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Lot # 621 (of 1594)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Henry Chadwick Knickerbocker and History of Baseball Manuscript (11 pages)

Starting Bid - $2,000.00, Sold For - $4,993.75

Eleven-page manuscript (each page measuring 9.5 x 7.5 inches), entirely handwritten in pencil by Henry Chadwick, details the history of baseball, including game accounts of the earliest days of organized baseball involving the Knickerbockers, and the evolution of the game, with emphasis on the history of the game's earliest organized clubs, and the most historically significant Grand Matches between baseball's most prominent organized teams in the early 1850s. The manuscript is comprised of two sections, the first being seven pages, the second section four pages. The first page of the first section opens with a detailed account of the first game of baseball Chadwick ever played at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey, 1848, and proceeds over many pages to present extremely detailed game accounts of the most important Knickerbocker matches throughout the 1850s, including lineups, box scores, and historical commentary. The second section is devoted to the history of the rules of the game, specifically contrasting the rules adopted by the original Knickerbockers of 1845 to those at the time of Chadwick's writing, which, based on newspaper clippings interspersed throughout and on the reverse of pages, appears to be from about 1890. This manuscript may be the foundation of what Chadwick intended to be his definitive account of the history of the game. In total, the manuscript is comprised of eleven sheets (a group of four attached but separating pages, a group of four attached pages, and three additional separate single-page sheets). Ten pages are filled with Chadwick's handwriting, with an occasional related small clipping glued in place. The reverses of nine of these ten pages have related newspaper articles affixed, many with small related notations handwritten by Chadwick. The final page has only newspaper clippings on both sides.

It would be impossible to transcribe all ten pages of writing due to space limitations, but we shall transcribe a few excerpts. Scans are available upon request. The entire manuscript is as substantial and significant as the selected excerpts. Excerpts from the first seven pages:
The first game of baseball I ever played was on the occasion of a party of young fellows going to Hoboken, N.J. on a Sept afternoon in 1848 who visited the Elysian Fields on the day in question and engaged a scored game on a field was on the old Knickerbocker Baseball Club grounds...The field we played on was afterwards the enclosed grounds of the St. George Cricket Club, where they first charged ten cents admission to those grounds. That was long before Harry Wright - a junior cricketer then - played baseball with the Knickerbocker Club....The first club match played by the the Knickerbockers was that which took place at the old Red House Grounds in Harlem, then located between Sixty-First and Sixty-Third Streets, New York. The contest proved to be of exceptional interest....The first regularly organized base ball club in New York was the Knickerbockers, which started in the year 1845. There was a half organized club called [illegible] New York, a few years before, but it did not last more than a season. The members of the Knickerbocker Club visited Elysian Fields for [illegible] games among themselves twice a week....They would begin playing 'one old cat,' in which game one would take the bat and hit the ball to the field, and the first player to catch the ball on the ground or in the [illegible] would then take their turn at bat....That club did not exist for long; most of its members returning to form the Gothams club in 1852. Then came the Eagle club, in the spring of 1854, followed by the Empires, in Oct of that year. They were the first "big teams" in baseball - H. C. The first four pages also include a detailed account of the 1854 Grand Match between the Gothams and the Knickerbockers, including a box score of the game, all in Chadwick's hand. The three separate pages provide additional detailed information regarding the 1854 Grand Match between the Gothams and the Knickerbockers, as well as covering the return match, and the 1854 Grand Match between the Eagles and the Knickerbockers.

The second four-page section is an extraordinary summary of the rules of the game as played by the Knickerbockers. Excerpts:
It may be said that before the organization of the Knickerbocker Club, the rules of play in reference to getting a player out with the ball was to throw it at him. .. The following are the first [illegible] rules of baseball [illegible]. They are those adopted by the Knickerbocker Club in 1845, and by which....played up to the period of the first convention of baseball players: 1 - The base shall be from 'home' to second base 42 paces... This section concludes: It will be at once perceptible to all who will contrast the above rules with those at present in force, that the game of baseball at that period was not to be compared to the systematic and, to a certain extent, scientific game that is now such an attractive feature of our American sports and pastime. [Signed] Henry Chadwick ("8"). This historical manuscript, handwritten by the game's greatest historian, Henry Chadwick, "The Father of Baseball," is one of the most important documents in existence relating to the history of the game. Pages are in overall Excellent condition, with only minor imperfections from normal handling, and all writing in pencil reasonably clear and decipherable. Chadwick's unusual style of writing makes some words difficult to read, but we believe that every word of the manuscript can be deciphered. Each page measures 7.5 x 9.5 inches. This manuscript was sold years ago by REA, appearing as Lot #44 in the April 2005 sale and selling for a hammer price of $8,500. Total 11 pages. LOAs from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,000. Estimate $4,000/$8,000. SOLD FOR $4,993.75

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