Where are you From?

This is one of those routine questions that a person shouldn’t stumble over attempting to reply. Yet I always do. It ends up being a drawn out, rambling mess of an answer that likely makes the acquaintance who asked it wished they’d mentioned the weather instead.

I was born in Manhattan, which isn’t really a city but a borough of New York City. Still, I think of it as “The City” and I believe I’m not alone in that respect. I recently found out that both the hospital where my mother spent an agonizing 18 hours in labor to produce the ugliest baby she’d ever seen, and the apartment where my parents lived at the time were on Amsterdam. I discovered this on my 48th birthday when my father called me.

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New York City: Birthplace of Baseball

On a cold, cloudy Manhattan day in November of 1963, 7 days before JFK was assassinated, I was born. While I didn’t know it at the time, baseball, the game I would come to love in a few short years, was born just a few miles away. Rounders, town ball, and variations of stick and ball games were being played throughout the young United States in the 1800’s. It is well documented that men even played during the Civil War. But these games were all very loosely defined, with wide variations wherever they were played.

In 1845, a man named Alexander Cartwright created an organized club of gentlemen who played the stick and ball game on a field in New York City. He named the club the New York Knickerbockers after the Fire Company where he worked.

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The Knickerbockers wrote rules to tighten up their version of town ball and on June 19, 1846 in Hoboken, NJ the first recorded game of baseball was played using the Knickerbockers rules. The opposing team was the NY Nine, a group that broke away from the Knickerbockers to form their own club. They beat the snot out of the Knickerbockers, 23-1. Cartwright fined one player for cursing, as baseball was a gentleman’s game.

Cartwright’s rules spread and baseball was born. Today’s rules aren’t much different than the rules in force in Hoboken on that June day in 1846. You may have heard that a man named Abner Doubleday invented baseball one summer in Cooperstown, NY. Don’t believe it baseball fans, it’s a mythological tale supported by the Powers That Be, but not even on speaking terms with the truth.

The New York Knickerbockers 1862

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