Who Invented Baseball? The Facts Behind the Myths
Have you ever wondered about the baseball origin story? Maybe you’ve been thinking to yourself, “when was baseball invented?”, or “where was baseball invented?”. Well, if you have ever researched the history behind who invented the game of baseball, you may have come across an answer that makes it seem one single person was behind the invention of the game. This, however, is a myth; the real story is much more complex. Therefore, we have done the research and put together this article to hopefully make this invention story much clearer for you. As always, make sure to check out our full selection of baseball equipment once you finish reading! Enjoy!
- The Abner Doubleday Myth
- Who Really Invented Baseball?
- Baseball’s Many Inventors
- The Origin of Baseball
The Abner Doubleday Myth
The myth of the one single person inventing baseball mentioned above is that of Abner Doubleday. It has been said that Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown, New York, in the summer of 1839, and then went on to become a civil war hero while the game he invented became America’s pastime.
As it turns out, Doubleday never actually claimed to have anything to do with baseball at all, he was still at West Point in 1839. The Doubleday origin story was actually developed in 1907 when a special commission, the Mills Commission, created by A.J. Spalding, sporting goods magnate and former major leaguer, used the claims of mining engineer Abner Graves to come up with the story.
Who Really Invented Baseball?
So, when did baseball start? Who invented the game of baseball? There is no single person credited with the actual invention of the game of baseball. Many people and groups were involved in the overall process of inventing baseball. While there is one person who is credited as the “Father of Baseball”, he was not the inventor of the game.
Baseball’s Many Inventors
While baseball did not have one single inventor, there were two people in particular that had great impacts on creating the game that we know and love today. These impacts include developing a new set of rules for the game and creating a fake myth that would inevitably be popularized as the game grew.
1. Alexander Joy Cartwright
Alexander Joy Cartwright was a volunteer firefighter, bank clerk and a founding member of the New York Knickerbockers. More importantly, in September 1845, he would develop a new set of rules that would actually form the basis for those of modern baseball. These new rules included calling for a diamond-shaped infield, foul lines and foul territory, and the three-strike rule. Additionally, he abolished the rule that you were allowed to tag runners out by throwing the ball at them.
2. Abner Graves
Abner Graves was a mining engineer from Denver, Colorado. He was also the one that submitted letters to the Mills Commission that claimed Abner Doubleday was indeed the person who invented baseball. He was the main contributor to this myth that is still believed to be true by people today. Oddly enough, Graves would eventually end up in an insane asylum where he lived until passing away in 1926.
The Origin of Baseball
The baseball origin story is one that can be quite confusing; no one knows exactly where it came from. Games resembling baseball have been around since as early as the 18th century. These include two English games; a children’s game, named Rounders, (brought to New England by the earliest United States colonists) and of course, Cricket. These games were being played by children in the schoolyard and even on college campuses, becoming more popular in industrialized areas in the mid-19th. The first ever recorded baseball game was played on June 19, 1846, a year after Cartwright developed a set of new rules that would inevitably form the basis for the game of baseball we know today.
This article was originally published on March 20, 2020, and has been updated with new information.