John Thorn Mentions Doc At ‘The Fred’
In a recent post in his blog, Our Game (April 26), John Thorn detailed the talk he gave at SABR’s 11th annual Frederick Ivor-Campbell 19th Century Base Ball Conference. In ‘How We Got Here: 19th century baseball and why it matters‘, Thorn made a couple of mentions of Doc Adams:
I have had a hand in much of this … except for the Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legends, in which I vote but otherwise do not pop my head above the trench line. My MLB role militates against open advocacy though of course I hold briefs for Doc Adams, Jim Creighton, Al Reach, and Bud Fowler — pioneers all. It does seem to me, though, that the Hall of Fame has enough players from the 19th century, so I am not cheery about the prospects for Harry Stovey, Pete Browning, Tony Mullane, Ross Barnes, or other players still “overlooked” in these annual elections. This is one man’s view and no more; I am not against the polling of our expert sentiments.
To conclude (I’ll stick around for questions): The state of early baseball research has advanced remarkably, thanks in large measure to the folks gathered here today. All of you have heard of Doc Adams and Jim Creighton and Bud Fowler. None of you believes that baseball was invented by anyone. None of you believes that baseball’s history or its records begins with an imprecisely defined “Modern Era.”
Red Smith observed, “Ninety feet between bases is perhaps as close as man has ever come to perfection.” He did not know that the distance was created neither by Cartwright nor by God but by Doc Adams. Smith made no similar claim for 60 feet, 6 inches, unchanged since 1893. The rules changes for balls and strikes, the unified strike zone, and the foul strike were important but not sacrosanct, either. The unchanging game must change, and it will find precedent and guidance in our favorite century.
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