3. The Retirement Years

“My marriage was the crowning achievement of my life.”

Daniel Lucius Adams’ autobiography
Biographical and Historical Record
Yale University, Class of 1835
Published in 1881

The Retirement Years 1862-1899 – Ridgefield and New Haven, CT

In May, 1861 Doc (age 47) married Cornelia Ann Cook (age 31) of New York City and on March 26, 1862 he resigned from the Knickerbockers. (See The Base Ball Years). The question is: what caused his exit from a sport and team of which he had been so much a pioneering influence and integral part? The answer may be in letters from his father dated March through June of 1862; he writes of Cornelia and “their fond anticipation.” Then, her “perils”, “her convalescence” and their “most sad trials.” More than likely, Cornelia had lost a child; considering that and his own fluctuating health, Doc probably decided living in the country would be better for them and their future together. (His father, who died in 1864, did not live to see the first of their four surviving children, Catherine, born in 1866.)

In 1865, Doc and Cornelia moved to a home in Ridgefield, CT on Main Street (demolished in the 1950’s to make way for Ballard Park.) Between 1866 and 1874, Cornelia and Doc had four children: two boys and two girls.

While no longer practicing medicine, Doc became active in his new community. In 1870, he was elected to the State House of Representatives and was also the first treasurer of the Ridgefield Library in 1871. In the same year, he was elected the first president of the Ridgefield Savings Bank (now the Fairfield County Bank where his photograph still hangs in the Ridgefield office.) He served in that capacity for ten of the next fifteen years, left for five years, returned for two more, retiring from his banking career in July 1886.1  Doc was also a member of the building committee for a new town hall and helped form the town’s Land Improvement Association. 2

In 1881, Doc wrote a brief autobiography for a Yale alumni publication:

My marriage was the crowning achievement of my life… The current of my life has been very quiet and uniform, neither distinguished by any great successes, or disturbed by serious reverses. I have been content to consider myself one of the ordinary, every-day workers of the world, with no ambition to fill its high positions, and have no reason to complain of the results of my labor. The condition of my health has prevented active employment for several years past, but life has passed very pleasantly in the midst of a thoroughly united and happy domestic circle.

And no mention of baseball! Doc did attend the September 27, 1875 reunion of the Knickerbockers. And in 1939 (the same year the Hall of Fame opened in Cooperstown), his younger son, Roger Cook Adams, in his baseball biography of his father wrote (in part): His interest in base ball continued to the end of his life. Even after he was seventy-five he would occasionally join his sons in a neighborhood scrub game, and astonish all the boys with his batting.

In 1888, Doc moved his family to New Haven. His two sons, Roger and Francis were at Yale’s Sheffield Scientific School. This was a great financial sacrifice and Doc wanted to keep a close eye on them to make sure they were studying hard enough. (His father would have been proud!)

His final years in New Haven were most likely spent as he had written in the last line of his 1881 Yale autobiography: I have no plans for the remaining years of my life beyond the nurture and education of my children. There are no known letters or diaries from the last few years of Doc’s life from which to draw. Doc’s life came to a close on January 3, 1899 after suffering a bout of pneumonia1. He was buried in New Haven.

A wise man must remember that while he is a descendent of the past, he is a parent of the future.

Herbert Spencer