|Miscellaneous Tips, Tidbits and
Gee Whiz Items
(That wouldn't go elsewhere on the site)
|Evolution of the Base Ball
|I've been hand making my own baseballs for a couple years. I'll use them as
practice and game balls for teams in our league, gifts and souvenirs, and as part
of my historical display. This picture of some of the balls I've made and depicts
some of the evolutionary stages of the baseball, starting with a regulation ball
from the Massachusetts Game. Next is an 1860 regulation ball. By 1869, the
rules called for a ball with the general construction, weight and dimensions of
the ball we use today, though it was not wound as tightly and later referred to
as the "deadball". The modern baseball in front is one I "just happened to have
in my pocket" when I had the chance to meet our favorite fielder, former Texas
Ranger Rusty Greer. I asked if he would make it out to my wife, Martha who is
an even bigger fan of his than I am!
| Abner Who?
(or The Doubleday Myth)
Motivated by writer Henry Chadwick’s 1903 article
stating that baseball had it’s origins in games such as
Rounders and the English game Cricket, sporting goods
manufacturer (and former baseball pitching great)
Albert Spaulding established a commission to prove
an American ancestry to the game. Basing it’s findings
simply on a letter sent by a retired Denver miner named
Abner Graves, the commission, headed by Spaulding’s
friend Abraham Mills, declared in 1907 that Civil War
hero General Abner Doubleday had invented baseball in
Graves’ letter stated that he had witnessed Doubleday
teaching the game to a number of boys that summer in
Cooperstown, New York. However, later research showed that the 19 year old
Doubleday was in his sophomore year at West Point in 1839 and probably did not
have a summer vacation.
Graves’ letter detailed the rules he saw being ‘taught’by Doubleday, but some of
those were not introduced into the game until the later 1800s. Also, the Mills’
Commission ignored Graves’ statements that Doubleday’s game permitted hitting
the runner with a ball to put him out, changing the quoted text to state that
Doubleday eliminated that practice.
General Doubleday kept extensive diaries throughout his life and he was a noted
speaker, but he never said or wrote anything about having visited Cooperstown,
and never mentioned the game of baseball in any of his writings or talks (except for
a requisition for 'baseball implements for the amusement of the men' while he
commanded the 24th U. S. Infantry at Fort McKavett in Texas in June of 1871). And
he certainly never took credit for inventing the game. General Doubleday passed
away in 1893, over a decade before he or anyone else would hear that he had been
named as the originator of baseball.
It is possible that young Graves had witnessed some kind of ball game being played,
since a number of similar games were being played at the time, including Rounders
and Town ball, but it wasn’t Baseball. It has also been speculated that Graves might
have seen or known Doubleday's cousin, also named Abner in or near
By the mid 1930s, enough testimony and evidence had been brought forth to
establish that baseball did in fact have it’s origins in Rounders and other older
games, and that in 1845, Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr. penned the first formal set of
rules of the game that was to become the National Pastime. Being noted for
originating the game as we know it, Mr. Cartwright was enshrined in the Baseball
Hall of Fame in 1938. However, the Hall now acknowledges that there is little
evidence of General Doubleday’s contribution to the game.
Notes about some of the other icons, graphics,
fonts and effects used on this website
For the most part, I have used fonts and typefaces that can be found on most
operating systems, particularly Bookman Old Style, Book Antiqua and
Baskerville. That's because they closely represent the style of printing found
during the time period that 'Vintage Base Ball' was played. However, on
some pages, I have used typefaces I purchased from Walden Fonts. (That's
not a paid ad...I really like the product!) Those fonts were copied from actual
documents, posters, advertisements, etc. from the 1800s, but because they
would not likely display on most computers if simply inserted into the text, I
have added those in jpeg format. However, because I want folks to feel free
to copy whatever information they might find useful on this site, I have
limited those examples to some of my links and title pages.
I have also borrowed heavily from other sources for my masthead and other
graphics. The eagle was included in one of the Walden packages (although I
modified the phrase on the banner in Photo Suite) and the two ball players on
the home page were found in one of the Haney's rules books in circulation,
but were slightly changed some when I gave them knickers and different
style ball caps.
Obviously, I have had way too much fun with my computer when it came to
other items on the site. I created the VBB Promotional video and the 'Who's
On First at the Alamo' movie with Pinnacle-Studio. I put bats in the hands
of John Wayne and Abner Doubleday in MGI Photo Suite, and have used that
to create other effects and enhancements for other photos on the site,
including those old looking pictures in the 'Laying out a ball field' section.
That said about the digital photo enhancements, I've begun adding photos
actually taken with a camera and lens dating back to the 1800s. I have been
involved in historical reenactments for years, and my 'impression' was a
civilian photographer. I would take photographs at the events using a one
hundred year old lens and an antique camera and processes used in the
nineteenth century (not Polaroid!). But because it has become harder in
recent years to obtain the materials needed, I have developed a technique
whereby I can now digitally capture the images seen in the old camera,
rendering an authentic looking old time picture. As I add those pictures to
the website, I might label them with my old 'company' name, the Iron
Mountain Photography Co.
In March of 2002, my wife and I flew to Hawaii, and while there, we visited the
grave of Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr., the fellow given most of the credit for
creation of the game of baseball as we know it.
I already had plans to establish a vintage base ball club named after him, but when
I saw the stylized initial on his tombstone, I knew I'd found our team emblem.
I'm still hoping to establish the Cedar Hill Cartwrights BBC and play on the
historic pasture at Penn Farm within Cedar Hill State Park.
|Logo of the Texas Vintage Base Ball League
|Iconic image of Charlie
Brown expressing a feeling
we've all experienced. I
often include this picture
in emails in lieu of certain