Womack: The Doubleday myth and honoring excellence before Cooperstown

From SABR member Graham Womack at The National Pastime Museum on July 7, 2017:

In June 1939, the Baseball Hall of Fame finally opened, in time for the 100th anniversary of what was then popularly accepted as the game’s founding—when a West Point student named Abner Doubleday was said to have approached a group of people playing a primitive version of baseball in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839, whereupon he drew up rules for the game.

Baseball researchers and even casual fans have long known this story to be the fiction of an elderly man named Abner Graves who wrote to the Mills Commission (formed to investigate baseball’s origins in the early 1900s) and spoke of having witnessed in his boyhood Doubleday’s invention of the game in a field in Cooperstown. Graves offered no verifiable evidence for his claim—and facts quickly emerged disproving it—though Doubleday’s later distinguished Civil War service might have made him an attractive candidate to the baseball commission. 

The Mills Commission named Doubleday baseball’s founder in 1908, but it would be another three decades before the greatest shrine in American sports opened.

Read the full article here: https://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/doubleday-myth-and-honoring-excellence-years-cooperstown

Originally published: July 7, 2017. Last Updated: July 7, 2017.