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Abner Doubleday and Baseball

Last night we watched the St. Louis Cardinals decisively defeat the Dodgers for the National League title and tonight we saw the Boston Red Sox defeat the Tigers.  Great sport!! Then I began to think about our national pastime during the Civil War.

Captain Abner Doubleday was in command of the Union artillery that fired the first defensive shots at Ft Sumter.  He was second in command to Major Robert Anderson.  He later served at 2ndManassas, SouthMountain, and at Antietam he was wounded by an artillery blast.  He led the second division of the I Corps to relieve Buford’s cavalry at Gettysburg.  In five hours of fighting his 9600 med were assaulted by 16,000 in Ewell’s Corps.  He was wounded in the neck on the second day.  He left the service as a Major General. 

After the war he moved to San Francisco where he took out a patent on a cable car system which is still in use today.  He had a full military career and a successful civilian life.

But he is mostly known for inventing the game of baseball in Elihu Phinney’s cow pasture in Cooperstown, New   York.  The baseball diamond at West Point is named after him, Doubleday Field, and I have had the pleasure of seeing the New York Yankees and Giants play the Cadets each spring while I was a cadet.

Did he invent baseball.  Well the answer is yes and no.  There were several parents to our popular game.  The consensus of opinion is that Doubleday deserves at least as much credit as the others.

Baseball became very popular during the Civil War because the soldiers had lots of time when they were not in combat or on the march.  So teams and leagues flourished and the sport gained a nationwide acceptance so that after the war the momentum grew into the national phenomenon.



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