Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Who Invented Baseball?

What's going on in this space? See the introductory remarks at:

Dear Abner,
If you didn’t invent baseball, who did?
Puzzled in

Dear Puzzled,
Alexander Cartwright gets a big kick out of having become the anti-Doubleday, especially because he didn’t invent the game any more than I did. Oh, he helped organize the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, and he was a pretty fair player, I’m told. But nine men, ninety feet, nine innings, three outs, three strikes—none of these “innovations” may be placed on his account.

Baseball has always seemed to want a father, an American origin, and a time and place for the brainstorm that is supposed to have given us the game. But Henry Chadwick had it right when he echoed Topsy’s sentiments in Uncle Tom’s Cabin: “Baseball never had no ‘fadder’; it jest grow'd.” This may be unsatisfying to you as it has long been to those who placed a Hall of Fame in Cooperstown for no good reason, but it is so.

Mind you, Cooperstown is a lovely place, and though baseball wasn’t invented there, it ought to have been. As you may imagine, others have been asking me my opinion about the place, and I expect I will have more to say on that subject soon.

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