The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 598
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
that Doubleday had not lived in or visited Cooperstown despite what
Spalding and the National Commission claimed in their attempt to
make baseball appear to be a wholly American invention. In 1942 Hen-
derson chided the baseball establishment by stating that "if Spalding
wanted to be patriotic, why didn't he give credit to Abe Lincoln, who
was actually playing baseball when informed that he'd been elected
President? To put it bluntly," Henderson continued, "all I ask of the
directors of our great national pastime is to stop kidding the public."
Henderson followed up his attack on the Doubleday myth with the
publication of Ball, Bat and Bishop in 1947, in which he traces the ori-
gins of baseball to seventeenth-century England. Despite the efforts of
Henderson and those who followed him, the Doubleday myth persists.
In Texas an interesting offshoot of the Doubleday myth also per-
sists: namely, that Major General Abner Doubleday, while serving as
Sub-Assistant Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau for Galveston
County, organized the first match game of baseball in Texas on Febru-
ary 22, 1867. The origin of this claim is obscure, but periodic news-
paper stories datelined Galveston and Houston maintain that Double-
day laid out the first baseball diamond on Texas soil in early 1867 in
Galveston and that the first regulation game was played by Union
troops on Washington's birthday of that year. According to a Galveston
Daily News article of February 22, 1970, Doubleday introduced baseball
to Galveston because he realized the need for healthy recreation for his
troops. Later, the article maintains, General Doubleday organized the
first baseball game in San Antonio when he was posted in that city.4
William B. Ruggles, a longtime Galveston sportswriter, contends that
the claim that Doubleday brought baseball to Texas originated with Joe
Gardner, a Dallas newspaperman, but Ruggles doubts the validity of
the claim.5 That Doubleday was in Galveston at that time there is no
doubt. He arrived in Galveston in December, 1866, and served with the
Freedmen's Bureau until August, 1867.6 But did he introduce the game
of baseball to Texas? To answer that question one must first be familiar
with Galveston society both before and during the Civil War era and
then carefully define what is meant by the term baseball. It is clear that
bat and ball games in some form were played in Galveston before the
s The Sporting News, Sept. 9, 1985 (quotations); Robert W Henderson, Ball, Bat and Bishop:
The Origin of Ball Games (New York: Rockport Press, Inc., 1947), 170-196.
4Galveston Daily News, July 16, 1961, Feb. 22, 1970; Houston Chronzcle, Feb. 22, 1970; Mary
Lou Le Compte and Wilham H. Beazley, "Any Sunday in April: The Rise of Sport in San An-
tonio and the Hispanic Borderlands," Journal of Sport History, XIII (Summer, 1986), 143-146.
5William B. Ruggles, The History of the Texas League of Professional Baseball Clubs (Dallas: Texas
Baseball League, 1951), 18.
6Flake's Daily Bulletin (Galveston), Feb. 1, 1867; Shumway, "Abner Doubleday," 145-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/664/: accessed February 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.