Guys Who Didn’t Invent Baseball Part II: Abner Doubleday

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Richard Hershberger

Richard Hershberger is a paralegal working in Maryland. When he isn't doing whatever it is that paralegals do, or taking his daughters to Girl Scouts, he is dedicated to the collection and analysis of useless and unremunerative information.

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11 Responses

  1. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Heh. So Abner Doubleday might have played rounders, but Mills, Spalding, and the other commissioners basically concluded, “He ought to have invented baseball” and so that’s how they ruled.

    And not unlike Brutus and Cassius, they were honorable men. Well, maybe that’s a little bit unfair to Mills, who actually seems like he was trying to do the right thing.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      The game was never called “rounders” in America. You sometimes see the claim that it was, but this is a misconception based on some bad assumptions and misinterpretations. It is possible that as a boy, Doubleday played a pre-modern version of baseball. This would be unremarkable. There is not, however, any evidence for this apart from the fact that playing baseball was something that American boys of his generation did.

      As for Mills, I try to convince myself that he was merely blinkered by his unexamined assumptions, but I can’t quite get there. That 1926 quote makes it pretty clear that he knew he was peddling myth rather than history. Whether he knew that twenty years earlier is an open question, I suppose.Report

  2. Avatar Andrew Miller says:

    Joe Schlabotnik never hit a home run in high school. Batting practice, maybe. #sheeshReport

  3. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    On a different note, I am driving up to Cooperstown tomorrow for the annual SABR 19th century conference. I am giving a presentation on the finances of the Boston Club in the 1870s. It is a sure sign of late-stage geekery that my reaction to finding obsolete financial data is “Oooh!”Report

  4. Suppose you went to high school with Barry Bonds and played on the same team; and suppose someone on the team hit an amazing towering home run. You are going to remember that it was Bonds who hit the ball

    “Or maybe it was Mark McGwire. Anyway, it was right after chem lab.”Report

  5. Avatar Tom Ottina says:

    Excellent post, especially the final remarks about Cooperstown. My sentiments exactly about HOF, too. Cooperstown also has other museums, and great microbreweries and wineries.Report