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Major League Baseball (MLB) is the highest level of play in North American professional baseball. Specifically, Major League Baseball refers to the organization that operates the National League and the American League, by means of a joint organizational structure that has developed gradually between them since 1903.
The baseball roots can be traced back to 1860s, when aided by the Civil War, “New York”-style baseball expanded into a national game and baseball’s first governing body, at that time the National Association of Baseball Players (NABBP) was formed. The NABBP existed as an amateur league for twelve years. By 1867, more than 400 clubs were members, although most of the strongest clubs remained those based in the northeastern part of the country.
In 1870, a schism developed between professional and amateur ballplayers, and the NABBP split into two groups, so the National Association of Professional base ball players was formed in 1871 but was ineffective.Then in 1876, the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs was established. The emphasis was now on “clubs” rather than “players”. Clubs now had the ability to enforce player contracts, preventing players from jumping to higher-paying clubs. For their part, clubs were required to play the full schedule of games, instead of forfeiting scheduled games when the club was no longer in the running for the league championship, which happened frequently under the National Association.
The early years of the National League were tumultuous, since competitive leagues formed regularly, and also disbanded regularly. The most successful was the American Association (1881-1891), sometimes called the “beer and whiskey league” for its tolerance of the sale of alcoholic beverages to spectators. For several years, the National League and American Association champions met in a postseason championship series-the first attempt at a World Series.