Baseball goes back to its mythological home this weekend with the Cooperstown, New York Hall of Fame’s gala events. The major ceremony is the induction of six former players getting a plaque sanctifying them as all-time greats along with others who will be recognized as making baseball better in some ways. Some are media people who either were broadcasters or writers who pushed the game in newspapers. Funny thing about the broadcasters, they cannot vote in the Hall of Fame selection because of whatever reason the privately run shrine has but writers can participate in the Hall of Fame vote. Not to ruin a good story, but there is no evidence that Cooperstown, New York was the birthplace of baseball in 1839 or that Abner Doubleday invited the game. In 1908, the Mills Commission agreed with a story that Doubleday invented baseball and a modern day fairy tale was born.
Doubleday did go to school in Cooperstown but was at West Point in 1839. He was a career military man. There are many letters and papers that Doubleday wrote and no mention of baseball. By 1903, baseball people wanted an answer to the question, who invented America’s game, baseball. The baseball people would not accept the theory that the game started out in England and in America became an offshoot of rounders. The Mills Commission looked for people who might have been remotely connected with getting baseball off the ground and in 1905 found a letter writing 71 year old man in Colorado named Abner Graves who claimed as a five year old he saw Doubleday invent baseball and it was Doubleday who called the game Base Ball. Graves never met with members of the Mills Commission. They needed a story and he provided them with a letter. An enduring tale. Cooperstown became Baseball’s Valhalla because of the myth.