Late in the 1880s big-time baseball was divided into two lusty parts—the National League (founded in 1876) and the American Association (founded in 1882). After frantic haggling over players, the leagues had settled into a friendly—and profitable—contention. Baseball boomed, and offered a new crop of heroes for public worship each season. Local pride was intense and a keen curiosity about rival players had made the game and its stars matters of fervid national interest. Cigarette manufacturers, looking for a way to link baseball players with their product, decided, long before bubble gum, to try photography. The camera at that time, like baseball, was in its late adolescence and was not yet very fast. Action shots had to be contrived in the studio with the ball hanging on a string from the ceiling. Ball players posing with the ball suspended tried to adopt attitudes of eagerness, ferocity, confidence or savoir-faire, as the situation seemed to demand. Many, oblivious to the ball, looked straight into the camera lens. Their photographs, distributed in packages of cigarettes and tobacco, were collected by a public who cared little that its sports heroes looked like amateur actors. The dignified animation of these early stars graced many an American home and occupied a warm spot in many a small boy's pocket.