- Professional baseball
Baseballis a team sport which is played by several professional leagues throughout the world. In these leagues, and associated farm teams, players are selected for their talents and are paid to play for a specific team or club system.
Modern professional leagues
Major League Baseballin North America consists of the National League(founded in 1876) and the American League(1901). Historically, teams in one league never played teams in the other until the World Series, in which the champions of the two leagues played against each other; this changed in 1997 with the advent of interleague play.
In addition to the major leagues, many North American cities and towns feature minor league teams. An organization officially styled
Minor League Baseball, formerly the National Association of Professional Baseball, oversees nearly all minor league baseball in the United Statesand Canada. The minor leagues are divided into classes AAA, AA, High A, Low A, Short-Season A, Advanced Rookie, and Rookie. These minor-league divisions are affiliated with major league teams, and serve to develop young players and rehabilitate injured major-leaguers. The Mexican Leagueis a Minor League Baseball member league that operates without affiliations to major league teams which is similar to the many independent minor leagues in North America such as the Northern League, Golden League, Atlantic league, Frontier Leagueas well as many others.
Japan has had professional baseball since the 1930s. Currently, it consists of two leagues, the
Central Leagueand the Pacific League, each with six teams.
Rest of the world
Professional leagues also exist in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Korea, Taiwan, Australia, the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, China, Italy (from 1948), Israel (from 2007),
Latin America, and elsewhere in Europe.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries,
African-Americanplayers were barred from playing the major leagues, though several did manage to play by claiming to be Cubans or Indians. As a result, a number of parallel Negro Leagues were formed. However, after Jackie Robinsonbegan playing with the major-league Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, the Negro Leagues gradually faded. The process of integration did not go entirely smoothly; there were some ugly incidents, including pitchers who would try to throw directly at an African-American player's head. Now, however, baseball is fully integrated, and there is little to no racial tension between teammates.
Between 1943 and 1954, the
All-American Girls Professional Baseball Leaguefielded teams in several Midwestern towns.
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