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Pleasant N.D. baseball team portrait, 1908.

State Historical Society of North Dakota State Archives

Black and white portrait of the 1908 Pleasant N.D. baseball team.
Image from the collection:

Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1914-1988. Letter, 1942, January 15.

National Baseball Hall of Fame

Restrictions on access: By appointment only, staff assistance required.
From the collection description:
Franklin D. Roosevelt was President of the United States (1933-1945), during World War II. Kenesaw Mountain Landis was the first Commissioner of Major League Baseball (1920-1944). He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1944. Letter, January 15, 1942, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Kenesaw M. Landis regarding the continuation of baseball during World War II. Roosevelt provides his personal, not official, opinion that baseball should continue during the war athough players who are eligible for active duty should serve. The letter is typed on White House letterhead and is signed by Roosevelt. This letter is known as "The Green Light" letter.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Baseball photographs, [ca.1890-1960]

New York State Historical Documents

From the collection description:
Portraits and action scenes of members of the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, Giants, and other baseball teams including such early teams as the Brooklyn Baseball Club, 1890's. Some folders are organized by name of player and include photos of Lou Gehrig, 1930's-1940's; Babe Ruth, 1930's-1940's; Joe Di Maggio, 1940's-1950's; and others.

About this Topic

The evolution of baseball from older bat-and-ball games is difficult to trace with precision. Consensus once held that today's baseball is a North American development from the older game rounders, popular in Great Britain and Ireland. Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game (2005), by David Block, suggests that the game originated in England; recently uncovered historical evidence supports this position. Block argues that rounders and early baseball were actually regional variants of each other, and that the game's most direct antecedents are the English games of stoolball and "tut-ball". It has long been believed that cricket also descended from such games, though evidence uncovered in early 2009 suggests that the sport may have been imported to England from Flanders.

In the mid-1850s, a baseball craze hit the New York metropolitan area. By 1856, local journals were referring to baseball as the "national pastime" or "national game". A year later, sixteen area clubs formed the sport's first governing body, the National Association of Base Ball Players. In 1863, the organization disallowed putouts made by catching a fair ball on the first bounce. Four years later, it barred participation by African Americans. The game's commercial potential was developing: in 1869 the first fully professional baseball club, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was formed and went undefeated against a schedule of semipro and amateur teams. The first professional league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, lasted from 1871 to 1875; scholars dispute its status as a major league.

The more formally structured National League was founded in 1876. As the oldest surviving major league, the National League is sometimes referred to as the "senior circuit". The National League's first successful counterpart, the American League, which evolved from the minor Western League, was established that year. The two leagues, each with eight teams, were rivals that fought for the best players, often disregarding each other's contracts and engaging in bitter legal disputes.

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