The National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs was formed on February 2, 1876, and opened its season in April with eight charter members in contention for the championship pennant: Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Hartford, Louisville, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis.
This map shows the geographic distribution of the eight baseball clubs: four from the western United States and four from the East. Although the teams were all in contention with each other, there was also a West – East rivalry of sorts. As the Chicago Daily Tribune editorialized at the end of May 1876:
The four Western base-ball League clubs which last Tuesday went Down East to test the mettle of the Eastern League clubs have made a creditable showing thus far, the score standing two out of three in favor of the Chicago, St. Louis, and Louisville Clubs, though the Cincinnati’s record is that of three consecutive defeats. The heavy work has fallen to the lot of the Chicago Club, which has met the crack Eastern nine, the Hartfords, who were relied upon to save the championship for the East; and the result is that the Chicagos won two out of the three games. . . .”