On October 9, 1894, Jack Manning of the Philadelphia Quakers (Phillies) became the first player in franchise history to hit three home runs in a single game. The outfielder accomplished the feat in an 11-7 loss to the White Stockings at Chicago’s Lake Front Park.
On May 20, 1878, Jim McCormick became the first player born in Scotland to appear in a major league game. In his debut, right-handed pitcher McCormick and the Indianapolis Blues lost to the Chicago White Stockings, 3-1. The following season, the Scot would become the team’s manager as the team made its move to Cleveland. At the age of 23, this made McCormick the youngest skipper in the game.
The Chicago White Stockings, in their fifth season as a franchise, made their National League debut on April 25, 1876, winning 4-0 over the Grays at the Louisville Baseball Park in Kentucky. The White Stockings won the NL’s first championship during this season with a record of 52–14. The franchise would be also known as the Colts and the Orphans before becoming the Cubs in 1903.
On August 14, 1888, New York Giants pitcher Tim Keefe lost to Gus Krock and the White Stockings, 4-2, at the Polo Grounds. This defeat marked the end of a nineteen-game winning streak for Keefe. 1888 proved to be the Hall of Fame pitcher’s best year, as he posted a 35-12 record and a 1.74 ERA with 335 strikeouts, earning him the Triple Crown that season.
Experiencing inflammation in his right index finger, on June 16, 1884, right-handed pitcher Larry Corcoran of the White Stockings pitched ambidextrously in a game against the Buffalo Bisons. He alternated arms throughout, though I haven’t been able to figure out if he switched arms every pitch or every batter. He would keep this up for four innings, before being moved to shortstop, as Chicago lost 20-9 in Buffalo.
Alexander Cartwright is often referred to today as The Father of Modern Baseball. Unlike Abner Doubleday, whose involvement in the beginnings of baseball is virtually a proven myth, Cartwright’s role in the establishment of this great game is more soundly documented. In 1845, Cartwright and the members of the New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club codified the first set of rules and regulations for the game as we recognize it today. The rules were widely adopted and eventually evolved into the modern game.
Variations of rules for early baseball existed before Cartwright, but it was the Knickerbockers who first committed a set of regulations to paper. Cartwright is credited with publishing the idea of foul territory, for eliminating the practice of “soaking” (that is, throwing the ball at the runner as a method for getting him out), and for setting the distance between bases (though, at the time, was still a vague definition, described as “forty-two paces” from first base to third and from home plate to second base). For a list of the Knickerbocker Rules, click here.
Born April 17, 1820 in New York, New York, Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr. was the son of a merchant sea captain. In 1836, at the age of sixteen, Cartwright began working as a clerk in a broker’s office on Wall Street, Coit & Cochrane. He later worked as a clerk for Union Bank of New York. After working hours, Cartwright could usually be found on the streets playing games of ball with other New York men. When the Union Bank burned down in a fire in 1845, Cartwright joined his brother, Alfred, as a bookseller.
Naturally, Cartwright had a life outside of work and playing ball. On June 2, 1842, he married Eliza Van Wie, and the couple went on to have three children: DeWitt, Mary, and Catherine Lee. Additionally, Cartwright served as a volunteer fireman. At one point, he served at the Knickerbocker Engine Company No. 12, which, it is believed, may be how the young men who played ball with Cartwright named their club.
In September of 1845, Cartwright and the rest of the Knickerbockers traveled across the Hudson River to Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey. Here they drew up the constitution and bylaws which became known as the “Knickerbocker Rules” or the “Cartwright Rules.” They played their first recorded game on October 6, 1845 and recorded their first game against another team on June 19, 1846 against the New York Club. The New York Club won the game 23-1.
Details about Cartwright’s life from 1846 to 1849 remain vague. After gold was discovered in California in 1848, Cartwright decided to head west in March 1849. Some claim that, on his way to California, Cartwright played and taught baseball all across the plains, but these claims remain unsubstantiated. Shortly after arriving in California, Cartwright sailed to Hawaii in August 1849. Here he became a bookkeeper in a ship chandler’s business. He also served as fire chief of Honolulu from 1850 to 1863. He and Eliza had two more children in Honolulu, Bruce and Alexander III.
In 1875, King Kalakaua, for whom Cartwright served as financial advisor, became the first Hawaiian monarch to attend a baseball game. The game was played between the Athletes and the Pensacolas. Whether Cartwright had a role in introducing baseball to Hawaii, however, remains unclear. Nor is he mentioned in playing a role in the 1888-89 World Tour of Albert Spalding’s Chicago White Stockings, which included a trip to Honolulu.
Alexander Cartwright died on July 12, 1892. His obituary, published in the Hawaiian Gazette and the Pacific Commercial Advertiser stated, “To publish more than an epitome of the eventful life of A. J. Cartwright is not practicable in a work of this character. He was one of the early argonauts of California, and his biography would, if exhaustively written, be extremely interesting. It would indeed fill a volume, and be an invaluable text book [sic] to place in the hands of the rising generation to reflect upon and emulate.”
Cartwright was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938.
“Alexander Cartwright.” Baseball Reference, 2011. Sports Reference, LLC, 2000-2013. Web. Accessed 20 December 2013. http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Alexander_Cartwright
Cartwright, Alexander. “The Knickerbocker Rules.” 23 September 1845. The Baseball Almanac. Baseball-Almanac. Web. Accessed 20 December 2013. http://www.baseball-almanac.com/rule11.shtml
“Cartwright, Alexander.” National Baseball Hall of Fame. Web. Accessed 18 December 2013. http://baseballhall.org/hof/cartwright-alexander
Nucciarone, Monica. “Alexander Cartwright.” SABR Baseball Biography Project. Society for American Baseball Research, 2013. Web. Accessed 19 December 2013. http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/09ed3dd4
The first home run in the history of the National League was hit on 2 May 1876 by Ross Barnes of the Chicago White Stockings — an inside-the-park home run against the Cincinnati Redlegs. Barnes had been a superstar in the National Association, signing with the Chicago team just before the NA disbanded. On top of having the honor of hitting the new league’s first homer, Barnes had a single, a triple, two stolen bases, and four runs scored.