The Doc Adams Memorial Classic was held on Saturday, September 16 to honor baseball pioneer Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams, M.D., one of baseball’s most consequential, yet overlooked, pioneers. Adams was a founding father of base ball and author of 1857 Laws of Base Ball.
This year, the Doc Adams Birthplace Classic took a brief hiatus, as play shifted to Connecticut as the Doc Adams Memorial Classic.
This marked the first time the annual event was hosted in the state where Doc Adams attended college (at Yale) and spent his “retirement” years.
Although he was retired from base ball, he became an involved, prominent and respected citizen of Connecticut:
- He was elected to one term in the Connecticut State Legislature.
- He became the first President of the Ridgefield Savings Bank (now the Fairfield County Bank where his photo still hangs in the main office), a position he would hold in two separate terms for ten of the next fifteen years.
- He was the first treasurer of the Ridgefield Library (founded in 1871).
- He served on the Ridgefield Board of Education.
- He was involved in the Ridgefield Land Improvement Association.
The Doc Adams Memorial Classic was intended to highlight the life and times of Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams and raise awareness of the baseball pioneer who hand wrote the laws of Base Ball in 1857 and was a Knickerbocker member and organizer for many years. Adams is also credited with creating the shortstop position. Hs played an instrumental role in the development, organization, and growth of baseball during its nascent period leading to the National Pastime that we know and love today.
The day started with a visit by members of The Knickerbocker Experience to the final resting place of Doc Adams in Evergreen Cemetery to pay respect and honor the baseball pioneer. A proclamation from the honorable Justin Elicker, mayor of New Haven, was read at Adams’ gravesite.
The weather was perfect for the 1858 era base ball that was on tap for the day with members of The Knickerbocker Experience and Connecticut Bulldogs.
Scheduling conflicts and resulting player availability required Jeff ‘Pinetar’ Kornhaas, the man behind The Knickerbocker Experience, to channel his inner Doc Adams and “employ all his rhetoric to induce attendance”. Although unable to field two full nines, base ball was played. The game had an air of an intramural Knickerbocker practice session as described by Doc Adams. Spirited play highlighted the day which was thoroughly enjoyed by the ballists and appreciated by the cranks.
Eric Miklich, Vintage Base Ball Association (VBBA) Historian, rules expert, and founder of 19th Century Baseball was the guest umpire for the day’s festivities. This was a special treat for all in attendance as he shared his knowledge while arbitrating play.
Originally planned to be held in New Haven, due to a conflict with the Yale/Holy Cross football game, the match had to be relocated to historic Wethersfield Cove Park. The park is in the same village where Yale University (Doc’s alma mater), then the Collegiate School, was founded.
Plans are in the works to realize a game in New Haven next Spring.
Special thanks to Cathy Ratzenberger and Shirley Kuang.