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Alexander Cartwright

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alexander Cartwright
young man with beard
Cartwright in 1855
Born: Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr.
(1820 -04-17)April 17, 1820
New York City, US
Died: July 12, 1892(1892-07-12) (aged 72)
Honolulu, O'ahu, Kingdom of Hawai'i
Career highlights and awards
  • Known for invention of the modern game of baseball (disputed)

Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Election MethodCentennial Committee

Alexander "Alick" Joy Cartwright Jr. (April 17, 1820 – July 12, 1892) was a founding member of the New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club in the 1840s. Although he was an inductee of the Baseball Hall of Fame and he was sometimes referred to as a "father of baseball," the importance of his role in the development of the game has been disputed.

The rules of the modern game were long considered to have been based on the Knickerbocker Rules developed in 1845 by Cartwright and a committee from the Knickerbockers. However, later research called this scenario into question.[1]

After the myth of Abner Doubleday having invented baseball in Cooperstown in 1839 was debunked, Cartwright was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a pioneering contributor, 46 years after his death.[2][3] Although it has been stated that Cartwright was officially declared the inventor of the modern game of baseball by the 83rd United States Congress on June 3, 1953,[2][4][5][6] the Congressional Record, the House Journal, and the Senate Journal from June 3, 1953, did not mention Cartwright.[7]

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October 3rd, 1951: The New York Giants face off against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the deciding game in a tied series for the National League pennant. Bottom of the ninth inning, down by 2 runs with runners on second and third, 1 out. Bobby Thompson steps up to the plate. "Brooklyn leads it 4-2 ... One out, last of the ninth ... Branca pitches ... Bobby Thomson takes a strike called on the inside corner ... Bobby hitting at .292 ... Branca throws ... [sound of bat meeting ball] There's a long drive ... it's gonna be, I believe ... THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands! The Giants win the pennant and they're goin' crazy, they're goin' crazy! [crowd noise] I don't believe it! I don't believe it!" Bobby Thompson's Shot Heard Round the World may have been the greatest moment in all of baseball, America's pastime, a game started back in the 1800's and America's first professional sport. While Abner Doubleday is usually credited with the creation of baseball in 1839, the first rules of baseball were written in 1845 by a New York baseball club the "Knickerbockers". Alexander Cartwright, the author, is commonly referred to as the "Father of Baseball". May 4th, 1869: The Cincinnati Red Stockings play the first professional baseball game in a 45-9 win over the Great Westerns of Cincinnati. Between 1845 and 1869, players were mainly amateurs who played only in their own city. The Red Stockings played nationally and posted a 65-0 record in 1869, the only perfect record in baseball history. The first attempt at forming a "major league" was the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, which lasted from 1871-1875. In 1876, a more structured league, the National League, was formed. The National League is the oldest surviving major league, and its counterpart, the American League, was founded in 1901. The National Agreement of 1903 formalized relations between the two leagues and signaled the advent of the World Series, which pits the two league champions against each other. Baseball became increasingly profitable as its popularity grew, which led to disputes between players and owners over income distribution and control. These disputes culminated in 1919 with the Black Sox scandal, in which members of the Chicago White Sox conspired to throw the 1919 World Series. This scandal led to the formation of a new National Commission of Baseball and its commissioner, which oversees both leagues and brought them closer. Before 1920, most baseball was played with scrappy "scratch-for-runs" play. This era, known as the dead-ball era, ended in 1920 with multiple rule changes that made it more advantageous for hitters. This resulted in more runs and sluggers -- players who hit for power -- than before. This era saw the rise of perhaps the most famous player in all of baseball -- Babe Ruth. "The greatest athletic feat in the United States is to hit a home run. It's a wonderful moment where the ball goes off the playing field, and everything stops, and the guy gets to celebrate. And that really didn't exist before Babe Ruth." In the late 20's and 30's, St. Louis general manager Branch Rickey developed the first modern "farm system", where younger players gain experience before moving to the next level. December 7th, 1941: Japan attacks Pearl Harbor forcing America to enter into World War II. As most players went off to fight in the war, Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley formed the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League to help keep the game in the public eye. This all-girls professional league lasted from 1943 to 1954, as the end of the war allowed the major leagues to rebound. On April 15th, 1947, the most historic event in baseball occurred when Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers and broke the league's color barrier. Since the beginning of baseball, African-Americans had not been allowed to play with whites, and had to instead form their own leagues, such as the Negro National League and the Negro American League. While he may not have been the best player in the Negro Leagues at the time, Robinson, talented, educated, and more importantly, with the emotional fortitude to handle the abuse, succeeded in the league. General Manager Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers recognized this inner strength and signed him. While integration was slow-paced, black participation rose steadily to 27% by 1974. "There is no greater figure, in terms on the impact on the social history in America than Jackie Robinson. In April, 1947 when Jackie took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers, not only did he break the color line of Major League Baseball, but he really broke the color line for mainstream America." "It's almost as if you say, 'If it cost my life, I'm willing to do it for the cause.' And he did that. He was very articulate, and, I believe, a great role model for African-Americans, but not only for them, for all Americans. He was a great role model." In 1953, the Major League Baseball Players Association was formed. The union was the first to survive more than a few years, and became successful after a few years of ineffectiveness. The union also was successful in creating the designated hitter rule to baseball and in the creation of the free-agency system. In 1958, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants relocated to California, becoming the first teams to move across the Mississippi. These moves came with the growth of the cities in the West and the new markets available to them, and ensured the League's reach throughout the entire country. The rise of television had the most impact on baseball, as revenue increased dramatically and teams attracted national audiences. Television created channels for sports, such as ESPN, and allowed fans to watch virtually every game from home. The new attention also brought on new attention to players, as for the first time ever they had elevated to a super-star status. "Three balls and two strikes. The over-shift is on. And Bacsik deals. And Bonds hits one high, hits it deep, it is out of here!" August 7, 2007: Barry Bonds hits home run number 756, breaking Hank Aaron's all-time home run record. This mark is the defining moment of the steroids era. Before 2004, there was no penalty for the use of performance enhancing drugs. However, the issue over the use of steroids began to attract significant attention in 1998 when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire both broke Roger Maris's record for home runs in a single season. Since then, several dominant players have been found to use illegal performance enhancing drugs, most recently New York Yankees's Alex Rodriguez. "Well, back then, back in the day, that was it. It was readily available. Guys at gyms talked about it. I believe it was winter of '89 and '90 I was given a couple weeks worth. Tried it, never thought anything of it." [Abbott and Costello performing "Who's on First?"] Since its beginning, baseball has had a broad impact on the United States, both in culture and in sports. Baseball has given way to numerous award-winning films, literature, comedic sketches, and video games. Baseball also inspired the creation of baseball cards, collecting and trading cards of certain players, which has now extended to most sports. Baseball also inspired the first fantasy leagues with the invention of Rotisserie League Baseball. However, the most prominent impact baseball has had on society is the baseball cap, which has now extended to different caps of different designs and logos throughout most of American culture. Today, baseball is played in many countries around the world, with the best competition playing in the major leagues. Currently, the major leagues consist of 30 teams across two leagues, the American League and the National League, with 15 teams in each. Teams play 162 games throughout the year, and the MLB, or Major League Baseball, brings in a yearly revenue of around 7 billion dollars, with the average salary of a single player being around 2.5 million dollars. The impact baseball has had on America is immense to an extent that no other sport can hope to achieve. Baseball has given America a profound influence in everyday society. Baseball's rich history encapsulates all of what is important to America. Many common everyday expressions come from baseball, such as "three strikes and you're out", "that one threw me a curveball", or "he hit a home run with that one". Who doesn't know the words to "Take me out to the ballgame"? Even non-baseball fans know the lyrics. Baseball is America's pastime. As the great American poet Walt Whitman once said, "I see great things in baseball. It's our game -- the American game."


Early life and work

Cartwright was born in 1820 to Alexander Cartwright Sr. (1784–1855), a merchant sea captain, and Esther Rebecca Burlock Cartwright (1792–1871). Alexander Jr. had six siblings. He first worked at the age of 16 in 1836 as a clerk for a Wall Street broker, later doing clerical work at the Union Bank of New York. After hours, he played bat-and-ball games in the streets of Manhattan with volunteer firefighters. Cartwright himself was a volunteer, first with Oceana Hose Company No. 36, and then Knickerbocker Engine Company No. 12.[8] Cartwright's ancestor Edward Cartwright immigrated from Devonshire, England to New England around 1661.[9][10] Cartwright married Eliza Van Wie, from Albany, on June 2, 1842.[8]

A fire destroyed the Union Bank in 1845, forcing Cartwright to find other work. He became a bookseller with his brother, Alfred.[8]

Knickerbocker Base Ball Club

The New York Knickerbockers Baseball Club, circa 1847. Cartwright at the top middle. The identification of Cartwright has been disputed. [11]
The New York Knickerbockers Baseball Club, circa 1847. Cartwright at the top middle. The identification of Cartwright has been disputed. [11]

One of the earliest known established clubs was the Gotham Base Ball Club, who played a brand of bat-and-ball game often called "town ball" or "round ball," but in New York more usually "base ball," somewhat similar to but not identical to the English sport of rounders, on a field at 4th Avenue and 27th Street. In 1837, Gotham member William R. Wheaton drew up rules converting this playground game into a more elaborate and interesting sport to be played by adults. In 1842, Cartwright led the establishment of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club (named after the Knickerbocker Fire Engine Company), a breakaway group from the Gothams.

In 1845, a committee from the new club including Wheaton (but not Cartwright) drew up rules resembling those of the Gothams. The major precepts included the stipulations that 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.[12] Cartwright is also erroneously credited for introducing flat bases at uniform distances, three strikes per batter, and nine players in the outfield.[13] However, modern scholarship has cast doubt on the originality of these rules, as information has come to light about the New York clubs that predated the Knickerbockers, in particular the rules devised by William R. Wheaton for the Gotham Club in 1837. Baseball historian Jeffrey Kittel has concluded that none of the Knickerbocker Rules of 1845 was original, with the possible exception of three-out innings.[14] As MLB's Official Historian John Thorn wrote, Cartwright has "a plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame on which every word of substance is false. Alex Cartwright did not set the base paths at ninety feet, the sides at nine men, or the game at nine innings." [15]

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" (probably the parent Gotham Club) by a score of 23 to 1.[16] Some authors have also questioned the supposed "first game" under the new rules. The Knickerbockers' scorebook shows intra-club games during 1845; the New York Base Ball Club played at least three games against a Brooklyn club in 1845 also, but the rules used are unknown. 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.[citation needed]


stone monument
Cartwright's tombstone in Oahu Cemetery, Honolulu

In 1849, Cartwright headed to California for the gold rush, and then continued on to work and live in the Kingdom of Hawaii. 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. Some secondary sources claim Cartwright set up a baseball field on the island of Oahu at Makiki Field in 1852, but Nucciarone states that before 1866, the modern game of baseball was not known or even played in Honolulu.[17] Also, she states that during Cartwright's lifetime he was not declared or documented as an originator of baseball in Hawaii.[17]

Cartwright in later life as fire chief
Cartwright in later life as fire chief

Cartwright served as fire chief of Honolulu from 1850 through June 30, 1863.[18] He was an advisor to King David Kalākaua and Queen Emma. Cartwright died on July 12, 1892, six months before the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893. 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.[16]


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.[citation needed] Cartwright was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938.

New York City librarian Robert W. Henderson documented Cartwright's contributions to baseball in his 1947 book Bat, Ball, and Bishop.[19] 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.[15]

Cartwright was the subject of a 1973 biography, The Man Who Invented Baseball, by Harold Peterson.[20] He was the subject of two biographies written in 2009. Jay Martin's Live All You Can: Alexander Joy Cartwright & the Invention of Modern Baseball supports Cartwright as the inventor of baseball, while Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend by Monica Nucciarone credits Cartwright as one of the game's pioneers but not its sole founder.[21][22] The 2004 discovery of a newspaper interview with fellow Knickerbocker founder William R. Wheaton cast doubt on Cartwright's role. Wheaton stated that most of the rules long attributed to Cartwright and the Knickerbockers had in fact been developed by the older Gotham Club before the Knickerbockers' founding.[15]

In 1938, Makiki Field in Honolulu was renamed Cartwright Field.[23] The Cartwright Cup is awarded to the Hawaii state high school baseball champions each year.[24]

1857 Laws of Base Ball

In 2016, experts verified the authenticity of a set of documents titled "Laws of BaseBall" written in 1857 by New York Knickerbockers president Daniel "Doc" Adams after a discussion with executives of 14 other New York-area clubs. The documents established the rules of the game, including nine innings, nine players on the field and 90-foot basepaths. Cartwright was not a participant at the 1857 meeting, as he was living in Hawaii.[25]

See also


  1. ^ Hershberger, Richard. "The Creation of the Alexander Cartwright Myth". The Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b Ty Cobb: Safe at Home. Globe Pequot. 2008. ISBN 978-0-7627-4480-0.
  3. ^ "Alexander Cartwright". Official website of Alexander Cartwright. Archived from the original on 2013-02-05.
  4. ^ Alice Low and John O'Brien (2009). The Fastest Game on Two Feet: And Other Poems About How Sports Began. Holiday House. ISBN 978-0-8234-1905-0.
  5. ^ "Year In Review : 1953 National League". Baseball Almanac.
  6. ^ Jim Lilliefors (2009-07-01). Ball Cap Nation: A Journey Through the World of America's National Hat. Clerisy Press. ISBN 978-1-57860-411-1.
  7. ^ Berenbak, Adam (Fall 2014). "Henderson, Cartwright, and the 1953 U.S. Congress". Baseball Research Journal. Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  8. ^ a b c Monica Nucciarone. "Alexander Cartwright". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  9. ^ "The American Game". SIU Press – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Live All You Can: Alexander Joy Cartwright and the Invention of Modern Baseball By Jay Martin
  11. ^ 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 "Just Another Misidentified Baseball Photo?". Society of American Baseball Research. October 2011. Retrieved August 16, 2012. and at " So, are there any Knickerbockers in that 1840’s half-plate daguerreotype?". Society of American Baseball Research. March 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  12. ^ "Alexander Cartwright: First Modern Game of Baseball 1845". Baseball Historian. Archived from the original on 12 July 2000.
  13. ^ Baseball: A History of America's Favorite Game. Random House Digital, Inc. 2008-12-24. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-307-49406-1.
  14. ^ Kittel, Jeffrey. "Evolution or Revolution? A Rule-By-Rule Analysis of the 1845 Knickerbocker Rules". Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  15. ^ a b c Thorn, John, Baseball in the Garden of Eden: the Secret History of the Early Game New York: Simon & Schuster (2011)
  16. ^ a b Nucciarone, Monica (2009). "Chapter 2: The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York". Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 12–22. ISBN 978-0-8032-3353-9.
  17. ^ a b Nucciarone, Monica (2009). Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-8032-3353-9. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  18. ^ "Cartwright, A.J. office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Archived from the original on 2011-08-11. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
  19. ^ Robert William Henderson (1947). Ball, bat and bishop: the origin of ball games. Rockport Press.
  20. ^ Thorn, John (March 12, 2011). "Debate Over Baseball's Origins Spills Into Another Century". The New York Times. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  21. ^ Bailey, James. "Dueling Cartwright biographies offer differing views of his contributions". Baseball America. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  22. ^ Nucciarone, Monica (2009). Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-8032-3353-9. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  23. ^ Nucciarone, Monica (2009). Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-8032-3353-9. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  24. ^ "Cartwright Cup for state baseball champ unveiled today". The Honolulu Advertiser. May 6, 2007. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  25. ^ "'Laws of Base Ball' documents dated 1857 establish new founder of sport". ESPN. 8 April 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.

External links

This page was last edited on 16 May 2019, at 14:27
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