Cruising the Green of Second Avenue

Wild Child Publishing has issued the second volume of short stories in Cruising the Green of Second Avenue. The tales take up where Vol. I left off — bringing back Klein the Biker, Straight Charlie and Sammy the Madman while introducing new characters stumbling over life’s difficulties in the late 60s. Vol. II is an e-book published by Wild Child Publishing that you can download, save as a pdf (Adobe) file and print. Read both volumes and see that life isn't all that serious. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other online book sellers.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Take Me Back to the Ball Game

Early baseball game played at Elysian Fields,
Hoboken (Currier & Ives lithograph)
Ready for an argument?  Tell your buddies that Abner Doubleday did not invent the game of baseball in Cooperstown in 1839.  The first official game, you say, was played by the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, N.J., on June 19, 1846.  The New York Base Ball Club defeated the Knickerbockers 23-1.  That’s how the City of Hoboken reports the first officially recorded match played under Alexander Joy Cartright’s rules, and he was an umpire. 

Well, no.  A story in the New York Morning News reported on a game on Oct. 21, 1845, between the New York Ball Club and a Brooklyn team.  New York won 24-4.  So there!  

But, wait a minute, the same news story refers to earlier games played there.  It stated, “A friendly match of the time-honored game of Base was played yesterday at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken.”  There was a rematch on Oct. 24 at the Star Club on Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn.  (New York won that game too, 37-19.)  If you go looking for the Elysian Fields, the area is now occupied by a Maxwell House Coffee plant. 

What the heck?  The game probably evolved from a number of enthusiastic players and fans in the mid-1840s.  According to Dr. David Q. Voight in a three-volume history of baseball, the game probably came from the 18th century English game of rounders.  Rounders was also played by soldiers at Valley Forge when they weren’t fighting the Redcoats.   

So let’s establish our history by the rules of the game.  A New York Times story in 1990 reported, “Box scores for the two October 1845 games, played with eight men a team, follow the categories of cricket, reporting only the number of runs and ‘hands out,’ or number of times a hitter made an out.”  Cricket lost its popularity only after the Civil War. 

There’s been little serious historical research until recent decades.  So there’s still room enough for lots of argument. 

As for General Abner Doubleday in 1839, well, he was a cadet at West Point  when he was supposed to have laid out the first baseball diamond.  And he never took credit for anything having to do with baseball.  This poses a problem for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  Historian and author John Bowman said, “They want to play it both ways.  They want to be known as serious historians of the game, but they can’t undermine their tourist business.”   

And Cooperstown has copyrighted the phrase, “Birthplace of Baseball.”  So there!

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