How Baseball Began: The Long Overlooked Truth About the Birth of Baseball


144 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-895629-44-6
DDC 796.357'0973





Reviewed by Ian A. Andrews

Ian A. Andrews is a high-school social sciences teacher and editor of the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association’s Focus.


The game of baseball is filled with myths, one of the most famous of
which concerns the invention of the game. Ron McCulloch argues that
Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr., not Abner Doubleday, should be credited
with the title “Father of Baseball.” It was under Cartwright’s
guidance, McCulloch contends, that the first game between two organized
teams took place—on June 19, 1846, at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken,
New Jersey.

His thesis is supported by the many rules, still in existence, that
were composed by Cartwright as early as 1845. Included were such lasting
changes as tagging a runner instead of hitting him with a thrown ball,
using a fourth infielder (shortstop), using a set batting order, three
outs per team per at bat, three strikes and the batter is out, and the
use of canvas bases. To McCulloch’s chagrin, Cartwright has not been
given his due by the baseball establishment, including the National
Baseball Hall of Fame. With this book, he hopes to rectify a wrong
perpetrated near the turn of the century by Al Spalding, the
sporting-goods magnate.

McCulloch’s documentation is impressive. He traces early baseball
history through the 19th century with a series of photographs, charts,
and illustrations. Baseball fans will rejoice in the inclusion of such
gems as an 1884 photo of Moses Fleetwood Walker, the first black major
league player—half a century before Jackie Robinson broke the color
barrier in 1947. Oversized type and occasional redundancies mar an
otherwise enjoyable compilation.


McCulloch, Ron., “How Baseball Began: The Long Overlooked Truth About the Birth of Baseball,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 13, 2024,