Marjorie Adams, who tirelessly promoted the candidate of great-grandfather Daniel Adams, founder of the 19th-century Baseball Hall of Fame, died July 7 at a hospice in Branford, Conn. She was 72.
The cause was lung cancer, said nephew Nate Downey.
Making the case to great-grandfather, who was known as Doc (he was given a legal nickname, after receiving a medical degree from Harvard in 1838), became Mrs. Adam’s consuming passion. She appeared for him on a website, at conferences, at meetings of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and at vintage baseball festivals, where fans play and celebrate the sport, as if it were the 19th century. She was nicknamed Cranky for “cranks”, a period for fans.
“Baseball is the National Pastime,” she said in a 2014 interview with SABR’s Smoky Joe Wood chapter. “It’s important that the story is correct.”
That record was a lie for a long time, according to John torn, the official historian of baseball. For many years, Abner Doubleday was falsely quoted as the inventor of baseball. Alexander Cartwright, who played a role in the development of the sport, was credited on his plaque in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, with some of the innovations that, it turned out, were actually conceived by Adams.
In the 1990s, an article about Adams by Mr. Thorn in the Elysian Fields Quarterly, a baseball journal, helped Mrs. Adams see her great-grandfather as a significant figure and not just “Daniel, the baseball boy,” as he became known in the Adams family.
Doc Adams started playing for the pioneer New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club in 1845. While with the team, he created the shortstop position (as a relayman from the field, not a fieldman on ground balls and pop flies), and in 1857 he made his most critical contributions at a rules convention where he was chairman.
He codified some of the basics of the modern game, setting the distance between the bases to 90 feet, the length of a game on nine rounds and the number of men per side on nine.
Still, Adams remained unclear to anyone unfamiliar with the early history of baseball. In 2015, as Mrs. Adams continued her campaign to raise her great-grandfather’s profile, Mr. Thorn presented material about him to a member of the Hall of Fame’s pre-integration committee, who voted for players, leaders, referees and leaders. from the origins of baseball to 1946, the year before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. He was put to the vote with nine other candidates.
In anticipation of a vote in December, Adams told MLB.com: “All I do, the first thing when I wake up, is to think, ‘What’s my next step in helping Doc? ‘I’m always talking about Doc. You can not stop me. She added: “As Babe Ruth said, ‘You just can not beat the person who does not want to give up.’ I say it to myself 50 times a day. ”
Marjorie Putnam Adams was born on December 7, 1948 in Manhattan. Her father, Daniel Putnam Adams, was a banker, and her mother, Adelaide (Barkley) Adams, was a homemaker. After graduating from Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., she began a career as a salesman and interior designer at furniture stores in Manhattan and Connecticut.
Investigating his great-grandfather’s baseball career, which included several visits to Cooperstown, had a natural appeal to Mrs. Adams.
“I’m not an athlete,” she told SABR. “I’m a book person, a story nerd.” Doc Adam’s choice for the hall, she said, would be “the moment in my life.”
Her perseverance in promoting her great-grandfather’s Hall dignity was such that she once printed out cards that said, “Doc Adams: The true father of baseball.” She handed them out to strangers and started talking to them about him.
“Then she wanted to be fair and honest and printed out cards that said, ‘One of the true fathers of baseball,'” Downey said by phone. “She made me throw out the former ones.”
Adams was almost elected when the pre-integration committee voted in December 2015. He received 10 votes, more than any other candidate, but two less than the required 12.
“She was very disappointed,” said Roger Ratzenberger, a member of SABR’s 19th-century research committee that helped Ms. Adams with the campaign. “I talked to her that night and said to her, ‘Look at the difference now: Tonight they’re talking about Doc Adams in all the news channels.’ That was her thing – to get attention for him. ‘”
A few months later, Adams found renewed reason for hope: documentation of Doc Adam’s role in baseball history came up for auction. Three surviving sides of “Baseball Laws, “Written by Adams and giving a physical account of his reign at Congress in 1857, sold for $ 3.26 million.
Adams, who is left by a sister, Nancy Adams Downey, believed that the “laws” would get the great-grandfather elected to the hall at the pre-integration committee’s next scheduled meeting, in 2018. But in July 2016, Hall restructured the panel, renaming it the early baseball committee and postponed the vote until December.
“It’s a shame she could not keep up,” Mr. Thorn said on the phone, “because great-grandfather’s day is coming.”