In North America, the term Major League baseball generally refers to the top-level caliber of play in North America. Leagues in other parts of the world, notably Japan and Latin America may have equivalent levels of play (and increasingly draw from the same talent pools), but are typically not included when the term is used.
Current Major Leagues
At the time of writing the Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, has often floated the idea of further expansion and realignment of the major leagues. At the moment, however, the major leagues are each split into three divisions, and structured as follows:
Historical Major Leagues
In 1969, the centennial of professional baseball, a commission chartered by Major League Baseball identified the following leagues as "major leagues". The list is sometimes disputed by baseball researchers. The MLB list included the following:
- 1876-present: National League of Professional Baseball Clubs
- 1882-1891: American Association
- 1884: Union Association
- 1890: Players League
- 1901-present: American League
- 1914-1915: Federal League
Some researchers contend that the National Association (1871-1875), the /Negro Leagues (primarily during the years from 1921-1946), and the first year of the American League (1900) deserve consideration as major leagues due to the caliber of player and the level of play exhibited.