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Alexander Cartwright

From Academic Kids

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Alexander J. Cartwright (April 17, 1820 - July 12, 1892) was an American engineer who has as good a claim as any as the inventor of baseball. Cartwright was a member of the New York Knickerbockers, who played a brand of stick-and-ball game called the town game. In 1845 Cartwright and a committee from his club drew up rules converting this playground game into more elaborate and interesting sport to be played by adults.

The Knickerbockers participated in the first game under these rules on June 19, 1846. The Knickerbockers lost 23-1.

Cartwright left New York to mine gold in California in 1849. He fell ill and settled in Hawai'i. A citizen of Hawai'i, Cartwright became a successful Honolulu businessman. There, Cartwright established the first baseball league composed of teams he created from throughout the Hawaiian islands. His Hawaiian leagues became a model for the modern American and National Leagues of today. In 1938, Cartwright was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The "Knickerbocker Rules"

While there are many differences between the modern rules of baseball and the so-called Knickerbocker Rules (as adopted September, 23, 1845 by the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club), there are also many similarities.

Similarities between the Knickerbocker rules and the rules of today include:

  • there are four bases laid out in a diamond.
  • the bases are approximately 90 feet apart.
  • balls hit outside of first or 3rd base are foul.
  • there are three "hand" outs per inning.
  • teams play an equal number of "hands," or innings.
  • the strike must swing and miss three times to strike out.
  • foul balls were not considered strikes.
    • on the third swinging strike, the "striker" (batter) may run to first if the catcher does not catch the ball before it hits the ground.
  • runners may put out by being tagged or forced.
    • a runner cannot be put out by "soaking" (hitting them with a thrown ball).
    • throwing at a runner is prohibited.

Differences between the Knickerbocker rules and the rules of today include:

  • the game continues until one team scores 21 "aces" (runs), (but only ends after an equal number of hands (innings) have been played.)
  • the ball must be pitched underhand.
  • a "striker" (batter) is out if a fair or foul ball is caught on the fly or the first bounce. All base runners may advance on a fair ball caught on the first bounce.
  • there are no called strikes.

Major changes to the Knickerbocker rules:

  • 1857; January 22 - the nine inning game is introduced.
  • 1858 - called strikes are introduced.
  • 1864; December 14 - a batter is no longer out if a fair struck ball is caught on one bounce. Foul balls caught on the first bounce are still outs.

See also

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