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Thorn: The men who invented shortstop

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on August 14, 2012:

Let’s leave to one side for now Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams, the man who invented the position in 1849 or 1850 and whose story I have frequently told, including in Baseball in the Garden of Eden. For Adams, who began his play with the Knickerbockers in 1845, let his own words suffice for now , from an interview published in the Sporting News on February 29, 1896: ”I used to play shortstop,” he reminisced, “and I believe I was the first one to occupy that place, as it had formerly been left uncovered.” But when Adams first went out to short, it was not to bolster the infield but to assist in relays from the outfield. The early Knickerbocker ball was so light that it could not be thrown even two hundred feet, thus the need for a short fielder to send the ball in to the pitcher’s point.

For more about Adams, see my biographical profile of him at: http://goo.gl/1MVN3. But the men who made the position modern, by bringing it into the infield and then widening its responsibilities, were Dickey Pearce and George Wright, the two great shortstops of base­ball’s early professional era.

The portraits offered below were part of a fascinating series on “The Fifty Greatest Ball Players in History” that ran in the New York Evening Journal in 1911-12. What makes these portraits so interesting today is that the author, veteran sportswriter Sam Crane, was himself a major-league second baseman who formed a keystone tandem with Pearce back in 1877 and frequently opposed Wright.

Read the full article here: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2012/08/14/the-men-who-invented-shortstop/

This page was last updated August 14, 2012 at 2:06 pm MST.

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