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Baseball Cards - THE KNICKERBOCKER CLUB

The Knickerbocker Club played baseball at Hoboken's "Elysian Fields" on October 6, 1845.  That game appears to be the first recorded by an American newspaper. This Currier & Ives lithograph, which is online via the Library of Congress, depicts the Elysian Fields.

 

As the nineteenth century moved into its fourth decade, Alexander Cartwright wrote rules for the Knickerbockers, an amateur New York City baseball club.

Those early rules (which were adopted on the 23rd of September, 1845) provide a bit of history (perhaps accurate, perhaps not) for the “Recently Invented Game of Base Ball.”

For many years the games of Townball, Rounders and old Cat have been the sport of young boys. Recently, they have, in one form or another, been much enjoyed by gentlemen seeking wholesome American exercise.

In 1845 Alexander Cartwright and other members of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York codified the unwritten rules of these boys games into one, and so made the game of Base Ball a sport worthy of attention by adults.

We have little doubt but that this gentlemanly pastime will capture the interest and imagination of sportsman and spectator alike throughout this country.

Within two weeks of adopting their rules, members of the Knickerbocker Club played an intra-squad game at the Elysian Fields (in Hoboken, New Jersey). The October 6th game appears to be the first recorded by an American newspaper.

Those early games (announced in local papers) were often high-scoring, as a Knickerbocker tally sheet (from a record book maintained at the New York Public Library) demonstrates. On this particular day, the Knickerbockers lost the 41-34 game.

Players whose conduct did not conform to the rules were fined - as evidenced by Article V of the Knickerbockers’ 1848 Constitution - and they had to pay before they left the field. A few examples of non-tolerated infractions:

Swearing: 12½ cents for each offense
Arguing with the umpire: 12½ cents
Disobeying the team captain: 50 cents

One dollar, in 1848, was roughly equivalent to $21 today.

Daniel “Doc” Adams, considered by some historians to be the true “Father of Baseball,” became president of the Knickerbocker Club in 1847. Balls, in those early days, were light-weight and dark-colored, so the game was not dominated by home-run hitters.

Under Adams’ leadership, the Knickerbockers became a preeminent baseball club, and their Hoboken playing field was - at least for a time - the most well-known baseball field in the country.

It is believed the first published picture of a baseball game was printed in a weekly newspaper called Porter’s Spirit of the Times. That September 12, 1857 woodcut depicts two New York clubs, the Eagles and the Gothams, playing at Elysian Fields. The following year, a scene in Mason Village, New Hampshire clearly depicts a baseball game in progress.

Even though teams were playing ball in the northern United States, there is no evidence it was popular throughout the south before the Civil War. That conflict, however, introduced the sport to many new players.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: Mar 14, 2016


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"THE KNICKERBOCKER CLUB" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 01, 2005. Dec 06, 2019.
       <http://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/THE-KNICKERBOCKER-CLUB-Baseball-Cards/1>.
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