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What is the history of baseball?

The American pastime has roots dating back to the late 18th century. Mentions of baseball began around 1791 as a modified version of rounders, an English game with similar rules, but played with a much shorter bat, often swung one-handed.

Popularity continued throughout the 19th century. The first game played under modern rules—initially penned as the Knickerbockers Rules—took place in 1845, with the “New York Nine” soundly defeating the Knickerbockers by a score of 23-1.

Several professional leagues sprung up before the turn of the century, but none lasted longer than a few years before dissolving; eventually two leagues—The American and National—managed to build strong followings, which led to bidding wars for players and moves to larger arenas. In 1902, the two leagues struck a deal that solved contract disputes and led to creating the World Series, with Boston winning the first-ever championship.

Baseball at the Olympic Games

Baseball made its debut in 1902, with demonstration games held in 1936, 1952, 1956, 1964, 1984, and 1988. It officially joined the Summer Games in 1992, with Cuba taking home the gold. However, the sport was dropped from the Olympic Games after 2008.

The basis for dropping the sport involved a lack of global interest—only eight teams competed in 1992 and 16 teams appeared in 2008. Several proposals came forward over the years to bring baseball back, with a successful bid coming from a joint effort with the International Softball Federation—softball was voted out the same year as baseball.

What are the current Olympic baseball events?

While baseball has not appeared at the Olympics since 2008, it is making a comeback for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Visit USA Baseball to learn more

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