National Association of Professional Base Ball Players

A loosely organized league recognized by some as the first major league (although in 1969 the rules committee rejected this claim), the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was the first professional league. Although it included the best teams and players of its time, it admitted any club that could pay a ten-dollar entry fee. Although it was not descended from the old amateur National Association, its structure was based on that of the older organization, which may have been its greatest problem. Scheduling was not fixed in advance, and many teams simply dropped out when they discovered they were losing money. Additionally, only pro ballplayers were allowed to hold office (the first president was Robert Ferguson), and some charged that discipline was lax; gambling pervaded the sport. The NA ceased to exist after the organization of the National League in 1876.