The First Shortstop
Due to the unfortunate postponement of the Induction of the Class of 2020, we had an opportunity for a very unique situation with the 2021 Hall of Fame Induction.
Derek Jeter is the latest shortstop to be elected as a member of the Class of 2020. Jeter is the 26th shortstop to be bestowed the honor of a plaque in Cooperstown.
If the Early Baseball Era Committee elected Doc Adams as a member of the Class of 2021, Jeter would be inducted alongside the man who created the shortstop position.
Alas, it was not meant to be as the Early Baseball Era Ballot was delayed until 2022. Hopefully, the committee will have the wisdom to elect Doc Adams and a true pioneer, founding founder of the National Pastime, and creator of the shortstop position will join Jeter in Cooperstown next year.
If Doc’s only contribution was creation of the shortstop position, induction into the Hall of Fame may not be warranted.
However, his contributions include:
- Passionately championing his fledgling team. “Our players were not very enthusiastic at first, and did not always turn out well on practice days. There was then no rivalry, as no other club was formed until 1850, and during these five years base ball had a desperate struggle for existence. I frequently went to Hoboken to find only two or three members present, and we were often obliged to take our exercise in the form of ‘old cat,’ `one’ or ‘two’ as the case might be. As captain, I had to employ all my rhetoric to induce attendance, and often thought it useless to continue the effort, but my love for the game, and the happy hours spent at the ‘Elysian Fields’ led me to persevere. During the summer months many of our members were out of town, thus leaving a very short playing season.”
- Served as Vice-President of the Knickerbockers, President in ’47-’49, ’56, ’57 and ’61, and as a director in other years.
- Personally made the balls and oversaw the making of bats, for the Knickerbockers and later for other NYC clubs, to standardize the game’s equipment.
- Served as presiding officer of the first convention of fifteen New York/Brooklyn clubs and Chair of the Rules Committee to standardize the rules of play.
- Authored the ‘Laws of Base Ball’ which was presented to the convention. His ‘laws’ included:
- 9 men per side/9 innings of play – adopted
- 90 feet between bases and 45 feet from pitcher’s base to home – adopted
- The ‘fly’ game: not to allow an ‘out’ on a first bounce – not adopted until 1865
- No wagering by anyone involved in the match – adopted
- National Association of Base Ball Players founded. Doc presided as Chair of the Rules Committee until his retirement from the Knickerbockers and the game.
These contributions more than justify Doc Adams election and induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
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