How Beer Became Such An Important Part Of Baseball Games

holding beer glass over baseball game background
holding beer glass over baseball game background - Static Media / Shutterstock / Getty

Bubblegum, peanuts (and Cracker Jack), and hot dogs are classic snacks associated with baseball culture -- but for the adult attendees, the beverage of choice to wash it all down is often an ice-cold pint of beer. While it's true that the boozy drinks are ultra-refreshing at sweltering summer games, and they can often be the perfect accompaniment to salty snacks like peanuts, the reason beer is so embedded in baseball tradition goes beyond these simple pleasures. In fact, the libation found itself at the center of the sport's controversy in the late 1800s.

Back then, baseball looked a little different than it does today. The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players crumbled in 1876 due to rampant corruption and debauchery, and, as a result, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs was founded instead in the same year. The new organization ran a tighter ship and banned beer sales, but ultimately, their efforts were unsuccessful. After the Cincinnati Reds were kicked out of the league for selling alcohol, they formed the American Association in 1882 by recruiting teams and fans from other cities. Nicknamed the "Beer and Whiskey League," it centered its pitch around Sunday games with brews and whiskey, which the Cincinnati German community embraced.

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An American Marketing Story For The Ages

jacob rupert with babe ruth
jacob rupert with babe ruth - Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Although the "Beer and Whiskey League" ended up dying out in 1891, it formed the foundation for the long and happy relationship between brews and ball that was to come -- and made four times as much profit as the league that came before it, according to Vine Pair. Because of the renewed interest in the sport, breweries began marketing their products through baseball games. They realized that watching the sport is also about the experience as a whole, which includes refreshments that allow attendees to let loose. So when the National League took over again in 1892, it included beer in its stadium offerings this time.

All this was happening against the backdrop of a large wave of German immigrants to the U.S. in the middle of the 19th century, who began establishing breweries and spreading their love for the drink. Since marketing efforts via games proved to be successful, some breweries have since taken things a step further and bought entire teams. August Busch Jr. of Anheuser-Busch, for example, purchased the St. Louis Cardinals, while brewer Jacob Ruppert famously bought the New York Yankees and built Yankee Stadium. So the next time you enjoy a cold pint at a game, you can thank the baseball leagues and breweries of the past for your refreshment.

Read the original article on Tasting Table