National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs

IntroductionFirst Quarter-CenturySeasons SummaryLeague Championship Summary
National League Table of Contents


National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs ‘Logo’

The National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs (NL), often known simply as the National League, was the first major sports league in Baseball and in all of sport. (The sport was spelled with two words in the 19th century.)

By 1875, the National of Professional Base Ball Players (NA), often referred to as the “National Association”), founded four years earlier, was suffering from a lack of strong authority over clubs, unsupervised scheduling, unstable membership of cities, dominance by one team (the Boston Red Stockings), and an extremely low entry fee ($10) that gave clubs no incentive to abide by league rules when it was inconvenient to them.

William A. Hulbert (1832–1882), a Chicago businessman and an officer of the Chicago White Stockings of 1870–1889, approached several NA clubs with the plans for a professional league for the sport of base ball with a stronger central authority and exclusive territories in larger cities only. Additionally, Hulbert had a problem: five of his star players were threatened with expulsion from the NA because Hulbert had signed them to his club using what were considered questionable means. Hulbert had a great vested interest in creating his own league, and after recruiting St. Louis privately, four western clubs met in Louisville, Kentucky, in January 1876. With Hulbert speaking for the four later in New York City on February 2, 1876, the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs was established 

The teams from the NA that formed the NL were the Boston Red Stockings, the dominant team in the NA (later the Boston Braves, then the Milwaukee Braves, now the Atlanta Braves, not to be confused with the present-day Boston Red Sox of the later American League), Chicago White Stockings (now the Chicago Cubs, not to be confused with the current Chicago White Sox of the American League), Hartford Dark Blues, New York Mutual, Philadelphia Athletics, and St. Louis Brown Stockings.

FanSeeStats classifies the National League  as a Major League as it attracts the best players worldwide, are home to that Big Sports richest teams, are exclusive in who can join the league, and are ambitious in their scope and marketing.


Major League

First Quarter-Century of Play (1876-1899)

The National League was established in 1876 by the teams from the National Association. The first 24 years of play the National League was beset by challenges from three Rival Leagues (American Association, Union Association, and Players’ League) and each one of these would fall in defeat to the National League which would come to dominate professional Baseball.

During this era, the National League was dominated by teams from Boston and Chicago, with these two cities winning 14 of the 24 league championships.

In the 1890s a World Series had its first iteration from 1884 to 1890 when the National League Champion would face off against the Champion from the American Association. The National League won 4 of the 7 World Series (1884, 1887-1889).

By the end of 1899, the National League was the only Major League of all professional sport.

Seasons Summary

National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs Summary Table of Contents


YearChampion# of Teams
1876Chicago White Stockings8
1877Boston Red Caps6
1878Boston Red Caps6
1879Providence Grays8
National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs 1870s Season Summary


YearChampion# of Teams
1880Chicago White Stockings8
1881Chicago White Stockings8
1882Chicago White Stockings8
1883Boston Beaneaters8
1884Providence Grays8
1885Chicago White Stockings8
1886Chicago White Stockings8
1887Detroit Wolverines8
1888New York Giants8
1889New York Giants8
National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs 1880s Season Summary


YearChampion# of Teams
1890Brooklyn Bridegrooms8
1891Boston Beaneaters8
1892Boston Beaneaters8
1893Boston Beaneaters8
1894Baltimore Orioles12
1895Baltimore Orioles12
1896Baltimore Orioles12
1897Boston Beaneaters12
1898Boston Beaneaters12
1899Brooklyn Superbas12
National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs 1890s Season Summary

League Championship Summary

# of seasons: 24

List of teams who won championships sorted by number of championships.

Team# of League Championships
Boston Red Caps / Boston Beaneaters8 (1877-1878, 1883, 1891-1893, 1897-1898)
Chicago White Stockings6 (1876, 1880-1882, 1885-1886)
Baltimore Orioles3 (1894-1896)
New York Giants2 (1888-1889)
Providence Grays2 (1879, 1884)
Brooklyn Bridegrooms / Brooklyn Superbas2 (1890, 1899)
Detroit Wolverines1 (1887)
National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs Championship Summary (1876-1899)

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