By Peter J. Nash
Nov. 8, 2010
This just in: Bud Selig thinks Abner Doubleday is the "Father of Baseball."
-Abner Doubleday never played a role in the development of our ”National Pastime,” but thanks to A.G. Spalding and the Mills Commission of 1905, documents signed by him have been sought by baseball collectors for years. His ties to Cooperstown and the fraudulent “Doubleday Baseball“ as baseball’s mythical ”founding father” have made his signatures valuable to baseball collectors who have little interest in his career as a General in the Civil War.
- Brittany Turner, a Project Assistant for the New York State Archives, informs us that many documents signed by Abner Doubleday in their collection are missing and presumed stolen. Turner works with the State Archives program, To Preserve and Protect: Security Solutions for New York’s Historical Records, and is in the process of furnishing us with a list of Doubleday items to look out for. One such letter is a February 16, 1865 letter written by Doubleday to the Adjunct General’s Office. We will post the complete list of information when it becomes available.
-While MLB and Bud Selig have been tight-lipped on the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Halper donation scandal, autograph expert Ron Keurajian showed us a prompt response he received last month from MLB’s Commissioner on another issue. Ron is putting the finishing touches on his upcoming book about Baseball Hall of Famer autographs and was asking Selig what MLB’s stance was on the Mills Commission. Although “some historians” may disagree with the commish, he’s sticking with Spalding, proclaiming: “I really believe that Abner Doubleday is the “Father of Baseball.” Bud has raised a few SABR eyebrows, to say the least.
-Interestingly enough, Ron Keurajian supports Selig’s views. In his opinion, “A few “baseball historians” with way too much time on their hands have attempted to rewrite baseball history. The Mills Commission included the testimony of eye wittnesses to the events of 1839. They ignore concrete evidence and wish to dethrone Doubleday as the game’s father. I suggest they find a new hobby, like bottle cap collecting.”
-All this Doubleday talk reminds us of a 1956 letter from Hall of Fame Vice-President Paul Kerr to Dr. Harold Seymour. Kerr wrote, “We (the HOF) had no part in the findings of General Abner Doubleday discovering baseball…I think we can safely say that it is no longer important who discovered baseball.”
-Still no answers from the Baseball Hall of Fame to questions raised in our last report about the bogus 1951 Mickey Mantle road jersey from the Barry Halper Collection. When was the jersey returned to Halper or his family, and what was the compensation to MLB and the HOF in relation to their $7 million purchase and donation? Did the HOF ever inform MLB of the return of the Mantle jersey which was featured in the press and official Cooperstown brochures? Inquiring minds want to know.
-Sources at the Boston Public Library indicate that they may be close to securing the return of one of “Nuf-Ced” McGreevy’s stolen baseball pictures.
-Turns out there’s more proof that the Mickey Mantle Kansas City jersey sold as a “replica” in the REA 2007 auction was also held out by Barry Halper as being the “real deal.” The jersey was featured in the 1988 video of Halper’s collection as Mantle’s “Minor League Uniform.” Just like Halper’s 1951 number “6″ Mantle jersey, the Kansas City jersey was accompanied by a note from Mantle authenticating the garment.
The same Mantle Kansas City jersey sold as a "replica" in the REA 2007 auction appeared in Barry Halper's 1988 film as Mantle's authentic "Minor League Uniform."
-One of our astute readers passed along a 1999 article from Sports Collectors Digest that reveals additional information on the Halper/Mantle jersey situation. The article, written by Dan Schlossberg and published on July 23, 1999 states:
“Few of the 1,068 uniforms acquired by Halper remain. The Hall of Fame , which plans to open a Barry Halper wing in September, got the No. 6 Yankee jersey Mantle wore as a rookie, but Halper still has the Kansas City uniform Mantle wore after the Yankees sent him out for more minor league seasoning during that same 1951 season.”
-Barry Halper told Dan Schlossberg more about his Kansas City Mantle jersey in the 1999 SCD article:
“Mickey wrote a nice message about it. It said, “This is the uniform I wore after they sent me down.” I always had that done. In fact, I coined the phrase “Letter of Authenticity.”
-The Halper video is now available on a DVD from Genius Entertainment under the title The Ultimate Baseball Collector’s Collection. Should Genius be concerned that their video prominently features the following bogus items: Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle rookie jerseys; Ty Cobb’s Detroit jersey from Al Stump; Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Black Betsy Bat; and assorted Ty Cobb items from the Al Stump Collection???
-Stay tuned for new updates on; the stolen wills of Babe Ruth and George Wright’s wife; a possible stolen NYPL item offered on EBAY; the return of stolen items to the National Baseball Library; and the FBI’s on-going investigation into the stolen Harry Wright Correspondence.
Ron Keurajian asked us to publish his response to members of the media who have commented on his letter from MLB’s Commissioner and his support of Bud Selig’s belief that Abner Doubleday is the “Father of Baseball”:
For many years there has been great debate as to the origins of baseball. For years Union General Abner Doubleday was the uncontested “Father” of the game having first organized the game way back in 1839 on farmer Phinney‘s cow pasture. Decades would pass without much controversy and Doubleday became a hallowed figure of the National Pastime, and rightly so. In 1905, Major League baseball executives, wanting to put the question to bed once and for all, organized the Mills Commission, its charge to determine who created the game of baseball. The Commission included many of the most prominent men of the game. After extensive research, plowing through ancient records, and interviewing an eye witness to the events of 1839, the Commission pronounced General Doubleday as the “Father of Baseball“.
For many years this was accepted as fact, a fact backed by concrete evidence unearth by the Mills Commission. Fast forward a few decades and suddenly a few, mind you just a few, baseball buffs, who called themselves “historians” challenged the long accepted fact of Doubleday and the birth of baseball. You know the type, those who try to make a name for themselves by trying to “upset the apple cart” merely to see what reaction they get. These are the people with too much time on their hands and like to cause trouble.
In any event, Doubleday came under attack by these historians (or more properly revisionists) far removed in time from the birth of the game. They really have no evidence to the contrary but what the hell never let facts get in the way of a good story.
The assault on Doubleday and his rightful placed in baseball history had commenced. They attacked Doubleday, the records, the testimony, and the Mills Commission because Doubleday didn’t fit in with their attempt to change baseball history. These amateur experts of the Grand Old Game needed to make a name for themselves and if the truth got crushed, so be it.
Lets look at the evidence between Doubleday vs. revisionists. The revisionists desperately needed a new hero of the game, a man they could call the “Father of Baseball“, some held out Alexander Cartwright, while other chose Henry Chadwick, or maybe it was Dr. Smith from Lost In Space. Who knows, who really cares. Their evidence nothing more than personal bias I suppose and a need to change the facts.
On the other hand there was the Mills Commission that was comprised of National League President Abraham Mills, National League President Morgan Bulkeley, National League President Nick Young, Washington Club President Art Gorman, In addition there was Alfred Reach, Baseball Hall of Famer George Wright, and James E. Sullivan, all elder statesmen of the game. The Commission did years of research, had the period records at hand and the eye witness testimony of noted mining engineer Abner Graves, who, under oath, testified that Doubleday gave birth to the game in 1839. So who carries more weight, the Mills Commission with its three N L Presidents and eyewitness testimony or the handful of “historians” of the 20th century who were born over 100 years after that first game was played so long ago – gheez who did they interview? Really what was their evidence that could trump the Mills Commission, maybe they were reading tea leaves or more properly…smoking them. It think its pretty clear which determination is based in fact and which is based on folly.
Let me digress a bit, humor me as I think this is a good point. A while back I was watching a program as to the origins of the Moon. A rouge centennial planet meandering through the solar system slammed into the Earth about 4.5 billion years ago and the ensuing debris field created the Moon. Oh Really?? How do they know this? Did they have detailed photographs of this event, maybe they had rare video footage of the collision. Or possibly they had an affidavit signed by Abner Graves attesting to the collision. Or maybe it is simply made up to give someone their 15 minutes of fame. Just as these baseball “historians” are looking for their moment in the sun, brief as it is.
I get so tired of those who have this uncontrollable need to distort facts in a weak attempt to change history. Doubleday is not the only target, not by far. Ty Cobb has come under attack in recent years. Some revisionists try to deduct two hits from Cobb’s lifetime record so they can proudly proclaim (at the top of their lungs) Cobb’s lifetime average is not the .367 as reported in the official records but it is in fact .366! So what? Nobody cares!
Whether it be Doubleday, Cobb, or some other player that falls in the cross hairs of the revisionists, the battle continues between the truth and the not-so-truth.
In a letter the Commissioner of baseball Bud Selig stated his belief that Doubleday was the Father of Baseball. I needed clarification for a book I am writing on baseball autographs. Great, most real students of the game hold that belief. Yet Selig is basically lynched by those who hold a different view. I hate to inform the revisionists but most fans consider Doubleday as the Father of Baseball. Its called Doubleday Field for a reason don’t you think.
In the end the revisionist’s efforts will prove futile and their “research” relegated to some forgotten obscurity. Doubleday is the Father of the National pastime and will remain such for centuries to come – Sorry that’s just the way it is. To this small handful of amateur baseball experts I suggest they concentrate of some other interest and stop trying to distort baseball history to satisfy some personal shortcomings.
Ronald B. Keurajian
The letter that brought the Abner Doubleday "Baseball Creation Myth" back to life
(Readers with new information on any of these issues or others can drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org)