Professor John Hall
Journal of Economic Literature Classification Codes
L83, N11, N31
Amateur, Baseball, National Pastime, Professional, Sport
This inquiry seeks to establish that in the 19th century baseball transitioned from a sport to a business activity. At the outset, the game of baseball was first played for the enjoyment of the players and spectators. Typically, teams were composed of players stemming from the towns for which they played, and early organized leagues enacted rules to keep the game played as a serious activity—but for amateurs. As the 19th century came towards its close, these amateur leagues were challenged by the emergence of new, professional leagues, and players took the liberty to play for the teams that offered the highest pay. Teams owners no longer looked at baseball as a sporting competition, but as a source of profit from the products they placed on the ball fields. Baseball lost its innocence; however this game but gained prestige as a national pastime once the professional leagues paved a way for Major League Baseball of today.
© Brian Burres
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Burres, Brian "Baseball in the Nineteenth Century: From Sport to Business, Working Paper No. 38", Portland State University Economics Working Papers. 38. (15 December 2018) i + 13 pages.