Alexander Cartwright

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Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr. (April 17, 1820 – July 12, 1892), was officially declared the inventor of the modern game of baseball by the United States Congress on June 3, 1953.[1] More judiciously, he is one of several people sometimes called a "father of baseball" in the 21st century.



Cartwright was a bookseller in Manhattan, and a volunteer fireman.[2] He led the establishment of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club (after the Knickerbocker Fire Engine Company) in 1842.[2] They played a brand of stick-and-ball game called the town game. In 1845 Cartwright and a committee from his club drew up rules converting this playground game into a more elaborate and interesting sport to be played by adults. He and other firemen played on a field at 47th Avenue and 27th Streets.[2] The rules of the modern game are based on their by-laws, and Cartwright is thought to be the first person to draw a diagram of a diamond shaped field.[2]

The Knickerbockers participated in the first known match between two clubs under these rules on June 19, 1846, and lost to the "New York Nine" by a score of 21 to 1. Previously they had used the rules in their own games and other clubs may have done so, too.


In 1849 he headed to California for the gold rush, but ended up in the Hawaiian islands instead. His family came to join him in 1851: wife Eliza Van Wie and son DeWitt (1843–?) daughter Mary (1845–?), daughter Catherine (Kate) Lee (1849–1851). In Hawaii sons Bruce Cartwright (1853–?) and Alexander Joy Cartwright III (1855–?) were born. He set up a baseball field on the island at Maliki Field. He served as fire chief of Honolulu from 1850 through June 30, 1863.[3] As advisor to King David Kalākaua and Queen Emma the founder of baseball encouraged the growth of baseball on the islands until his death on July 12, 1892, a year before the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 by American heritage missionary and sugar plantation owners. 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.[4][5]

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