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National Association of Professional Base Ball Players

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The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP), or simply the National Association (NA), was founded in 1871 and lasted through the 1875 season. It succeeded the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) and several of its clubs created the succeeding National League, which essentially survives as Major League Baseball. The NA is commonly considered the first professional baseball league and some historians regard it the first of the major leagues, although MLB and a majority of baseball historians do not recognize it(even though an independent statistician put NA stats on an MLB website - unauthoritzed Seven (7) players who played in the National Association later gained selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Cap Anson, Jim O'Rourke, Albert Spalding (P) Candy Cummings (P) Jim Galvin(P), George Wright, and Harry Wright. all 7 later played in the National League, although Harry Wright only played in 2 NL games and Jim Galvin (P) did not play in the Natiuonakl League until 1879. Spalding, Cummings, and the Wright brothers were selected to the Hall of Fame largely as pioneers.

Several factors limited the lifespan of the National Association including

  • Dominance by a single team (Boston) for most of the league's existence
  • Instability of franchises; several were placed in cities too small to support major league baseball
  • Lack of central authority
  • Suspicions of the influence of gamblers

Member ClubsEdit

Team names technicalitiesEdit

The way the teams are listed above puts their names in the modern context of a city name plus a nickname. In fact, the singular form of that "nickname" was often the team name itself, with its base city "understood" and was so listed in the standings. Example: Rather than saying "Brooklyn Atlantics", the team was simply called "Atlantic", or "Atlantic of Brooklyn" if deemed necessary by the writer.

Another common practice was to refer to the team in the plural; hence the "Bostons" the "Chicagos"... or the "Mutuals". Hence some additional confusion for modern readers.

Sometimes the team would have a nickname, usually something to do with the team colors. Examples: Boston Red Stockings, Chicago White Stockings, Mutual Green Stockings. A relatively modern equivalent to this was when the Pacific Coast League had two teams in San Francisco, called "San Francisco" and "Mission". The teams were officially the "Seals" and the "Reds" respectively. However, the second team was also often called the "Missions".

This practice of using the singular form of the "nickname" as the team name faded with time, although as recently as the early 1900s, the team generally known as "Philadelphia Athletics" was shown in the American League standings as "Athletic", the traditional way.

The closest modern sports franchises come to this style is by assigning a name that reflects the region that the team wants to represent. The Rangers have always played in Arlington, Texas, but the team is listed as "Texas" in the standings because that is what the team calls itself: The Texas Rangers, not the Arlington Texans. In 2005, this idea came full circle: in the early 1870s, there were the Mutual Green Stockings of New York. Now we have the newly redubbed Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The way the NA teams were typically shown in contemporary standings was as follows:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Forest City (of Cleveland)
  • Kekionga
  • Mutual
  • Athletic
  • Forest City (of Rockford)—a little confusing in 1871
  • Troy
  • Olympic
  • Atlantic
  • Eckford
  • Lord Baltimore
  • Mansfield
  • National
  • Maryland
  • Philadelphia
  • Resolute
  • Hartford
  • Centennial
  • Elm City
  • St. Louis Brown Stockings
  • St. Louis Red Stockings
  • Western


Several others found the National Association of Amateur Base Ball Players. It does not survive long or inspire a replacement, so the short forms professional association and amateur association do not survive long.

  • 1876: Six clubs from the NA and two independents establish the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs: Boston, Hartford, Mutual, Athletic, Chicago, and the St. Louis Brown Stockings from the NA plus independent clubs Louisville and Cincinnati.


  • 1871 Philadelphia Athletics
  • 1872 Boston Red Stockings
  • 1873 Boston Red Stockings
  • 1874 Boston Red Stockings
  • 1875 Boston Red Stockings

NA PresidentsEdit


  • David Pietrusza Major Leagues: The Formation, Sometimes Absorption and Mostly Inevitable Demise of 18 Professional Baseball Organizations, 1871 to Present Jefferson (NC): McFarland & Company, 1991. ISBN 0-89950-590-2

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