The American Game: Baseball and Ethnicity

By Lawrence Baldassaro; Richard A. Johnson | Go to book overview

2
The Many Fathers of Baseball:
Anglo-Americans and the Early Game

FREDERICK IVOR-CAMPBELL

Writer Henry Chadwick probably struck close to the mark in his intuitive insistence that baseball derived from the English game of rounders. Two arguments have been made that baseball was invented ex nihilo. The most familiar, the story that West Point cadet Abner Doubleday invented the game in Cooperstown in 1839, has been thoroughly discredited on several grounds, not least of which is that Abner Graves, who came up with the story, never said that Doubleday invented the game out of his own head, but only that he saw Doubleday outline a diamond on the field, and later on paper, “with a crude pencil memorandum of the rules for his new game, which he named 'Base Ball'.”1

The second argument for ex nihilo creation comes from a purported statement by the first Knickerbocker Club president, Duncan Curry, that Alexander Cartwright “came up to the ball field with a new scheme For playing ball” and presented it to ballplaying friends who up to that time had simply “batted the ball to one another or sometimes played one o'cat.” But writer William Rankin, who issued Curry's statement in 1910, had written it from his memory of a street corner conversation over three decades earlier at which he had taken no notes except “Mr. Alex. Cartwright is the father of base ball.”2 Our earliest description of the origins of the Knickerbocker Club, Charles A. Peverelly's brief club history in The Book of American Pastimes, says of Cartwright's contribution

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The American Game: Baseball and Ethnicity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Other Books in the Writing Baseball Series ii
  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Foreword xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • 2: The Many Fathers of Baseball 6
  • 3: German Americans in Major League Baseball 27
  • 4: [Slide, Kelly, Slide] 55
  • 5: Unreconciled Strivings 68
  • 6: Before Joe D 92
  • 7: From Pike to Green with Greenberg in Between 116
  • 8: Diamonds Out of the Coal Mines 142
  • 9: The Latin Quarter in the Major Leagues 162
  • 10: Baseball and Racism's Traveling Eye 177
  • Contributors Index 197
  • Contributors 199
  • Index 201
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