... scratched some lines in a field and totally invented the game of baseball.
In 1905, sporting goods magnate Albert Spalding came to the apparent conclusion that, in order to elevate the nascent national pastime to veritable religious status, what it really needed was a creation myth. So he formed a commission with the help of the presidents of the National and American Leagues, and in 1907, they made it official: Abner Doubleday -- a Union general famous for his roles in the defense of Fort Sumter and the Battle of Gettysburg -- was the sole creator of baseball.
19th Century Baseball"As such, baseball will be a symbol of the Union and the end of slavery! Also, black people have to play in a separate league."
But the only verifiable connection between Doubleday and baseball is an 1871 letter he wrote to his superiors, asking them to "purchase baseball implements for the amusement of the men." That's like saying your uncle Frank invented the hamburger because he ordered takeout once.
Actual evidence points to our national pastime finding its roots in England. Handwritten journals and embroideries from a full century before Doubleday's purported invention reference the playing of "base ball" by wealthy socialites across the pond.
CNNYet they still can't figure out how to make a normal-shaped bat.
If any one man is to be credited with the invention of baseball, it should probably be volunteer fireman and founder of the New York Knickerbockers (not to be confused with today's Knicks, who play with much bigger balls), Alexander Cartwright. He's the guy who, in the mid-1800s, sculpted the game into the time-waster we all know and love today, by introducing rules, such as setting the bases 90 feet apart, having nine players per team, playing nine innings, and all the fans getting totally blitzed by the seventh. And to be fair, Cartwright is in fact honored as the "father of modern base ball" with a fancy golden plaque ... in Cooperstown, New York, the place that convinced countless generations of Americans that Abner Doubleday singlehandedly willed the game into being from a stick and a pile of dirt.
Baseball Hall of FameBut at least Cartwright's sweet chinstrap has been immortalized forever.
Zach Sands is a former Fulbright scholar with an MA in Film and Literature and a PhD in American Culture Studies, but he still has difficulty opening cereal boxes. Follow him @sands_zach, and he promises to actually use his Twitter account.
It's Spring Break! You know what that means: hot coeds getting loose on the beaches of Cancun and becoming imperiled in all classic beach slasher ways: man-eating shark, school of piranhas, James Franco with dreadlocks. There are so many films about vacations gone wrong, it's a chore to wonder if there's even such a thing as a movie vacation gone right. Amity Island and Camp Crystal Lake are out. So what does that leave? The ship from Wall-E? Hawaii with the Brady Bunch? A road trip with famous curmudgeon Chevy Chase? On this month's live podcast Jack O'Brien and the Cracked staff are joined by some special guest comedians to figure out what would be the best vacation to take in a fictional universe. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased here!
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