The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 597
The Doubleday Myth and Texas Baseball
JOHN M. CARROLL*
T HE ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE GAME OF BASEBALL ARE
shrouded in a web of fact and myth that partially obscures the
early years of the national pastime. In Texas, as with the nation at large,
a persistent mythology has been associated with the origins of baseball
in order to establish its American roots and to cloak it with the banner
of nationalism. Most persons who have a passing interest in baseball are
familiar with the so-called Doubleday myth concerning the American
origins of baseball. It was claimed for many years, and is still main-
tained by some, that Abner Doubleday, then a West Point cadet, in-
vented the modern version of baseball at Cooperstown, New York, in
1839.' The Doubleday myth was the brainchild of Albert G. Spalding, a
famous professional pitcher and later sporting goods magnate who was
instrumental in creating a National Commission in 1907 that certified
Doubleday was the inventor of baseball. In 1939 leaders of organized
baseball perpetuated the myth by dusting off the National Commis-
sion's 1907 report and celebrating the "centennial" of baseball at Coo-
perstown in connection with the opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame.2
Robert W. Henderson, an English-born sports historian and New
York City librarian, was primarily responsible for debunking the
Doubleday myth. After considerable research, Henderson maintained
*John M. Carroll is professor of history at Lamar University. He has co-authored a book on
American sports history and is currently writing a biography on the early black football great,
'For details on Doubleday's career and his alleged association with baseball see Dictionary of
American Biography, s.v. "Doubleday, Abner"; Harry Irving Shumway, "Abner Doubleday: Fa-
ther of Baseball," in Famous American Athletes of Today, Seventh Series, ed Jerry Nason (1940;
reprint, Freeport, N Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1971), 133-173
2See Albert G. Spalding, America's National Game: Historic Facts Concerning the Begnning, Evo-
lution, Development and Popularity ofBase Ball, with Personal Remznzscences of Its Vzczssztudes, Its Vzcto-
rzes and Its Votaries (New York: American Sports Publishing Co., 1911), 19-26, Peter Levine,
A G. Spalding and the Rise of Baseball: The Promise of American Sport (New York: Oxford Univer-
sity Press, 1985), 112-114, 115 (quotation); Harold Seymour, Baseball: The Early Years (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1960), 4-12; David Quentin Voigt, American Baseball- From
Gentleman's Sport to the Commissioner System (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1966), 5-8.
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page .
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/663/ocr/: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.