Corky Gaskell’s Homemade Base Ball

What Doc Adams Means To Me By Corky Gaskell

When I started playing vintage base ball in 2009, my baseball history knowledge didn’t go much further back than my youth.  Playing was a lot of fun, but a few years into it, I really wasn’t getting any education out of it.

The year I was made captain of my Minnesota vintage club, we hosted annual Vintage Base Ball Association conference.  It was at that conference where I learned that we were not playing base ball by the New York rules and customs.  It was then that I started to really study base ball history. One of the things that intrigued me was the base ball equipment, and with the help and influence of a man who knew how to make an 1860’s ball, I learned how to make them myself. I was hooked and it was through further research on mid-19thC ball making that I came across the name, Doc Adams. That really piqued my interest.

The more I researched and learned about Doc, the more I realized that if I wanted to make a difference in the vintage ball club community (other than just being a below average player), I would have to model myself after someone like Doc Adams.

So, Doc Adams became my mentor.  His efforts to keep the game going in the early days were nothing short of amazing.  I have felt that without his presence, this game could easily have gone a different direction, or even taken much longer to get a stronghold as our national pastime. Would we have his important innovations: the shortstop position…90 feet between bases? It’s a stretch to think the game might have failed without him or been entirely different, but that has occurred to me occasionally.

Making base balls, helping make bats, recruiting players, working on the rules committees and even umpiring were just a few things that Doc did that I have done myself. Had I not come across Doc in my research, I am not sure I would still be a part of vintage base ball, as just “playing to have some fun” would have worn off much quicker at my age.  It was the challenge of trying to “play the game as Doc played it” that kept me going.  I needed that challenge of learning how the game was really played and learning about Doc Adams gave me that chance. Doc was also a devoted family man.  It is something else we share, outside of our love of the game.

The years I have been with my club, and the many friends I have made through vintage base ball clubs, have allowed me to help spread the word about Doc to many others, in hopes that they too, will understand just how important Doc was to this game, and the respect he, and the game as it was played back then, deserve.

My hope is that when I retire from the game, people will realize that Doc Adams was a part of me, and what I tried to bring to the modern vintage game in his honor.  There is a better chance of that, then anyone remembering me for my playing prowess!!  

I am grateful for what Doc Adams did for base ball, and I look forward to not only celebrating all he has done and sharing that with others, but also celebrating his deserved and long-overdue place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Corky Gaskell
Captain/General Manager
Roosters Base Ball Club
Rochester, MN.

Corky Gaskell’s Handmade Baseballs