10 Lesser-Known Facts About Major League Baseball

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Are you a Major League Baseball fan? Do you think you know all there is to know about the MLB?

If you consider yourself a serious baseball fan, then you shoould know these 1 Super Fan facts! Whether you've been a fan since you were in diapers or if you recently jumped on the MLB train, keep reading.

1. Official Major League Baseball Began in 1903

Before the official founding of the MLB organization, there were two separate leagues: the American League (based in the midwest) and the National League (based mostly on the East Coast). The two separate leagues would often compete. But not in games: they would compete for players.

Known as the "baseball war" the American League and the National League pre-1903 would try and lure all the best baseball players to each individual league through money and promises.

But that all changed in 1903. With the formation of Major League Baseball, the American League and the National League would merge to form a single league. At the end of the season, the winning team from each league would compete in the "World Series" where one winner would be crowned.

2. 30 Teams Total

There are 30 MLB teams total with 15 in each the American League and the National League.

However, until 2012, the National League actually had 16 teams while the American league only had 14. The Houston Astros switched from the National to the American league, giving an even split between the two leagues.

The National League teams include the:

Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Washington Nationals.

The American League teams include the:

Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, and the Toronto Blue Jays

3. Rule Differences Between the American League and the National League

There are slight differences between the two leagues that exist to this day, even after the merger that formed the MLB.

The main difference is whether teams use designated hitters. In the American League, you sub in a designated hitter for the pitcher. This means that the pitcher isn't in the batting line-up, and you replace them with another player for that spot in the order.

In the National League, this isn't allowed.

4. Biggest MLB Rivalries

All good sports have great rivalries that are fun to watch.

Perhaps the most well known MLB rivalry is the one between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. This rivalry is alive and well; it's not only the biggest rivalry in baseball, but also arguably in all American sports leagues.

There are other key rivalries in the MLB you should know. The LA Dodgers vs the San Fransisco Giants, New York Yankees vs New York Mets, Chicago Cubs vs St. Louis Cardinals, and (a newly formed rivalry!) the Toronto Blue Jays vs Texas Rangers.

5. Illegal Pitches

That nasty spitball you had to deal with on the sandlot behind your high school isn't allowed in the major leagues. Did you know, though, that they were allowed until 1920? But after that, it was bye-bye spitball (well, except for those who are sneaky enough to get away with it).

That's not the only illegal pitch, either. Pitchers aren't allowed to change or deface the ball in any way. Many try to do this via scuffing it, spit, vaseline, pine tar, dirt, and even sandpaper on their finger.

Other illegal pitches include "beanballs" (a pitch thrown with the intention of hitting the batter) and "shine balls" (rubbing the baseball to change the texture until it's shiny, which changes how the ball can be thrown).

There are also specific rules of how a pitcher must deliver the pitch. If they deviate from these rules, the pitch is deemed "illegal". This means the pitch is disregarded, and pitchers can be ejected from the game for continuing to throw the same way.

6. Special Mud?

While pitchers can't change the baseball in any way, official MLB baseballs are all rubbed with mud before they can be used in league games. And it's not just any mud either: it's special mud from a particular (and secret!) spot near New Jersey.

7. Umpire Underwear

Umpires in baseball are running around the field, squatting down, bending over, gesturing wildly, and sometimes fighting with managers. In all of this chaos, it's inevitable that their pants are going to rip sometimes.

Because of this, the MLB requires them to wear black underwear. That way if their pants do rip, it will be hard to tell. That's something both the umpires, and the people watching on national TV, probably appreciate.

8. Jersey #42 Retired Throughout MLB

Baseball teams "retire" numbers (aka no one else can ever wear that number again) when particularly famous and well-liked players retire from the team themselves.

However, the number 42 is special. That was Jackie Robinson's number, and it was officially retired throughout the MLB in 1997. The last player to wear that number was Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, who retired himself in 2013.

9. How Many Baseballs Are Used per Year?

Per year, it's estimated that between all 30 major league teams that over 900,000 baseballs are used. That's a lot of baseballs (and a lot of special mud, too).

10. An American Pastime

While it might seem like American football is the darling sport of America, the true American pastime is baseball. Not only is the MLB the oldest organized sports league in the world (and, thus, in America), but more people attend and watch MLB games than all other American sports league games combined.

MLB Facts: Wrapping Up

Now that you know these 10 official major league baseball facts, you can call yourself a true fan. Hopefully you can snag one of those 900,000 baseballs to show off in your room, or get tickets to an intense rivalry game.

Do you think we missed an even more important MLB fact? Let us know with a comment below.

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