With its lush green field, grand slams and no-hitters, no other sport grips America's soul quite like baseball. It's a game that's been around for more than a century and still draws millions of spectators each year -- how well do you know the history of baseball?
In 1845, the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club began playing organized games. The club set standards for some of the game's rules, which then became more common in other areas of America.
In the middle of tight contests, imagine getting beaned in the head by a fastball while heading for third base. Quite often, players erupted in anger (and pain) and charged the defenders, and fistfights broke out. Because baseball isn't hockey, the tagging rule was changed.
The first documented stories of baseball became widespread in the mid-1800s. It's when various baseball clubs were organized around the country.
Abner Doubleday was a Civil War hero who was posthumously attributed as the inventor of American baseball. But Doubleday never made any such claim, and it took decades for historians to finally confirm that the man truly made no contributions to baseball's creation.
Although such moniker would've been geometrically pleasing, the game clearly was never called "hexagonal ball." Early versions were called "town ball," "round ball," and a number of common names.
Forget chasing down the runner … just chuck the ball at him instead. That's how defenders tagged runners in one very early version of baseball. It wasn't long before some bruised players decided maybe that concept needed tweaking.
Baseball might be as American as apple pie, but this most patriotic game wasn't created in the U.S. The history of the game goes back before the country was even born … although historians can't place the exact moment and place that baseball emerged.
Cricket, of course, was a sport imported from Europe and very popular in America. But slowly, the concepts behind baseball began to overshadow cricket and other older games.
A children's game called "rounders," along with cricket, are two of baseball's immediate predecessors. They combined elements of base running with ball-striking.
The National Association of Base Ball Players was the first attempt at organizing pro baseball teams. It was founded in 1871 and lasted for about four years.
The Civil War scattered men all over the country. The men of the Northeast took baseball with them, and their rules for baseball spread throughout the East Coast and Midwest.
For many years, players made their own balls, which varied in size, weight and durability. In 1876, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs standardized the ball, ensuring fairer and more consistent play throughout the country.
In the late 1870s, a retired Red Sox pitcher named A.G. Spaulding convinced the league's overlords to adopt his ball as the standard. They did -- and for more than 100 years, Spaulding balls were the league's official ball.
Early balls couldn't take any real punishment, and after a few hits they'd get noticeably softer, so the point that they didn't travel very far. Thus, the "dead-ball" era is known for its many low-scoring contests.
At the end of the regular season and playoffs, only two teams remain. The National League and American League champions clash as titans in the World Series.
In 1846, two New York-area teams converged at a legendary place called Elysian Fields, in Manhattan. Until the 1880s, the field was a popular place for the increasingly-popular game of baseball.
In 1903, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Americans played in what is now regarded as the first World Series. They played a best-of-nine series, and Boston won the final four games, winning the Series five games to three.
Pro baseball teams weren't exactly looking to be at the vanguard of civil rights in America. A series of informal agreements kept non-white players out of the league until the 1940s.
No other team has been running without interruptions as long the Atlanta Braves. Founded in 1871 as the Boston Red Stockings, the team bounced around a bit until landing in Atlanta in 1966.
Reach introduced a type of ball that had cork in the center, surrounded by vulcanized rubber. It was a durable design popular with many players.
There were 16 charter teams in the National Association. All of the teams were from areas of the Northeast (or nearby), so none of them were named the Denver Knickers.
The legendary Jackie Robinson is often called the first black pro. But Moses Fleetwood Walker played pro ball in the 1880s … and unlike at least one other black player of the era, he didn't attempt to conceal his ethnicity.
The AL has a substantial lead in terms of total World Series Championships -- these teams have won 65. The NL, with 48 victories, has some catching up to do.
The Philadelphia Phillies were first called the Quakers, a name that harkened to the colonial era. In 1884, they adopted the Phillies name, and it is the oldest continuously used name in all of professional sports.
In 1994, labor strife ravaged the league -- owners and players clashed over free-agency rules and salary, and there was no resolution in the works. The strike started in August and eventually resulted in the cancellation of the World Series, the first time the event had been halted since 1904.
Black players loved baseball, too, but they were excluded from white leagues until after WWII. Until then, they played their games in the Negro Leagues, segregated from the larger and better attended whites-only league.
The '89 Series was the first ever to feature two Bay-area teams (Oakland and San Francisco), so perhaps it's almost fitting that a major earthquake halted game three before it even started. The quake caused immense damage, killed dozens of people and delayed the game for 10 days.
Before it became the Nationals, the team was known as the Montreal Expos, which was the first MLB club granted to a Canadian city. The Expos played in Montreal from '69 to '04.
In 1984, Anderson accomplished a major feat, when he became the first manager ever to win a title in both the AL and NL. He won the Series with both the Reds and the Tigers.
In 1993, the Colorado Rockies franchise was formed in the National League West. The team has won the National League just once (2007) but was then swept by the Red Sox in the World Series.