Alexander Cartwright

Alexander "Alick" Joy Cartwright Jr. (April 17, 1820 – July 12, 1892) was a founding member of the New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club in the 1840s. Although he was an inductee of the Baseball Hall of Fame and he was sometimes referred to as a "father of baseball," the importance of his role in the development of the game has been disputed.

The rules of the modern game were long considered to have been based on the Knickerbocker Rules developed in 1845 by Cartwright and a committee from the Knickerbockers. However, later research called this scenario into question.[1]

After the myth of Abner Doubleday having invented baseball in Cooperstown in 1839 was debunked, Cartwright was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a pioneering contributor, 46 years after his death.[2][3] Although it has been stated that Cartwright was officially declared the inventor of the modern game of baseball by the 83rd United States Congress on June 3, 1953,[2][4][5][6] the Congressional Record, the House Journal, and the Senate Journal from June 3, 1953, did not mention Cartwright.[7]

Alexander Cartwright
young man with beard
Cartwright in 1855
Born: Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr.
April 17, 1820
New York City, US
Died: July 12, 1892 (aged 72)
Honolulu, O'ahu, Kingdom of Hawai'i
Career highlights and awards
  • Known for invention of the modern game of baseball (disputed)

Alxr J Cartwright 1882 signature
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Election MethodCentennial Committee

Early life and work

Cartwright was born in 1820 to Alexander Cartwright Sr. (1784–1855), a merchant sea captain, and Esther Rebecca Burlock Cartwright (1792–1871). Alexander Jr. had six siblings. He first worked at the age of 16 in 1836 as a clerk for a Wall Street broker, later doing clerical work at the Union Bank of New York. After hours, he played bat-and-ball games in the streets of Manhattan with volunteer firefighters. Cartwright himself was a volunteer, first with Oceana Hose Company No. 36, and then Knickerbocker Engine Company No. 12.[8] Cartwright's ancestor Edward Cartwright immigrated from Devonshire, England to New England around 1661.[9][10] Cartwright married Eliza Van Wie, from Albany, on June 2, 1842.[8]

A fire destroyed the Union Bank in 1845, forcing Cartwright to find other work. He became a bookseller with his brother, Alfred.[8]

Knickerbocker Base Ball Club

New York Knickerbockers Baseball Club, circa 1847
The New York Knickerbockers Baseball Club, circa 1847. Cartwright at the top middle. The identification of Cartwright has been disputed. [11]
Early baseball game played at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey (lithograph by Currier and Ives)

One of the earliest known established clubs was the Gotham Base Ball Club, who played a brand of bat-and-ball game often called "town ball" or "round ball," but in New York more usually "base ball," somewhat similar to but not identical to the English sport of rounders, on a field at 4th Avenue and 27th Street. In 1837, Gotham member William R. Wheaton drew up rules converting this playground game into a more elaborate and interesting sport to be played by adults. In 1842, Cartwright led the establishment of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club (named after the Knickerbocker Fire Engine Company), a breakaway group from the Gothams.

In 1845, a committee from the new club including Wheaton (but not Cartwright) drew up rules resembling those of the Gothams. The major precepts included the stipulations that foul territories were to be introduced for the first time, and the practice of retiring a runner by hitting him with a thrown ball was forbidden.[12] Cartwright is also erroneously credited for introducing flat bases at uniform distances, three strikes per batter, and nine players in the outfield.[13] However, modern scholarship has cast doubt on the originality of these rules, as information has come to light about the New York clubs that predated the Knickerbockers, in particular the rules devised by William R. Wheaton for the Gotham Club in 1837. Baseball historian Jeffrey Kittel has concluded that none of the Knickerbocker Rules of 1845 was original, with the possible exception of three-out innings.[14] As MLB's Official Historian John Thorn wrote, Cartwright has "a plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame on which every word of substance is false. Alex Cartwright did not set the base paths at ninety feet, the sides at nine men, or the game at nine innings." [15]

The first clearly documented match between two baseball clubs under these rules took place on June 19, 1846, at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey. In this match, the Knickerbockers lost to the "New York nine" (probably the parent Gotham Club) by a score of 23 to 1.[16] Some authors have also questioned the supposed "first game" under the new rules. The Knickerbockers' scorebook shows intra-club games during 1845; the New York Base Ball Club played at least three games against a Brooklyn club in 1845 also, but the rules used are unknown. Those who have studied the score-book have concluded that the differences in the games of 1845 and 1846, compared with the specifications of the Knickerbocker rules, are minimal.


Cartwright's tombstone in Oahu Cemetery, Honolulu

In 1849, Cartwright headed to California for the gold rush, and then continued on to work and live in the Kingdom of Hawaii. His family came to join him in 1851: wife Eliza Van Wie, son DeWitt (1843–1870), daughter Mary (1845–1869), and daughter Catherine (Kate) Lee (1849–1851). In Hawaii, sons Bruce Cartwright (1853–1919) and Alexander Joy Cartwright III (1855–1921) were born. Some secondary sources claim Cartwright set up a baseball field on the island of Oahu at Makiki Field in 1852, but Nucciarone states that before 1866, the modern game of baseball was not known or even played in Honolulu.[17] Also, she states that during Cartwright's lifetime he was not declared or documented as an originator of baseball in Hawaii.[17]

Alexander Cartwright (PP-69-3-004)
Cartwright in later life as fire chief

Cartwright served as fire chief of Honolulu from 1850 through June 30, 1863.[18] He was an advisor to King David Kalākaua and Queen Emma. Cartwright died on July 12, 1892, six months before the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893. One of the leaders of the overthrow movement was Lorrin A. Thurston, who played baseball with classmate Alexander Cartwright III at Punahou School. He was buried in Oahu Cemetery.[16]


After about two decades of controversy, invention of America's "national game" of baseball was attributed to Abner Doubleday by the Mills Commission (1905–1907). Some baseball historians promptly cried foul and others joined throughout the 20th century. Cartwright was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938.

New York City librarian Robert W. Henderson documented Cartwright's contributions to baseball in his 1947 book Bat, Ball, and Bishop.[19] Although there is no question that Cartwright was a prominent figure in the early development of baseball, some students of baseball history have suggested that Henderson and others embellished Cartwright's role. The primary complaint is that touting Cartwright as the "true" inventor of the modern game was an effort to find an alternative single individual to counter the "invention" of baseball by Abner Doubleday.[15]

Cartwright was the subject of a 1973 biography, The Man Who Invented Baseball, by Harold Peterson.[20] He was the subject of two biographies written in 2009. Jay Martin's Live All You Can: Alexander Joy Cartwright & the Invention of Modern Baseball supports Cartwright as the inventor of baseball, while Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend by Monica Nucciarone credits Cartwright as one of the game's pioneers but not its sole founder.[21][22] The 2004 discovery of a newspaper interview with fellow Knickerbocker founder William R. Wheaton cast doubt on Cartwright's role. Wheaton stated that most of the rules long attributed to Cartwright and the Knickerbockers had in fact been developed by the older Gotham Club before the Knickerbockers' founding.[15]

In 1938, Makiki Field in Honolulu was renamed Cartwright Field.[23] The Cartwright Cup is awarded to the Hawaii state high school baseball champions each year.[24]

1857 Laws of Base Ball

In 2016, experts verified the authenticity of a set of documents titled "Laws of BaseBall" written in 1857 by New York Knickerbockers president Daniel "Doc" Adams after a discussion with executives of 14 other New York-area clubs. The documents established the rules of the game, including nine innings, nine players on the field and 90-foot basepaths. Cartwright was not a participant at the 1857 meeting, as he was living in Hawaii.[25]

See also


  1. ^ Hershberger, Richard. "The Creation of the Alexander Cartwright Myth". The Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b Ty Cobb: Safe at Home. Globe Pequot. 2008. ISBN 978-0-7627-4480-0.
  3. ^ "Alexander Cartwright". Official website of Alexander Cartwright. Archived from the original on 2013-02-05.
  4. ^ Alice Low and John O'Brien (2009). The Fastest Game on Two Feet: And Other Poems About How Sports Began. Holiday House. ISBN 978-0-8234-1905-0.
  5. ^ "Year In Review : 1953 National League". Baseball Almanac.
  6. ^ Jim Lilliefors (2009-07-01). Ball Cap Nation: A Journey Through the World of America's National Hat. Clerisy Press. ISBN 978-1-57860-411-1.
  7. ^ Berenbak, Adam (Fall 2014). "Henderson, Cartwright, and the 1953 U.S. Congress". Baseball Research Journal. Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  8. ^ a b c Monica Nucciarone. "Alexander Cartwright". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  9. ^ "The American Game". SIU Press – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Live All You Can: Alexander Joy Cartwright and the Invention of Modern Baseball By Jay Martin
  11. ^ The identification of Cartwright in this image is at least controversial. Articles seriously challenging this identification can be found in Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) newsletters at "Just Another Misidentified Baseball Photo?". Society of American Baseball Research. October 2011. Retrieved August 16, 2012. and at " So, are there any Knickerbockers in that 1840’s half-plate daguerreotype?". Society of American Baseball Research. March 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  12. ^ "Alexander Cartwright: First Modern Game of Baseball 1845". Baseball Historian. Archived from the original on 12 July 2000.
  13. ^ Baseball: A History of America's Favorite Game. Random House Digital, Inc. 2008-12-24. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-307-49406-1.
  14. ^ Kittel, Jeffrey. "Evolution or Revolution? A Rule-By-Rule Analysis of the 1845 Knickerbocker Rules". Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  15. ^ a b c Thorn, John, Baseball in the Garden of Eden: the Secret History of the Early Game New York: Simon & Schuster (2011)
  16. ^ a b Nucciarone, Monica (2009). "Chapter 2: The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York". Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 12–22. ISBN 978-0-8032-3353-9.
  17. ^ a b Nucciarone, Monica (2009). Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-8032-3353-9. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  18. ^ "Cartwright, A.J. office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Archived from the original on 2011-08-11. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
  19. ^ Robert William Henderson (1947). Ball, bat and bishop: the origin of ball games. Rockport Press.
  20. ^ Thorn, John (March 12, 2011). "Debate Over Baseball's Origins Spills Into Another Century". The New York Times. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  21. ^ Bailey, James. "Dueling Cartwright biographies offer differing views of his contributions". Baseball America. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  22. ^ Nucciarone, Monica (2009). Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-8032-3353-9. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  23. ^ Nucciarone, Monica (2009). Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-8032-3353-9. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  24. ^ "Cartwright Cup for state baseball champ unveiled today". The Honolulu Advertiser. May 6, 2007. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  25. ^ "'Laws of Base Ball' documents dated 1857 establish new founder of sport". ESPN. 8 April 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.

External links

1820 in the United States

Events from the year 1820 in the United States.

1846 in the United States

Events from the year 1846 in the United States. In this year, the United States declares war on Mexico, starting the Mexican–American War.

1892 in baseball

The following are the baseball events of the year 1892 throughout the world.

1938 Major League Baseball season

The 1938 Major League Baseball season.

Alexander Cartwright (academic)

Alexander N. Cartwright is a US academic and the current chancellor of the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.

Baseball in Greece

Baseball in Greece is regulated by the Hellenic Amateur Baseball Federation (HABF), which was founded in 1997. HABF overseas is represented by one league known as the Greek Baseball league. Greece is represented in international play by the Greek National Baseball Team. 56-game regular season.

Baseball in South Korea

Baseball is believed to have been introduced to Korea in 1905 by American missionaries during the Korean Empire, after which it gradually attained prominence. It is one of the most popular sports in the country. There are 10 pro teams in the Korea Baseball Organization. Baseball season runs from March to October.

Baseball in Spain

The main ruling organization regarding baseball in Spain is the Royal Spanish Baseball and Softball Federation (Real Federación Española de Béisbol y Sófbol).

Cartwright (surname)

Cartwright is an English surname that originally means a maker of carts. Notable people with the surname include:

Alan Cartwright (born 1945), British musician

Alexander Cartwright (1820–1892), American engineer and supposed inventor of baseball

Angela Cartwright (born 1952), British-born American actress

Ann Cartwright (born 1925), British statistician and socio-medical researcher

Anthony Cartwright (cricketer) (born 1940), New Zealand cricketer

Anthony Cartwright (writer) (born 1973), British novelist

Arnaud Cartwright Marts (1888–1970), American academic, president of Bucknell University (1935–1945)

Bec Cartwright (born 1983), Australian actress and singer

Ben Cartwright (disambiguation), multiple people

Bill Cartwright (born 1957), American basketball player

Bill Cartwright (disambiguation), several people

Brian Cartwright (born 1948), American lawyer and astrophysicist

Bryce Cartwright (born 1994), Australian Rugby League player

Buns Cartwright (1887–1976), English cricketer and soldier

Carol A. Cartwright, American academic, president of Kent State University (1991–2006) and Bowling Green State University (2008)

Casimir Cartwright van Straubenzee (1867–1956), British soldier

Christopher Cartwright (1602–1658), English clergyman

Cyril Cartwright, British cyclist

D. F. Cartwright (1916–2009), British soldier, businessman and commercial fisherman

David Cartwright (1920–1997), tenth Suffragan Bishop of Southampton

Dave Cartwright (born 1943), British musician and author

Deirdre Cartwright, British guitarist

Ed Cartwright (1859–1933), American baseball player

Edward David Cartwright (1920–1997), British bishop, Bishop of Southampton (1984–1989)

Edmund Cartwright (1743–1823), British clergyman and inventor of the power loom

Erik Cartwright (born 1950), musician

Fairfax Cartwright (1823–1881), British politician

Fairfax Leighton Cartwright (1857–1928), British author and diplomat, Ambassador to Austria-Hungary (1908–1913)

Gary Cartwright (born 1952), former Australian politician

Geoff Cartwright, Australian actor

George Cartwright (disambiguation), multiple people

Greg Cartwright (born 1970), American musician

Mrs H. Cartwright (fl.1776 -1787), British writer

Hannah Cartwright, a.k.a. Augustus Ghost, vocalist for Snow Ghosts

Harold Cartwright (born 1951), English cricketer

Hilton Cartwright (born 1990), Zimbabwean-Australian cricketer

Hubert James Cartwright (1900–1958), Roman Catholic coadjutor bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington

Hugh Cartwright (died 1572), English politician

Ian Cartwright (born 1964), English footballer

James Cartwright (born 1949), American soldier, eighth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

James Cartwright (canoeist) (born 1976), Canadian canoeist

Jim Cartwright (born 1958), English dramatist

John Cartwright (disambiguation), multiple people

Joe Cartwright (rugby league), English rugby league player

Joseph Cartwright (disambiguation), multiple people

Justin Cartwright (1945–2018), British novelist

Julia Cartwright Ady (1851–1924), British art critic

Kelly Cartwright (born 1989), Australian athlete

Kit Cartwright (born 1954), American football administrator and a former American football player and coach

Lee Cartwright (born 1972), English footballer

Lionel Cartwright (born 1960), American country musician

Lisa Cartwright, American scholar of visual culture

Lynn Cartwright (1927–2004), American actress

Mark Cartwright (born 1973), English footballer

Matt Cartwright (born 1961), American lawyer and politician representing the 8th district of Pennsylvania in the US House of Representatives

Mary Cartwright (1900–1998), British mathematician

Nancy Cartwright (born 1957), American voice actress

Nancy Cartwright (philosopher) (born 1943), American philosopher

Oscar Ling Cartwright (1900–1983), American entomologist who specialized in scarab beetles

Peggy Cartwright (1912–2001), Canadian silent-era actress

Peter Cartwright (disambiguation), multiple people

Philip Cartwright (1880-1955), English cricketer

Randy Cartwright (born 1951), American animator

Rianti Cartwright (born 1983), Indonesian actress, model and television presenter

Richard Cartwright (disambiguation), multiple people

Robert Cartwright, art director

Rock Cartwright (born 1979), American football player

Ryan Cartwright (born 1981), British actor

Samuel Cartwright (1789–1864), British dentist

Samuel A. Cartwright (1793–1863), Confederate States of America physician

Silvia Cartwright (born 1943), New Zealand lawyer, 18th Governor-General of New Zealand (2001–2006)

Steve Cartwright, American computer and video game designer

Stephen Cartwright (1947–2004), British illustrator

Thomas Cartwright (disambiguation), multiple people

Tom Cartwright (1935–2007), English cricketer

Veronica Cartwright (born 1949), English actress

Vincent Cartwright (1882–1965), English rugby union player and cricketer

Walter Cartwright (1871-????), English footballer

Wilburn Cartwright (1892–1979), American lawyer and politician

William Cartwright (disambiguation), multiple people

Duncan Curry

Duncan Fraser Curry (November 28, 1812 – April 1894) was an American baseball pioneer and insurance executive.

Curry was the first president of the Knickerbockers Base Ball Club, reported to be the first organized baseball club in 1845. He is also credited with participating in the drafting of the Knickerbocker Rules, the first written set of official baseball rules. He also served on the game's various rules committees from 1845 until at least 1856.

Curry was also one of the founders of the Republic Fire Insurance Company and served as its secretary from 1852 to 1882.

Elysian Fields, Hoboken, New Jersey

Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey is believed to be the site of the first organized baseball game, giving Hoboken a strong claim to be the birthplace of baseball.

Frank Turk

Frank Turk (1817/18 – July 15, 1887) was an American politician, jurist and entrepreneur. He was noted as a pioneer of the city of San Francisco, California, and Turk Street there was named after him.

He was born in Stamford, Connecticut, and studied law in New York City. He worked in New York City post office under John Lorimer Graham. While in New York he belonged to the New York Knickerbockers, the original modern baseball club, and with fellow Knickerbocker Alexander Cartwright traveled to San Francisco in 1849 as part of the California Gold Rush; he is credited with Cartwright for bringing the game of baseball to San Francisco. Working in the San Francisco Post Office here under John W. Geary. In August 1849 Frank Turk was elected Vice Alcalde (vice mayor) of San Francisco with John W. Geary as First Alcade. Frank Turk also practiced law, and had as partners at various times Hall McAllister, Mr. Lippitt and J. K. Rose. At one time Frank Turk owned nearly the whole of Nob Hill and a large part of the Las Pulgas ranch, San Mateo county.

Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame

The Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame is a sports hall of fame and museum in the U.S. state of Hawaii. According to the hall's official website, it serves as the "state museum for sports history in the islands," and "is best described as an educational repository created to enshrine athletes, pioneers and contributors of Hawai'i's rich sports history." The organization was founded in 1997 and a selection committee meets once a year in December. The flagship exhibition for the hall is located in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

The 2016 class, inducted in May 2016, included water polo player Brandon Brooks, decathlete Bryan Clay, soccer player Brian Ching, and brothers Ma'ake Kemoeatu and Chris Kemoeatu for American football.

Honolulu Fire Department

The Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) provides fire protection and first responder emergency medical services to the City & County of Honolulu, Hawaii, United States, under the jurisdiction of the Mayor of Honolulu. Founded on December 27, 1850 by Kamehameha III and Alexander Cartwright, the Honolulu Fire Department serves and protects the entire island of O'ahu, covering over 600 square miles (1,600 km2) of territory, home to more than 880,000 residents and over 4 million annual visitors.The HFD is one of just a handful of fire departments in the nation that is Nationally accredited. The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) confers Accredited Agency status for a period of five years.

Knickerbocker Club

The Knickerbocker Club (known informally as The Knick), is a gentlemen's club in New York City founded in 1871.

The name "Knickerbocker", mainly thanks to writer Washington Irving, was a byword for a New York patrician, comparable to a "Boston Brahmin."

National Association of Professional Base Ball Players

The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP), or known simply as the National Association (NA), was founded in 1871 and continued through the 1875 season. It succeeded and incorporated several professional clubs from the previous National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) of 1857-1870, sometimes called "the amateur association"; in turn several of its clubs created the succeeding National League of Professional Baseball Clubs. Later shortened simply to be called the National League, it was founded 1876, the earliest one half of modern Major League Baseball (MLB) in America, with the later competing American League of Professional Base Ball Clubs in 1901, known too as the American League.

New York Knickerbockers

The New York Knickerbockers were one of the first organized baseball teams which played under a set of rules similar to the game today. In 1845, the team was founded by Alexander Cartwright, considered one of the original developers of modern baseball. In 1851, the New York Knickerbockers wore the first ever recorded baseball uniforms.

Oahu Cemetery

The Oʻahu Cemetery is the resting place of many notable early residents of the Honolulu area. They range from missionaries and politicians to sports pioneers and philosophers. Over time it was expanded to become an area known as the Nuʻuanu Cemetery.

Steve Cooke

Steven Cooke (born 1970) is a former professional baseball player who pitched in the Major Leagues from 1992–1994 and 1996-1998. He was named as the LHP in the Topps All-Star Rookie Team in 1993.

Veterans Committee
First basemen
Second basemen
Third basemen
Designated hitters
Executives /

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