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Baseball's Creation Myth

by Brian 'Chip' Martin, BA'74

baseballs creation myth

Grand theft, baseball? The legend of America's favorite pastime as having been invented in Cooperstown, NY, by Abner Doubleday, thus making it a wholly American game and not of English derivation, is possibly a little too convenient and good to be true. How did that myth come about? Brian Martin suggests a good old all-American conspiracy theory involving a star player turned sporting-goods emperor in A.G. Spalding, desperate to find U.S. roots for the game that had made him wealthy. The subtitular names refer to the man Martin cites for his own evidence here (Ford) and the man Spalding cited for his proof (Graves). The Spalding-Doubleday story is well known. Martin's refutation of the myth is based on faint evidence that he uses to place baseball's genesis in Canada. VERDICT An entertaining story of a fledgling sport, with fascinating accounts of the lives of a few men who created a creation myth. As it's well told, it's recommended in spite of the Canada theory not being strong. For baseball historians and fans, and of potential value to students of 19th-century American studies because of the intriguing depth and relation of research.

Available at: Barnes & Noble.


This article appeared in the Spring 2013 edition of Alumni Gazette
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