"Inventing Baseball": Daniel Adams

Who’s next?

Out of the muck that brought us Abner Doubleday and Alexander Cartwright comes Daniel Adams. Adams was born on November 1, 1814 in Mont Vernon, New Hampshire to a fairly well-known medical doctor also named Daniel Adams (I think the younger’s middle name of Lucius keeps them from being Senior and Junior). The younger Adams followed in his father’s footsteps and began to practice medicine, first in Mont Vernon, then Boston, and finally New York. He took special care of the poor. By the 1840’s, he was a well-respected doctor.

While in New York, Adams discovered baseball. He started out playing with the unorganized New York Base Ball Club (remember how I told you that there was “evidence” of baseball before Cartwright’s rules of 1845; well, here it is), which did not exactly use the same rules Cartwright would later establish (ie. they didn’t use nine men until later), in 1839, but the group quickly dissolved. Some of the younger members decided to found the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club in 1845, and Adams was the first president and helped Cartwright with the rules.

One of the crucial breaks with rounders Adams is credited with is the use of a shortstop. Previously, the teams usually had a catcher, pitcher, 3 infielders, and 3 outfielders, but as the game became more popular, which allowed for more players, Adams became the first person to occupy a space other than a base.

Another addition Adams helped bring was the baseball, itself. At the beginning, outfielders had a hard time throwing the ball very far (one reason Adams became shortstop was to add another relay man to get the ball in — the first double-cut! I’m too excited about that) because the ball was too light. A saddler showed him how to use horsehide, so Adams used some rubber pieces, wound them with yarn, and put the horsehide on the outside. The ball wasn’t very hard, but it was a start.

Adams would continue for awhile as Knickerbocker President, adding and refining rules, but he retired sometime around 1862 after marrying. He would also retire from the medical profession around the same time. His last game was an old-timer’s game, but he would continue to teach his children the game.

Adams is another “father” of baseball, but that’s not to be confused with the actual inventor. Like Cartwright, however, he should be credited with the organization and popularization of the game. Despite the influence Adams had on the game, he has not been elected to the Hall of Fame, which is odd but Adams’ contributions haven’t been as well publicized and the Hall of Fame may be tired of awarding plaques to “inventors”. Maybe we can exchange Jim Rice for Adams?

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3 Responses to “"Inventing Baseball": Daniel Adams”

  1. Ron Rollins Says:

    I’d never heard of this guy before. Where did you find the information? I’d like to look it up.

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    SABR, but I got the idea from this site, which I used for part of the story about Cartwright:

    http://www.rpi.edu/~fiscap/history_files/dladams.htm

  3. Ron Rollins Says:

    Thanks.

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