If you believe the accepted history, baseball was invented by Civil War hero Abner Doubleday. However, according to baseball expert and coach Gary McClure, that’s not exactly how America’s Pastime came to be.
Q: Who invented baseball?
Gary McClure: Legend has it that a New York boy named Abner Doubleday came up with the game just before running off the fight in the Civil War. While that’s a great origin story, it’s not true. Baseball as we know it is a modge-podge of several games, including cricket and rounders. The modern diamond shape field and many of the rules still in use today were suggested by a man named Alexander Cartwright back in the mid-1800s.
Q: Who was Abner Graves?
Gary McClure: Abner Graves was a mining engineer who, for unknown reasons, devised the Abner Doubleday story. In 1907, AJ Spalding, of Spalding Sporting Goods fame, used Graves’ story as the foundation of the “official” history of baseball. The myth endured throughout the early 20th century and is today commemorated in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Q: What was the first baseball club?
Gary McClure: Cartwright and a group of men, many volunteer firefighters like himself, started the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club in 1845.
Q: How was baseball different in the 19th century?
Gary McClure: There were dozens of variants of the game and rules were different from one part of the country to the next. Some of the more common rules were actually pretty dangerous. Prior to the Knickerbockers, outfielders had to throw the ball at the runner for an out.
Q: When was the first professional baseball game played?
Gary McClure: It’s really difficult to say for certain when the first real game was played, but most historians agree that it was on June 19, 1846. The Knickerbockers played a local rival team, the NY Nine. Cartwright’s team lost 23-1 in a mere four innings.
Q: What about college ball?
Gary McClure: The first college game played under “Knickerbocker” rules was on Nov. 3, 1859 between St. John’s College and The College of St. Francis Xavier.