The Nationella Basebolligan, National Baseball League in English, commonly known as the NBL, was a league in Koana Islands during the early days of Koanian Baseball. Formed in 1896 with 12 member clubs and beginning play in 1897, the NBL was created by Niclas Nordin, owner of BK Embleton who felt applying for entry into the Super Ligan was elitist and unfair to other clubs in the country.
Following the 1899 season, the league merged with the rival Super Ligan following financial and management issues, becoming the second tier of baseball within Koana Islands and re-named Division Ett, with the top two teams gaining promotion to the Super Ligan. in 1901, the two leagues agreed to forming the Koanian Basebollförbundet, the governing body of baseball in Koana Islands.
The inaugural teams were: 1890 Ängelar SK, BK Embleton, BK Salau, Bryankeld Förenta BK, IF Blidområde, Jordnot Kanjon BK, Ny Aucklanda IF, BF Oberoendestad, Portlethen Måndag GK, Prestons-Grenada, Rovaniemi Förenta & Ruysdael Akademisk IF.
Following the re-election process in 1895 for the Super Ligan in which Embleton Artillery Social Baseboll Klub were not voted into the competition, team owner Niclas Nordin set about creating his own national baseball league as an alternative to the Super Ligan that he saw as elitist and corrupt.
In early 1896, Nordin officially registered Nationella Basebolligan (National Baseball League) on government records and soon after bought out Embleton Norr Baseball Klub, rebranding his team to Baseboll Klub av Embleton (Baseball Club of Embleton) in the process to become the first team admitted into the competition.
His early rulebook established very similar rules to the Super Ligan with one major exception: teams could keep their original names unlike in the Super Ligan which enforced strict team identity policies. When the Ligan was first established, creator Rolf Berthagen copied much of the National League’s rules and ideals that had been running in the United States since 1876. This included a stipulation that teams must follow a standardised naming process.
Rule 15.6.a – Participating Ballclubs shall use the approved naming process of club mascot being hindmost to the home city.– Early Super Ligan Rulebook, dated 1895
Whilst it is believed Berthagen invented the rule due to his fascination with the National League which had teams using mascots in a similar way, many historians believe it could also have been a smart ploy to make reporting on the Super Ligan much easier for newspaper articles.
Nordin set about recruiting teams for his league which covered a similar area to the Super Ligan, namely the middle of the mainland, Koana. After being knocked back by BK Randia – who had also failed to win election into the Ligan in 1895 – Nordin managed to convince Jordnot Kanjon BK owner Justin Gustavsson to enter the league in Feburary of 1896. By the end of August the same year, Nordin had got further letters of commitment from 1890 Ängelar SK, Bryankeld Förenta BK, IF Blidområde, Portlethen Måndag GK, Prestons-Grenada and Ruysdael Akademisk IF.
The 8 owners which included Niclas Nordin met in a backroom of a pub called Wirströms in Omfattandestad on 17th of September 1896 to finalise the playing rules where it is believed Justin Gustavsson claimed a league without a team from the capital city of Omfattandestad is not a “National League” and backed by the majority of other owners refused to sign-off on the rules.
Overhearing the conversation coming from the back room, Ole Kreuger and his friend Calle Eriksson, both wealthy businessmen and lawyers, entered the room and announced they both owned baseball teams and were meeting to organise an exhibition game. Kreuger’s team, BK Salau, was located just down the road, however, Eriksson’s Rovaniemi Förenta was from a small town 80km south of Omfattandestad and not really a viable option for inclusion into a nationalised competition. Kreguer convinced the owners that if they wanted BK Salau in the NBL they would have to accept Eriksson’s team as well. By a vote of 6-2, both teams were hastily accepted into the league and a 10-team competition was established.
A month later, Niclas Nordin received a telegram from Mattis Schiele the owner of Ny Aucklanda IF requesting permission to join the Nationella Basebolligan after his team became the first ever team to be voted out of the Super Ligan. Buoyed by the telegram, Nordin traveled to Oberoendestad to meet with Peter Strömberg and persuaded the BF Oberoendestad owner to bring his team into the competition following his resignation from the Super Ligan.
I was hesitant to join the Nationella Basebolligan as I was concerned the competition was affecting my workers performances to do their jobs but Mr Nordin reassured me that a baseball team elevates morale both for my workers and my beloved city, Oberoendestad so I agreed to join.– Peter Strömberg, Koanian Dagbladet, 5th January 1897
The inclusion of these two former Super Ligan teams brought the number of clubs up to 12 and necessitated another meeting of the owners in late November. The location of this meeting is not known, but the league schedule and rules were unanimously agreed with for play to begin in March of 1897.
Three Years of Play
The first games of the league took place on the 19th of March 1897 and the season was completed on the 15th of August 1897. Despite never occupying top spot until the penultimate day, BK Salau won the first NBL championship with a sweep of IF Blidområde on the final weekend whilst Bryankeld Förenta BK could only win one of their three-games at home to 1890 Ängelar SK.
Despite starting two weeks earlier than rival league Super Ligan, the NBL saw attendances drop in 1898 as high player wages priced most casual fans out of attending games whilst games became bogged down in low-scoring pitcher duels and no real title challenge to speak of. A string of nine straight wins starting on the last day of May helped push Bryankeld Förenta BK clear of the rest of the league, where they maintained top spot until the end of the season, accelerated by a slump in form by Ny Aucklanda.
League commissioner Niclas Nordin urged the other owners not to worry about declining crowd numbers and even suggested the Super Ligan’s superior financial might would prove their downfall. Despite this, several teams said they would intend to join the Super Ligan but only Ruysdael Akademisk IF and Bryankeld Förenta joined the Super Ligan ballot for the 1899 season two weeks after the meeting, with the former successfully gaining election.
With Ruysdael officially leaving, and Sandford Stad being elected out of the Super Ligan at the same time, the Bulldogs requested entry into the NBL and Nordin accepted. However, in an effort to out-muscle the Super Ligan, Nordin personally allowed Västra Delen 95 and Freyr Viksida into the league in December 1898, expanding the competition to 14 teams.
Upon hearing the news, Prestons-Grenada owner Hans Gustafsson called on a vote of no-confidence with the league commissioner, suggesting Nordin’s decision to expand the competition without consulting the other owners would not be competitive due to the longer season, more meaningless games and already dropping attendances. The vote was done over telegram and Nordin successfully retained his position with a result of 7-6 in favour of retainment and one non-vote from Sandford Stad.
In 1899, BF Oberoendestad won the title on the last day of the season after Ny Aucklanda lost to BK Salau.
Mid-way through the 1899 season on the 13th of June, 11 owners gathered for an extraordinary meeting in Omfattandestad. The agenda focused on two areas: Niclas Nordin’s running of the league and the growing gulf in financial might compared to the Super Ligan. Only Niclas Nordin and the two owners of Västra Delen 95 and Freyr Viksida were not invited.
Nordin’s decision to invite Västra Delen 95 and Freyr Viksida without allowing all owners the chance to formally vote on their acceptance was considered unacceptable, and with attendances dropping for home games against the two sides due to their poor performances, all owners agreed that Nordin could not stay in the role of league commissioner.
Sandford Stad’s Petri Ljungberg was encouraged to speak to his former-colleagues in the Super Ligan and see if a merger was a possibility, especially with the growth of the Baseball Meisterschaft in Günsovölk potentially poaching players from the NBL, a stronger Super Ligan could only benefit all the teams within the Koana Islands.
After liaising with several owners in the Super Ligan, Ljungberg held a meeting and invited the other 10 owners who were present at the first meeting to discuss their options. Combining the two leagues to form a 26-team competition was ruled out but a second division allowing promotion and relegation was a distinct possibility, especially with it proving somewhat successful in the Football League in England.
With a unanimous decision to attempt a merger, Ljungberg and the other ten owners approached the Super Ligan president Pål Nyhaus and announced they intended to break away from the NBL and would like to formally join the Super Ligan as a second tier. Nyhaus organized a meeting of all owners from both the Super Ligan and the breakaway 11 from the NBL on the 23rd of July to discuss the possibility of merging the two leagues where it was agreed to vote on the decision at the Annual General Meeting at the end of the year.
Upon hearing of the impending vote several days later, Niclas Nordin said he felt betrayed by his fellow club owners, and would not organise the NBL’s fourth season scheduled for 1900, effectively drawing a line in the sand where the either the teams would join the Super Ligan, or would be forced to return back to regional leagues.
Västra Delen 95 and Freyr Viksida owners – knowing that the NBL was going to be wound up at season’s end – appealed to the breakaway 11 to be included in any negotiations and were eventually accepted whilst Nordin’s BK Embleton initially refused an offer by the 13 clubs attempting to join the Super Ligan, before backtracking and joining the rest of the league by season’s end.
By a result of 9-3, the Super Ligan agreed to subsume the teams under the umbrella of the Super Ligan and rebrand the NBL to Super Ligan: Division Ett (Division One), or simply Division Ett, with two promotion/relegation places between the two leagues to begin from 1900. Despite tentative objections from BK Humoor 1893 owner Mario Järelöv, the new division was formally ratified with the bottom two teams in Division Ett subject to the same re-election process as the current system in the Super Ligan.
|1897||BK Salau||Bryankeld Förenta BK|
|1898||Bryankeld Förenta BK||BK Embleton|
|1899||BF Oberoendestad||Ny Aucklanda IF|