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Lead-Off: 1876 to 1920
The origins of the game of baseball are hotly debated, but the establishment of what we recognize today as Major League Baseball, with modern rules and equipment, can be traced to the founding of The National League in 1876. The American League was not recognized by "The Senior Circuit" until 1903 when the first World Series took place. The rough and tumble of professional baseball was exemplified in the play of hard driving athletes like Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner. Shamefully, segregation kept the official competition only among white men. African American superstars may have participated in exhibition games against whites but never had the chance to complete with them on a daily basis in these early years. The Major Leagues were touched by scandal when eight Chicago White Sox players were accused of being in cahoots with gamblers and throwing the 1919 World Series. This resulted in the establishment of the first commissioner of baseball and the banishment of the great Shoeless Joe Jackson.