Of the four major sports in America (baseball, basketball, football, hockey), Major League Baseball is the oldest. In 1876, the National League was founded, and 25 years later - in 1901 - the American League followed. In 1903, both leagues were combined to form Major League Baseball (MLB) and the league has been going strong ever since. Each league (NL and AL) is currently made up of 15 teams each that play 162 games over six months. That's an MLB total of 2,430 games per season. That means that for more than a century, more than 2,400 games have been played each year. That's a lot of home runs, a lot of strike outs, a lot of stolen bases, a lot of scandals, a lot of drama and a lot of legends.
The 1919 Black Sox Scandal, the Curse of the Bambino, the Green Monster, pitching scandals, the steroid era and whatever scandal or lore you can think of, the MLB has seen it. Major League Baseball has also given us some of the best nicknames in the history of sports, like The Big Sexy, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Big Papi or the Bronx Bombers, which is the nickname for the New York Yankees. Major League Baseball is as American as apple pie and is one of the country's most prized traditions. Now it's time to put your MLB knowledge to the test and see what you know about baseball's greatest legends.
Up until 1918, the Boston Red Sox were one of the most successful teams in Major League Baseball, winning five World Series championships from 1903 - 1918, including the 1918 championship. The team then traded its star player, Babe Ruth, to the New York Yankees for next to nothing. The Red Sox didn't win another World Series until 2004, and the "Curse of the Bambino" was broken.
Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play in the MLB when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base in April of 1947. Black players had only played in the Negro Leagues up until that point. Robinson played for 10 seasons and entered the Hall of Fame in 1962.
Only three people in the history of Major League Baseball have hit more than 700 home run. In 2007, Barry Bonds, surrounded by much controversy, broke Aaron's record on August 7. Bonds finished his career with 762 home runs, a record that still stands.
On April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's record of 714 home runs by hitting his 715th career home run. He went on to hit a total of 755 career home runs, and the record stood until 2007 when Barry Bonds broke it.
In 1998 Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs were neck and neck in chasing the single-season home run record. McGwire ended up with 70 and Sosa finished the season with 66.
In May of 1991, when Nolan Ryan was 44 years old, he threw his seventh no-hitter, striking out 16 batters while pitching a full game against the Toronto Blue Jays. That no-hitter gave him three more than Sandy Koufax, who is alone in second place.
In the 116-year history of Major League Baseball, there have only been 23 perfect games thrown. A game is considered "perfect" when a pitcher throws at least nine innings and no opposing player reaches base in any way. The last perfect game thrown was by Félix Hernández in 2012.
In 2004, Ichiro Suzuki set the single-season record for hits when he reached base 262 times. The previous record had been set by George Sisler in 1920. Sisler reached base 257 times in a single season.
Pete Rose made his MLB debut in 1963 and played until 1986 when he got cut from the roster and took on a position as manager of the Cincinnati Reds. In 1989, following an investigation, he voluntarily accepted a permanent place on baseball's ineligible list after having been accused of betting on baseball games that he managed.
Alex Rodriguez, nicknamed A-Rod, played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball and retired in 2016. By 2017, he was publicly in a relationship with singer, dancer and actress Jennifer Lopez. In 2019 the two got engaged and are soon expected to be married.
Bartolo Colon, a Dominican-American pitcher nicknamed "Big Sexy," made his MLB debut in 1997. In 2016 - when he was 42 years old - he hit his first career home run while playing for the New York Mets. As of 2019, Colon was a free agent.
Lou Gehrig played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball as a first baseman for the New York Yankees. In 1938, he began feeling fatigued and that year, doctors diagnosed him with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is commonly known today as Lou Gehrig's disease. On July 4, 1939, he retired and delivered his "luckiest man" speech, which is considered to be the Gettysburg Address of baseball. Gehrig died on June 2, 1941.
Cy Young's 22-season baseball career began in 1890. During his career, he played for five teams. Along with his record of 511 career wins, he pitched a total of 7,356 innings, started 815 games and pitched 749 career complete games.
Ty Cobb was born in Narrows, Georgia, and later earned the nickname "The Georgia Peach." He played for 24 seasons, from 1905 to 1928, most with the Detroit Tigers. His .366 career batting average is the highest career batting average of all time.
Joe DiMaggio holds the record for most consecutive games getting a hit. DiMaggio began his 56-game hitting streak in May of 1941 and ended it that July. He had a .408 batting average during the streak, 15 home runs and 55 runs batted in.
In 1982, Ricky Henderson, who played in the MLB from 1979 to 2003, stole 130 bases. He is considered the greatest leadoff hitter and baserunner in the history of the game. In 1887, Hugh Nicol stole 138 bases, but the current MLB wasn't formed until 1903.
In 1996, catcher Mike Piazza allowed 155 stolen bases while catching for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Piazza played from 1992 to 2007 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a New York Met in 2016. He is considered one of the best catchers the game has ever seen.
A switch-hitter in baseball is someone who bats equally well both right- and left-handed. In the history of baseball, Mickey Mantle is considered the best to ever do this. He played from 1951 to 1968 with the New York Yankees.
In 2008, the 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner card sold for more than $1 million. In 2013, another one of the same card sold for more than $2 million and in 2017, the card - of which there are said to be between 60 and 200 - sold for more than $3 million, making it the most valuable baseball card ever.
Shoeless Joe Jackson was one of eight Chicago White Sox players indicted in the "Black Sox" scandal of 1919 during which players were accused of intentionally losing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money. He was banned for doing so.
From 1982 to 1998 Cal Ripken Jr. played 2,632 consecutive games, earning him the nickname, "Ironman." The next closest streak is 2,130 consecutive games, set by Lou Gehrig well before Ripken's career began. Ripken's record is considered one of the unbreakable records in the MLB.
Satchel Paige began his pitching career in the Negro League in 1926 but didn't get a chance to play in the MLB until 1948, just one year after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. That year, he became a 42-year-old rookie for the Cleveland Indians. The Indians also won the World Series that year.
Since the beginning of Major League Baseball (1903), there have only been 23 perfect games thrown, and no pitcher has ever thrown two. It is one of the most remarkable feats in sports. In 2004, Randy Johnson joined the exclusive club, pitching a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves.
Roger "Rocket" Clemens played 24 seasons in Major League Baseball. He began his career with the Boston Red Sox in 1984 and retired with the New York Yankees in 2007. He's an 11-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion and seven-time Cy Young Award winner.
From 1995 to 2013, Mariano Rivera set the MLB record for career saves with 652. During this period, he also set a record for the lowest earned run average of any pitcher (2.21). He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019, earning 100 percent of the vote.
"Hammerin' Hank" Aaron played in Major League Baseball from 1954 to 1976 and hit 24 or more home runs every season from 1955 through 1973. He held the home run record for 33 years and still holds many records, including the record for career runs batted in with 2,297.
Reggie Jackson, who played 21 seasons from 1967 to 1981, holds the MLB record for career strikeouts with 2,597. Despite all the strikeouts, he was one of the game's best players, winning two World Series MVP Awards and a Hall of Fame induction in 1993.
Ivan Rodriguez, nicknamed "Pudge," holds the record for most career pickoffs with 81 in his 20 seasons as a catcher. He picked off almost half of the base runners who tried to steal a base and is considered one of the best catchers of all time.
Philadelphia native Roy Campanella played for several years in the Negro League and Mexican League before entering the MLB in 1948, one year after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Like Robinson, he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was the first black catcher to play in the MLB.
In 2004, the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918, breaking the 86-year "Curse of the Bambino." One of the most integral pitchers on the roster that season, and in the World Series, was Pedro Martinez, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.
Ken Griffey Jr. played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball and made the All-Star team 13 times. In 2016, he earned 99.3 percent of the vote for his Hall of Fame selection, which was the highest ever until Mariano Rivera earned 100 percent of first ballot votes in 2019.
In 1972, Sandy Koufax, who was 36 years old at the time, became the youngest player to ever be inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame. Koufax played from 1955 to 1966, when arthritis in his elbow ended his career prematurely at the age of 30.
Willie Mays, who played from 1951 to 1973, was nicknamed "The Say Hey Kid." It's unsure how the name came to be but legend has it that Mays couldn't remember anybody's name when he entered the minors so whenever he saw someone he would say, "Hey, man."
The Yankees' dynasty of the '90s peaked in 1998 when the team won 114 regular season games and had just 48 losses. Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada were integral to the team's success, but the most famous Yankee of the era was the team's captain, Derek Jeter.
It's not much of a surprise that the New York Yankees have the most World Series wins with 27. They also have the most appearances with 40. The second place team - St. Louis Cardinals - only has 11 wins, and the Boston Red Sox are in third place with nine World Series wins.