Jay Jaffe, a supporter of Doc Adams who was quoted in Sports Illustrated saying, ” if he’s good enough for John Thorn, he ought to be good enough for Cooperstown” was as surprised as the rest of us by Adams’ mysterious omission from the 2022 Early Baseball Era ballot.
As with any Era Committee ballot, a few omissions inevitably stand out. First and foremost for the Early Baseball group is that of Doc Adams, a pioneer who on the 2016 ballot led all candidates with 10 out of 16 votes. No less an authority than MLB official historian John Thorn called Adams “first among the Fathers of Baseball” in a 1993 essay for Total Baseball and “the most significant figure in the early history of baseball” in his 2011 book Baseball in the Garden of Eden. Daniel Lucius Adams — who lived from 1814 to 1899, graduated Yale and Harvard Medical School and practiced medicine (hence the nickname) — is the man who bears the true responsibility for setting the bases 90 feet apart and for creating the shortstop position. Additionally, his “Laws of Base Ball,” drafted in 1857 for presentation to the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club and then a convention of New York clubs, proposed the standardization of nine-man lineups, 90 feet between bases, and nine-inning games — innovations all inaccurately credited to Alexander Cartwright on his Hall of Fame plaque — as well as the “fly rule,” which eliminated balls caught on one bounce from being automatic outs. Adams also worked to standardize and refine the construction of balls and bats, innovations that helped to make baseball a national game. Why he was left off this ballot is both a mystery and a disappointment; my heart sank on Thorn’s behalf upon reading the contents of the ballot and noting that particular omission. Looking at the matter from a glass-half-full standpoint, Adams’ absence might at least make it easier for the newcomers to get elected, but yeesh, another 10 years is a long time to wait for an all-too-overlooked foundational figure to get his due.“The Era Committee Ballots Bring a Double Dose of Hall of Fame Candidates“, FanGraphs, Jay Jaffe