Alexander Cartwright

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Alexander Cartwright bigraphy, stories - Baseball developer

Alexander Cartwright : biography

April 17, 1820 – July 12, 1892

Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr. (April 17, 1820 – July 12, 1892) is one of several people sometimes referred to as a "father of baseball". Cartwright is thought to be the first person to draw a diagram of a diamond shaped baseball field, and the rules of the modern game are based on the Knickerbocker Rules developed by Cartwright and a committee from his club, the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club. With the myth of Abner Doubleday inventing baseball debunked and 46 years after his death, Cartwright in 1938, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the executive category. Cartwright was officially declared the inventor of the modern game of baseball by the 83rd United States Congress on June 3, 1953.

Hawaii

In 1849 he headed to California for the gold rush, but ended up in the Hawaiian Islands instead. His family came to join him in 1851: wife Eliza Van Wie, son DeWitt (1843–1870), daughter Mary (1845–1869), and daughter Catherine (Kate) Lee (1849–1851). In Hawaii sons Bruce Cartwright (1853–1919) and Alexander Joy Cartwright III (1855–1921) were born. He set up a baseball field on the island at Maliki Field. He served as fire chief of Honolulu from 1850 through June 30, 1863. As advisor to King David Kalākaua and Queen Emma he encouraged the growth of baseball on the islands until his death on July 12, 1892, a year before the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 by American heritage missionary and sugar plantation owners. One of the leaders of the overthrow movement was Lorrin A. Thurston who played baseball with classmate Alexander Cartwright III at Punahou School. He was buried in Oahu Cemetery.

Baseball

The New York Knickerbockers Baseball Club, circa 1847. Cartwright at the top middle. The identification of Cartwright in this image is at least controversial. Articles seriously challenging this identification can be found in Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) newsletters at [https://sabr.box.com/shared/static/tysgx0z66j8u64tq5rtd.pdf "Just Another Misidentified Baseball Photo?".] Society of American Baseball Research. October 2011. Retrieved August 16, 2012. and at [https://sabr.box.com/shared/static/106f79f134092a683653.pdf" So, are there any Knickerbockers in that 1840’s half-plate daguerreotype?".] Society of American Baseball Research. March 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2012. Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey (lithograph by Currier and Ives)]]

Cartwright was a bookseller and volunteer firefighter in Manhattan.Lloyd, J & Mitchinson, J: "The Book of General Ignorance". Faber & Faber, 2006. He led the establishment of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club (after the Knickerbocker Fire Engine Company) in 1842. The Knickerbockers played a brand of stick-and-ball game called town ball on a field at 4th Avenue and 27th Streets.

In 1845 Cartwright and a committee from his club drew up rules converting this playground game into a more elaborate and interesting sport to be played by adults. The original 14 rules were somewhat similar to but not identical to the English sport of rounders. Three exceptions devised by Cartwright included the stipulations that the playing field had to be laid out in a diamond-shape rather than a square used in rounders, foul territories were to be introduced for the first time, and the practice of retiring a runner by hitting him with a thrown ball was forbidden. Cartwright is also credited for introducing flat bases at uniform distances, three strikes per batter, and nine players in the outfield.

The first clearly documented match between two baseball clubs under these rules took place on June 19, 1846, at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey. In this match, the Knickerbockers lost to the "New York Nine" by a score of 23 to 1.

Controversy

After about two decades of controversy, invention of America’s "national game" of baseball was attributed to Abner Doubleday by the Mills Commission (1905–1907). Some baseball historians promptly cried foul and others joined throughout the 20th century.

New York City librarian Robert W. Henderson documented Cartwright’s contributions to baseball in his 1947 book Bat, Ball, and Bishop, which Congress cited in recognizing Cartwright as the inventor of the modern game. Although there is no question that Cartwright was a prominent figure in the early development of baseball, some students of baseball history have suggested that Henderson and others embellished Cartwright’s role. The primary complaint is that touting Cartwright as the "true" inventor of the modern game was an effort to find an alternative single individual to counter the "invention" of baseball by Abner Doubleday.

Some authors have also questioned the supposed "first game" under the new rules. The Knickerbockers’ score-book shows games during 1845 also. Those who have studied the score-book have concluded that the differences in the games of 1845 and 1846, compared with the specifications of the Knickerbocker rules, are minimal, such as fielding teams of seven players instead of nine.