The sport of baseball dates to at least the 1700s and likely had its earliest origins in the United Kingdom and possibly even France. The first official baseball game played on United States soil took place in 1846 when the New York Nine defeated the New York Knickerbockers, 23-1, in Hoboken, N.J.
Professional baseball dates to the Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869. The first professional league was the National Association. It was formed in 1871, and five seasons were played before the league ceased to exist. At that time, the National League was formed. It started play in 1876 and was the first baseball league to be defined as major league.
Several other major leagues started and ceased operations throughout the rest of the 1800s. The American League was formed in 1901. Other than the Federal League, which played from 1913-14, the AL and NL have been the only two major leagues that have contested seasons since the American Association played its final campaign in 1891.
Although there were postseason competitions between league champions in the 1800s, the first official World Series took place in 1903. The Boston Americans, now the Red Sox, defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates five games to three. Other than 1904 and 1994, the World Series has been played on an annual basis ever since. The New York Yankees possess the most World Series titles with 27.