As a historian who has researched, written and published a book, several academic journal articles (including two on 1860s-era baseball) and has a manuscript on the early game under review by a publisher, it is clear to me that accuracy is essential. And that develops only out of intensive research revealing verifiable facts—not legends. It is from that perspective that I happily urge the election of Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian, and other researchers familiar with the 1840-1860 era have agreed on Adams’ essential role in the game’s development. There is no “father” of baseball but two men come close to that stature in terms of lasting contributions to the game—Henry Chadwick, already in the HOF, and Adams. The latter’s contributions include numerous practices and rules either developed or successfully promoted by him—nine innings, nine men on a side, 90-feet between bases, the “fly rule”—and the pioneering of the shortstop position. Additionally, Adams played a crucial role in the survival of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club and the creation of the National Association of Base Ball Players—two organizations of tremendous importance to the early game.
Anyone looking for the origins and development of the “New York Game,” what we know as baseball, invariably runs into “Doc” Adams at nearly every turn. The Doubleday and Cartwright founding myths have long been exploded. Yet, the man who was, to use a popular phrase, “in the room where it happened” and actually was the catalyst remains un-honored by the HOF. Now is the time to correct that error.
Robert D. Sampson, Ph.D.
Department of History and Political Science