The National Association of Professional Base Ball
(NAPBBP), or simply the National
(NA), was founded in 1871 and continued
through the 1875 season. It succeeded and incorporated several
professional clubs from the National Association
of Base Ball Players
(NABBP); in turn several of its clubs
created the succeeding National
, which essentially survives as professional baseball
The NA was the first professional baseball league. Its status as a
major league is in dispute
Major League Baseball and the Baseball Hall of
Fame do not recognize it as a major league, but the NA
comprised most of the professional clubs and the highest caliber of
play then in existence.
Its players, managers, and umpires
are included among the "major leaguers" who define the scope of
many encyclopedias and many databases developed by SABR or
Several factors limited the lifespan of the National Association
- Dominance by a single team (Boston) for most of the league's
- Instability of franchises; several were placed in cities too
small to financially support professional baseball
- Lack of central authority
- Suspicions of the influence of gamblers
Professional baseball clubs in the 19th century were often known by
what is now regarded as a "nickname", although it was actually the
club's name. This was a practice carried over from the amateur
The Encyclopedia of Baseball
attempted to retrofit the
names into a modern context, possibly introducing some confusion.
In the following list, the bold names are the names most often used
by contemporary newspapers in league standings, and the linked
names after them are those typically ascribed to the teams now,
using the Encyclopedia of Baseball
(There are 23 listings, which may be the lowest number of member
ballclubs that anyone counts. The highest number may be 26,
counting two for the Chicago listing and three for the National
===More on team namesThe singular form of a "nickname" was often
the team name itself, with its base city "understood" and was so
listed in the standings. Example: Rather than "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 more recent equivalent to this occurred
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
"Athletic", the traditional way. That team sported an old-English
"A" on its jerseys, as had its nominative predecessors. The Oakland
uniforms are a quiet reminder of this tradition.
The closest equivalent in modern sports franchises is to assign a
name that reflects the region that the team wants to represent.
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
This idea came full circle: in the early 1870s,
there were the Mutual Green Stockings of New York. In 2005, there
were the newly redubbed Los Angeles Angels of
- 1869: The previously amateur National Association of Base Ball
Players establishes a professional category.
- 1869–70: Cincinnati Red Stockings demonstrate that professional
baseball is a viable business enterprise.
- 1871: Several clubs from the National Association of Base Ball
Players break away to found the first professional league, the
National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NA).
Several others found the National Association of Amateur Base Ball
It does not survive long or inspire a replacement, so the short
forms professional association and amateur association do not
NA lifetime leaders
- 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
- William J. Ryczek Blackguards and Red Stockings: A History
of Baseball's National Association Jefferson (NC): McFarland
& Company, 1999. ISBN 978-0967371801