A1exander Cartwright in 1846...or Abner Doubleday in 1839? These two names have become a staple of baseball lore for what they did do (or simply didn’t do) to bring the largely popular English sport called “Rounders” to America where it would quickly come to be known as
“Baseball”. Although we now know that Doubleday in fact did not invent baseball, the concept of him doing so became a myth that many sources mistakenly viewed as a “set-in-stone” fact.
Legend has it that in 1839 in Cooperstown, New York, baseball came from the mind of a decorated West Point cadet and Union General in the Civil War by the name of Abner Doubleday. The myth states that he set rules for a variant of “Rounders” called “town ball” where the children of Cooperstown would square off against those of surrounding towns.
This myth was further supported by a 1907 study from the Mills Commission, who looked into the testimony of a somewhat senile man named Abner Graves. He stated that he witnessed this happening with “his own two eyes”. Besides the fact that Graves only had one functioning eye (one was glass replacing a severely damaged eye from a mining accident), later studies showed he likely was in search of what one would call “secondhand fame”, mooching off of the Doubleday “success”. What was supposed to be a sophisticated, painstaking study by the Mills Commission turned out to be a bogus attempt to ride on the back of the Doubleday story.
Truth is, Doubleday was not the inventor of baseball in America; Alexander Cartwright was. The Hall-of-Fame seconds that idea, even going as far as to place the credit upon the plaque of Cartwright in “The Hall”. Irony at its best, considering Cooperstown was supposed to be significant because of the Doubleday story. The New York Knickerbockers were the first team to play an organized league of baseball with 90-feet base paths on a diamond-shaped infield with nine players on each side who played with a 3-strike out policy, organized by none other than Cartwright.
The Cartwright Rules
1ST. Members must strictly observe the time agreed upon for exercise, and be punctual in their attendance.
2ND. When assembled for exercise, the President, of in his absence, the Vice-President, shall appoint an Umpire, who shall keep the game in a book provided for that purpose, and note all violations of the By-Laws and Rules during the time of exercise.
3RD. The presiding officer shall designate two members as Captains, who shall retire and make the match to be played, observing at the same time that the player's opposite to each other should be as nearly equal as possible, the choice of sides to be then tossed for, and the first in hand to be decided in like manner.
4TH. The bases shall be from "home" to second base, forty-two paces; from first to third base, forty-two paces, equidistant.
5TH. No stump match shall be played on a regular day of exercise.
6TH. If there should not be a sufficient number of members of the Club present at the time agreed upon to commence exercise, gentlemen not members may be chosen in to make up the match, which shall not be broken up to take in members that may afterwards appear; but in all cases, members shall have the preference, when present, at the making of the match.
7TH. If members appear after the game is commenced, they may be chosen in if mutually agreed upon.
8TH. The game to consist of twenty-one counts, or aces; but at the conclusion an equal number of hands must be played.
9TH. The ball must be pitched, not thrown, for the bat.
10TH. A ball knocked out of the field, or outside the range of the first and third base, is foul.
11TH. Three balls being struck at and missed and the last one caught, is a hand-out; if not caught is considered fair, and the striker bound to run.
12TH. If a ball be struck, or tipped, and caught, either flying or on the first bound, it is a hand out.
13TH. A player running the bases shall be out, if the ball is in the hands of an adversary on the