May 31, 1859 — What is now considered the national pastime began as a bat-and-ball game commonly known as “town ball” in several states, but played with many local variations.
The Athletic Base Ball Club was founded in Philadelphia on this date with the express purpose of playing what was then often referred to as “the New York game.” Early on, Athletic competed against stiff local competition — amateur clubs that were organized by trade, neighborhood, or clubs devoted to other hobbies.
As Athletic grew to be a force nationally, many of these clubs became de facto farm teams for the Athletics, who had the best record in the country in 1867 and 1868. Part of Athletic’s mission was to facilitate the growth of the sport in towns around the region, and Athletic even sponsored the first African-American club to apply for membership in the National Association of Base Ball Players.
When the game took a professional turn after the Civil War, the Athletics became the first champions of the new National Association of Professional Base Ball Players.
Words of Wisdom for May 31, 2016
“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.”
— Bob Feller (November 3, 1918 – December 15, 2010), nicknamed "The Heater from Van Meter", "Bullet Bob", and "Rapid Robert", was an American baseball pitcher who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball for the Cleveland Indians.