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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Who Invented Baseball - History


Who Invented Baseball

Baseball’s history is fascinating, and a lot of politics is involved, which seems sad for a game that is America’s national pastime and has been for nearly 200 years. Nobody knows who actually invented baseball but a couple of names, Abner Doubleday, and Alexander Cartwright have been linked with the sport.

In 1905 Albert Spalding, formerly a star pitcher and the man who created the Spalding sporting goods company organized a commission of former baseball executives and US senators to investigate who invented baseball. The Mills Commission took three years to deliberate and in 1908 published a report claiming Abner Doubleday as the inventor of baseball in Cooperstown in 1839.

Doubleday was a West Point graduate who went to become a decorated war hero of the United States who served in the Mexican-American War, the American Civil War, and various Indian Wars. The Mills Commission decided after hearing the testimony of a single witness, Abner Graves, that Doubleday invented baseball, wrote the rules of play, and designed the diamond field on which the game is played.

Sadly this history of baseball has been completely overturned as a hoax perpetuated by Albert Spalding who founded the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and who it is now believed was desperate to create an inventor of baseball who may have lived in Cooperstown, and to ensure that baseball was forever considered an All American game invented in the US.

In fact, Abner Graves shot and killed his wife only a year after testifying and spent the remainder of hi life in a mental institution so has been discredited as a reliable witness. As well, Abner Doubleday isn’t believed to have ever been in Cooperstown, and never mentioned any claim to inventing baseball and isn’t known to have ever played the game.


Instead, the truth of the invention of baseball is a much simpler story about Alexander Cartwright and the New York Knickerbockers who used to play rounders in the 1840s, but needed a set of rules that could be used for interclub games. Cartwright and a committee from the club published their rules in 1845 and the very first game played under the new rules took place in 1846 on the 19th June between Cartwright’s Knickbockers and a rival team, the New York Nines.

Alexander Cartwright was a lifelong promoter of the game, who in the 1850s travelled from New York to California introducing baseball to every town he stayed in, and then when he retired from business moved to Hawaii and setup a baseball league in Honolulu which is the direct ancestor of today’s Major League Baseball.

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