The Father of Modern Baseball Alexander Cartwright

Alexander Cartwright Jr. is the man credited for inventing the modern game of baseball. The U.S. Congress gave him the official title on June 3, 1939. Alexander was born on April 17, 1820. He was a banker and a volunteer fireman in New York City; his birth place.

For several years, he belonged to the New York Baseball Club. In 1845 he and some members of the group formed the Knickerbocker Baseball Club. Cartwright was named secretary and vice- president when the club wrote down a formal constitution in September of that year. The Knickerbocker Baseball Club were usually found playing a game of stick and ball which they called the “town game.”

Alexander became a leader within the club, suggesting that the club write down a set of rules for the game they played. He was one of four members who decided upon 14 rules. In 1845, Alexander also invented the modern baseball field. Cartwright and a group of men from his club drew up rules converting the playground game into a more challenging game to be played by adults. Many of the rules we adhere to today were adopted from this set of rules.

The Knickerbockers lost their first competitive game under those rules on June 19, 1846, against the New York Nine: 23- 1 in Hoboken, New Jersey, at a park called Elysian Fields. Cartwright served as an umpire in the game and collected the 6- cent fine from players who used profanity.

Cartwright played with the Knickerbockers for four more years, traveling across the country playing many more games. Under his leadership, baseball became a popular game amongst lawyers, doctors, and businessmen.

Cartwright later traveled west across the United States, in 1849, after hearing the discoveries of gold in California. Everywhere he went he advertised the game of baseball. He stopped in Cincinnati, which later became the cornerstone of the National League when it was founded in 1876.

Cartwright died in Honolulu on July 22, 1898, but not before he established the game there, became a fire chief, and set up a number of small businesses there.

The first diamond he laid out is called Cartwright Field. Many baseball legends, including Babe Ruth have visited his grave.

For many years Cartwright was not rightfully acknowledged for founding the sport. It was Cartwright’s grandson who gave the Hall of Fame his grandfather’s diaries and newspaper clippings that proved that Cartwright and the other members of the Knickerbockers were responsible for codifying the game. In 1939, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame as the “Father of Modern Baseball.”