Vintage Baseball Game Celebrates NH Man's Legacy On The Diamond

Vintage Baseball Game Celebrates NH Man’s Legacy On The Diamond

Baseball can be called America’s pastime, but how much do you know about the history of the sport? TO vintage baseball game in Mont Vernon highlights the contributions of New Hampshire’s “Doc” Adams to baseball history. Adams is considered by some to be the father of modern baseball, but his name is not very well known, even among baseball enthusiasts.

Collin Miller is the organizer of this weekend’s match and a vintage baseball player. He joined NHPR Morning Edition host Rick Ganley to discuss Adam’s legacy.

TRANSCRIPT:

Rick Ganley: This game is called Doc Adams Birthplace Classic because Adams was born in Mont Vernon in the early 1800’s. How was baseball when he started playing the game?

Collin Miller: In the first days when he moved to New York City and became a doctor after graduating from Harvard, he joined the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, and they played by the rules of the New York Game. And it had many different iterations through the mid-19th century. And the rules changed quite significantly through the 1800s, but especially more in the early days.

Rick Ganley: Is he considered the creator of what we would think of as a more modern game?

Collin Miller: Yes of course. The modern conventions with nine laps, 90 foot base trails and nine men on each side can all be attributed to Doc Adams.

Rick Ganley: And what were some other specific contributions he made to the game?

Collin Miller: Well, most importantly, Derek Jeter was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, so we took it to raise awareness that Doc Adams actually invented the shortstop position. And in 1849, the balls that were made, like Doc actually made early baseballs because at that time you could not exactly go to a sports shop and buy them, were very light and hand-sewn, and you really needed a person to relay the ball from the field and hence the name shortstop.

Rick Ganley: So this is a kind of old-fashioned game you play on Saturday. What do people want to see? What will spectators get a vision about?

Collin Miller: Well, vintage baseball is like a broad community. There are hundreds of teams across the country, but I call it a baseball subculture. We have men and women dressed in suitable costumes. And we recreate baseball as it was played during the formative years of the game. On Saturday we play by the rules of 1864. And we come together to do this every year in honor of Doc in the town where he was born, to really raise awareness of his legitimate roots in Cooperstown. And this year is a special year because at baseball winter meetings, the Early Baseball Era Committee will vote to, we hope, put Doc on the ballot for the Hall of Fame. He barely missed the last time the election took place in 2014. He missed it by two votes. But a few months later, the “Laws of Base Ball” of 1857 was unveiled and sold at a $ 3.26 million sports auction, which is still a record for a baseball document.

Rick Ganley: And those are rules he wrote, right?

Collin Miller: Correct. Yes, they were actually confirmed by his great-granddaughter, Marjorie Adams, who later died.

Rick Ganley: I know she worked to try to get him into the Hall of Fame, right?

Collin Miller: Correct. Yes, we definitely carry the burner that Marjorie lit for Doc. It is the central document that attributes some of these important basics to baseball to Doc when he chaired the rules committee.

Rick Ganley: I’m curious, you say now, of course vintage games are played with men and women, people from all over the United States. A great effort is being made to recognize more about the history of baseball and especially the role of the Negro Leagues and the Black players in general. Why should we think of Doc Adams in particular and his legacy?

Collin Miller: Well, that really sets the record. What we do in the old baseball community is try to bring some theater, some education and some sports. We are truly, I would say, fertilizing the roots of the baseball family tree. So I think you know, the 19th century baseball community for people who do this, really wanted people to understand the origins of the game because many people do not understand how often the rules changed, you know, over the formative years. And it’s always a great thing when we can educate people on how to look at baseball through the lens of American history, and many people have used baseball to learn American history and continue to do so. So it’s important to get it right from, you know, it’s early days.

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