North American Baseball
The North American Baseball System includes Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, Independent Baseball and the Men’s Amateur Baseball League (a National Tournament for the top Amateur Baseball teams in USA, which has included in its Senior League tournament MSBL the Ulster Buccaneers (also known as Ireland Buccaneers and UK & Ireland Buccaneers)
Major League Baseball
The Daddy of all Professional Sports Leagues, the National Professional Baseball Players Association (more commonly known as the National League) can trace its’ roots to the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first openly all-Professional sports team in the world. The Cincinnati Red Stockings incuded among the “First Boys of Summer” (that first ever Professional Team) an Irishman, Andy Leonard, born in Co. Cavan, who left Ireland as a baby during the famine. In all there have been 48 Irish-born Major League Baseball Players from 1869 to the present day. The American League was formed in 1901 and since 1903 has played for the “World Series” with the National League. The two leagues merged as Major League Baseball in 2001 although kept their National League and American League names and separate identities, with the two Champions still playing for the World Series.
Minor League Baseball
Minor League Baseball has 4 Levels (AAA – “Division 2”, AA – “Division 3”, A – “Division 4” and Rookie – “Division 5”. It is akin to the English Football League (EFL Championship, EFL League One and EFL League Two) and and the National League in English Soccer, in that they are levels below Major League Baseball and the English Premier League. Minor League Baseball is where players hone their skills in the hope of reaching the Majors, recuperate after injury or finish out their careers after the Major Leagues. There have been numerous Irish-born Minor League Baseball players throughout its’ history.
Independent League Baseball
Independent League Baseball is a level below Minor League Baseball, consisting of Leagues which were set up to fill in the geographical gaps in the Minor League Baseball System, such as the Big 4 Indies: American Association (which opeartes in the Prairies and Plains), Atlantic League (Long Island and Chesapeake Bay), Frontier League (Illinois and Ohio Valley), Can-Am League (Quebec. Ottawa and New Jersey); Smaller Indies: Pacific Association (Hawai’i and Bay Area California); Pecos League (New Mexico and the Pecos Valley); North American League (Northern League: Hawai’i, Bay Area California and United League: Texas); United States Professional Baseball League (A travel league set in Upstate New York); Empire Professional Baseball League (New York City and Puerto Rico); Thoroughbred League (Kentucky). Recently the North American League dissolved with teams becoming part of the Pacific Association, while the Pecos League also took in refugees from the Minor League’s AA California League (Bakersfield Train Robbers and High Desert Yardbirds).
British Baseball has as a longer History than most people imagine, with a League dating back to the late 1800s. In the 1960s it was so popular there was a Professional League, with English Soccer teams like Tottenham Hotspur, Nottingham Forest and Derby County fielding teams in it. The name of Derby County’s Soccer Ground: “The Baseball Grounds” is a testament to how popular it once was. [Reference: Josh Chetwynd “Baseball in Europe”]