From Andrew Dalton at the Associated Press on April 7, 2016, with mention of SABR member John Thorn:
Modern baseball may have found its birth certificate. And with it a new birth date, and new founding father.
Coinciding with the start of the major league season, a set of game-changing documents went up for sale this week. Their authenticity and significance are verified by experts including John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian.
The 1857 documents titled “Laws of Base Ball” establish the essentials of the modern game: The distance of the base paths is 90 feet, the length of the game is nine innings and nine players are in the field.
And they do it three years earlier than the 1860 birth date now recognized.
The documents were authored by Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams, making him the founding father of America’s pastime, not Alexander Cartwright, who now is credited.
“He’s the true father of baseball and you’ve never heard of him,” Thorn, a consultant on the sale of the papers, told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
Southern California-based SCP Auctions put the documents on sale Wednesday in an auction that lasts until April 23. There have been five bids so far and the current highest bid is $146,410, according to the auction house.
Adams was the president of the New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club, which hosted a convention of 14 New York-area clubs to codify the rules of “Base Ball.” (It was two words then and in ensuing decades evolved into “base-ball” and finally “baseball.”)
Originally published: April 8, 2016. Last Updated: April 8, 2016.