Sunday, June 12, 2005

 

June 12th, 1839

Abner Doubleday Invents Baseball


This is, as most everyone knows at this point, patently untrue. Doubleday didn't invent baseball anymore than I invented television, and baseball wasn't really "invented" at all, it evolved from a variety of other English (and American) stick-and-ball games. Doubleday, for what its worth, was a rather dull but competent general during the Civil War who briefly held command of a Corps at Gettysburg. The Doubleday Legend was based on the reports of a Colorado eccentric named Abner Graves, whose story was accepted by a panel organized by Albert Spalding. Spalding's panel, while supposedly seeking the independent truth of how baseball was started was really looking for a story of how baseball was invented in America, with no British origins. Spalding and the panel accepted Graves' story, and a legend was born.

That is, of course, the Cliff Notes, version of the story. A far more extended version, albeit one that occasionally gets bogged down in minutiae, is David Block's Baseball Before We Knew It, which dives into extensive detail on the games of baseball's origin and into personalities like Spalding and
Graves.




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