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Professional baseball is played in leagues throughout the world. In these leagues, and associated farm teams, baseball players are selected for their talents and are paid to play for a specific team or club system.
Modern professional leagues
United States and Canada
Major League Baseball in the United States and Toronto, Canada, consists of the National League (founded in 1876) and the American League (1901). Historically, teams in one league never played teams in the other until the World Series, in which the champions of the two leagues played against each other. This changed in 1997 with the advent of interleague play.
In addition to the major leagues, many North American cities and towns feature minor league teams. An organization officially styled Minor League Baseball, formerly the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, oversees nearly all minor league baseball in the United States and Canada. The minor leagues are divided into classes AAA, AA, High A, Low A, Short-Season A, Advanced Rookie, and Rookie. These minor-league divisions are affiliated with major league teams, and serve to develop young players and rehabilitate injured major-leaguers. The Mexican League is a Minor League Baseball member league that operates without affiliations to Major League teams. The phrase "Organized Baseball" is often applied as an umbrella term for all leagues — Major and minor — under the authority of the Commissioner of Baseball.
Operating outside the Minor League Baseball organization are many independent minor leagues such as the Golden League, Atlantic League, American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, Frontier League, CanAm League as well as many others.
Several leagues exist in Caribbean countries:
- Professional baseball in the Dominican Republic is represented by the Dominican Professional Baseball League (LIDOM).
- Puerto Rican Baseball is represented by the Puerto Rico Baseball League.
- The Cuban League is now defunct.
- Mexican Pacific League (Winter League) and Mexican League (Triple-A)
- Panamanian Professional Baseball League
- Nicaraguan Professional Baseball League
Taiwan has had professional baseball since 1990s. Chinese Professional Baseball League.
Other Asian leagues
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, African-American players were barred from playing the major leagues, though several did manage to play by claiming to be Cubans or Indians. As a result, a number of parallel Negro Leagues were formed. However, after Jackie Robinson began playing with the major-league Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, the Negro Leagues gradually faded. The process of integration did not go entirely smoothly; there were some ugly incidents, including pitchers who would try to throw directly at an African-American player's head. Now, however, baseball is fully integrated, and there is little to no racial tension between teammates.
- Baseball awards#International
- List of organized baseball leagues#Professional baseball
- List of professional baseball teams in the United States by city