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How Is The National League Different From The American League?

Posted on August 07 2019

The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs was formed on February 2, 1876. It is now referred to as simply the National League (NL). In 1901, the American League (AL) was established. The first World Series was held between the two in 1903.

But even before all of that, in Hoboken New Jersey, in June of 1846, the first official game of baseball occurred. The first professional American baseball club was the Cincinnati Red Stockings back in 1869. The sport’s first "major league", the National Association of Professional Baseball Players, was established in 1871. In 1876 – a mere five years later – the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs was formed by businessman William Hulbert. It would replace the National Association. Why? It seems that Mr. Hulbert was of the opinion that there was corruption and mismanagement in the National League.

As stated, the founding of the American League of Professional Baseball Clubs occurred in 1901. This presented the opportunity for more competition. Competing against each other, the best team in each league would play the World Series beginning in 1903. In the years that followed, “divisions” would be assigned within the leagues.

That's a lot of history. But, aside from founding dates, what differences are there between the American League and the National League?How Is The National League Different From The American League?

It's All About the DH…

One of the biggest differences between the American League and the National League is the use of a DH or designated hitter. The DH is used to bat for the pitcher but does not play in the field. In 1973, this rule was adopted by the American League. By now, to some variation, some professional, amateur, and many collegiate teams have adopted the same rule. The pitcher is the only player that the DH can hit for, and before the game, it must be determined whether or not the team will be using a DH.

While the designated hitter does not ordinarily play in another position on the field, if that player is moved to a position on the field, he forfeits his role as a DH.

When the two leagues play against each other, however, only in American League ballparks is the designated hitter rule used.

Or Is It about the Money?

This may not apply as much today, with many sports participants hauling in millions of dollars annually, but back around 1901, the National League found itself losing players to the American League. Why? It seems that the American League was shelling out more money for players’ salaries. So, many players simply went where the money was. Additionally, the American League was beating the National League in attendance. A treaty, of sorts, was agreed upon between the two leagues by 1903. It would be referred to as the National Agreement. It would govern recruiting, rules, schedules, etc. and would consist of a national commission overseeing everything, with a three-man membership.

One powerful baseball commissioner replaced the three-man national commission due to the National Agreement adaptation in 1921. This took place after the Black Sox Scandal took place in the 1919 World Series. The scandal revolved around a deliberate loss instigated by Chicago White Sox players.

You can support your favorite team, be it from the National League or the American League, by purchasing a baseball cap from Hat Heaven.
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