“I used to play shortstop, and I believe I was the first to occupy it as it had formerly been left uncovered.”¹
Doc is credited with creating the position of shortstop in 1849/50 because the very light-weight balls would not carry into home base from being tossed from the outfield.
“The advent of the short fielder, or shortstop…was a radical development and distinct innovation…however, when Adams first traipsed out to a spot between and beyond second and third bases, it was not to bolster the infield but to assist in relays from the outfield. The early Knickerbocker ball [that Doc made himself] was so light that it could not be thrown even two hundred feet, thus the need for a short fielder to send the ball in to the pitcher’s point.”³
According to his son, Roger, shortstop was Doc’s favorite playing position.
Historical records of the Knickerbockers’ matches show that Doc also played first, second and third base.⁴ According to Doc, he was never a pitcher. He was a left-handed batter and was known to take some satisfaction in hitting his ‘at bats’ into the Hudson. His fellow teammates were less enthusiastic: they were paying him to make the balls!
Occasionally, Doc was also chosen as umpire, then considered a respected position of honor and trust for fair and just calls for both sides/clubs. On September 10, 1858. Doc was chosen to umpire at the third game of the Fashion Race Course Games on Long Island. It was in this position that “Doc Adams called three men out on strikes, the first time the new rule was applied.”³ (Doc presided over the rules committee that had passed that rule.)
¹ Dr. D. L. Adams Memoirs of the Father of Base Ball – The Sporting News; February 29, 1896.
³ Baseball in the Garden of Eden by John Thorn; p. 33 and p. 116 respectively; 2011.
⁴ Baseball’s First Innings by William J. Ryczek; p. 226-233; 2009.
Baseball’s Pioneers: The History Of The Knickerbocker Baseball Club, 1845-1866 by Charles Peverelly. Originally published in: Book of American Pastimes; 1866.