New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club

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New York Knickerbockers Formed

Baseball history began in earnest in the summer of 1842 in New York City. There is no doubt that the game then and now had origins in the small town of America. This is how it began. The men learned to play the game to create a distraction from life and for exercise. The earlier players were from all facets of society. There were insurance salesman, Wall Street brokers. doctors, lawyers, firemen and even cigar tycoons. This became a ritual at about 3 PM everyday. They played on a vacant lot at the corner of Madison Avenue and 23rd Street. Then they moved to a larger area at the foot of Murray Hill.  Shipping clerk, 25 yr-old Alexander Cartwright on September 23, 1845 and 28 others of interest formed the New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club.

New York Knickerbockers Make Rules

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Cartwright and President of the Knickerbockers, Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams began to write rules for the game. Prior to this there were basically no rules. All ball hit were fair balls and runners and fielders ran head-long into each other.

The rule committee decided the infield should be diamond shape instead of square and first and third base were to be forty two paces apart. They identified several other rules as they instituted the balk rule. Foul lines were installed and pitchers were to throw the ball underhand keeping the elbow and wrist straight. If a batter missed three pitches they were out. and runners were to be tagged out and not have the ball thrown at them any longer.

The city of New York was growing and there was less space to play ball so they began taking a ferry across the Hudson River to Hoboken, NJ. to a beautiful area known as Elysian Fields. It had flowers and trees surrounding it and the area included many taverns which made for a happy time. Also, people began wandering over to watch and become fans of the game.

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Weekends were a big deal. The New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club began renting the field on weekends with a dressing room for seventy five dollars. At Elysian Fields, on June 19, 1846, the Knickerbockers played their first scheduled game using the new rules. They lost 33-1. It was a good time and their fame spread. Now others began playing base ball which include some surly type men.

Teams began forming with those in a common bond, such as firemen, boarding house patrons, saloons. policemen, actors and politics. Immigrants from England and Germany enjoyed the diversion. Those from Ireland showing the strongest interest.

The Knickerbockers continued to play and in 1857 they made a new rule that whatever team was ahead after nine innings,  instead of first team to 21,was determined the winner. They continued to make changes in their rules. One rule was anyone swearing would be fined six cents and if you argued with the umpire it cost a fine of  a quarter.

When the National Association of Base Ball Players was formed in 1857, there were 15 other clubs.


About the author– Tom Knuppel has been writing about baseball and sports for a few decades. As an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan he began with the blog CardinalsGM. Tom is a member of the United Cardinals Bloggers and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. He also maintains the History of Cardinals website. More recently he has been busy at KnupSolutions and the primary writer of many sports at KnupSports and adds content at Sports 2.0. Tom is a retired High School English and Speech teacher and has completed over one hundred sportsbook reviews. He also can be followed on Twitter at tknup.

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