Backball began as a game played in the back alleys of New York, generally using a ball and two empty garbage cans. Originally the game was called the alley ball game, can ball, or back street ball, and then simply backball. The game became immensely popular, but due to it's physical nature it was frowned upon by the authorities and games were often broken up by police. In 1910, with other sports being codified and organized, the first Backball league was formed in New York, called the United States Backball League. The sport quickly developed a reputation for hooliganism, and the league eventually folded in 1921. In 1925 the league was re-formed as the National Backball League, and drew considerable crowds. Several teams built their own dedicated courts, and the game quickly became professional and spread beyond New York into major US cities with large urban populations.