Charleston, South Carolina

January 2, 2104 to April 30, 2004

Very Early    Baseball History

 


In 1908 a report was issued attributing the invention of the game of Baseball to Abner Doubleday, a Civil War general, who, it said, devised the game with its name and modern attributes in 1839 at Cooperstown. This theory was widely accepted until 1939 until a further investigation found that no letter nor document could be found to support this theory. Doubleday was not in Cooperstown in 1839 and may never have visited the town. He was enrolled at West Point and there is no record of any leave time.  Instead, the investigation attributed the invention to Alexander Cartwright.

 

Doubleday remains famous in the annals of baseball history as the man who was falsely credited with its invention.

Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr. "set bases 90 feet apart, established 9 innings as game and 9 players as team". He also set out the rules, including;

 

 

Three strikes per "out,"  Three "outs" per inning, 

Balls caught on one bounce were" outs."

Balls hit over the fence were "foul.

 First team to score 2l runs wins.

 

Cartwright organized the Knickerbocker baseball club of N.Y in 1845, who played the first baseball game on June 19, 1846, in Hoboken, New Jersey. He also introduced baseball to the Pacific Coast and Hawaii. He called the game Base Ball [later changed to baseball].

There is few very early historical artifacts relating to the game of baseball - which can be attributed to the fact that it was, after all, just a game!

One of the first specific artifacts known is a challenge letter. Before schedules were drawn up, teams formally challenged each other to a match by sending a letter, suggesting a date and place to play. If this were agreeable, a game would ensue. The letter is on official Knickerbocker stationary and written to the president of the Eagle Base Ball club on August 13, 1859. It states:  "It would afford the members of our club much pleasure to play a friendly game of Ball with your Club at as early a day as convenient-.".

The year 1866 marked the advent of recording games on printed scoreCARDS, as baseball clubs and spectators wished to keep detailed accounts of how the team performed. A scoreBOOK containing scoreCARDS also exists dated 1866, but it contains scores from a match in 1875. An 1867 scoreBOOK exists and includes records for each game including;

 

 

"fly's caught", "fly's missed",  "fouls caught", "fouls missed", "out on fouls", "home runs , ""bases on balls called". 

Typical scores were 53-27, 44-38, etc...

 

New innovations were developed by the players, for example;

 

 

The catchers mask: James Tyng;   The curve ball: Arthur "Candy" Cummings;  and   The padded glove: A.G. Spalding.


 

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Professionalism began to appear about 1865-66 as some teams hired skilled players on a per game basis. The first true professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was organized in 1869; the team toured that year, playing from New York City to San Francisco and winning 56 games and tying one. However, the team was disbanded, as was its successor, the Cincinnati National League Club.

The  National Association of Professional  Base Ball  Players was formed in 1871. The desire of many other teams to win led to their becoming professional, though many remained nominally in the National Association until the amateurs withdrew in 1870. Thereafter, professional teams largely controlled the development of the sport.

The teams in the National Association were the Philadelphia Athletics; the Chicago White Stockings (later the Chicago Cubs, their later city rivals being named the White Sox); the Brooklyn Eckfords; the Cleveland Forest Citys; the Forest Citys of Rockford, Ill.; the Haymakers of Troy, N.Y.; the Kekiongas of Fort Wayne, Ind.; the Olympics of Washington, D.C.; & the Mutuals of New York City.

The National Association disbanded in 1876 with the founding of the rival  National League of Professional Baseball Clubs--the change from a players' association to one of clubs being particularly significant.

The teams making up the new National league represented Philadelphia, Hartford, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, and New York City.

The Cincinnati Star Baseball Association applied to the National League to take over for its disbanded predecessors, eventually becoming the present Cincinnati Reds: the successor to world's first professional baseball club.