Sunday, December 18, 2005

How the Game Began

How the Game Began

In doing research on the early California League, I stumbled across the following note in the September 1, 1883 issue of The California Spirit of the Times & Underwriters Journal:

"The game of baseball as now played dates back to 1842, when a number of gentlemen of New York city, including Col. James Lee, Dr. Ransom, Abraham Tucker, James Fisher and W. Vall, used to play on the vacant plot of ground where the Madison Square Garden now stands. The Knickerbocker club of that city, organized September 23, 1845, was the original one from which the succeeding clubs derived their rules of playing. The first match game was played June 19, 1846 in Hoboken, N. J., the contestants being the Knickerbocker and New York clubs."

Note: This short note was written by Waller Wallace, the baseball editor of the paper for many, many years. Wallace began his career with the
New York Clipper, the paper of record for baseball in its early years, under the tutelage of Henry Chadwick. Wallace was also a ball player himself in early life, and then, when he came to California from New York,became scorekeeper and historian of the early game in the state of California. I’ve also seen him appear in the occasional box score. Wallace came to the state from New York in the 1860s, and by the 1880s people at the time considered him the father of California baseball. He was the one who first encouraged eastern clubs to tour the West Coast during the off season.

Tomorrow I will go into analysis of the above note, and then follow that up with some notes about early baseball leagues in California. And then may go on and write about the book, The Golden Game, which I must say I found disappointing on many levels.


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