Alexander Cartwright

Alexander Cartwright Jr.
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1938
Primary team: Knickerbocker Base Ball Club
Primary position: Executive

While Abner Doubleday received the original credit for having invented the game of baseball, perhaps no man has a more genuine claim on creating the game we know and love more than Alexander Cartwright.

Often referred to as “The Father of Modern Baseball,” Cartwright was a founding and influential member of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City, baseball’s first organized club. With the Knickerbockers, Cartwright was instrumental in formalizing many fundamental rules of baseball that are still used today.

Cartwright was one of seven children born to a New York City sea merchant in 1820. At age 16, he began work as a bank clerk and played stickball after hours with local volunteer firefighters. It is believed that Cartwright and his friends formed their baseball club in the early 1840s and named it after Manhattan’s volunteer Knickerbocker Engine Company.

In 1845, Cartwright’s Knickerbockers moved across the Hudson River via ferry to play on the spacious Elysian Fields in Hoboken, N.J. It was there that Cartwright and his teammates drew up a set of 20 rules that would forever change their version of “town ball.”

Among the rules attributed to Cartwright include the concepts of foul territory, the distance of 90 feet between bases, three-out innings, nine-member teams with fixed batting orders, and the elimination of retiring baserunners by throwing batted baseballs at them.

With a more organized game in place, the Knickerbockers began to draw massive crowds at the Elysian Fields. The games spawned a host of challenger teams in New York, and eventually led to the first organized baseball leagues.

Four years after creating the new rules in Hoboken, Cartwright began traveling west to pioneer territories. He spread the new game of baseball wherever he went and inspired settlers to form their own upstart teams and leagues. Cartwright reached California by the end of 1849 and then sailed to Hawaii, where he would introduce the game to the native population.

Cartwright lived in Hawaii for the remainder of his life, where served as Honolulu’s first fire chief and as a trusted advisor to Queen Emma of Hawaii until his death in 1892. His contributions to baseball were given the ultimate recognition when he was elected to the Hall of Fame’s third induction class in 1938.

"Ninety feet between the bases is the nearest to perfection that man has yet achieved. "
Red Smith

Career stats

Year Inducted: 1938
Primary Team: Knickerbocker Base Ball Club
Position Played: Executive
Birth place: New York, New York
Birth year: 1820
Died: 1892, Honolulu, Hawaii