March 9, 2014
Alexander Cartwright Jr.
April 17, 1820 - July 12, 1892
in 1845 he, along with members of his New York Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, devised the first rules and regulations for the modern game of baseball.
A young Alexander Cartwright (top row center) and
several of the New York Knickerbockers in the late 1840s
Cartwright's rules and regulations changed baseball from a simple children's game to a game that adults could play.
Baseball had first taken root on this continent in the mid 1700's when English lads brought an offshoot of the game of cricket to our shores. This game, where the fielders put out a runner by belting him with the ball as he ran from base to base, was called Rounders.
There were many variations of Rounders as the game had no "official" rules. It was usually played according to local custom, meaning the number of players on a side, the number of bases (usually anywhere from two to five), the way they were laid out, the distance between them and other rules would vary from place to place. It was basically a pickup game that was played by children.
This woodcut was originally published in the United States
in 1820 in a book called "Children's Amusements"
In 1845, in New York City, the 25 year old Alexander Cartwright took various elements that were used in these different forms of early baseball and, adding a few wrinkles of his own, fused them into regulations that stand today.
Cartwright gave us the baseball diamond and specified the distance between the bases (a measurement that we still use now) ... he did away with the practice of hitting the runner with the ball to achieve an out and replaced this with either tagging the runner with the ball or getting it to the base ahead of him.. he specified the number of players on the field and invented the position of shortstop... he decided there would be three outs per side and the ball would be considered foul if knocked out of the ninety degree quadrant of the field... And these were just some of the things that Cartwright included when he wrote out baseball's first standardized set of rules.
Most importantly, Alexander Cartwright's rules and regulations added elements of precision, perfection, drama, and excitement to the game, as he almost single-handedly transformed a simple children's game into a game that adults could play!
So, forget anything you ever heard about Abner Doubleday, it was, in fact, Alexander Cartwright Jr. who gave us the great game of baseball... he is truly Mr. Baseball, and it is in his honor that we dedicate this web page.
More information about Alexander Cartwright and his amazing achievements: