Alexander Cartwright wrote the first baseball rule book and is know as the “Father of Baseball!



Born Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr. in New York City April 17, 1820 was know as the “father of baseball” which is questionable.  However he did write the first Rules of Baseball for his Knickerbocker Nine Baseball Team in 1845. 


Cartwright was the first person to draw a diagram of the first diamond shape baseball field. The Knickerbocker baseball club was the first team to use the rules of 1845 know as the Knickerbocker Rules.  They were the first written rules of the Game of Baseball. Cartwright was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. as the inventor of the game and and was officially declared so by the 83rd Congress of the United States. He was ruled such after the myth that Abner Doubleday invented Baseball.


His father Alexander Cartwright Sr. was a merchant sea captain his mother was Esther Burlock Cartwright and he had six brothers and sisters. In his early years he worked for The Union Bank of New York as a clerk and as a clerk on Wall Street. In Manhattan he played a bat and ball game in the streets with the Volunteer Firefighters.  He was a volunteer with the Ocean Hose Company #36 and them with the Knickerbocker Engine Company #12.

The Union Bank in New York was devastated by fire in 1845 and Alex had to find other work and became a bookseller with his brother Alfred. He married Eliza Van Wie on June 2, 1842 a lady from Albany, NY.


In 1842 Cartwright started the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club and named it after the fire company.  A game similar to baseball was played on the streets of Ny called bat-and-ball and the Knickerbockers play it on a field at 4th Avenue and 27th street.

In 1845 a committee chaired by Cartwright elaborated on the bat-and-ball game a developed the future rules of the game called Baseball. There were 14 original rules. There were several exceptions to the rules that Cartwright insisted on they were:

1. The playing field would be diamond shaped.

2. Foul territories were to be introduced for the first time.

3. Practice of retiring a runner by hitting him with a thrown ball was now illegal.

Other rule stipulations were that flat bases would be used and would be 90′ apart or equal distance. Three strikes and a batter was out. The defense was only allowed 9 players

The first game that was official was played on Jun 19, 1846 at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey. The Knickerbockers los the game to the “New York Nine”  33 to 1. The Knickerbocker score book shows games beginning in 1845 using the new rules. There were little differences found in the rules from 1845 to 1846. Some have questioned when the “first game” with the !845 rules were used. However the score book tells the story.


In 1849 Cartwright headed to California for the gold rush. He later moved to Hawaii.  His family later joined him in Hawaii.  He set up the first baseball diamond in Hawaii on the island o Oahu at Makiki field. He was fire chief for the Honolulu fire department from 1850 to 1863. Was an advisor to King Kalakaua and Queen Emma and drove the playing of baseball there. Makiki Field was renamed Cartwright Field and the State of Hawaii high school champion trophy is called the Catrwright Cup. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938.

Alexander Cartwright died in Hawaii July 12, 1892 and was 72 years old.


Much controversy exist even until today about Abner Doubleday and Alexander Cartwright. Several books have been written about the subject of who the actually was the inventor or “The Father of Baseball”. After decades of debate the Mills Commission (1905 – 1907) attrtibuted Abner Doubleday with the invention of the “National Pastime”. Many historians complained and so the debate continued.  In 1938 when Cartwright was inducted into the Hall as the “father of baseball” the issued seemed settled. Not so the final settlement with baseball people is that the true inventor of the game of Baseball was Doubleday and that however Alexander Cartwright was the inventor of the “modern baseball rules”. In baseball history the issue will always be clouded.  Both men contributed greatly to the Game we love our “National Pastime” BASEBALL!

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