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The American League
The American League, which was formerly known as the American League of Professional Baseball Clubs was the brainchild of Ban Johnson, the president of the Western League, which was the strongest minor league in the 1890s. Johnson wanted to produce a league that could compete with the professional National League in regards to business, attendance, and entertainment.
The American League had its first season in 1901 as it had lulled many of the National League’s top players over with higher salaries. From its early inception, the American League based its popularity on its contrast to the rowdyism that was so prominent in the National League. Johnson ruled the league with an iron fish, and strongly supported the league’s umpire and wouldn’t tolerate any offenses against them.
The league had been profitable up until the notorious Black Sox Scandal in 1919. The league’s Chicago White Sox, which had dominated the league that year, was found guilty of conspiring to lose the World Series intentionally for the purposes of betting. The incident severely tarnished the image of the American League, and baseball in general. However one man was able to single handedly revert this tainted image, and actually generate even more interest in baseball with his indomitable feats for the following decade. That man was Babe Ruth.
As baseball grew in popularity throughout the pre- and post-WWII and Baby-Boom periods, the American League grew along, expanding its league by adding new franchises over America. However during the 1960’s there was growing disparity between leagues, as the National League continually dominated the American League in All-Star and World Series play. The American League’s minor league system and inability to sign young talent was the predominant cause of this inequality. As a result, the National League was drawing a much larger fan base, as 5-million more fans attended National League games in 1965! This problem became remedied as the League addressed its minor-league system to make it more effective. Also, the league was split into two divisions, to allow more teams to be competitive.
In the 1970’s the American League implemented a rule in its baseball play that defines them today as a league. In an attempt to boost waning attendance and increase offensive output to make the game more entertaining, eccentric Oakland Athletic’s owner, Charles Finley, introduced the notion of the designated hitter, who would replace the pitcher in the batting lineup. It was a success, as adding another player to bat for the pitcher perked up both offense and attendance.
Today, the American League is flourishing thanks to two teams with the highest payrolls in the league, and arguably the most devoted fan base – The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, whom also have a heated rivalry, adding to the popularity of the American League. The American League Championship between the Red Sox and Yankees was one for the ages. The Yankees which had consistently defeated the Red Sox in the playoffs were on the verge of advancing to the World Series with a 3 games to 0 lead. However, the Red Sox, in the most improbable story, won the next four games to defeat the Yankees and advance onto the World Series. This was the first time in baseball history that a team had won a playoff series after losing the first three games!
American League Baseball Teams
East Division - New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Central Division– Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals
West Division– Anaheim Angels, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners