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By 1875, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was dangerously weak. The N.A. suffered from a lack of strong authority over clubs, unsupervised scheduling, unstable membership, dominance by one team, and an extremely low entry fee ($10; $172 in 2007 dollars, adjusted for inflation) that gave clubs no incentive to abide by league rules when it was not convenient.

William Hulbert, a Chicago businessman and an officer of the Chicago White Stockings, approached several N.A. clubs with the plans for a league with stronger central authority and exclusive territories in larger cities only. Additionally, Hulbert had a problem — five of his star players were threatened with expulsion from the NAPBBP because Hulbert had signed them to his club using what were considered questionable means. Hulbert had a great vested interest in creating his own league. After recruiting St. Louis privately, four western clubs met in Louisville, Kentucky, in January 1876. With Hulbert speaking for the four in New York City on February 2, 1876, the National League was established with eight charter members, as follows:

Chicago White Stockings from the N.A. (now the Chicago Cubs)
Philadelphia Athletics from the N.A. (expelled after the 1876 season)
Boston Red Stockings, the dominant team in the N.A. (now the Atlanta Braves)
Hartford Dark Blues from the N.A. (folded after the 1877 season)
Mutual of New York from the N.A. (expelled after the 1876 season)
St. Louis Brown Stockings from the N.A. (folded after the 1877 season, having committed to Louisville stars for 1878)
Cincinnati Red Stockings, a new franchise, unrelated to the team by the same name that folded in 1870 (expelled after the 1880 season)
Louisville Grays, a new franchise (folded after the 1877 season when four players were banned for gambling)
The National League's formation meant the end of the N.A., as its remaining clubs shut down or reverted to amateur or minor status. The only strong club from 1875 excluded in 1876 was a second one in Philadelphia, often called the White Stockings or Phillies.

The new league's authority was tested after the first season. The Athletic and Mutual clubs fell behind in the standings and refused to make western road trips late in the season, preferring to play games against local non-league competition to recoup some of their losses rather than travel extensively. Hulbert reacted to the clubs' defiance by expelling them, an act which not only shocked baseball followers (New York and Philadelphia were the two most populous cities in the league) but made it clear to clubs that league schedule commitments, a cornerstone of competition integrity, were not to be ignored.

The National League operated with six clubs during 1877 and 1878. Over the next several years, various teams joined and left the struggling league. By 1880, six of the eight charter members had folded. The two remaining original N.L. franchises, Boston and Chicago, remain in operation today as the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs. When all eight participants for 1881 returned for 1882 — the first off-season without turnover in membership — the "circuit" consisted of a zig-zag line connecting the eight cities: Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Troy (near Albany), Worcester, Boston, and Providence.

The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the National League (NL), is the older of two leagues constituting Major League Baseball, and the world's oldest extant professional team sports league. Founded on February 2, 1876, to replace the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, it is sometimes called the Senior Circuit in comparison to the "Junior Circuit" or the American League, established as a major league in 1901. The two league champions of 1903 arranged to meet in the World Series and, after the 1904 champions failed to do likewise, the two leagues have arranged to meet in that annual culmination of the American baseball season, failing to do so only in the strike-shortened 1994 season. National League teams have won 43 and lost 61 of the 104 World Series played between these two leagues from 1903 to 2008. The Philadelphia Phillies are the defending National League champions, winning the NL Pennant in 2008 and 2009; and are the the most recent National League World Series champions, having won the 2008 World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the league with 21 National League Titles.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_League) www.mlb.com