The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP), or simply the National Association (NA), was founded in 1871 and continued through the 1875 season. It succeeded and incorporated several professional clubs from the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP); in turn several of its clubs created the succeeding National League.
The NA was the first professional baseball league. Its status as a major league is in dispute. Major League Baseball and the Baseball Hall of Fame do not recognize it as a major league, but the NA comprised most of the professional clubs and the highest caliber of play then in existence. Its players, managers, and umpires are included among the "major leaguers" who define the scope of many encyclopedias and many databases developed by SABR or Retrosheet.
Several factors limited the lifespan of the National Association including dominance by a single team (Boston) for most of the league's existence, franchise instability by placing clubs in cities too small to financially support professional baseball, lack of central authority, and the suspicions of the influence of gamblers.