Categorized | Mark Timmons

The Beginning

The Beginning

The story of Abner Doubleday, inventing baseball around 1839 on Farmer Phinney’s lot in Cooperstown, served as the official story of baseball since the Mills Commission thrust it upon the public in 1907. The only problem with that is, it is completely false. General Doubleday attended West Point in 1839 and there is no proof that he ever visited Cooperstown. Not only did Doubleday himself not claim to have invented baseball, but throughout his life he never showed more than an ordinary interest in the game.

Baseball as we know it began on the Elysian Fields in Hoboken New Jersey in 1846 – where two teams, the New York Knickerbockers and the New York Nine played the first formal match.

Alexander Joy Cartwright, who gave baseball it’s 20 original rules, is a nearly forgotten figure in baseball history. Early photos of him often show him formally dressed as if he is about to umpire a game (as he was often called upon to do, and actually did in the first game) or attend a Knickerbocker banquet. Cartwright was working for a bank when he joined the club in the mid 1840′s. The club may have been related to the local fire company of the same name, as the volunteer fire company was an important civic cause and one of Cartwright’s passions.

In 1849, three years after the first baseball game, Cartwright travelled to San Francisco by wagon train, taking with him an old Knickerbocker baseball. According to his fragmentary diary, Cartwright amused himself by teaching his game to people he met along the way. Legend has it there were western Indians playing New York style baseball before it was ever heard of in Chicago or even Boston. And there is no doubt that it was played earlier in Hawaii as Cartwright, not happy with California, with his family in tow, loaded up a ship with various goods and set out to sell them in the Hawaiin Islands.

(all contents above is from 150 Years of Baseball – 150th Anniversary 1989 Publications International Ltd.)

About Rory

I have been a Dodger fan since 1959 when my grandpa took me to my first game at the Coliseum. I even went to a World Series game that year, sat in front of Joe DiMaggio and behind Nat King Cole. As a young boy in Canoga Park I can remember falling asleep every night, with the window open and crickets in background, listening to Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett on my turquoise Admiral radio. To this day whenever I hear Vinnie's voice I am taken back to that time. I was a decent enough player in high school, a shortstop, to be offered a try out with the Dodgers. It was a hot late Spring day in Fullerton and I played very well. I was pulled aside by a scout who informed me the Dodgers wanted me as a second baseman. Problem was, I had already committed to the Marine Corps. I survived my tour in Vietnam and came back to start my adult civilian life with no idea what I was destined to do. I have changed careers many times over the years and I often wonder how my life would have been different had I taken that second base job back in 1966. I love baseball and played it in the MABL in Northern California until I was 56 years old. I am now 61 and my playing days are sadly over. But, I will be a Dodger fan forever. I bleed blue, and I will support my team until my time here is done.

4 Responses to “The Beginning”

  1. steevo17 says:

    I love this history stuff. Keep it coming guys. LA Dodger Talk rules!

  2. ken says:

    The game of rounders has been played in England since Tudor Times, with the earliest reference being in 1744 in “A Little Pretty Pocketbook” where it is called baseball.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20071112065508/http://www.nra-rounders.co.uk/dyncat.cfm?catid=17177

  3. Rory says:

    I saw Rounders. Good movie. And Tudor was a good lefty chucker. He pitched for the Dodgers a couple of years, but he wasn’t good then.

    Actually, the rules of baseball Cartwright made up were not invented from nothing. Forerunners of baseball with names like old cats, stoolball, rounders, and goalball were played in Great Britain for hundreds of years before 1846. These games were very similar to baseball and featured pitching, hitting, and rounding a certain number of bases in order to score runs. They, like modern baseball, were structured according to outs and innings. In goalball, or stoolball, stools were used as bases. In old cats, the number of bases was determined by the number of players on each side. In one old cat, there was one base, in two old cats there was two and so on. The word baseball itself has a long history with even a written account mentioning games of “base” being enjoyed by George Washington’s Revolutionary soldiers at Valley Forge.

    Base-ball. Gotta love this game.

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