John Thorn’s 19th Century Baseball Pantheon

From SABR member John Thorn at on June 23:

Before I provide my list of personal pre-1900 household gods, let me run through a brief history of baseball fame to show why we might reasonably be dissatisfied with the nineteenth century’s representation in Cooperstown.  I do not propose that the Baseball Hall of Fame remove any plaques or install any; I am wholly content to create an imaginary pantheon all my own, with the hopeful belief that others may be interested in my views. For some years I was consternated that Morgan Bulkeley was in and William Hulbert was not, but that has been remedied.

In populating my personal pantheon of pre-1900 baseball worthies, I have evaluated not greatness as might be measured by modern statistics, but importance: Could the history of the game, I ask, be written without this figure’s contributions? For some individuals, the findings detailed in my new book, Baseball in the Garden of Eden, will tend to make my case; I am hoping you will read it, although none of what follows was directly addressed there.

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Originally published: June 30, 2011. Last Updated: June 30, 2011.