As an English schoolboy, Chadwick played rounders, a forerunner of baseball. In his
early twenties (a decade after emigrating with his parents to Brooklyn), he played
baseball, but remained indifferent to the new game for several years. Then, in 1856,
while witnessing a well-played match between two of New York's better clubs, he became
a fan, and decided to do everything he could to make baseball "a national sport for
Americans" as cricket was for the English. He set out to persuade The New York
Times (for which he reported cricket matches) and other major metropolitan dailies
to cover baseball, offering to report the games himself.
By the time the last New
York paper began reporting baseball in 1862, Chadwick had taken on his next task:
promoting changes - through his writing and his membership on an early baseball rules
committee - that would move the game toward more balanced offense and defense, and
would make it a more "manly," "scientific" game, demanding mental as well as physical
ability. He expanded the box score and developed a scoring system that enabled reporters
to record every play, allowing them to describe games in greater detail. A modified
version of his system is standard today.
In 1860 Chadwick prepared baseball's first
guide; he edited one or more annually until his death, including the famous and respected
Spaulding Guide from 1881-1908. Through his rules committee work, his books and pamphlets,
and his contributions to more than 20 periodicals, he did more than any other writer
to shape the game and spread its popularity, and earned himself the appellation "father
of baseball." His decades of vociferous opposition to gambling were largely responsible
for keeping the game freer from corruption than other major sports.
Chadwick wrote about many other sports and games, from yachting to billiards to chess.
He was also a pianist, songwriter, drama critic, and, briefly, during the Civil War,
a news correspondent in Virginia. He was enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame in
1938, the only writer elected to the Hall itself (as opposed to the Writers Wing).
FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»January 12, 1884: In a 5-inning game played on ice skates in Brooklyn, Chicago ace Larry Corcoran hurls his team of mostly amateurs to a 41–12 win over a team composed of mostly professionals. Corcoran's team was assembled by veteran writer Henry Chadwick). In four days the pros beat Corcoran and another group of amateurs, 16–8.
»November 2, 1899: Henry Chadwick, called the "Father of Baseball," visits President McKinley in Washington to propose that Army regiments be provided with baseball equipment. This is Chadwick's first presidential interview since his visit with President Lincoln in 1861.
»April 20, 1908: "The Father of Baseball," Henry Chadwick, the leading reporter, commentator, scorer, and indefatigable promoter of the game, dies in Brooklyn at age 85.
»September 13, 1938:
A special committee names Alexander Cartwright to
Baseball's Hall of Fame for originating the sport's
basic concepts. Henry Chadwick, inventor of the box
score and the first baseball writer, is also