Fantasy baseball was not the first of the fantasy sports to be played, but it has been around a long time and is one of the most popular of this type of entertainment. Fantasy golf has been around since the late 1950s and fantasy football followed later. The first fantasy baseball league was set up in 1980 by Daniel Okrent and some friends, although before this for several years, friends and families had been enjoying their own small fantasy baseball games.
Finding a Name
Okrent and his friends originally called their game Rotisserie Baseball, but as more people started to take part they changed it to the Rotisserie League. This name comes from a restaurant where the first players used to meet socially, which was known as La Rotisserie Francaise in Manhattan.
Their idea proved to be very popular and it was not long before other people started their own leagues and then collectively, they became better-known as fantasy baseball.
Board Games Were The Start of it All
Tabletop baseball games and board games were around a long time before fantasy baseball and it is thought that this is where the idea came from. These often involved building teams and leagues, but the results were always based on earlier years’ results. The Rotisserie League was the first one to be based on what was happening in the current season, and this made it even more exciting.
This idea has escalated across many different sports and fantasy games are now played all over the world. The popularity of them all has expanded greatly since the internet was introduced.
An Idea While Flying High
Dan Okrent first came up with the idea for fantasy baseball while he was on a flight from Connecticut to Texas. Initially, he could not find anyone that was interested, but a few weeks later he met up with some friends who were mainly members of the media. They met and discussed the idea a few times at their favorite restaurant, but finally agreed to play their first game at a bar on Third Avenue. This was in April 1980. Okrent cannot remember who was on his team, but he does recall that for this first game, the players were auctioned. The first to be purchased was Mike Schmidt for $26.
By 1988, there were an estimated 500,000 people playing fantasy baseball, but this has risen dramatically and there are now more than 59 million players every season.
Originally, fantasy players were allowed to pick entirely new teams every year. The formation of the Dynasty Leagues, or Keeper Leagues as they are sometimes called, allowed players to change just part of their team so that they could stay within the salary cap.
This has helped to make the game even more popular with new leagues being formed online every year. There is no reason to think that this trend will not continue. In fact, it is likely that fantasy baseball will remain one of the ones with the largest number of players.