB reorganization in the wake of the Black Sox Scandal. Simultaneously, three AL teams also hostile to Johnson (Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and New York Yankees) withdrew from the AL and joined the eight NL teams in forming a new National League; the 12th team would be whichever of the remaining five AL teams loyal to Johnson first chose to join; if none did so an expansion team would have been placed in Detroit, by far the largest one-team city at that time. Four days later, on November 12, both sides met (without Johnson) and agreed to restore the two leagues and replace the ineffective National Commission with a one-man Commissioner in the person of federal Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.[3]

The National League circuit remained unchanged from 1900 through 1952. In 1953 the Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee; in 1966 they moved again, to Atlanta. In 1958 the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants moved to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, bringing major league baseball to the West Coast of the U.S. for the first time.

Divisional reorganization

The NL remained an eight-team league for over 60 years. (For the eight teams, see Expansion (1887–1899) above, and "Classic Eight" below.) In 1962—facing competition from the proposed Continental League and confronted by the American League's unilateral expansion in 1961—the NL expanded by adding the New York Mets and the Houston Colt .45s. The "Colts" were renamed the Houston Astros three years later. In 1969, the league added the San Diego Padres and the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals), becoming a 12-team league for the first time since 1899.

In 1969, as a result of its expansion to 12 teams, the National League—which for its first 93 years had competed equally in a single grouping—was reorganized into two divisions of six teams (respectively named the National League East and West, although geographically it was more like North and South), with the division champions meeting in the National League Championship Series (an additional round of postseason competition) for the right to advance to the World Series.

In 1993 the league expanded to 14 teams, adding the Colorado Rockies and the Florida Marlins (which became the Miami Marlins shortly after the end of the 2011 season). In 1998, the Arizona Diamondbacks became the league's fifteenth franchise, and the Milwaukee Brewers moved from the AL to the NL, giving the NL 16 teams for the next 15 seasons.

In 1994, the league was again reorganized, into three geographical divisions (East, West and Central, all currently with five teams; from 1994 to 1997 the West had one fewer team, and from 1998 to 2012, the Central had one more team). A third postseason round was added at the same time: the three division champions plus a wild card team (the team with the best record among those finishing in second place) now advance to the preliminary National League Division Series. Due to a players' strike, however, the postseason was not actually held in 1994.

Before the 1998 season, the American League and the National League each added a fifteenth team. Because of the odd number of teams, only seven games could possibly be scheduled in each league on any given day. Thus, one team in each league would have to be idle on any given day. This would have made it difficult for scheduling, in terms of travel days and the need to end the season before October. In order for MLB officials to continue primarily intraleague play, both leagues would need to carry an even number of teams, so the decision was made to move one club from the AL Central to the NL Central. Eventually, Milwaukee agreed to change leagues.[4]

Often characterized as being a more "traditional" or "pure" league, the National League never adopted the designated hitter rule that was adopted by the American League in 1973. In theory, this means the role of the manager is greater in the National League than in the American, because the NL manager must take offense into account when making pitching substitutions and vice versa. However, this is disputed by some, such as former Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who claims the American League is more difficult because AL managers are required to know exactly when to pull a pitcher, where an NL manager merely pulls his pitcher when that spot comes up in the batting order.[5] Overall, there are fewer home runs and runs scored in the National League than in the American, due to the presence of the pitcher in the NL batting order. From the 1970s until the early 1990s, the use of artificial turf in place of natural grass was far more prevalent in National League ballparks than in the American League.

Permanent interleague play

For the first 96 years of its coexistence with the American League, National League teams faced their AL counterparts only in exhibition games or in the World Series. Beginning in 1997, however, interleague games have been played during the regular season and count in the standings. As part of the agreement instituting interleague play, the American League's designated-hitter rule is used only in games where the American League team is the home team.

In 1999, the offices of American League and National League presidents were discontinued and all authority was vested in the Commissioner's office. The leagues subsequently appointed "honorary" presidents to carry out ceremonial roles such as the awarding of league championship trophies. Additionally, the distinction between AL and NL umpires was erased, and instead all umpires were unified under MLB control. With these actions, as well as the institution of interleague play, little remains to differentiate between the two leagues besides the American League's use of the designated hitter.

By 2011, MLB had changed its policy on interleague play, deciding to schedule interleague games throughout the season rather than only during specially designated periods. This policy would allow each league to have 15 teams, with one team in each league playing an interleague game on any given day. As a condition of the sale of the Astros to Jim Crane in November 2011, the team agreed to move to the American League effective with the 2013 season.[6]

Through the 2018 season, the Dodgers and Giants have won the most NL pennants, with 23 each. Representing the National League against the American, the Cardinals have won the most World Series (11) followed by the Giants (8), Dodgers (6), Pirates (5), and Reds (5). St. Louis also holds the distinction of being the only AA club to defeat an NL club in the 19th-century version of the World Series, having done so against their now-division rival Cubs.

Teams

Charter franchises (1876)

The eight charter teams were the following:

Other franchises, 1878–1892

Joined in 1878

Joined in 1879

Joined in 1880

Joined in 1881

Joined in 1883

Joined in 1885

  • St. Louis Maroons, joined from U.A. Relocated to Indianapolis for 1887 season as the Indianapolis Hoosiers, folded after 1889

Joined in 1886

Joined in 1887

Joined in 1889

Joined in 1890

Joined in 1892

"Classic Eight"

The eight-team lineup established in 1900 remained unchanged through 1952. All franchises are still in the league, with five remaining in the same city.

Expansion, relocation, and renaming, 1953–present

Current teams

National League East

Shea Crowded
Shea Stadium prior to the start of a New York Mets game in 2008. Shea had the best attendance in the National League that year, garnering over 53,000 fans per game on average.
  • Atlanta Braves, the oldest continually operating team in Major League Baseball; enfranchised in 1871 as the Boston Red Stockings (or Red Caps) in National Association, and with connections to the original independent professional Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869–70; joined National League as charter member (1876). Known as "Beaneaters" and other nicknames, as original nickname faded and became re-associated with Cincinnati (and later with the Boston Red Sox). Adopted nickname "Braves" in 1912. Moved to Milwaukee (1953) and to Atlanta (1966). Prior to the 1994 realignment, the Braves competed in the West division.
  • Miami Marlins, enfranchised 1993 as the Florida Marlins, changed name to Miami Marlins (2012).
  • New York Mets, enfranchised 1962.
  • Philadelphia Phillies, enfranchised 1883 as the Quakers and adopted the Phillies name officially in 1884. From 1943 through 1948, the Phillies unofficially changed their name to the "Philadelphia Blue Jays." Although their jerseys retained the name "Phillies", they wore a blue-jay patch on their sleeve. The team is the oldest continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in American professional sports history.[12]
  • Washington Nationals, enfranchised 1969 as the Montreal Expos. Moved to Washington, D.C. (2005).

National League Central

  • Chicago Cubs enfranchised 1870 as an independent professional team, chartered into the National Association in 1871, but suspended operations for 1872 and 1873 following the Great Chicago Fire. The team has been continuously active since 1874, making it the oldest continuously active team in its original city in Major League Baseball. It joined the National League as a charter member (1876). Originally called the "Chicago White Stockings" and later the "Chicago Colts" and several other names, the team was first called "Cubs" in 1902.
  • Cincinnati Reds enfranchised 1882 in American Association, joined National League (1890).
  • Milwaukee Brewers enfranchised 1969 as the Seattle Pilots in American League, moved to Milwaukee (1970), transferred to National League (1998).
  • Pittsburgh Pirates enfranchised 1882 in American Association, joined National League (1887).
  • St. Louis Cardinals enfranchised 1882 in American Association, joined National League (1892).

National League West

  • Arizona Diamondbacks enfranchised 1998
  • Colorado Rockies enfranchised 1993
  • Los Angeles Dodgers enfranchised 1883 as a minor league team, entered into the American Association as the Brooklyn Atlantics in 1884, soon acquired nickname "Dodgers" (from "trolley dodgers"), joined National League (1890). Also dubbed "Bridegrooms", "Superbas", and "Robins" at various times, in addition to "Dodgers". Moved to Los Angeles (1958)
  • San Diego Padres enfranchised 1969
  • San Francisco Giants enfranchised 1883 as the New York Gothams, nearly half of its original players were members of then just disbanded Troy Trojans, moved to San Francisco (1958)

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Jensen, Mike (October 16, 2008). "'Fantastic feeling' for Bill Giles". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  2. ^ "The Almanac – weekly". January 27, 2009. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved February 10, 2009.
  3. ^ Koppett, Leonard (2004). Koppett's Concise History of Major League Baseball. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers. p. 141. ISBN 9780786712861.
  4. ^ For more details, see Milwaukee Brewers#1994–98: Realignment / "We're taking this thing National".
  5. ^ Mayo, David (May 22, 2011). "Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland compares managing in AL and NL". Mlive.com. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  6. ^ For more details, see Houston Astros#2012–present: Jim Crane era and move to the American League.
  7. ^ Dewey, Donald & Acocella, Nicholas. The Ball Clubs, p. 28. HarperPerennial, 1996. ISBN 0-06-273403-2.
  8. ^ United Press. "Once Pirates Were Called Innocents!". The Pittsburgh Press, April 21, 1943, p. 31. Retrieved on May 15, 2013.
  9. ^ Shaughnessy, Dan. "This Series is fantasy baseball". Sun Journal (Lewiston), October 20, 1999, p. C1. Retrieved on May 15, 2013.
  10. ^ Boston, like many early teams, had no official name, just nicknames applied by sports reporters, often derived from their uniforms
  11. ^ "Cubs Timeline".
  12. ^ "History: Phillies Timeline (1800s)". Philadelphia Phillies. Retrieved July 11, 2010.

References

  • The National League Story, Lee Allen, Putnam, 1961.
  • The American League Story, Lee Allen, Putnam, 1962.
  • The Baseball Encyclopedia, published by MacMillan, 1968 and later.
2017–18 National League

The 2017–18 National League season, known as the Vanarama National League for sponsorship reasons, is the third season under English football's new title of National League, fourteenth season consisting of three divisions and the thirty-ninth season overall.The National League covers the top two levels of non-League football in England. The National League is the fifth highest level of the overall pyramid, while the National League North and National League South exist at the sixth level. The top team and the winner of the play-off of the Premier division will be promoted to English Football League Two, while the bottom four are relegated to the North or South divisions. The champions of the North and South divisions will be promoted to the Premier division, alongside the play-off winners from each division. The bottom three in each of the North and South divisions are relegated to the premier divisions of the Northern Premier League, Isthmian League or Southern League.

This is the first season to include six teams in the play-offs for each division, with the 4th-7th placed teams participating in the qualifying round and the 2nd and 3rd placed teams qualifying for the semi-finals.

2018–19 National League

The 2018–19 National League season, known as the Vanarama National League for sponsorship reasons, is the fourth season under English football's new title of National League, fifteenth season consisting of three divisions and the fortieth season overall.The National League covers the top two levels of non-League football in England. The National League is the fifth highest level of the overall pyramid, while the National League North and National League South exist at the sixth level. The top team and the winner of the play-off of the Premier division will be promoted to English Football League Two, while the bottom four are relegated to the North or South divisions. The champions of the North and South divisions will be promoted to the Premier division, alongside the play-off winners from each division. The bottom four in each of the North and South divisions are relegated to the premier divisions of the Northern Premier League, Southern Football League Central or South, or Isthmian League.

American League

The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League (AL), is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major league status. It is sometimes called the Junior Circuit because it claimed Major League status for the 1901 season, 25 years after the formation of the National League (the "Senior Circuit").

At the end of every season, the American League champion plays in the World Series against the National League champion; two seasons did not end in playing a World Series (1904, when the National League champion New York Giants refused to play their AL counterpart, and 1994, when a players' strike prevented the Series). Through 2018, American League teams have won 66 of the 114 World Series played since 1903, with 27 of those coming from the New York Yankees alone. The New York Yankees have won 40 American League titles, the most in the league's history, followed by the Philadelphia/Kansas City/Oakland Athletics (15) and the Boston Red Sox (14).

Bryce Harper

Bryce Aron Max Harper (born October 16, 1992) is an American professional baseball right fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball (MLB). He played in MLB for the Washington Nationals from 2012 through 2018. He has been touted as a "five-tool player".Harper graduated from high school early so that he could attend the College of Southern Nevada, where he won the 2010 Golden Spikes Award. The Nationals selected Harper as the first overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. He made his MLB debut with the Nationals on April 28, 2012, at 19 years old. Harper was selected for the 2012 All-Star Game, becoming the youngest position player to perform in an All-Star Game.Harper won the National League (NL) Rookie of the Year Award in 2012 and tied for the NL lead in home runs in 2015. He was named the NL Most Valuable Player for 2015 by unanimous decision of the Baseball Writers' Association of America; at age 23, he became the youngest MLB baseball player to win the award. As a free agent during the 2018–19 off-season, he signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies. Harper's deal is the richest contract in the history of North American sports.

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are an American professional baseball team based in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) Central division. The team plays its home games at Wrigley Field, located on the city's North Side. The Cubs are one of two major league teams in Chicago; the other, the Chicago White Sox, is a member of the American League (AL) Central division. The Cubs, first known as the White Stockings, were a founding member of the NL in 1876, becoming the Chicago Cubs in 1903.The Cubs have appeared in a total of eleven World Series. The 1906 Cubs won 116 games, finishing 116–36 and posting a modern-era record winning percentage of .763, before losing the World Series to the Chicago White Sox ("The Hitless Wonders") by four games to two. The Cubs won back-to-back World Series championships in 1907 and 1908, becoming the first major league team to play in three consecutive World Series, and the first to win it twice. Most recently, the Cubs won the 2016 National League Championship Series and 2016 World Series, which ended a 71-year National League pennant drought and a 108-year World Series championship drought, both of which are record droughts in Major League Baseball. The 108-year drought was also the longest such occurrence in all major North American sports. Since the start of divisional play in 1969, the Cubs have appeared in the postseason nine times through the 2017 season.The Cubs are known as "the North Siders", a reference to the location of Wrigley Field within the city of Chicago, and in contrast to the White Sox, whose home field (Guaranteed Rate Field) is located on the South Side.

The Cubs have multiple rivalries. There is a divisional rivalry with the St. Louis Cardinals, a newer rivalry with the Milwaukee Brewers and an interleague rivalry with the Chicago White Sox.

Jackie Robinson

Jack Roosevelt Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was an American professional baseball player who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947. When the Dodgers signed Robinson, they heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.Robinson had an exceptional 10-year MLB career. He was the recipient of the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1949 through 1954, and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949—the first black player so honored. Robinson played in six World Series and contributed to the Dodgers' 1955 World Series championship.

In 1997, MLB retired his uniform number 42 across all major league teams; he was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored. MLB also adopted a new annual tradition, "Jackie Robinson Day", for the first time on April 15, 2004, on which every player on every team wears No. 42.

Robinson's character, his use of nonviolence, and his unquestionable talent challenged the traditional basis of segregation which then marked many other aspects of American life. He influenced the culture of and contributed significantly to the civil rights movement. Robinson also was the first black television analyst in MLB and the first black vice president of a major American corporation, Chock full o'Nuts. In the 1960s, he helped establish the Freedom National Bank, an African-American-owned financial institution based in Harlem, New York. After his death in 1972, in recognition of his achievements on and off the field, Robinson was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Johnny Bench

Johnny Lee Bench (born December 7, 1947) is an American former professional baseball catcher who played in the Major Leagues for the Cincinnati Reds from 1967 to 1983 and is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bench is a 14-time All-Star selection and a two-time National League Most Valuable Player. He was a key member of the Big Red Machine that won six division titles, four National League pennants, and two consecutive World Series championships. ESPN has called him the greatest catcher in baseball history.

Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player Award

The Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) is an annual Major League Baseball (MLB) award given to one outstanding player in the American League and one in the National League. Since 1931, it has been awarded by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA). The winners receive the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award, which became the official name of the award in 1944, in honor of the first MLB commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who served from 1920 until his death on November 25, 1944.MVP voting takes place before the postseason, but the results are not announced until after the World Series. The BBWAA began by polling three writers in each league city in 1938, reducing that number to two per league city in 1961. The BBWAA does not offer a clear-cut definition of what "most valuable" means, instead leaving the judgment to the individual voters.First basemen, with 34 winners, have won the most MVPs among infielders, followed by second basemen (16), third basemen (15), and shortstops (15). Of the 25 pitchers who have won the award, 15 are right-handed while 10 are left-handed. Walter Johnson, Carl Hubbell, and Hal Newhouser are the only pitchers who have won multiple times, Newhouser winning consecutively in 1944 and 1945.Hank Greenberg, Stan Musial, Alex Rodriguez, and Robin Yount have won at different positions, while Rodriguez is the only player who has won the award with two different teams at two different positions. Barry Bonds has won the most often (seven times) and the most consecutively (four: 2001–04). Jimmie Foxx was the first player to win multiple times; 9 players have won three times, and 19 have won twice. Frank Robinson is the only player to win the award in both the American and National Leagues.

The award's only tie occurred in the National League in 1979, when Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell received an equal number of points. There have been 18 unanimous winners, who received all the first-place votes. The New York Yankees have the most winning players with 22, followed by the St. Louis Cardinals with 17 winners. The award has never been presented to a member of the following three teams: Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Mets, and Tampa Bay Rays.

In recent decades, pitchers have rarely won the award. When Justin Verlander won the AL award in 2011, he became the first pitcher in either league to be named the MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992. Verlander also became the first starting pitcher to win this award since Roger Clemens accomplished the feat in 1986. The National League went even longer without an MVP award to a pitcher. After Bob Gibson won in 1968, no pitcher in that league was named MVP until Clayton Kershaw in 2014.

National League (English football)

The National League is an association football league in England consisting of three divisions, the National League, National League North and National League South. It was called the Alliance Premier League from 1979 until 1986. Between 1986 and 2015, the league was known as the Football Conference. As part of a sponsorship deal with car leasing company Vanarama, the league is known as the Vanarama National League.

Most of the National League clubs are fully professional, while most National League North and National League South clubs are semi-professional. The professional clubs are sometimes clubs which have been in the English Football League (EFL) in the past, as opposed to those which have always been non-League. The National League is the lowest of the five nationwide football divisions in England, below the Premier League and the three divisions of the EFL, and is the top tier of the National League System of non-League football. The National League North and National League South form the sixth tier of English football. The National League consisted of only one division until 2004, but expanded as part of an extensive restructuring of the National League System which took effect beginning with the 2004–05 season.

National League (division)

The National League, currently named the Vanarama National League for sponsorship reasons, is the highest level of the National League System and fifth-highest of the overall English football league system. While all of the clubs in the top four divisions of English football are professional, the National League has a mixture of professional and semi-professional clubs. The National League is the lowest division in the English football pyramid organised on a nationwide basis. Formerly the Conference National, the league was renamed the National League from the 2015–16 season.

National League East

The National League East is one of Major League Baseball's six divisions. The Atlanta Braves have the most National League East titles (13). Most of Atlanta's NL East titles came during a record stretch of reaching MLB playoffs 14 consecutive times (there were no playoffs in 1994 and the first three titles of that streak came when the Braves were in the National League West.)

The division was created when the National League (along with the American League) added two expansion teams and divided into two divisions, East and West effective for the 1969 season. The National League's geographical alignment was rather peculiar as its partitioning was really more north and south instead of east and west. Two teams in the Eastern Time Zone, the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds, were in the same division as teams on the Pacific coast. This was due to the demands of the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, who refused to support expansion unless they were promised they would be kept together in the newly created East division.

During the two-division era, from 1969 to 1993, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates together owned more than half of the division titles, having won a combined 15 of 25 championships during that span. They were also the only teams in the division to have won consecutive titles during that span.When the National League realigned into three divisions in 1994, the Pittsburgh Pirates were originally supposed to stay in the East while the Braves were to be moved to the newly created National League Central. However, the Braves, wanting to form a natural rivalry with the expansion Florida Marlins, elected to be placed in the East. Despite the Marlins offering to go to the Central, the Pirates instead gave up their spot in the East to the Braves. Since then, the Pirates have tried several times unsuccessfully to be placed back in the East.

National League North

The National League North, formerly Conference North (named the Vanarama National League North for sponsorship reasons), is a division of the National League in England, taking its place immediately below the top division National League. Along with the National League South, it is at Step 2 of the National League System and the sixth overall tier of the English football league system. It consists of teams located in Northern England, Norfolk, the English Midlands, and North Wales. Since the start of the 2015–16 season, the league has been known as the National League North. As part of a sponsorship deal with Vanarama, the National League North was renamed the Vanarama National League North.

National League South

The National League South, formerly Conference South (billed as The Vanarama National League South for sponsorship reasons), is one of the second divisions of the National League in England, immediately below the top division National League. Along with National League North, it is at the second level of the National League System, and at the sixth tier overall of the English football league system.

It was introduced in 2004 as part of a major restructuring of the National League System. The champion team each year is automatically promoted to the National League. A second promotion place goes to the winners of play-offs involving the teams finishing in second to seventh place (expanded from four to six teams in the 2017–18 season). The three bottom clubs are relegated to Step 3 leagues.

For sponsorship reasons, it has been known as Blue Square South (2007–2010), Blue Square Bet South (2010–2013), Skrill South (2013–2014) and the Vanarama Conference South following a three-year sponsorship deal announced in July 2014. Since the start of the 2015–16 season, the league is known as the National League South. The 2017/18 champions are Havant and Waterlooville F.C..

New York Mets

The New York Mets are an American professional baseball team based in the New York City borough of Queens. The Mets compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) East division. The Mets are one of two Major League clubs based in New York City; the other is the New York Yankees of the American League East.

One of baseball's first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York's departed NL teams, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. The Mets' colors are composed of the Dodgers' blue and the Giants' orange, which also form the outer two bands of the New York City flag. During the 1962 and 1963 seasons, the Mets played their home games at the Polo Grounds. From 1964 to 2008, the Mets' home ballpark was Shea Stadium. In 2009, they moved into their current ballpark, Citi Field.In their 1962 inaugural season, the Mets posted a record of 40–120, the worst regular season record since MLB went to a 162-game schedule (two games were canceled). The team never finished better than second to last until the 1969 "Miracle Mets" beat the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 World Series in what is considered one of the biggest upsets in World Series history. Since then, they have played in four additional World Series, including a dramatic run in 1973 that ended in a seven-game loss to the Oakland Athletics, a second championship in 1986 over the Boston Red Sox, a Subway Series loss against their cross-town rivals the New York Yankees in 2000, and a five-game loss to the Kansas City Royals in 2015.

The Mets qualified to play in the Major League Baseball postseason in 1988 and 2006, coming within one game of the World Series both years. After near-misses in 2007 and 2008, the Mets made the playoffs in 2015 for the first time in nine years, and won their first NL pennant in 15 years. The team again returned to the playoffs in 2016, this time with a wild card berth. This was the team's second back-to-back playoff appearance, the first occurring during the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

As of the end of the 2018 MLB season, the Mets overall win-loss record is 4362–4732, good for a .480 win percentage.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies are an American professional baseball team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) East division. Since 2004, the team's home has been Citizens Bank Park, located in South Philadelphia.

The Phillies have won two World Series championships (against the Kansas City Royals in 1980 and the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008) and seven National League pennants, the first of which came in 1915. Since the first modern World Series was played in 1903, the Phillies played 77 consecutive seasons (and 97 seasons from the club's establishment) before they won their first World Series—longer than any other of the 16 teams that made up the major leagues for the first half of the 20th century. They are one of the more successful franchises since the start of the Divisional Era in Major League Baseball. The Phillies have won their division 11 times, which ranks 6th among all teams and 4th in the National League, including five consecutive division titles from 2007 to 2011.

The franchise was founded in Philadelphia in 1883, replacing the team from Worcester, Massachusetts in the National League. The team has played at several stadiums in the city, beginning with Recreation Park and continuing at Baker Bowl; Shibe Park, which was later renamed Connie Mack Stadium in honor of the longtime Philadelphia Athletics manager; Veterans Stadium; and now Citizens Bank Park.

The team's spring training facilities are located in Clearwater, Florida, where its Class-A minor league affiliate Clearwater Threshers plays at Spectrum Field. Its Double-A affiliate is the Reading Fightin Phils, which plays in Reading; its Triple-A affiliate is the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, which plays in Allentown; and its Low Class-A affiliate the Lakewood Blueclaws play in Lakewood, New Jersey.

From 1883 (the founding year) to 2018, the team's win-loss record is 9744-10919 (a winning percentage of 0.472).

Randy Johnson

Randall David Johnson (born September 10, 1963), nicknamed "The Big Unit", is an American former professional baseball pitcher who played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), from 1988 to 2009, for six teams. He played primarily for the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks. His 303 career victories rank as the fifth-most by a left-hander in MLB history, while his 4,875 strikeouts place him second all-time behind Nolan Ryan and are the most by a left-hander. He holds five of the seven highest single-season strikeout totals by a left-hander in modern history. Johnson won the Cy Young Award five times, second only to Roger Clemens' seven, and he is one of only two pitchers (the other being Greg Maddux) to win the award in four consecutive seasons (1999–2002). In 1999, he joined Pedro Martínez and Gaylord Perry in the rare feat of winning the award in both the American and National Leagues (a feat since accomplished by Clemens, Roy Halladay, and Max Scherzer). He is also one of five pitchers to pitch no-hitters in both leagues. On May 18, 2004, at the age of forty, Johnson became the oldest pitcher in major league history to throw a perfect game, and is one of seven pitchers who have thrown both a perfect game and a no-hitter in their careers. He is also one of eighteen pitchers in history to record a win against all 30 MLB franchises.

One of the tallest players in major league history at 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 m), and a ten-time All-Star, Johnson was celebrated for having one of the most dominant fastballs in the game. He regularly approached – and occasionally exceeded – 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), during his prime. Johnson also threw a hard, biting slider. After struggling early in his career (having won only 64 games by his 30th birthday), he went on to lead his league in strikeouts nine times, and in earned run average, winning percentage, and complete games four times each. Johnson was named one of two (along with Curt Schilling) World Series Most Valuable Players in 2001, with three pitching victories, leading the Diamondbacks to a world championship over the New York Yankees in only Arizona’s fourth year of play. He won the pitching Triple Crown in 2002.

Johnson's .646 career winning percentage ranks sixth among lefthanders with at least 200 decisions; among southpaws, he ranks eighth in games started (603) and ninth in innings pitched (​4,135 1⁄3). Johnson’s career elite rankings also include: first in strikeouts per nine innings pitched (10.67), third in hit batsmen (188), and tenth in fewest hits allowed per nine innings pitched (7.24). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015, his first year of eligibility, and is the first member of the Hall to be depicted in a Diamondbacks uniform on his plaque.

Sammy Sosa

Samuel Kelvin Peralta Sosa (born November 12, 1968) is a Dominican American former professional baseball right fielder. Starting his career with the Texas Rangers, Sosa became a member of the Chicago Cubs in 1992 and became one of the game's best hitters. Sosa hit his 400th home run in his 1,354th game and his 5,273rd at-bat, reaching this milestone quicker than any player in National League history. He is one of nine players in MLB history to hit 600 career home runs.In 1998, Sosa and Mark McGwire achieved national fame for their home run-hitting prowess in pursuit of Roger Maris' home run record. Sosa is best known for his time with the Cubs where he became a 7-time All-Star while holding numerous team records. He finished his career with stints with the Baltimore Orioles and the Texas Rangers. With the Rangers, Sosa hit his 600th career home run to become the fifth player in MLB history to reach the milestone.

Sosa is second all-time in home runs among foreign-born MLB players and is one of only three National League players since 1900 to reach 160 RBIs in a season (2001). Sosa is also the only player to have hit 60 or more home runs in a single season three times.

In a 2005 congressional hearing, Sosa--through his attorney--denied having used performance-enhancing drugs during his playing career.

Süper Lig

The Süper Lig (Turkish pronunciation: [ˈsypæɾ liɟ], Super League) is a Turkish professional league for association football clubs. It is the top-flight of the Turkish football league system and is run by the Turkish Football Federation. Eighteen clubs compete annually, where a champion is decided and three clubs are promoted and relegated from, and to, the 1. Lig. The season runs from August to May, with each club playing 34 matches. Matches are played Friday through Monday.

The competition was initially established as the Millî Lig (National League) in 1959 - the first professional nationwide league competition held in Turkey. The league succeeded the Turkish Football Championship and the National Division, both being former top-level national competitions. The Süper Lig is currently 10th in the UEFA coefficient ranking of leagues based on club performances in European competitions over the last five years. A total of 68 clubs have competed in the Süper Lig, but only six have won the title so far: Galatasaray (21), Fenerbahçe (19), Beşiktaş (15), Trabzonspor (6), Bursaspor (1).

Tom Seaver

George Thomas Seaver (born November 17, 1944), nicknamed Tom Terrific and The Franchise, is an American professional baseball pitcher. He pitched in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1967 to 1986 for the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, and Boston Red Sox. He played a role in the Mets' victory in the 1969 World Series.

With the Mets, Seaver won the National League (NL)'s Rookie of the Year Award in 1967, and won three NL Cy Young Awards as the league's best pitcher. He is a 12-time All-Star. Seaver is the Mets' all-time leader in wins, and he threw a no-hitter in 1978. During a 20-year MLB career, Seaver compiled 311 wins, 3,640 strikeouts, 61 shutouts and a 2.86 earned run average.

In 1992, Seaver was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the highest percentage of votes ever recorded at the time. He is one of two players wearing a New York Mets hat on his plaque in the Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the New York Mets Hall of Fame and the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

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