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Alexander Cartwright: The Life behind the Baseball Legend

Overview


Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr. (1820–92) was present during the organization of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York in the mid-1800s. That much is certain. Since that time, Cartwright has been celebrated as the founder of our national pastime, much like Abner Doubleday. As with Doubleday, however, Cartwright’s claim to fame has also spawned all sorts of conjecture and controversy. His complex life, not just the mythography surrounding him, comes clearly into focus in ...
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Overview


Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr. (1820–92) was present during the organization of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York in the mid-1800s. That much is certain. Since that time, Cartwright has been celebrated as the founder of our national pastime, much like Abner Doubleday. As with Doubleday, however, Cartwright’s claim to fame has also spawned all sorts of conjecture and controversy. His complex life, not just the mythography surrounding him, comes clearly into focus in Monica Nucciarone’s biography of the incomparable Cartwright.

 
Nucciarone traces Cartwright’s path from Elysian Fields in New Jersey to a gold-rush adventure in California, and on to Honolulu, where he became involved in the movement to annex Hawaii to the United States. Beginning with the widely held notion that Cartwright created the game of baseball as we know it today, then spread it across North America to Hawaii like a Johnny Appleseed, Nucciarone’s book separates fact from speculation. Although the picture that emerges may not be the Alexander Cartwright of legend, it shows us a man as colorful, complicated, and immense in character as any legend he inspired.

 
 

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Editorial Reviews

Dorothy Seymour Mills

“Careful analysis characterizes this striking new book evaluating the contribution of Alexander Cartwright to early baseball. In a thorough examination of heretofore unearthed evidence, the author reveals how misreading and careless research established the myth of Cartwright’s single-handed creation of the baseball diamond and other basics of the modern game. She has made a fascinating and highly original contribution to baseball history.”—Dorothy Seymour Mills, independent scholar and author of A Woman''s Work: Writing Baseball History with Harold Seymour

DeSoto Brown

“The roots of ‘the great American pastime’ of baseball go back to the 1840s, in New York. At that same time, thousands of miles away, the Hawaiian Islands were still a separate country, ruled by a king. The connection? Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr., whose engrossing life story is told here: his role in the birth of baseball, his wagon-train journey to California, and the rest of his eventful life in faraway Hawaii. Fascinating, and well worth knowing.”

—DeSoto Brown, archivist and author of Surfing: Historic Photos from Bishop Museum Archives

David Block

“Monica Nucciarone puts the legacy of Alexander Cartwright under the microscope in this fascinating and exquisitely researched biography. Ms. Nucciarone provides mounds of evidence to make us reconsider Cartwright’s stature as the principal founder of modern baseball. She also unveils a lesser-known facet of Cartwright’s life: his amazing and pivotal involvement in the intrigues of nineteenth-century Hawaii. We’ve waited a long time for a true biography of Cartwright, and now our patience has been rewarded.”

—David Block, author of Baseball before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game

Arete

"Alexander Cartwright provides a welcome addition to our understanding of baseball’s still legend-enshrouded early decades."—Derek Catsam, Arete

— Derek Catsam

Arete - Derek Catsam

"Alexander Cartwright provides a welcome addition to our understanding of baseball’s still legend-enshrouded early decades."—Derek Catsam, Arete
Dorothy Seymour Mills

“Careful analysis characterizes this striking new book evaluating the contribution of Alexander Cartwright to early baseball. In a thorough examination of heretofore unearthed evidence, the author reveals how misreading and careless research established the myth of Cartwright’s single-handed creation of the baseball diamond and other basics of the modern game. She has made a fascinating and highly original contribution to baseball history.”—Dorothy Seymour Mills, independent scholar and author of A Woman's Work: Writing Baseball History with Harold Seymour
DeSoto Brown

“The roots of ‘the great American pastime’ of baseball go back to the 1840s, in New York. At that same time, thousands of miles away, the Hawaiian Islands were still a separate country, ruled by a king. The connection? Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr., whose engrossing life story is told here: his role in the birth of baseball, his wagon-train journey to California, and the rest of his eventful life in faraway Hawaii. Fascinating, and well worth knowing.”—DeSoto Brown, archivist and author of Surfing: Historic Photos from Bishop Museum Archives
David Block

“Monica Nucciarone puts the legacy of Alexander Cartwright under the microscope in this fascinating and exquisitely researched biography. Ms. Nucciarone provides mounds of evidence to make us reconsider Cartwright’s stature as the principal founder of modern baseball. She also unveils a lesser-known facet of Cartwright’s life: his amazing and pivotal involvement in the intrigues of nineteenth-century Hawaii. We’ve waited a long time for a true biography of Cartwright, and now our patience has been rewarded.”—David Block, author of Baseball before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game
TimeOut for Entertainment

"Nucciarone's biography shows us a man as complicated and colorful as his history and as worthy of our attention as the sport he (allegedly?) inspired, and she shows us also how careless research and interpretation can make heroes out of the merely interesting."—TimeOut for Entertainment
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803233539
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Pages: 326
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Monica Nucciarone is a professor and faculty counselor advisor at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom in Washington and teaches part-time in the field of social sciences and career development. John Thorn is the official historian for Major League Baseball.
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