Baseball is known as America's national pastime, but did you know that Canada has a rich history of baseball too? The game has been played in Canada for well over a century, and the country has made significant contributions to the sport. Let's take a look at the history of baseball in Canada.
Baseball's Origins in Canada
The earliest known baseball game in Canada took place in Beachville, Ontario, on June 4, 1838. The game was played by two teams of local residents, and the rules were based on the New York game, which was the most popular version of baseball at the time. The game quickly caught on in other parts of Canada, and by the 1850s, it was being played in Toronto, Montreal, and other major cities.
The First Professional Baseball League
The first professional baseball league in Canada was the International Association, which was formed in 1877. The league consisted of teams from the United States and Canada, and the Toronto team won the championship in its inaugural season. The league continued to operate until 1880, when it folded due to financial difficulties.
The National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs
In 1883, the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs expanded to include a team from Canada, the Montreal Expos. The team played in the league for just one season before being disbanded, but it paved the way for other Canadian teams to join the league in the future. The Toronto Blue Jays became the first Canadian team to join the league in 1977, and they went on to win the World Series in 1992 and 1993.
Babe Ruth First Professional Homerun
In Maple Leaf Park, near the present-day Hanlan's Point, a historic moment in baseball history took place on September 5, 1914. It was on this day that a young and relatively unknown baseball player named Babe Ruth hit his first home run as a professional, marking the beginning of an incredible career that would become legendary in the sport.
At the time, Ruth was a 19-year-old rookie playing for the Providence Grays in the International League. During a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he connected with a pitch from Ellis Johnson and sent the ball flying over the fence in right field, scoring three runs. While this was the only home run Ruth ever hit in the minor leagues, it was a sign of great things to come. On that same day, Ruth was also pitching for the Grays and allowed only one hit during the game, earning him the nickname "southside phenom" from the Toronto Daily Star. The final score of the game was Providence Grays 9, Toronto Maple Leafs 0.
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame was established in 1983 to recognize the contributions of Canadian players, coaches, and executives to the sport of baseball. The museum is located in St. Marys, Ontario, and features exhibits and artifacts that showcase the history of baseball in Canada. Some of the notable inductees include Fergie Jenkins, Jackie Robinson, and Larry Walker.
Baseball has a long and storied history in Canada, and the country has made significant contributions to the sport. From the earliest games played in small towns to the professional leagues of today, baseball has been an important part of Canadian culture. Whether you're a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays or simply enjoy playing catch in the backyard, baseball will continue to be a beloved sport in Canada for generations to come.