When we hear the word baseball, we instantly think of the United States of America and their love and devotion to this great sport. While the US is considered the birthplace of the game, people all around the world enjoy baseball, making it an international sport as well as a national pastime.
But baseball is much more than just a game; it is a tradition, a passion, and an obsession. To show you just how fascinating and exciting this sport is, we gathered the most interesting baseball facts.
Are you ready?
Baseball History Fun Facts
1. Baseball was not invented by Abner Doubleday, as was previously believed.
One of the most popular myths in baseball history is connected to the origins of the game. For a long time, it was believed that American Civil War General Abner Doubleday invented the game in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839. However, facts about baseball history say otherwise. It seems Doubleday was named as the creator of the sport in an effort to prove that baseball originated in the US, a story that stuck for many years until modern historians disproved it.
Even though untrue, the legend has left its mark on the world of baseball—since 1936, Cooperstown has been the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
2. Baseball-like games were played in the United States throughout the 18th century.
Turns out the sport’s origin story is not as clear-cut as the Doubleday legend. Actually, baseball history facts reveal that similar games were being played across America almost a hundred years before Doubleday allegedly invented the sport. The most likely ancestors of these games were rounders and cricket, both of which were brought to the USA by the early colonists.
During the American Revolution, these games were quite common in schoolyards and on university campuses, while in the 19th century, their popularity soared among the workers in America’s new industrialised cities.
3. The “Father of Baseball” is actually a Brit.
Exeter-born Henry Chadwick was a cricket reporter who fell in love with baseball and significantly contributed to making it the game it is today. In addition to devising box scores and creating the stats system used to analyse games (including batting average and ERA), he also edited the first baseball guide sold to the public. More importantly, he helped make the sport popular, which is why he is often called “The Father of Baseball”.
4. The New York Knickerbocker Club was established in New York City in 1845.
In September 1845, a group of New York City men established the amateur New York Knickerbocker baseball club. One of the men, Alexander Joy Cartwright, developed a new set of rules for the game, which included the diamond-shaped infield and the three-strikes rule (among others). Although the sport continued to transform over the decades, baseball facts and history demonstrate that these rules laid the foundation for the game we know today.
5. The first competitive baseball game was played on 19 June 1846.
Baseball’s first competitive game was played in Hoboken, i.e. on New Jersey’s Elysian Fields, between the KnickerBockers and the New York Mutuals. Unfortunately, it ended in defeat for the KnickerBockers, who lost by a score of 23:1 in four innings.
6. Baseball was an Olympic sport from 1992 to 2008.
Even though baseball debuted at the 1904 Summer Olympics, it wasn’t an official Olympic sport until 1992. Baseball was last contested at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing when South Korea took the gold medal home. The sport was dropped from the program then; however, it has been revived for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
7. The Field of Dreams was the most-watched baseball game in the last 16 years.
The Yankees vs White Sox game which took place on August 13, 2021, in Dyersville, Iowa, was the most-watched game in the past 16 years, with a viewership of about 5,903,000 on Fox and Fox Deportes. According to baseball history facts, this is the largest recorded audience since the Yankees-Red Sox match in October 2005.
8. Baseball is currently followed by 500 million people around the globe.
Baseball ranks 7th as of 2021 when speaking of the most popular sports in the world. Its fan base consists of 500 million people scattered around the world
, however, most of the fans are concentrated in the US, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. What is more, facts about baseball show that the sport has been enjoying a massive TV viewership in Japan as well, which comes as no shock given that the Japanese Nippon League has gained hundreds of millions in TV rights deals.
MLB Fun Facts
9. Major League Baseball was formed in 1903.
MLB was formed in 1903 with the merger of the National League and the American League. The NL, formed in 1876, and the AL, established in 1901, were two separate entities at the time. MLB baseball history and facts tell us that back then, they were engaged in the “baseball war”, characterised by rivalries between the leagues who would often steal players from each other’s squads. The leagues buried the hatched in 1903, though, leading to the creation of the World Series, where the annual winners from both leagues compete for the title of national champion.
10. The first World Series matched the Boston Americans and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The debut World Series was played in 1903 between the champion of the American League, the Boston Americans, and the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League. Boston prevailed over Pittsburgh, winning the World Series with five games to three in a best-out-of-nine series.
11. MLB is comprised of 30 teams.
At the moment, there are 30 teams within MLB, 29 of which are in the US and one in Canada. In the beginning, each league (AL and NL) had eight teams. The number of teams, however, doubled in the 1960s, and by 1998 the latest teams (Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays) were added, bringing up the total to 30.
12. The Seattle Mariners hold the record for most wins in a 162-game season.
The record of 116 wins in a 162-game season has only been achieved by two teams in the history of major league baseball, facts and stats show. These teams were the Seattle Mariners in 2001 and the Chicago Cubs in 1906.
13. The youngest player in an MLB game was just 15 years old.
Joe Nuxhall of the Cincinnati Reds was the youngest player ever to appear in a Major League Baseball game. When he made his debut on June 10, 1944, the team’s left-handed pitcher was just 15 years and 316 days old.
Leroy “Satchel” Paige, on the other hand, holds the record as the oldest MLB player—he was almost 60 years old when he played his last professional match.
14. The longest MLB game lasted around 8 hours.
The longest game ever played in Major League Baseball in terms of time lasted an incredible 8 hours and 6 minutes. It took place in May 1984 in Chicago and matched the White Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers, who played an impressive 25 innings over the course of two days. The exciting game concluded with the White Sox winning 7-6.
The fastest game in MLB history took place on September 28, 1919. This match between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies lasted only 51 minutes, with the Giants winning by a score of 6:1.
15. Each ball used in MLB has 108 stitches.
According to Major League Baseball facts, every baseball features a rubber or cork core covered in white horsehide or cowhide and has 108 double hand-sewn red stitches with the first and last stitches hidden behind the leather. The average lifespan of a baseball in MLB is about seven pitches, with 6-10 dozen balls used per game.
16. There was a time when African-Americans were banned from the MLB.
African-Americans were banned from competing in Major League Baseball games in the first half of the 20th century. Nevertheless, African-Americans created “Negro Leagues” in which some of the world’s best players competed.
The colour line was finally broken when legendary player Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. By the end of the 1950s, the percentage of African-American players on MLB teams matched or was higher than that of the general population.
17. Aroldis Chapman threw the fastest pitch ever recorded in Major League Baseball.
The first fastball Aroldis Chapman fired was in 2010 when he was playing as a rookie relief pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds. MLB facts and trivia show that the fastball clocked at an astounding 105.1 mph. He fired two more pitches like this in his career—one the following year and another when playing against the Yankees.
18. Fenway Park is the oldest MLB ballpark.
Home to the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park is the oldest MLB ballpark still in use today. It was constructed in 1912 and has since hosted 11 World Series games. Even though it was reconstructed and enlarged multiple times throughout the years, it is still one of the smallest ballparks in the USA in terms of seating capacity.
19. The overall MLB revenue was estimated to be $3.66 billion in 2020.
The MLB remains one of the most profitable sports leagues in the US, with over three and a half billion gained in revenue in 2020, averaged at around $122 million per team. Major League Baseball facts also show that the league-wide revenue has exponentially risen in the past ten years, with MLB currently gaining twice as much compared to 2010.
20. The New York Yankees are the most valuable franchise in MLB.
The New York Yankees are not just the most valuable team in MLB; they are also one of the most recognisable sports brands in the world. Established in 1901 as the Baltimore Orioles and rebranding in 1913, the Yankees have won the World Series an impressive 27 times, miles ahead of the second-ranked St. Louis Cardinals, who have won the trophy 11 times.
21. The MLB gained $230.5 million in ads in 2017.
According to MLB facts and trivia, the League reached an advertising revenue of $230.5 million in 2017, which is $5.3 million more than the prior year. Some of the major MLB sponsors include Bank of America, Coca Cola, Chevrolet, Nike, Gatorade, Mastercard and T-Mobile.
Interesting Facts About Baseball Bats
22. The bats used in MLB are limited to a length of 42 inches.
In the early days of the sport, batters would make their own bats, experimenting with various shapes and sizes. It wasn’t until the 1800s that the size of bats was regulated—in 1859, it was decided that bats would not be longer than 2.5 inches in diameter and in 1869, a rule was introduced stating that the baseball bat must be 42 inches long. The shape was regulated in the 1890s when the committee banned flat bats. The diameter was extended to 2.75 inches around this time as well.
23. 95% of MLB players use maple wood bats.
Metal bats may be extremely popular; however, Major League Baseball only allows the use of wood bats both for safety and competitive reasons. For years, ash was the material of choice for bats, but, in 2001, Barry Bonds hit a record-breaking 73 home runs in a single season with his maple bat, prompting others to copy him and start using maple too.
Facts about aluminium baseball bats, on the other hand, show that these are only used in high school, college and little league ball.
24. The first metal bat was patented in 1924.
Despite the fact that the first patent was issued to William Shroyer in 1924, metal bats were not used in baseball until 1970, when Worth Sports Company introduced the first-ever baseball bat made of aluminium. Five years later, Worth held the largest share of the American aluminium bat market and produced the first official bats for Little League and NCAA Collegiate.
25. Corked baseball bats do not increase the distance of hits.
Corked bats are lighter because they are loaded with less dense materials. This enables a faster swing, but it also weakens the bat, making it more susceptible to damage and breaking. What’s more, baseball bats facts and science show that, in spite of popular belief, corking a bat does not make the ball travel further. Finally, corking a bat is illegal in the MLB and subject to punishment and even ejection.
26. The Louisville Slugger is one of the most popular baseball bat brands.
The first bat from this brand was made by “Bud” Hillerich after witnessing hitter Pete Browning break his own during the game. Browning spread the word about his custom-made bat among the other players, and the rest is history. Today, Louisville Slugger is one of the most iconic bat brands, still used by 20% of MLB players.
Facts About Famous Baseball Players
27. Babe Ruth started his career as a pitcher.
Perhaps one of the best American athletes and definitely baseball’s biggest icon, Babe Ruth made his major league debut at Fenway Park on July 11, 1914. During his career, he won 89 games and three World Series for the Boston Red Sox as well as seven AL pennants and four World Series with the New York Yankees. Still, the Bambino is best-known for swatting 714 home runs and his .690 slugging record, which still stands to this day.
28. Barry Bonds holds the record for the most National League MVP awards.
Bonds has received a total of seven NL MVPs, more than any other player on record. On top of that, this MLB baseball player, facts and databases show, holds the record for most career walks, most career home runs (a whopping 762) and most home runs in a single season (73). He stole 514 bases as well, thus becoming the only MLB player who has a minimum of 500 home runs and 500 stolen bases.
Sadly, despite his many accolades, Bonds has not been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame due to allegations of steroid use.
29. Mike Trout is regarded as one of the best baseball players in the world right now.
Mike Trout is the first and only player in history to hit 30 home runs, steal 45 bases, and score 125 runs in a single season. He is considered to be one of the best young baseball players ever and possibly the best player at the moment. But the list of Mike Trout’s accomplishments and cool baseball facts doesn’t end here. The popular centre fielder also has a keen interest in meteorology. In fact, he is the Angel Stadium’s unofficial weatherman, and he even once appeared on the Weather Channel with a real-time report on a storm in New Jersey.
30. Ted Williams has been called the greatest hitter who has ever lived.
Ted Williams was the last MLB player to bat over .400 in a season. Also known as “Teddy Ballgame”, Williams spent most of his 19 years in MLB as a left fielder for the Boston Red Sox. Actually, his baseball career was only interrupted when he served in the military during the Second World War and the Korean War as a fighter pilot.
31. Hank Aaron was the first to break Babe Ruth’s home run record.
Hank Aaron, nicknamed “The Hammer,” was the first player to break Babe Ruth’s legendary home run record. In addition to this impressive feat, baseball player facts show that Aaron is one of the only two players ever to hit at least 30 home runs in a single season fifteen times or more. He also holds the record for most All-Star selections (a total of 25), while, together with Willie Mays and Stan Musial, he shares the record for most All-Star Games played (each appeared in 24 games).
32. Alex Rodriguez has 25 career grand slams—more than any other player in history.
Alex Rodriguez not only holds the record for the most grand slams, but he is also the youngest player to reach 500 career home runs. He accomplished this achievement when he was just 32 years old. A-Rod has also hit another record in baseball history by signing two of the most lucrative contracts—the 10-year contract with the Rangers for $252 million and the one with the Yankees for $275 million.
33. Ty Cobb has the greatest batting average in baseball as well as the most career batting titles.
Ty Cobb, nicknamed The Georgia Peach, was one of the first players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, historical facts reveal. Moreover, he received more votes than any other players on the ballot, i.e. he got 222 votes out of 226 in total. In fact, the percentage of votes he got (98.2%) stood as a record for over 50 years—it was broken in 1992 when Tom Seaver got 98.8% of the vote. Ty Cobb also holds the record for the highest career hitting average (.366) and the most batting titles (12).
34. Cy Young has the most career wins in MLB history.
Young holds several records in MLB, including the most career wins (511), most career losses (315), most career innings thrown (7356), and the most games started (815). In fact, he was such a legendary player that the Cy Young Award has been given to the best pitcher each season ever since his death in 1956.
Roger Clemens has won the Cy Young award a remarkable seven times, followed by Randy Johnson (five times) and Steve Carlton and Greg Maddux (each have won it four times).
35. Shohei Ohtani ranks #1 in top MLB players as of 2021.
MLB posted their official player rankings as of 2021, according to which the 27-year old hitter and outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels holds first place. According to 2021 baseball facts, Ohtani is followed by the 22-year old San Diego Padres shortstop—Fernando Tatis Jr in second place and 22-year old Vladimir Guerrero, Jr in third, who plays as baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Some Random Baseball Facts and Trivia
36. A League of Their Own is the highest-grossing baseball movie of all time.
The 1992 comedy-drama titled A League of Their Own which follows two young women trying to establish the first female professional baseball league, is the highest-grossing baseball-themed movie to this day, with a revenue of $107.5 million. The second place is held by the 2013 biographic drama 42 which managed to make $95 million, followed by the 2011 drama Moneyball in third place, which scored $75.6 million in revenue.
37. Baseballs are rubbed with a very specific type of mud before each game.
The mud, which comes from the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, is cleaned and then applied to six dozen baseballs before each game. Called ‘magic’ at one point, the mud is fine enough to remove the factory shine off the balls without destroying it. Plus, the rougher surface gives pitchers a better grip and more control.
38. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is the unofficial anthem of American baseball.
This song was written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer in 1908. The chorus is traditionally sung during the middle of the seventh inning at every game. Fans tend to sing along, replacing the words “home team” in the lyrics with the name of the team they are watching. Even though the song is universally perceived as the sport’s anthem, its authors had never been to a game before writing the song. How is that for crazy baseball facts?
39. William Howard Taft was the first president to throw a ceremonial ball.
President William Taft, a semi-pro baseball player himself, became the first president to throw a ceremonial first pitch on April 14, 1910. Since then, every president has thrown the first ball on Opening Day. The only exceptions are Jimmy Carter, Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
40. The Black Sox Scandal was one of the most shocking moments in baseball.
Known as one of the most notorious scandals in the history of the sport, the “Big Fix” of 1919 is still debated among historians and fans. When eight players from the Chicago White Sox were accused of intentionally throwing the 1919 World Series for a gambling syndicate, the nation was in disbelief. Even though the players were found not guilty at the 1920 trial, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis permanently banned all eight of them from organised baseball. The White Sox, now stained by the scandal, were dubbed the Black Sox.
41. Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. were the first father-and-son duo to play in MLB at the same time.
Although there were many father-son duos in MLB throughout the years, Ken Griffey Senior and Ken Griffey Junior were the first to play for the same team—the Seattle Mariners. Other baseball trivia and facts about this father-son team show they were the first duo to hit back-to-back home runs.
42. Visiting teams always wear grey uniforms.
The custom of home teams wearing white and visiting teams wearing grey dates back to the 1800s. In the past, travelling teams didn’t have time to wash their jerseys, so they wore grey to effectively cover the dirt.
43. A Babe Ruth card is the most valuable baseball card ever sold.
Recently a private buyer bought a baseball card showing Babe Ruth as a minor league pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles. Although the selling price of this pre-rookie card was not disclosed, the item itself was appraised at £4.3 million, making it the most valuable card of all time.
44. Hitting four home runs in a single game is considered one of the greatest accomplishments.
Only 18 players have ever accomplished this record in baseball history. The first one to do so was Bobby Lowe in 1894, while the most recent was J.D. Martinez in 2017. More interesting baseball facts reveal that all of these players have only achieved this record once in their careers. Furthermore, there isn’t a single player in MLB history to hit more than four home runs in a single game.
45. The most expensive autographed baseball was sold for $191.200.
Heritage Auction Galleries sold the most expensive autographed baseball ever in an auction held on May 5, 2006, in Dallas, Texas. The ball, signed by baseball legend Joe DiMaggio and actress Marilyn Monroe in 1961, was sold for an amazing $191.200.
46. Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth were both struck out by a 17-year-old pitcher.
Here is one for the odd baseball facts list! In the 1930s, Jackie Mitchel became a legend when she struck out both Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth while playing for a minor league team. Even though there was a lot of speculation that Ruth and Gehrig struck out on purpose, neither of the players admitted to this later on.
47. The word “baseball” was first mentioned in a children’s book.
The word was first used in 1744 in a book named “A Little Pretty Pocket-Book” by children’s publisher John Newberry. In it, the author mentioned a woodcut of a game resembling rounders and rhyme titled “Base-ball”.
48. Hot dogs are one of the most popular food in ballparks.
It comes as no surprise that hot dogs are an integral part of the baseball experience. But did you know that more than 26 million hot dogs and sausages are eaten during a typical baseball season? Another one of the lesser-known facts about baseball is that the tradition of eating hot dogs comes from European immigrants who served sausages at games because they were easy to make and handle.
49. A baseball-shaped grenade was invented in the Second World War.
The BEANO T-13 hand grenade, which was used in WWII, was meant to resemble a baseball in dimensions. The idea was that Americans would be able to throw it with greater accuracy because they had more experience with the game. The “baseball grenade” was developed by the CIA’s predecessor, the OSS, and manufactured in partnership with Eastman Kodak.
50. The Yankees were the first to introduce numbers on the backs of uniforms.
It had been attempted in 1916, but back then, the idea of putting numbers of uniforms (even on the sleeves) was considered “unbecoming”. However, when the Yankees proposed it (who at the time had won two consecutive World Series and had Ruth and Gehrig on their team), everyone followed suit. Ironically, because it rained on Opening Day, the Yankees were not the first to put their idea into practice. Instead, official baseball facts indicate that the Cleveland Indians were the first team to play with numbers on the uniforms on April 16, 1929, two days before the New York Yankees.
51. Olympic-gold medalist Jon Rauch is the tallest player in MLB history.
At 6 feet, 11 inches (210 cm), pitcher Jon Rauch is the tallest player in MLB. Batter Eddie Gaedel, who stood 3 feet and 7 inches tall (109.2 cm), is the shortest player ever.
52. Alyssa Nakken is the first full-time female coach in Major League Baseball.
According to baseball facts & trivia, she began her career as an assistant coach with the San Francisco Giants in January 2020. She was promoted to base coach in July 2020, becoming the first female coach and the first to coach on-field during a major league game.
53. Pitcher Jim Abbot was born without a right hand.
Jim Abbot was an MLB pitcher who was born without a right hand. Despite the handicap, Abbot pitched for ten seasons and finished with an 87–108 record as well as a 4.25 ERA. He currently works as a motivational speaker.
54. Cuba has won 25 gold World Cup medals.
When it comes to the Baseball World Cup, Cuba has taken home the most medals. The country has won 25 gold medals out of 31 overall. In contrast, the United States has won 15 medals at the World Cup, only four of which are gold.
55. Japan triumphed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, winning the gold medal in baseball.
The USA lost 2-0 to host Japan at the 2020 Summer Olympics, while The Dominican Republic beat South Korea for the bronze. This is the first gold medal in baseball for the Japanese, as well as the first silver for the USA, which has previosly won gold in 2000 and bronze in 1996 and 2008.
In addition to these four nations, two more countries competed in the Olympics this year—Israel ranked fifth and Mexico, which came in last.
Hitting It Out of the Park
Often referred to as America’s National Pastime, baseball has evolved throughout history to become a beloved sport, with fans passing down their adoration to the next generation.
We hope these baseball facts have proved entertaining and encouraged you to try your hand at this beautiful game.