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In The Beginning

Fantasy sports sure have come a long way.

It all began in 1980 when Daniel Okrent, a sportswriter, invented the first fantasy league. He was dining with friends at La Rotisserie Francaise restaurant in Manhattan, N.Y. when the idea was born, and thus the game came to be called rotisserie baseball. Okrent and friends performed the first fantasy draft and kept track of baseball players' statistics by hand, pulling statistics out of The Sporting News magazine.

Because Okrent was a member of the media, the game was quickly picked up by fellow writers. In a 2003 interview with Jim Weber, the sports editor of the Michigan Daily newspaper, Okrent said, "It took a lot, but we must have enjoyed it or we wouldn’t have done it."

The first league used only players from baseball's National League, but the entirety of baseball is used today. Okrent himself worries that he will only be remembered for the invention of fantasy baseball. He is currently the Public Editor of The New York Times.

But don't come to Okrent for advice on how to win.

"Well the creator himself has never won, so I will leave it at that," he said in the 2003 interview. "You are asking the wrong guy."

And what about La Rotisserie Francaise? It is no longer open for business.

An article in the Boston Globe in March 2006 details an even earlier instance of fantasy baseball, this one taking place in Cambridge, England. In 1960, Bill Gamson founded The National Baseball seminar, a league that only tracked two batting categories and two pitching categories.

But Gamson does not take any credit for inventing fantasy sports.

''It was so inadvertent," he said in the article. ''Okrent is the one who really founded it. It's hard for me to take what I did seriously as an accomplishment."

Read on to see how fantasy sports continued to grow.