“I have not played with your bat and ball as you bid me…”
The Early Years 1814-1839, Mont Vernon, NH, Amherst, MA, New Haven, CT, Boston, MA
Daniel “Doc” Lucius Adams, MD was born November 1, 1814, the second son of Daniel Adams, MD and Nancy Mulliken Adams in Mont Vernon, NH. His father was a graduate of Dartmouth College (1797) and its medical school (1799). He was esteemed and influential in his community for promoting temperance, abolition of slavery and morality, as well as an orator and author of an agricultural journal, geography and arithmetic textbooks (his Adams Arithmetic was in publication with various titles from c.1801 to c.1865). In 1846, the family moved to Keene, NH, where he continued the pursuits that occupied him in Mont Vernon.
Doc attended the Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, NH, then the Mt. Pleasant Classical Institution in Amherst, MA. Beginning his college education at Amherst College in 1831, he transferred to Yale two years later. (According to the family, his father felt that Doc had “fallen among evil companions” at Amherst and that at Yale he son would have a “more pious education.”) Doc graduated from Yale in 1835 and from Harvard Medical School in 1838.
The family has several volumes of transcribed letters from father to son from 1827 – 1864. (None of Doc’s responses are known to exist). These letters, with occasional postscripts from his mother and sister, cover family news, politics, agricultural issues and the weather. Every letter also contains admonitions to study harder, choose friends wisely and spend less money. A sample:
Dec. 14, 1831: A vigorous scholarship is necessary to prepare for a vigorous manhood. . . be accurate in everything you learn — one thing accurately understood is better than a confused, indefinite knowledge of twenty things.
None of these letters mention baseball except a postscript from his sister Nancy, age 11 to Doc, age 18 dated June 15, 1832: I have not played with your bat and ball as you bid me, I forget it every morning and indeed I have not seen it since you went away. Yet in the 1896 interview with The Sporting News, Doc said “I was always interested in athletics while in college and afterward and soon after going to New York I began to play baseball just for exercise with a number of other young medical men.” Even though there are no known letters for 1836-1844, it is reasonable to conclude that the letters do not mention baseball because Doc never mentioned it! He probably knew how his stern father would react. Yet, considering the life that Doc led, he obviously paid attention to his father’s advice.
After graduation from Harvard Medical School in 1838, he went home to Mont Vernon, NH to study medicine with his father and in Boston before moving to New York City in 1839 to begin his medical practice that, as implied by his father’s letters, concentrated on “stammerers.” He was also active in the NY Dispensaries treating the poor.