Doc Adams and the Laws of Baseball

While I’ve heard the name Doc Adams before, though my familiarity was merely a vague one — and, really, continues to remain vague at the present time.  Clearly, however, I’m going to have to change this.  Headlines yesterday announced the sale of 1857 papers called the “Laws of Baseball” for $3.26 million at an auction.  Written by Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams in 1856 or 1857 (sources vary), the documents seem to indicate that Adams is the true father of  modern baseball, rather than Alexander Cartwright.

Adams had played for the New York Base Ball Club in 1840 and started playing for the New York Knickerbockers five years later, continuing to play into his forties.  Adams is credited with creating the shortstop position, thus named for the task of fielding short throws from outfielders.  He also determined that the bases should be 90 feet apart, the modern distance, and supported the elimination of the “bound rule,” which allowed for balls caught after one bounce to be recorded as outs.

Personally, I would love the opportunity to sit down with those papers and read them over.  I would really be curious to see someone compare them to the present-day MLB rule book and analyze the evolution of the game in that fashion.

More information about the sale can be found at:
‘Laws of Base Ball’ documents dated 1857 establish new founder of sport (ESPN)
Historic ‘Laws of Baseball’ documents sell for more than $3M (USA Today)
‘Laws of Base Ball’ sold for more than $3 million at auction (Sporting News)
Laws of Baseball documents turn a $12K investment into $3.26 million at auction (

Doc Adams (Wikipedia)

5 thoughts on “Doc Adams and the Laws of Baseball

  1. I thought the founder of baseball was the 18th Pharaoh, strange ground rule double decisions taken back then with the great pyramids in the way or helping the way? Do people really pay that kind of money for documents today? I’m surprised with the internet and all the great sharing that goes on, but this is fascinating. I too like staring at time lines of baseball’s evolution. One book I adore and return to often is Diamonds in the Rough the untold history of baseball. Just about everything under the sun in there including creation tales.

    1. Another one of those books on the list that keeps on growing… And it surprises me to. The internet has so much free info and resources to offer, though if I had the money for it, I’ll admit that something like this would be cool to have. Maybe it’s good that I *don’t* have the money for it.

      1. just make sure you read dreaming .400 and write a glowing review and we can call it even. now where is that obnoxious smiley face emoticon?

        1. It’s been sitting in my Amazon shopping cart for quite some time, so I can honestly say the intention is there. Intention will soon become action, I do promise that. I’m looking forward to reading it!

          1. i felt stupid after leaving that as a reply, but now i’m glad i did. i sometimes downplay how great it feels when someone reads my stuff, but the truth is, well, it does feel great. I mean there’s so much risk involved in writing, being exposed like that after putting so much work and heart into a project. I guess in the end we keep writing for other reasons than acknowledgement, but it certainly helps with adjustment and good feeling, confidence and what not.

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