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Word Count: 952
Baseball seems always to have lived more in myth that in history Children in England and the United States had been playing variants of the game for years such as rounders one o cat and base In 1845 some young men in Manhattan organized themselves into the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club and wrote down the rules of the game they were playing Twenty years later dozens of baseball clubs in New York and Brooklyn and their journalist brethren had made what they called the national pastime more popular than cricket and the metropolis had become the countrys first baseball powerhouse As baseball clubs were transformed into entertainment businesses and instruments of civic boosterism so grew their need for first-rate players who could attract paying crowds The remarkable undefeatable season of the national touring Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869 paved the way for baseballs full-blown professionalization in the 1876 formation of the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs Although distinctions between players and their clubs now really small businesses had been hardening for years the National League formalized the division which has continued until today Baseball soon outdistanced other spectator sports in popularity and contributed to the sports boom of the 1880s and 1890s Late nineteenth-century baseball resembled the Gilded Age business world Owners moved the clubs frequently while rival leagues sprung up and competed for players and spectators The National League either defeated its opponents outright or incorporated them into a subordinate national structure of minor leagues Not until 1901 was the National League force to accept the American League the only other surviving major league Leagues controlled access to spectators by granting franchises Owners and leagues controlled the players through labor practices that combined elements of chattel slavery the infamous reserve rule and freewheeling industrial capitalism blacklisting fines salary limits and reductions even the use of Pinkerton spies The reserve clause initiated in 1879 and inserted into every players
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