The Ianoian Baseball Association (IBA) is a governing body that supervises all levels of competitive baseball within the nation of Ianoia. Its origins can be traced back to 1890 when a consortium of clubs united with the common objective of establishing a standardized set of rules for exhibition games. However, the association was not officially founded until the 27th October 1899, six months before the first I-League season. Over the years, the IBA has evolved into a comprehensive organization responsible for the management of professional, semi-professional, and amateur baseball throughout the country.
Operating at the professional level, the IBA oversees all three professional tiers of baseball from the I-League at the top of the baseball pyramid, through to the Nationwide League 2, as well as domestic cup competitions such as the Social Cup. The IBA assumes responsibility for the administration of league operations, the establishment of rules and regulations, and the maintenance of fair play and integrity throughout the season.
In addition to professional baseball, the IBA also exercises oversight over semi-professional leagues and amateur tournaments, offering avenues for players with varying skill levels to participate and exhibit their abilities. The association collaborates closely with local clubs, coaches, and communities to foster grassroots development, implementing youth programs, coaching clinics, and talent identification initiatives.
Furthermore, the IBA assumes the crucial task of selecting and managing the national baseball teams of Ianoia, known affectionately as The Eagles, overseeing their participation in international competitions and promoting the country’s prowess in baseball on a global scale.
Following a tour from Albert Spalding’s team of All-Stars and the Chicago Club in the summer of 1889, baseball clubs quickly popped up throughout the country under the umbrella of the Ianoian Baseball Association, a group of owners who sought to define a rulebook for a standardized set of rules for friendly matches.
Despite a push for professionalism, Ianoian clubs remained steadfastly amateur, losing talented players across the pond to Koana Islands and Günsovölk who had created professional leagues as early as 1895. By 1898 however, the lure of financial reward for both players and owners was too great to ignore. Led by McCutchen City owner Addison Eliot, the I-League was finalized with ten founding teams following a vote by 71 clubs, 40-31.
Prominent club at the time Spartans of Martletwy, opposed the professionalization of what they believed should be an inherently amateur pursuit. Professional baseball allowed baseball clubs to reap enormous economic rewards however, with games between McCutchen City and Athletic Ivychurch at the end of the 1900’s routinely drawing $1,000 per game, an enormous figure at the time, and these financial dividends proved to be critical to the clubs’ fortunes.
1900 – 1910
Following four successful years, the Ianoian Baseball Association officially adopted the Durand Rules from the 1904 baseball season after a successful vote at the South Indian Ocean Baseball Association meeting in Sandwick, Albaland on 12th of October 1903. The Durand Rules introduced draws following 9-innings of play as well as other minor changes.
After six years of success, the Ianoian Baseball Association agreed to expanding the league to 12 teams for the 1906 baseball season, suggesting an expanded league would make the schedules longer to increase profits (from 54 games each to 66), as well as promote the most successful amateur clubs. Racing Welford and Sporting Cuckney were voted into the league, with Red Flag, Rudyard Rovers and Souldrop all missing out at the final voting stage.
To encourage a more competitive league, the I-League also adopted the re-election process used successfully in Koana Islands and Günsovölk. At the end of each season, the club at the bottom of the I-League were obliged to seek re-election. The bottom club had to go ‘cap-in-hand’ to the Annual General Owner’s Meeting (AGOM) of the IBA and endure a vote by their professional colleagues who also considered the applications of ambitious amateur clubs eager to join the elite. The ‘non-leaguers’ were often scathing of this method of joining the elite and they generally regarded the I-League as a ‘closed shop’ and the election procedure as an ‘old pals act’ since more often than not, the clubs seeking re-election got back into the League without any problem at all.
Donyatt-Burstwick were the first team to undergo the re-election procedure, becoming the only team to ever be voted out of the I-League, following it’s 4th last-place finish in five years to end the 1906 season. They were replaced by Spartans of Martletwy who had cited growing financial burden as reason for turning professional. Upon the creation of the Nationwide League 1 in 1915, the bottom two teams in the second tier underwent the process instead.
1910 – 1920
With a growing number of amateur clubs knocking on the door of the I-League and the blurring of well and poorly-run clubs making the re-election process harder and harder, the Ianoian Baseball Association voted on introducing a knockout cup in a similar vein to the FA Cup in soccer back in Great Britain. By a vote of 11-1, the Social Cup was agreed upon in mid-1909 to begin play in 1910. The lone objector, Addison Eliot – owner of McCutchen City – suggested that running a second tournament concurrently with the I-League would dilute the product on the field and cost the clubs money in the long run.
The first Social Cup, run in the 1910 baseball season, was a huge success, with non-League outfit Victoria Gawsworth reaching the semi-finals before falling to eventual winners Blenkinsopp Town.
The 1911 Centaurus Cup was considered a failure by the general public, journalists and club owners alike, with Ianoia finishing 4th, winning just two games. Owners suggested a second division to help promote more talent and provide more money to stronger non-league clubs. It wasn’t until the 1913 Annual General Owner’s Meeting that a second division was ratified unanimously, with Nationwide League 1 to begin play in 1915.