- 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 of America 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 in the World Series. (The Series was not played in either 1904 or 1994.)
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, the St. Louis Brown Stockings, the Hartford Dark Blues, the Boston Red Caps, the Louisville Grays, the New York Mutuals, the Philadelphia Athletics, and the Cincinnati Reds (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 (now the Chicago Cubs) and the Red Caps (now the Atlanta 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.
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 never adopted the designated hitter rule (as did the AL during the 1970s). This means the role of the manager is more important in comparison to the AL and 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.
Table of contents
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
- Atlanta Braves
- Florida Marlins
- Philadelphia Phillies
- New York Mets
- Washington Nationals (Montreal Expos thru 2004)
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
- 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.