Baseball’s Creation Myth

Adam Ford, Abner Graves and the Cooperstown Story


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SKU: 9780786471997 Categories: , ,

About the Book

The story about baseball’s being invented in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839 by Abner Doubleday served to prove that the U.S. national pastime was an American game, not derived from the English children’s game of rounders as had been believed. The tale, embraced by Americans, has long been proven false but to this day, Cooperstown is celebrated as the birthplace of baseball. The story has captured the hearts of millions. But who spun that tale and why?
This book provides a surprising answer about the origins of America’s most durable myth. It seems that Abner Graves, who espoused Cooperstown as the birthplace of the game, likely was inspired by another story about an early game of baseball. The stories were remarkably similar, as were the men who told them. For the first time, this book links the stories and lives of Graves, a mining engineer, and Adam Ford, a medical doctor, both residents of Denver, Colorado. While the actual origins of the game of baseball remain subject to debate and study, new light is shed on the source of baseball’s durable creation myth.

About the Author(s)

Award-winning journalist Brian Martin lives in London, Ontario. He is a member of the selection committee of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and the Society for American Baseball Research.

Bibliographic Details

Brian Martin

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: 39 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7199-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0206-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1

One. A Simple Letter 5
Two. A Son of Cooperstown 20
Three. A Letter from Denver 32
Four. The Doctor Moves On 47
Five. Eleven Years in Denver 64
Six. The Doctor Strikes Out 81
Seven. Filling a Need 92
Eight. The Myth Exposed, Promoted, Adopted 104
Nine. An Unhappy Ending 115
Ten. Cooperstown Prevails 130
Eleven. Remembering the Storytellers 147
Twelve. Testing a Tale 158
Thirteen. Grand Theft, Baseball? 171

Epilogue 181
Appendix A: A. G. Spalding’s Appeal for Information About Early Baseball (1905) 185
Appendix B: Abner Graves’s Response to Spalding (1905) 190
Appendix C: Adam Ford’s Letter (1886) 192
Chapter Notes 195
Bibliography 209
Index 211

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “entertaining…fascinating accounts…recommended”—Library Journal
  • “one of the best and most important Canadian baseball books ever written”—Kevin Glew, blogger for Cooperstowners in Canada
  • “meticulously researched”—Roundup Magazine
  • “award-winning journalist, Chip Martin has hit another home run with [this] latest book…ground-breaking…exhaustive research…well researched tome will ruffle feathers…an academic work that will intrigue baseball historians”—Toronto Sun
  • “an academic work that will intrigue baseball historians”—The London Free Press
  • “fascinating…Martin digs where no other baseball researcher has dug before to present the first detailed accounts of the lives of two complex men with links to the origins of baseball. In doing so, he has not only penned a compelling and groundbreaking page-turner, but he has written a book that should rank as one of the best and most important Canadian and American baseball history books ever released”—Canadian Baseball Network
  • Baseball’s Creation Myth presents new evidence for the continuing debates on baseball’s origins. It is must reading for all baseball fans.”—Robert Knight Barney, former president of the North American Society for Sport History