I’ll just repeat that:
Abner Doubleday Did Not Invent Baseball.
If you’ve somehow missed it, Commissioner Bud Selig thinks otherwise. There is a chance that’s not actually a letter from him, since the man with whom he was corresponding was principally interested in the recent faked iconography problem at the Hall of Fame – so, who knows, maybe this is a faked Selig letter.
There is in fact no actual evidence that baseball was “invented” or that if it somehow was, Doubleday had any involvement in it – certainly not in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839, insomuch as Doubleday conclusively wasn’t in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839. The story was latched on to in 1905 when, with anti-British attitudes in this country at a relative height, a Commission was created to disprove the theory that the sport evolved from the British games of cricket and rounders (which, if you have eyes, you already know it obviously does).
The one tangible piece of supposed evidence upon which the “Mills Commission” finding rests is shown below:
This is the Abner Graves baseball, submitted to the Mills Commission by an octogenarian of the same name, who claims he and his buddy Abner Doubleday used it in 1839 while Doubleday was inventing the game (fortunate he had this ball ready in advance, huh?). That the baseball seems professionally – possibly even mechanically – stitched, and more reminiscent of the ones used in the 1850’s or 1860’s, didn’t deter the Mills brothers. It was evidence and it wasn’t English.
The Graves ball is of course so central to the history of the game that when I was a kid it used to sit in that little wooden throne near the Hall of Fame entrance. It was so important that the then-curators apparently were overzealous in securing it to the base and there has now been a molecular exchange between the ball and the wood and it’s now a damn freakish Baseball/Wooden Pedestal Hybrid, and they have to keep it in the refrigerated archives, and wish it into the cornfield son, wish it into the cornfield!
Bud Selig, whom I have come to like very much, is not the only person who still believes in this absurd bit of creationism (but nearly). I can name you a dozen things he still believes in about which I’m far more worried, like the idea that making some teams play tough inter-league opponents while others play easy ones, doesn’t completely eat away at the authenticity and legitimacy of the pennant races exactly the way soft schedules eat away at the authenticity and legitimacy of the BCS.
So if Bud believes, great. Maybe he’d like to buy the above depicted Wood-e-Ball. I’m sure the Hall would be happy to off-load the thing.