The Man Who Didn’t Invent Baseball

Abner Doubleday had an eventful life, but as far as we know, he never gave a thought to the game with which his name is so firmly linked

SOME TWO hundred and fifty thousand people a year come to the little village of Cooperstown, in upstate New York, to visit the National Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame. They are drawn by the large, brick museum on Cooperstown’s Main Street, and many still cherish the belief that this is the place where baseball began; here it was invented and first played. The inventor is supposed to be the Civil War general Abner Doubleday; he is supposed to have thought up the game in 1839.This is a doublebarreled historical falsehood.Read more »

Baseball’s Greatest Song

… illuminated by the hand-tinted slides that helped make it a hit

ONE NIGHT in 1888, from the stage of a Broadway theater, the actor DeWolf Hopper recited for the first time a poem about a ballplayer, known only as the Mighty Casey, who struck out. Though Hopper had added the epic to his show as a one-time performance honoring the presence of the baseball great “Cap” Anson, the ovation that followed should have warned him he would be stuck with Casey for the rest of his life. Read more »

Spalding’s Austrian Baseball Tour.

Albert Spalding’s middle name was Goodwill, which seemed fitting in 1888 when the baseball impresario and sporting goods king decided to take the game on a grand tour to parts of the world as yet unexposed to the glories of the American national pastime. His own Chicago White Stockings and an All America team drawn from both professional leagues would play exhibition games around the globe.Read more »

The Way I See It

Like most authentic folk creations, baseball is deeply and obscurely rooted in the past and its moment of origin is cloaked in legend. There are innumerable threads that go back to the beginning of things, but nobody can follow them all the way. This is partly because they lead to a thousand cow pastures and smalltown parks where no records were kept, and partly because anyone who tries to follow them must sooner or later run into the shadowy figure of General Abner Doubledav. Read more »

Casey At The Bat

The classic American baseball poem might have vanished if not for an actor's impromptu performance.

A mysterious phenomenon, to which professional critics are usually oblivious, reoccurs often in the literary history of the United States. A man or a woman with no special talent for poetry will put together some apparently run-of-the-mill stanzas and manage to get them printed in a newspaper or magazine. The poem is read and talked about. It is reprinted here and there. People cut it out to carry in a billfold, or pin on a bulletin board, or put under the glass top of a desk, or frame and hang on a wall. Thousands memorize it.Read more »

Say It Ain’t So, Joe!

Foul was fair, and fair foul, when eight players of the championship White Sox conspired with gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series

On November 6, 1920, a grand jury in Cook County, Illinois, issued to an aroused public a statement of reassurance on a question that seemed to eclipse in significance even the landslide presidential victory of Warren Gamaliel Harding just four days earlier. In spite of the jury’s recent disclosures, the game of baseball was “clean.”

 
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The Great American Game

Baseball’s rules and rituals are much as they were fifty years ago and anything to win still goes.

By the carefully repeated definition of men who stand to make money out of its acceptance, baseball is the Great American Game. The expression was invented long ago and it has been rammed home by talented press agents ever since, even in times when most Americans seemed to be interested very largely in something else.

A Century Of Cooperstown

For a village of only 2,700 souls, peaceful Cooperstown, on Lake Otsego, New York, has enjoyed a modest fame. Most people know it as the home of novelist James Fenimore Cooper, a beautiful resort, and as the place where baseball was supposedly invented by Abner Doubleday. Less well-known, but of increasing interest to regional historians and lovers of the American scene, is the record left by the two Cooperstown photographers shown above—Washington G. Smith and Arthur J. (Putt) Telfer.