When Does Pro Baseball Start?

The MLB regular season starts on Thursday, April 2nd, 2020.
Opening day will feature the Seattle Mariners vs. the Oakland Athletics, followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. the San Francisco Giants.

The History of Pro Baseball

Professional baseball has a long and storied history, dating back to the late 1800s. The first professional team was the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who were formed in 1869. The Red Stockings were so good that other teams began to pay players to join their ranks, and by the 1870s, there were a number of professional teams in existence. The National League was formed in 1876, and the first World Series was played in 1903.

The first professional baseball league

The first professional baseball league was founded in 1871. It was called the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players and it lasted for five seasons. In 1876, the National League was founded and it has been in operation ever since. The American Association joined the National League in 1882, but folded after ten seasons.

The modern era of baseball

The modern era of baseball began in 1901 with the founding of the American League. The AL was intended to be a more talent-focused and business-oriented alternative to the National League, which had been founded in 1876. The first official modern World Series took place in 1903, pitting the AL’s Boston Americans against the NL’s Pittsburgh Pirates.

The two leagues would compete against each other for players and fans for the next several decades. In 2000, however, the two leagues agreed to merge into a single Major League Baseball organization. Today, MLB is comprised of 30 teams split evenly between the AL and NL.

The Start of the Season

Pro baseball teams start Spring Training in February. Spring Training is when the teams tune-up for the regular season. The regular season starts in late-March/early April and ends in late September/early October.

Spring training

Spring training is a tradition in Major League Baseball (MLB) that dates back to the 19th century. It marks the beginning of the MLB season and allows fans to get an up-close look at their favorite players and teams as they prepare for the grueling 162-game regular season.

The first formal spring training took place in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1886. Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee brought his team to the small town in hopes that the warm weather would help injured players heal faster. The tradition quickly caught on, and by 1900, nearly half of MLB teams were holding spring training in Florida or Arizona.

Today, all 30 MLB teams hold spring training in one of those two states. The Grapefruit League is based in Florida, while the Cactus League calls Arizona home. Spring training typically lasts for six weeks, from early February to late March.

During this time, MLB teams play a number of exhibition games against other professional baseball teams, including those from the minor leagues, as well as college and international teams. These games give fans a chance to see their favorite players in action before the regular season starts and allow managers to experiment with different lineups and strategies.

Opening Day

Opening Day is the day on which professional baseball teams begin their regular season. For Major League Baseball (MLB), Opening Day is the first day of the regular season, typically in April. In other words, Opening Day is when baseball season starts.

The MLB season typically starts on the first or second Thursday in April, and each team plays 162 regular-season games. The 2019 MLB season began on March 28, with all 30 teams in action. The 2020 MLB season was originally scheduled to start on March 26, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While every team plays on Opening Day, some teams have what’s called an “Opening Day starter.” This is the pitcher who starts the game for their team on Opening Day. In some cases, a team will have the same Opening Day starter for multiple years in a row. For example, Justin Verlander has been the Houston Astros’ Opening Day starter for four consecutive years (2017-2020).

Some teams also treat Opening Day as a special event, with ceremonies and festivities before or during the game. For example, the Cincinnati Reds have an annual “parade” on Opening Day that features floats and Reds players and personalities riding through downtown Cincinnati.

The End of the Season

The final out of the World Series signals the end of the baseball season. For some, it’s a time to mourn the loss of their favorite teams. For others, it’s a time to celebrate the end of a long, hot summer. But for all baseball fans, it’s a time to look forward to next year.

The playoffs

The Major League Baseball playoffs are a best-of-seven elimination tournament held after the conclusion of the MLB regular season to determine the flag bearer for the World Series. The playoffs began in 1969.

There are four teams from each league that qualify for the playoffs. The three divisional winners in each league (the team with the best record in each division) earn automatic berths, as do the two “wild card” teams in each league (the two teams with the best records among all non-division-winning teams).

The first round of the playoffs, known as the Wild Card Game, is a one-game playoff between the two wild card teams in each league. The winner of that game moves on to play one of the divisional winners in a best-of-five series called the Divisional Series.

The two winners of the Divisional Series then face off against each other in a best-of-seven series called the Championship Series—also known as, appropriately enough, “the pennant race”—to determine who will represent their respective leagues in baseball’s biggest event: The World Series.

The World Series

The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB). Prior to 1969, the two leagues that made up MLB—the National League (NL) and the American League (AL)—each staged their own separate playoff series to determine which team would advance to the World Series. The winners of each league’s championship series would then face each other in a best-of-seven matchup. Since 1969, the two league champions have faced each other in the World Series regardless of which league they belong to.

The first modern World Series was played in 1903 between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Americans (now the Red Sox). The Boston Americans won that series, five games to three. This year, 2020, will mark the 117th edition of the Fall Classic.

The Washington Nationals are the reigning World Series champions, having won their first title in franchise history last year. They defeated the Houston Astros, six games to two.

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