Professional baseball

From BR Bullpen

Professional baseball, also known as pro baseball or the pros is played in many nations throughout the world. A professional player is one who is paid money to play baseball, and for whom it is his or her primary occupation during their league or team's season. A semi-professional is one who is paid money to play baseball and thus is not an amateur, but for whom sport is not a full-time occupation. This generally occurs because the level of pay is too low to make a reasonable living based solely upon that source.

The first professional team was the Cincinnati Red Stockings, based in Cincinnati, Ohio in the United States, founded in 1869. The first professional league was also based in the United States - the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, which was founded in 1871. Professional players were generally banned from international competition until 2000 when pros were allowed to play in the Olympics.


Japan was the first Asian country to have professional baseball. Its first pro teams were founded in the 1920s, but its first successful league, the Japanese Professional Baseball League, and teams were not founded until 1936. Currently, the most powerful professional organization is Nippon Professional Baseball which consists of four leagues, the top-flight Central and Pacific Leagues, and the lower-level Eastern and Western Leagues. There are other independent leagues including the Shikoku Island League, and many companies field semi-pro industrial league teams.

Both South Korea and Taiwan field professional leagues, the Korea Baseball Organization and Chinese Professional Baseball League, respectively. The Korean league is the oldest, founded in 1982, while the CPBL was founded in 1990. Taiwan also briefly had a competing league, the Taiwan Major League. China also has the fledging China Baseball League founded in 2002.

Caribbean and Central America[edit]

Professional leagues have existed in Cuba and the Dominican Republic since the 19th century. Currently, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela all have professional leagues. The Cuban leagues are at the very least semi-professional as players receive government-provided funds for playing in the government-sponsored league, although it is officially amateur.


The Netherlands was the first European country to have a pro league with what would become Honkbal hoofdklasse playing its season in 1922. The Lega Italia Baseball (now known as Serie A1) of Italy followed in 1948, and the German Bundesliga was first played in 1951. Currently, most European countries have semi-professional leagues.

North America[edit]

The first professional team was the Cincinnati Red Stockings based in Cincinnati, Ohio in the United States, which was founded in 1869. The first professional league was also based in the United States - the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was founded in 1871.

Currently the top-level professional organization in North America is Major League Baseball. It consists of 30 teams in Canada and the United States split into two leagues; the American League and the National League. In addition to the major leagues, many North American cities and towns feature minor league teams. An organization formally styled Minor League Baseball and before that the [[National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues]], but which is now a subsidiary of MLB as the Professional Development League, oversees nearly all minor league baseball, which, following the 2021 Minor League Reorganization is divided into classes AAA, AA, A - which itself is divided into two levels - and Complex Leagues. These minor league teams are affiliated with major league teams, and serve to develop young players and rehabilitate injured major leaguers. The Liga Mexicana de Béisbol is a Minor League Baseball member league that operates without affiliations to major league teams. There are also a number of minor leagues leagues that exist either as partner leagues to or independently from the Professional Development League.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, African-American players were barred from playing in the white major leagues, though a few did manage to play by claiming to be Cubans or Native Americans. As a result, a number of parallel Negro Leagues were formed, which were also professional leagues (the best of these have since been recognized as having full major league status). However, after Jackie Robinson began playing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, launching the process of integration, the Negro Leagues gradually faded.

Between 1943 and 1954, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was a women's pro league that fielded teams in several Midwestern towns. Attempts at reviving women's professional baseball starting in the 1990s have failed to take hold, but remain under discussion.


The Australian Baseball League was founded after the 1988 Claxton Shield, replacing the national competition that had been taking place since 1934. The league played through 1999 before being replaced by the International Baseball League of Australia for two years before the traditional provincial Claxton Shield returned. The ABL returned as a fully professional league in 2010.

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