On this date in 1846 the first officially recorded, organized baseball game was played under Alexander Cartwright’s rules on Hoboken, New Jersey’s Elysian Fields, with the New York Base Ball Club defeating the Knickerbockers 23-1. Cartwright umpired. Cartwright is one of several people sometimes referred to as the “father of baseball.” He is thought to be the first person to draw a diagram of a diamond-shaped baseball field, and the rules of the modern game are based on the Knickerbocker Rules developed by Cartwright and a committee from his club, the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club. Cartwright was officially declared the inventor of the modern game of baseball by the 83rd United States Congress on June 3, 1953.
Whilst he was a member of Knickerbocker Engine Company No. 12 of the New York City Fire Department, Cartwright became involved in playing town ball (an older game similar to baseball) on a vacant lot in Manhattan. In 1845 the lot became unavailable for use, and the group was forced to look for another location. They found a playing field, the Elysian Fields, a large tree-filled parkland across the Hudson River in Hoboken, New Jersey run by Colonel John Stevens, who charged $75 a year to rent it. In order to pay the rental fees, Cartwright organized a ball club so that he could collect the needed money. The club was named the “Knickerbockers” in honor of the fire company. The Knickerbockers club was organized on September 23, 1845.
Creating a club for the ball players called for a formal set of rules for each member to adhere to, foremost among them to “have the reputation of a gentleman.” Cartwright, along with other players, formalized the “Knickerbocker Rules”:
Members must strictly observe the time agreed upon for exercise, and be punctual in their attendance.
When assembled for exercise, the President, or in his absence, the Vice-President, shall appoint an umpire, who shall keep the game in a book provided for that purpose, and note all violations of the By-Laws and Rules during the time of exercise.
The presiding officer shall designate two members as Captains, who shall retire and make the match to be played, observing at the same time that the players opposite to each other should be as nearly equal as possible, the choice of sides to be then tossed for, and the first in hand to be decided in like manner.
The bases shall be from “home” to second base, forty-two paces; from first to third base, forty-two paces, equidistant.
No stump match shall be played on a regular day of exercise.
If there should not be a sufficient number of members of the Club present at the time agreed upon to commence exercise, gentlemen not members may be chosen in to make up the match, which shall not be broken up to take in members that may afterwards appear; but in all cases, members shall have the preference, when present, at the making of a match.
If members appear after the game is commenced, they may be chosen in if mutually agreed upon.
The game to consist of twenty-one counts, or aces; but at the conclusion an equal number of hands must be played.
The ball must be pitched, not thrown, for the bat.
A ball knocked out of the field, or outside the range of first or third base, is foul.
Three balls being struck at and missed and the last one caught, is a hand out; if not caught is considered fair, and the striker bound to run.
If a ball be struck, or tipped, and caught, either flying or on the first bound, it is a hand out.
A player running the bases shall be out, if the ball is in the hands of an adversary on the base, or the runner is touched with it before he makes his base; it being understood, however, that in no instance is a ball to be thrown at him.
A player running who shall prevent an adversary from catching or getting the ball before making his base, is a hand out.
Three hands out, all out.
Players must take their strike in regular turn.
All disputes and differences relative to the game, to be decided by the Umpire, from which there is no appeal.
No ace or base can be made on a foul strike.
A runner cannot be put out in making one base, when a balk is made by the pitcher.
But one base allowed when a ball bounds out of the field when struck.
It is likely that Cartwright et al picked some of these twenty rules based upon town ball play in Manhattan. The original rules of play at the vacant lot in Manhattan were not documented so it cannot be said which rules were Cartwright’s own invention. The twenty rules, the shape of the playing area, for example, differed from other early versions of baseball and from rounders, the English game commonly considered the immediate ancestor of baseball. Two of these rules — the one that abolished putting a runner out by hitting him with a thrown ball and the one that designated a foul as a do-over were clearly new.
As evidenced from these rules, the first games were played between teams made up of members of the club, filled in for by “gentlemen” onlookers if they did not have enough members to make up two teams. The formation of the Knickerbockers club, across the Hudson, created a division in the group of Manhattan players. Several of the players refused to cross the river on a ferry to play ball because they did not like the distance away from home.
Those players stayed behind and formed their own club, the “New York Nine.” On June 19 1846 these two different teams (from the same firehouse) played at Elysian Fields (thus giving us the name “field” for the site where baseball was played) . The two teams played with Cartwright’s twenty rules. Cartwright’s team, the Knickerbockers, lost 23 to 1 to the New York Nine in four innings (the length of the game being determined by the number of aces, that is, runs, scored by the winning team). Some say that Cartwright’s team lost because his best players did not want to make the trip across the river. Cartwright was the umpire during this game and fined one player six cents for cursing.
Over the next few years, the rules of baseball spread throughout the country. Baseball fast became a popular sport and drew spectators by the thousands – with reports of scores being written up in local newspapers. Cartwright’s rules would soon become part of the rules of the National Association of Base Ball Players in 1857, and gradually evolved into those used today. You can see, if you know the rules, that the core was there from the beginning.
What else can I use as a food to celebrate the first official game of baseball other than the hot dog? Unfortunately I’ve already waxed lyrical on the subject on several occasions. For example: http://www.bookofdaystales.com/rocky-horror-picture-show-opens/ Here People magazine comes to my rescue with an article on crazy foods available at MLB locations. Here’s the Crab Mac ‘n Cheese Dog from Oriole Park.
Check out this site for others including The Beast, the Broomstick, the Fiesta Dog, and the Krispy Kreme Donut Dog.