This post was planned to be a capstone in advance of the announcement of the 2022 Early Baseball Era Committee results. However, since Doc Adams was inexplicably omitted from the ballot, it is instead a sad commentary on the Hall of Fame ballot generation process. At some point in the future I may express my thoughts on that subject, but for now, I’d like to maintain the original planned focus of this post.
My wife, Cathy, and I have enjoyed being a part of the decade long Dr. Daniel Lucius ‘Doc’ Adams education campaign and would like to take share some thoughts on it.
First of all, we would like to thank the late Marjorie Adams, Nancy Adams Downey, and their family for inviting us to join them on this journey. We couldn’t possibly have anticipated, the friendships that would develop, nor the wonderful adventure upon which we embarked.
We have had many great times and experiences, met interesting people, learned more about the early game, and made many friends and acquaintances. Special thanks to John Thorn, Peter Mancuso, Bill Ryczek, Joe and Carol Williams, Corky Gaskell, Tom Fesolowich, Zoe and Mike Fimbel, Jeff Kornhaas, and Collin Miller.
He’s the true father of baseball and you’ve never heard of him.John Thorn (4/7/2016)
There was a time, not too long ago, that very few people had heard of Doc Adams.
John Thorn’s rediscovery of Doc Adams changed all that with his “The True Father of Baseball” article in the debut issue of Elysian Fields Quarterly in 1992 (and 1993 edition of Total Baseball), and his subsequent classic, “Baseball in the Garden of Eden”. Thorn, the Official Historian of Major League Baseball, and other respected historians and authors have detailed Adams’ accomplishments and contributions to the game in its infancy, building a strong Hall of Fame case for Doc Adams.
Through the campaign, we’ve recounted Doc Adams’ credentials:
- Elected Vice-President of the Knickerbockers, and President in ’47-’49, ’56, ’57 and ’61, served as a director in other years.
- Created the position of shortstop and was the first to occupy it.
- 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.
- Elected presiding officer of the first conventions and Rules Committees to standardize the rules of the game.
- Elected presiding officer of the first convention of New York/Brooklyn base ball 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 which established and codified.
- 9 men per side
- 9 innings of play
- 90 feet between bases and 45 feet from pitcher’s base to home
- Advocated for the ‘fly’ game: ball caught on 1st bounce no longer an ‘out’ – not adopted until 1865
- National Association of Base Ball Players founded. Doc presided as Chair of the Rules Committee until his retirement from the Knickerbockers and the game.
Marjorie Adams conducted a campaign to educate people on Doc’s role as a pioneer of our National Pastime and his importance to baseball’s survival and growth during its nascent period. Her tireless efforts to spread the story of her great-grandfather, Doc Adams, enlightened and inspired many baseball fans. She shared her great-grandfather’s case with a broader audience, including people who normally weren’t interested in the details of the early game, as well as some folks who still thought Abner Doubleday “invented” baseball.
90% of what I know about Doc Adams I know because of John Thorn, plain and simple…
I would not know as much as I know about Doc if it weren’t for John Thorn, first and foremost, and he’s been very kind and very generous with his knowledge. Absolutely. And what an honor it is to have had his help and so forth I’m just very blessed. Thank you, John.“My Baseball History – Episode 202”, Marjorie Adams
So, much of what I have learned, all of this, I owe it to several fine historians…
John Thorn, of course, who is the Official Historian for Major League Baseball.
Bill Ryczek, Richard Hershberger, Peter Morris, Thomas Gilbert, Eric Miklich. These men are amazing for what they have found out. They really are.
I knew more personal stuff, of course, than they did, but all this baseball stuff. Anything I know about it, I owe to those men.
And Peverelly,… Charles Peverelly…
So I owe all these people an awful lot. They taught me 500 times more about Doc than I ever knew when I was starting out.“Roller Out The Barrel Podcast: #6 Marjorie Adams”, Marjorie Adams
We’ve shared documented facts and research by baseball experts, historians, authors, and others including:
- John Thorn, Official Historian of Major League Baseball; Author; who re-discovered Doc Adams
- Peter Mancuso, Chairman, Nineteenth Century Research Committee, Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); 2020 SABR Bob Davids Award
- Bob Lazzari, Sports Columnist, Sports Talk Show Host
- Hal Bock, former Associated Press baseball writer and Hall of Fame voter
- William Ryczek, Author
- Jacob Newcomb, Maine Baseball Historian; President, Dirigo Base Ball Club of Maine
- Robert D. Sampson, Ph.D., Author; Department of History and Political Science, Millikin University
- Gary Schiappacasse, Vintage Base Ball Association (VBBA)
- Tom Fesolowich, President of the Mutuals Base Ball Club of New York (host of the longest running Vintage Base Ball Festival of its kind)
- Collin Miller, Captain and President of Fleischmanns Mountain Athletic Club (M.A.C.) Vintage Base Ball and co-trustee of the Vintage Base Ball Association (VBBA).
- Jay Jaffe, FanGraphs
- Senator Richard Blumenthal, United States Senator
We’ve referenced many books on baseball history, many written by respected members of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) including (to name just a few):
- “The True Father of Baseball”, Elysian Fields Quarterly, 11-1, John Thorn (1992)
- “Baseball in the Garden of Eden“, John Thorn (2012)
- “Baseball’s First Inning“, Bill Ryczek (2009)
- “The Book of American Pastimes“, Charles A. Peverelly (1868)
- “Base Ball: 1845-1871“, Seymour R. Church
- “The Father of Baseball: A Biography of Henry Chadwick” Andrew J. Schiff
- “1860 Beadle’s Dime Base Ball Player“
We shared SABR’s biography of Doc Adams (written by John Thorn).
We’ve detailed recent events and recognitions including:
- Doc Adams’ selection as SABR’s 2014 19th Century Overlooked Baseball Legend
- Adams appearing on a National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the 1st time in 2015, 153 years after he retired from the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, and fell just 2 votes shy of election.
- The re-discovery of Doc Adams’ handwritten “Laws of Base Ball” in 2016, its sale, at auction, for $3.26 million, and exhibition at the Library of Congress.
- The renaming of the longest running annual Vintage Base Ball Festival of its kind in Adams’ honor.
- The establishment of the annual Doc Adams Birthplace Classic Vintage Base Ball game(s).
Adams was on the Hall of Fame ballot for 2016, but Baseball’s Pre-integration Era Committee gave him 10 of 16 votes, he needed 12. The new document may be what he needs for induction.“Baseball’s History Re-written”, Andrew Dalton, AP
With the recent discovery of his “Laws of Base Ball” we have tangible primary evidence of his genius. More than anyone else, he created our game of nine innings, nine men, and ninety-foot base paths.“5 Inventors“, Our Game, John Thorn
We’ve highlighted Dr. Daniel Adams, in his own words, in the seminal 1896 Sporting News article, “Dr. D. L. Adams: Memoirs of the Father of Base Ball” as well as an earlier 1895 article, “The Father of the National Game Still Living in New Haven“.
For his role in making baseball the success it is, Doc Adams may be counted as first among the Fathers of Baseball.Doc Adams’ bio in the SABR Baseball Biography Project, John Thorn
The Hall of Fame’s mission is to “preserve the sport’s history, honor excellence within the game and make a connection between the generations of people who enjoy baseball.” The Museum is committed to fulfilling its mission by:
Honoring, by enshrinement, those individuals who had exceptional careers, and recognizing others for their significant achievements.National Baseball Hall of Fame’s mission statement
He (Doc Adams) is baseball’s most important figure not in the Hall of Fame.“5 Inventors“, Our Game, John Thorn
When reviewing the documented facts, the educated opinions of baseball historians, and the impact of Dr. Daniel Lucius ‘Doc’ Adams, M.D.’s contributions to the development of our National Pastime, if the National Baseball Hall of Fame is to live up to its mission, there is no choice but to finally recognize him with enshrinement. A fair and honest assessment by the Early Baseball Era Committee must result in his election. A 160-year wait is more than long enough.
Doc Adams has been dead since 1899; he is too well versed in the art of patience.Twitter, John Thorn (@thorn_john)
The question isn’t “will Dr. Daniel Lucius ‘Doc’ Adams, M.D. be elected to the Hall of Fame tomorrow?” but rather, “how can you have a National Baseball Hall of Fame that lives up to its mission without Doc Adams as a member?“
Doc Adams didn’t make it to the Committee to receive a fair and honest assessment, as the Special Early Baseball Overview Committee didn’t see fit for Doc Adams to even appear on the ballot!
A National Baseball Hall of Fame without Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams… just simply ISN’T!
However, if it does not happen this year, I will not let this rest. I will continue to work toward what I want to see: Doc’s plaque at the Hall. This quest is as much for my father and grandfather as it is for Doc, and none of those gentlemen would approve if I gave up. Imagine how baseball might be now if Doc had given up in the early years of the Knickerbockers.“Should Doc Adams Be in the Hall of Fame?” “Of course.”, Dazzy Vance Chronicles, Marjorie Adams
We won’t either! The quest continues…