"Everyobody thinks of baseball as a sacred cow. When you have the verve to challenge it, people look down their noses at you. There are a lot of things wrong with a lot of industries... baseball is one of them."
--Curt Flood, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder who challenged the Reserve Clause
The term National League refers to the organization more
properly referred to as the National League of Professional Baseball
Clubs, the older of the two leagues constituting Major
G. Bulkeley 1876-1876
William A. Hulbert 1877-1882
Arthur H. Soden 1882-1882
Abraham G. Mills 1883-1884
Nicholas E. Young 1885-1902
Harry C. Pulliam 1903-1909
John A. Heydler 1909-1909
Thomas J. Lynch 1910-1913
John K. Tener 1913-1918
John A. Heydler 1918-1934
Ford C. Frick 1934-1951
Warren C. Giles 1951-1969
Charles S. Feeney 1970-1986
A. Bartlett Giamatti 1986-1989
William D. White 1989-1994
Leonard Coleman, Jr. 1994-1999
Beginning with the 1903 season, the regular season champions of the two
leagues have met annually in the World
Series, with the exception of 1904 and 1994. Through the 2005 season,
National League teams have won 41 and lost 60 of the 101 World Series
played, although the Nationals have a rather better percentage of 28 wins
and 34 losses if you take away the New
The new league encountered its first rival organization, when the American
Association began play in 1882. The A.A. offered cheaper ticket prices
("quarter ball") and Sunday baseball and alcoholic beverages
where one or both were legal. The National League and American Association
participated in an early version of the World
Series seven times during their ten-year coexistence, though the
series were only exhibition games arranged by the teams involved. The N.L.
won most of those encounters, while some ended in ties due to disputes or
After the 1891 season, the A.A. disbanded and merged with the N.L.,
which became known legally for the next decade or so as the "National
League and American Association". The teams now known as the Cincinnati
Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh
Pirates had already switched from the A.A. to the N.L. prior to 1892.
With the merger the N.L. absorbed the team now known as the St.
Louis Cardinals, along with three other teams which did not survive
into the 20th century.
The National League became a 12-team circuit with monopoly status for
the rest of the decade. The league became embroiled in numerous internal
conflicts, not the least of which was a plan supported by some owners (and
bitterly opposed by others) to form a "trust," wherein there
would be one common ownership of all twelve N.L. teams. The N.L. used its
monopoly power to force a $2,400 limit on annual player wages in 1894.
Then, the league contracted to eight teams for the 1900 season,
eliminating its teams in Baltimore,
This provided an opportunity for competition. Three of those cities
received franchises in the new American League in 1901. The A.L. declined
to renew its National Agreement membership when it expired, and on January
28, 1901, officially declared itself a second major league. By 1903, the
upstart A.L. had located teams in Boston,
and St. Louis.
Only the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates had no A.L. team in their
The National League at first refused to recognize the new league, but
reality set in as talent and money drained away to the new league. After
two years of bitter contention a new version of the National Agreement was
signed in 1903. This meant formal acceptance of each league by the other
as an equal partner in major league baseball.
After the contraction to eight teams in 1900,
the National League consisted of the same eight teams in the same cities
until 1953, when the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee. The team later
moved to Atlanta in 1966. In 1958, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York
Giants moved to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, bringing
major league baseball to the West Coast of the U.S. for the first time.
As a result of expansion to 12 teams in 1969, the National League,
which for the first 93 years of its existence competed equally in a single
grouping, reorganized into two divisions of six teams (East
and West), with the division champions meeting in
League Championship Series (an additional round of postseason
competition) for the right to advance to the World Series. Beginning with
the 1994 season, the league has been divided into three divisions (East,
West, and Central), with the addition of a wild
card team (the team with the best record among those finishing in
second place) to enable four teams to advance to the preliminary National
League Division Series.
Often characterized as being a more "traditional" or
"pure" league, the National League (as of 2005 at least) has
never adopted the designated
hitter rule as did the American League in 1973. In theory, this means
the role of the N.L. manageris somewhat expanded in comparison to the A.L.,
because the manager must take offense into account when making pitching
substitutions and vice versa. There are perceived to be fewer home runs
and big offensive plays due to the presence of the pitcher in the batting
order, although this is not always the case.
For the first 96 years of its coexistence with the American League,
National League teams faced their A.L. counterparts only in exhibition
games or in the World Series. Beginning in 1997, however, interleague
games have been played during the regular ("championship")
season, and count in the standings.
Through the 2005 season, the Dodgers have won the most National League
pennants (21, plus one A.A. pennant), followed closely by the Giants (20)
and Cardinals (16, plus 4 A.A. pennants). Among National League teams, the
Cardinals have won the most World Series (9) followed by the Dodgers (6),
Pirates (5) and Giants (5).
Charter franchises (1876)
The original eight charter teams were the following:
Many franchises came and went between 1876 and 1892 when the National
League absorbed the American Association. In 1892 the twelve teams in
what---for a time---was termed the "National League and American
Association" were the following:
NOTES: 1. The office of National League President was
eliminated in 1999, although Bill Giles, son of former NL President Warren
C. Giles, currently holds the title of honorary National League president.
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As the older of the two Major Leagues, the NL is known as the Senior Curcuit.
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