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Max Weder
(Login baseballart)
Chatlist

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 20 2007, 12:36 AM 

(OK, so I know that Travis Henry is the father in football, and Shawn Kemp is the father in basketball, but don't know about baseball....)

I'd pick Henry Chadwick, but that's only because Harry never wrote a book about baseball.

Max

 
 

Dan Bretta
(Login slidekellyslide)
Network 54 Moderator

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 20 2007, 12:47 AM 

Well Chadwick was the most vocal opponent of Spalding on the matter of Abner Doubleday, but he never proclaimed himself to be the father of the game.

And here's one for Barry...George Wright was on the Mills Commission so there's no way Harry Wright could be considered the real father of the game if his own brother didn't think so.

 
 

CarltonHendricks
(Login CarltonHendricks)

physical evidence

December 20 2007, 4:01 AM 

There certainly is a lot of contention over this subject. Allow me to introduce physical evidence which doesn't necessarily prove Alexander Cartwright the father of baseball, but lends its self to that conclusion.

I wrote a story some time ago on a c1876 baseball clock; I dubbed "The Muller Clock" for its designer. In the story I presented speculation one of the men depicted in the relief work may have been Alexander Cartwright. My speculation was based on physical similarity, and that he and other Knickerbockers members laid out the rules for the first modern style baseball game on June 19th 1846. The story doesn't conclude it's him, but when the rendering is compared side by side with Cartwright's photo, I think most will agree there is a resemblance. If the rendering was intended to be Cartwright, certainly he would have had to have been held in considerable esteem. The clock was produced about 30 years after that inaugural rule setting game. However, as I recall he left the region shortly thereafter for Hawaii. So it's not like he was around to establish a renowned reputation.
Below, the images I refer to, as well as a link to the story on my site:
http://www.sportsantiques.com/MullerBBClk.htm


http://www.sportsantiques.com/MullerBBClk.htm


    
This message has been edited by CarltonHendricks on Dec 20, 2007 4:10 AM


 
 
barrysloate
(Login barrysloate)

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 20 2007, 7:26 AM 

Dan- I was not aware that George Wright was on the Mills Commission...interesting.

Carlton- that is a famous clock, and while one of the men in the center does resemble Cartwright, it's a tough call because if you look at daguerreotypes from that period, everyone looked that way. Even Abner Doubleday could have had that style beard in 1839. So there is a leap of faith.

Regarding the Doubleday myth, when I was a kid in the late 1950's and early 1960's, I was taught that Doubleday invented baseball. I can assure you at that time I had never heard of Cartwright.

 
 
Tom Russo
(Login TRusso)

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 20 2007, 7:58 AM 

Ken,
Just to clarify, Doubleday Field is owned by the Village of Cooperstown, whose citizens probably continued to accept the Doubleday myth long after it had been abandoned by historians. I don't think the Hall did the naming of the field. There is a plaque at the entrance of the Doubleday parking lot that states that in a radio poll, Americans voted Doubleday the most important figure in the first 100 years of baseball. So a lot of people were fooled for a long time.

Barry,
Mrs. Doubleday died in January 1907. That is what raised my question as to whether the commission even spoke to her about whether Abner ever mentioned the game or his alleged playmate, Graves.

 
 
barrysloate
(Login barrysloate)

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 20 2007, 9:43 AM 

I would have to go back to David's book and reread the chapter. It would seem to me that if she had the choice, she would like the idea that her husband would be dubbed this heroic figure. Or perhaps she was senile at the time. I don't know.

 
 

Dan Bretta
(Login slidekellyslide)
Network 54 Moderator

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 20 2007, 10:16 AM 

The commission did not investigate Graves claim that Doubleday invented baseball. They took it at face value because it held everything that Spalding was looking for, an American beginning to the game...and what better story than to have it not only American, but also invented by an American hero? We have to remember that The Mills Commission was a reaction to Chadwick's article in 1903 that the game evolved from the British game of Rounders.

 
 
barrysloate
(Login barrysloate)

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 20 2007, 11:58 AM 

First off, Chadwick's assertion that baseball evolved from rounders has been disproved by David Block, who found numerous references to baseball much earlier than the earliest known one to rounders. So there is an instance where even Chadwick was wrong.

And Abner Graves was an eccentric and colorful individual who was far from a credible witness. If anything, people found him to be a bit daffy (as opposed to dizzy).

 
 
Rhys
(Login prewarsports)

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 20 2007, 12:09 PM 

Here is a neat Harry Wright signed letter written to his Shortstop Bob Allen with some interesting content. It even has his ink smudged fingerprint on the back of the letter.

Rhys





 
 
barrysloate
(Login barrysloate)

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 20 2007, 2:44 PM 

Rhys- that is exceptional- great baseball content (including mention of Ed Delahanty) and twice signed by Wright, with the original envelope. I know that is part of that fabulous find you made.

 
 

Joann
(Login jmk59)

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 22 2007, 8:44 PM 

Great conversation. I think the reason more don't join in is because (if they are anything like me) they don't think they can add to the knowledge - just take it away.

But I have always half followed and been interested in the auto industry, and I think there is an interesting parallel between the invention of baseball and the invention of the automobile.

Both have indistinct beginnings, in that the end item evolved over time from a variety of similar concepts. Town ball and rounders = early steam devices and other horseless conveyance designs going back to DaVinci.

Both have an individual that is widely considered to be the inventor by students of the topic and maybe some casual fans, although even then there is debate as to the true role of this individual. Alexander Joy Cartwright = Karl Benz.

Both have another individual who is somehow most widely associated with the beginning of the game/industry as the person that gave it legs, that did some significant thing to help spur growth. Harry Wright did all that Barry described above, and Henry Ford took the auto out of the rich-boy-hobby category and made it a mass phenomenon - even a backbone of the country. Harry Wright = Henry Ford

I guess the only difference is the Abner Doubleday business - the person still mistakenly thought to have invented the item by many mainstream Americans. I suppose that in a way, Henry Ford plays that role as well.

Interesting topic though, and I thought the parallels of the role of actual inventor versus major catalyst were pretty dead on. Heck, even the basic timelines (at least when looked at in the context of all of North American history) are not that far off.

Joann

ETA that I can't think of anymore offhand, but I bet there are dozens of huge cultural-center type things in the US and world that would have similar parallels: related concepts early on, one individual (or very few) that crystallize the thinking to one core design, and another individual (or few) that shoot the invention to the stars.


    
This message has been edited by jmk59 on Dec 22, 2007 8:50 PM


 
 
barrysloate
(Login barrysloate)

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 22 2007, 9:19 PM 

Henry Ford may not have invented the automobile, but he certainly played a pivotal role in mass producing them.

Abner Doubleday, on the other hand, likely had nothing to do with baseball on any level.

Interesting comparison, however, between baseball and the automobile.

 
 
Anonymous
(Login TonyK222)

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 24 2007, 9:59 AM 

I grew up believing that Abner Doubleday devised a set of rules that helped transform town ball into base ball. Then I learned that he didn't, and fellows like Cartwright and others did more to enhance the game. Then I read up on this and saw that many of our current beliefs are based on a lack of first hand information. New things pop up every year about baseball's origins.

It's kind of like Lewis Black's skit about eggs...first they were good for you...then they were bad for you...and now it seems that they might just be good for you after all.

Three points are often made to discredit Doubleday's link to baseball - He was not in Cooperstown in 1839, he never mentioned baseball in his numerous writings, and Abner Graves lacked credibility.

Abner Graves was motivated enough to submit a letter to the Mills Commission that gave his opinion about baseball's early days. He even responded when asked questions about what he wrote. In his first letter he never claimed Doubleday devised new rules in the summer of 1839, merely stated it could be any of three years. The Commission concluded it had to be the summer of 1839 and now we know that they were probably wrong. Did Abner Doubleday present the three or four suggestions to improve their game or did Graves make them up in his head? Or was it some other boy?

James Fenimore Cooper mentions in a novel that boys were playing base ball on the green in Cooperstown around this same time period. Assuming they were playing town ball, it seems clear to me that nearly every single boy in town participated when they could. Abner Doubleday had two brothers so I believe that a Doubleday or two (or three) played town ball in Cooperstown when they were kids. Graves probably played ball with Abner Doubleday's younger brother who was closer in age to him.

Did Abner Doubleday possess the mental faculties and leadership qualities to convince the other kids to play a new game that didn't require 25 to 50 players? Of course he did.

But Doubleday never mentioned baseball in his writings. Does that prove he never played town ball or base ball? How many of our nation's leaders did mention baseball in their writings in the 19th Century?

I do not think we know enough about what occurred in Cooperstown back in the late 1830's or early 1840's to say for sure what happened. Did anyone who grew up with Abner Graves object when they heard the news? What research has been done on primary sources of information? Both John Ward and Al Spalding were members of the Mills Commission and no doubt had strong opinions on baseball's origins. It's hard to imagine that both were fooled by a crackpot from out West.


 
 
barrysloate
(Login barrysloate)

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 24 2007, 10:04 AM 

There are numerous books pre-1839, including a German one from 1796, that include rules for baseball, and even use the term "baseball." You need go no further than that to know that the game was played prior to 1839.

 
 
Corey R. Shanus
(Login benjulmag)

To Annoymous

December 24 2007, 7:51 PM 

To my knowledge no credible baseball historian believes Abner Doubleday had anything to do with the invention of baseball, period. And that the Mills Commission was nothing more than a ruse by Albert Spalding to capitalize on the patriotism extant in the aftermath of the Spanish American War to Americanize baseball and, in the process, sell some more of his sporting equipment. Probably the most prominant baseball historian of the period, Henry Chadwick, regarded the Mills Commission findings as a joke and something not to be taken seriously. The fact that a form of baseball might have been played in Cooperstown in or around 1839 is irrelevant because there is ample documentation that both the name baseball as well as many, if not all, of its current rules long predate 1839. Just the fact that Abner Doubleday is not even a member of the HOF tells enough what knowledgable people think of his association to baseball.

 
 

Max Weder
(Login baseballart)
Chatlist

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 24 2007, 7:56 PM 

A very good book on the origins of baseball is David Block's Baseball Before We Knew It



Max

 
 
Anonymous
(Login TonyK222)

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 25 2007, 11:03 AM 

corey: Baseball is not the invention of one person. Didn't Chadwick claim baseball sprang from rounders so any differing opinion must be wrong?

My point is we shouldn't dismiss Abner Graves' comments in his letter until we know for certain they are wrong. Boys and men played ball in Cooperstown around 1839-1842. That is a fact. Did any one of them, as Graves claimed, try to systemize the game they played making it one step closer to baseball? If so, then they contributed a piece in the evolution of the game. Sure Graves wasn't the first boy to play "baseball", but he seemed to be the first adult to remember specific changes to the game of his childhood.

If Graves was completely wrong, then the boys of Cooperstown learned of new rules from somewhere else. With many of them joining the military that may have been the place where the opportunity to play a different game arose.

What historians have published their findings about Cooperstown's early baseball history?

The fathers of baseball are probably the American Boys of the 1800's.


 
 

Dan Bretta
(Login slidekellyslide)
Network 54 Moderator

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 25 2007, 12:13 PM 

Well, here we have proof that organized ball playing came before Graves claims of Doubleday and Cooperstown so he should be eliminated from the mix anyway.

http://bid.robertedwardauctions.com/bidplace.aspx?itemid=8163

 
 
Corey R. Shanus
(Login benjulmag)

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 25 2007, 12:17 PM 

Annoymous,

That's exactly the point -- baseball is not the invention of one person. And that is the reason the Doubleday connection is so stupid. To the typical American, he is the ONE who INVENTED baseball. The best that can possibly be said about him, assuming what Graves "remembered" over 60 years later is true, is that he was one mere link in a chain of many links that lead to the development of today's game. The roots of the game in America had already been long established, brought overseas from England, and it is an extraordinary stretch to believe anything the Knickerbockers did would have been any different had Doubleday never existed.

However, given the bias of the Mills commission and mandate given it by Spalding, its impartiality has been so compromised as to make its
work product essentially worthless.

 
 
barrysloate
(Login barrysloate)

Re: Who is the Real Father of Baseball?

December 25 2007, 1:18 PM 

The Doubleday story has become a great embarrassment to the Hall of Fame, because when it opened to the public in 1939, it was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the invention of the game.

As the years passed and it became increasingly clear that the entire myth was untrue, the Hall had to figure out a way to tactfully deal with this fallacy. It had to be a public relations disaster.

 
 
 
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