In 1905, a commission headed by Al Spalding wrongly credited Doubleday with inventing
the game of baseball in in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. Doubleday was actually
a cadet at West Point when he was alleged to have mapped out the first baseball diamond,
and after graduating in 1842 he enjoyed a distinguished military career. He fought
in Mexico as well as the Civil War, eventually becoming a major general.
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was convinced of Doubleday's role by the testimony of an elderly gentleman named
Abner Graves, who claimed to be a childhood playmate of Doubleday's and present when
the game was invented. Graves's story was later "verified" by the discovery of a
rotting baseball among his personal effects. That ball became known as "The Doubleday
Baseball" and remains on display at the Hall of Fame. Doubleday left behind numerous
diaries and never claimed to have invented baseball, yet he remains one of the game's
great mythological figures. The annual Hall of Fame Game is played each summer at
Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.
FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»December 30, 1907: The Spalding Commission reports that baseball was invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839. The Commission is convinced by the testimony of Abner Graves, who claimed to be a childhood companion of Doubleday's. Grave's story is later "verified" when an old, rotting ball is found among his personal effects: The ball is now in the Hall of fame. The Commission ignores the fact that Doubleday did not graduate from West Point until 1842.
»April 2, 1908: After a 2-year investigation, the Mills Committee, formed on the recommendation of Al Spalding and headed by the former NL president A.G. Mills, declares that baseball was invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, NY in 1839. Overwhelming evidence to the contrary is ignored, but the designation makes James Fenimore Cooper's town the most likely site for a Hall of Fame and museum when these establishments are conceived some 30 years later.
»June 3, 1953:
Congress cites the research of New York City librarian Robert Henderson in proving that Alexander Cartwright "founded" baseball and not Abner Doubleday. His 1947
book Bat, Ball and Bishop documents Cartwright's contributions to the origins of the game of baseball.