From 1882-1891 they challenged the National League toe-to-toe and almost won. They played on Sunday, charged only 25 cents to see a game (the NL charged 50) sold beer and brought a lot of new innovations to the game of baseball. Why, they even had a team that in 1886 won the World Series, the St. Louis Browns! Today, the Browns play in the National League and are known as the Cardinals.
The American Association left its imprint and its existence is still being felt to this day for if you watch the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cincinnati Reds, the Los Angeles Dodgers, you are watching teams that began in the American Association!
The American Association folded after 1891 when after being weakened by the Player's League revolt in 1890 it could no longer compete with the NL.
The American Association had something the NL never had, a club that won 4 straight pennants. Thier first pennant winner were the Cincinnati Reds, yes the same Reds. Their big dynasty were the St. Louis Browns, today's Cardinals. The Browns won four straight pennants from 1885 to 1888.
American Association Pennant Winners 1882-1891
YEAR PENNANT WINNER W-L
1882 Cincinnati Red Stockings 55-25
1883 Philadelphia Athletics 66-32
1884 New York Metropolitans 75-32
1885 St. Louis Browns 79-33
1886 St. Louis Browns 93-46
1887 St. Louis Browns 95-40
1888 St. Louis Browns 92-43
1889 Brooklyn Bridegrooms 93-44
1890 Louiville Colonels 88-44
1891 Boston Red Stockings 93-42