- This article refers to the American baseball league. For the English cricket league of the same name, please see National League (cricket). There is also a political party called the Indian National League.
The term National League generally refers to the organization more properly referred to as the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, the older (founded on February 2, 1876) of the two leagues constituting Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada. (The other major league is the American League.) Beginning with the 1903 season, the regular season champions of the two leagues have met annually in the World Series, with the exception of 1904 and 1994.
After the absorption of the American Association by the League in 1892, the temporarily-redubbed "National League and American Association" was the only Major League until the American League rose to Major League status in 1901.
The National League in 1876 consisted of eight teams, six of which were previously members of the defunct National Association. The teams were: the Chicago White Stockings (now the Cubs), the St. Louis Brown Stockings (folded in 1877), the Hartford Dark Blues (folded in 1877), the Boston Red Caps (now the Atlanta Braves), the Louisville Grays (folded in 1877), the Mutual of New York (folded in 1876), the Athletic of Philadelphia (folded in 1876), and the Cincinnati Red Stockings (folded in 1880; not the same as the modern Reds, who began play in 1882 as the Red Stockings and joined the National League in 1890). Of these teams, only the White Stockings (Cubs) and the Red Caps (Braves) have survived to the present day.
The National League, which for the first 93 years of its existence competed equally in a single grouping, re-organized into two divisions of 6 teams (East and West) in 1969, with the division champions meeting in the National League Championship Series (an additional round of postseason competition) for the right to advance to the World Series. Beginning with the 1994 season, the league has been divided into three divisions (East, West, and Central), with the addition of a Wild Card team (the team with the best record among those finishing in second place) to enable four teams to advance to the preliminary Division Series.
After contracting from twelve teams down to eight in 1900, the National League consisted of the same eight teams until 1962, when it added the New York Mets and the Houston Colt .45s (renamed the Houston Astros in 1965). In 1969 the league added the San Diego Padres and the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals). That same year the league was divided into East and West Divisions. In 1993 the league expanded again, adding the Colorado Rockies and the Florida Marlins. In 1998, the Arizona Diamondbacks were added as a new franchise and the Milwaukee Brewers moved over from the American League to make the National League what it is today.
The National League is also known as the Senior Circuit, due to the fact that it has existed 25 years longer than the American League. Often characterized as being a more "traditional" or "pure" league, the National League (as of 2005 at least) has never adopted the designated hitter rule as did the AL during the 1970s. In theory, this means the role of the NL manager is somewhat expanded in comparison to the AL, because the manager must take offense into account when making pitching substitutions and vice versa. There are perceived to be fewer home runs and big offensive plays due to the presence of the pitcher in the batting order, although this is not always the case.
The NL Central Division is the only division in either league to have six teams; the others all have fewer.
- Chicago Cubs
- Cincinnati Reds
- Houston Astros
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- St. Louis Cardinals
Franchise Moves since 1900
- 1953: Boston Braves move to Milwaukee
- 1958: Brooklyn Dodgers move to Los Angeles and New York Giants move to San Francisco
- 1962: Houston Colt .45s and New York Mets enfranchised
- 1966: Milwaukee Braves move to Atlanta
- 1969: Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres enfranchised
- 1993: National League enfranchises Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins
- 1998: National League adds Arizona Diamondbacks; Milwaukee Brewers move from the American League to the National League
- 2005: Montreal Expos move to become the Washington Nationals
NL Presidents 1876-1999
- Morgan G. Bulkeley 1876-1876
- William A. Hulbert 1877-1882
- Arthur H. Soden 1882-1882
- Abraham G. Mills 1883-1884
- Nicholas E. Young 1885-1902
- Harry C. Pulliam 1903-1909
- John A. Heydler 1909-1909
- Thomas J. Lynch 1910-1913
- John K. Tener 1913-1918
- John A. Heydler 1918-1934
- Ford C. Frick 1934-1951
- Warren C. Giles 1951-1969
- Charles S. Feeney 1970-1986
- A. Bartlett Giamatti 1986-1989
- William D. White 1989-1994
- Leonard S. Coleman, Jr. 1994-1999
Office eliminated in 1999. Bill Giles, son of former NL President Warren C. Giles, currently serves as honorary National League president.
- 19th century National League teams
- National League pennant winners 1876-1900
- National League pennant winners 1901-68
- National League Championship Series (NLCS)
There are also the National Hockey League, the major league of ice hockey in the United States and Canada, and the National Football League, the major league of American football. In addition there was once the National Basketball League, which merged with its rival the Basketball Association of America to form the National Basketball Association - the surviving major league of basketball in the United States and Canada. Template:MLB