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Abner Doubleday: Boy Baseball Pioneer

Abner Doubleday: Boy Baseball Pioneer

by Montrew Dunham, Cathy Morrison (Illustrator)

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Young readers will share Abner Doubleday's enthusiasm and love of baseball and recognize him as a heroic general who fought bravely in two wars in this installation of the Young Patriots series. An early adapter of modern baseball rules, Abner adored the sport and helped bring it into mainstream American sporting life. As a boy, he loved nothing more than playing


Young readers will share Abner Doubleday's enthusiasm and love of baseball and recognize him as a heroic general who fought bravely in two wars in this installation of the Young Patriots series. An early adapter of modern baseball rules, Abner adored the sport and helped bring it into mainstream American sporting life. As a boy, he loved nothing more than playing ball—whether it be "one old cat" or "three old cat"—with his brother and friends. When not on the playing field, Abner sought out adventures, which lead him to a historic meeting with the French Revolutionary War–hero General Lafayette, the recovery of a stolen trunk in the woods, and a hitched ride aboard a rickety stagecoach. Even as a child, Abner displayed the leadership skills and good sportsmanship that helped him advance the rules of baseball and lead his soldiers into battle during the Mexican-American and Civil Wars. Special features include a summary of Abner's adult accomplishments, fun facts detailing little-known tidbits of information about him, and a time line of his life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"One of the best ways to learn history is by studying biographies of men and women who have shaped our culture. [The Young Patriots series] is a great place to start for an historical learning adventure!" —The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Product Details

Patria Press, Inc
Publication date:
Young Patriots Series , #11
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.34(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Abner Doubleday

Boy Baseball Pioneer

By Montrew Dunham, Harold Underdown, Cathy Morrison

Patria Press, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Montrew Dunham
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-882859-88-7


A Famous Visitor

Abner Doubleday leaned against the fence post and tossed his ball in the air, then caught it without looking. He was watching his friend Charley.

Charley lived across the road from Abner in Auburn, New York, and the two boys often played ball together. Today, however, Charley was sweeping the walk.

Abner's brother Tom was busy too. Everyone in town seemed to be busy on this last day of May, 1825.

Suddenly Abner jumped back as a long gray cat came running through the gate, chased by Abner's dog Brownie.

"Brownie!" Abner shouted. "Come back!"

Brownie looked back at Abner but kept on chasing the cat.

"Oh no!" Abner exclaimed. "Brownie, come back here!" (Figure 1.1)

At that moment Tom came running from the barn. "I'm through with my chores, Abner," he called. "I can play ball now."

Abner was glad to see his brother. "I'll stand down here. You stand at the other end of the yard." He tossed the ball to Tom.

Tom caught the ball easily. "You're lucky you're only six and don't have any chores to do!" His voice rose. "Here it comes!" He threw the ball back.

Abner had to leap into the air to catch it. The ball was lopsided. One seam was coming open and the insides were beginning to come through. Abner clasped the ball in his hands and tried to shape it round again, as he would a snowball. He leaned back and threw the ball as hard as he could.

"Ho!" Tom caught the ball easily and started to throw it back, then stopped "It's hard to throw this ball straight," he said. "It's coming apart."

"I know," said Abner. "Maybe Ma will fix it. Throw it to me and I'll go see."

"It hasn't been very long since she made it." Tom pushed the stuffing back in with his finger. "I don't know whether she'll want to fix it or not. She's making a dress for Amanda to wear tomorrow," he said.

Abner looked across the street at Charley, who was still sweeping the walk in front of his house. "Tom, why does Charley have to sweep the walk just because General Lafayette is coming tomorrow?"

"I guess the whole town has to look its best," Tom answered. He looked at Charley, then shook his head and added doubtfully, "I don't think a hero like General Lafayette is going to look at all the walks." He rolled the ball across the grass to Abner. "Go see what Ma says. Maybe she'll fix it."

It was dark and shadowy inside after the bright outdoors. "Ma!" Abner called. "Ma, where are you?"

"Right here," his mother answered from the kitchen. "What do you want?"

Abner's mother was kneeling on the floor in the kitchen. His sister Amanda was standing on a stool. Mother was pinning the hem of Amanda's new dress with pins from the pincushion on the floor beside her.

Abner ran to his mother and held the ball out. "Ma, would you sew this up again please?"

Mother looked up at the ball but didn't take it. She went on pinning Amanda's dress.

"See, Ma, the stuffing is coming out," Abner poked his finger in the hole. "It won't throw straight."

Ma stopped just long enough to brush up the moist curling hair at her neck. She looked at Abner without a smile. "Don't make it any worse than it is."

Amanda tossed her head and smiled scornfully. "Ma doesn't have time to fix your old ball." Importantly she smoothed down the crisp ruffles of her new dress. "She has to get my dress finished for tomorrow!"

Mother gave Amanda a stern look and said quietly, "All right, Abner, put the ball on the table. I'll try to get to it."

As Abner ran out the front door he yelled, "Tom! Tom! I think Ma will fix it!"

"Now?" Tom asked eagerly.

Abner frowned. "Probably not right now. She didn't say. She's fixing Amanda's dress."

Tom didn't wait for all of Abner's answer. He was looking down the street. "What does Mrs. Scott have?"

Both boys looked to see Mrs. Scott with an armload of red, white and blue material. She was walking so fast that it looked as if she were coming along the street on wheels.

She didn't see Brownie running. Abner did, and he knew Brownie must be chasing the cat again. "No, Brownie, no!" he screamed, but Brownie didn't hear him. Ears laid flat and tail flying behind, Brownie ran straight in front of Mrs. Scott.

Mrs. Scott was so short and round and her bundle was so large that she never knew what made her fall, but suddenly, without warning, she sat down. The red, white, and blue material billowed in the air and settled on top of her.

Abner and Tom started to laugh. They couldn't help themselves. Then they did their best to stop laughing and rushed to help Mrs. Scott to her feet.

Brownie came running through the gate. "Aren't you ashamed of yourself, Brownie," Abner cried.

"Is that your dog?" Mrs. Scott demanded. Her face was red and her mouth was set in a straight line as she struggled to untangle herself. "Oh dear!" She tried to brush off her dress. "Where is your Ma? Was that your dog?"

Abner smiled weakly. "We're sorry, ma'am."

"I should think you would be! A beast like that should not be permitted to run loose!" Mrs. Scott frowned and looked very cross. "Go get your Ma!"

"Yes, ma'am." Tom was glad to run after Ma. "I'll get her."

"Abner, help me get all this bunting out of the dirt," Mrs. Scott commanded. "It's for the decorations at the ballroom for General Lafayette, and it will all be ruined!"

Abner helped pick up the material and brushed it off before handing it to Mrs. Scott, who rolled it up in a bundle again.

Ma rushed from the house and down the steps to the walk where Mrs. Scott was standing. "Are you all right?" she asked anxiously.

Mrs. Scott took a deep breath. "Yes, I think I am," she said, her smooth round face very serious. "But it's lucky I didn't break a leg!" She nodded toward Tom. "Did your boy tell you what happened?"

"Yes, and I'm sorry, Mrs. Scott," Ma said. "Could Tom go along to help you carry your decorations? That's a bulky load for you to handle all by yourself."

Mrs. Scott set her hat straight on her head again and pinned it firmly with a long straight pin. Her chin lifted as she took another deep breath. "Yes, he can help. Tom, take that end of the bundle." She frowned and turned to Mrs. Doubleday again. "What about that dog?"

"Abner, you go put Brownie in the barn," Ma said firmly.

"All right, Ma." Abner hesitated a moment. "Can't I go too? I could help."

"Yes, Abner, you may go along to help. First, though, put Brownie in the barn. Then you may catch up with Tom and Mrs. Scott."

Abner ran back to the barn. Brownie saw him coming and wagged his tail.

"You're a bad dog!" Abner scolded. "You got us all in trouble."

Brownie's tail dropped limply and he hurried, cowering, to the barn.

"You stay in the barn till I get back!" Abner shouted. Then he wheeled and ran to catch up with Tom and Mrs. Scott.

As he came up behind Tom one end of the bunting blew free.

"Get it, Abner!" shouted Tom. "It's starting to unroll."

Mrs. Scott looked back. "Don't you get any of that on the ground, boys," she cried. "It's dirty enough already because of that foolish dog of yours."

Abner caught the free end, whichh dipped dangerously close to the ground, and gathered it in his arms. "No, ma'am, we won't!"

Mrs. Scott bustled on, talking the entire way. "Oh my, there's so much to be done. Everything has to be ready for General Lafayette's visit tomorrow." She wagged her head. "It just doesn't seem real that such a great man is coming to Auburn!"

Abner ran, trying to keep up with Tom. His face was hot and he was out of breath, but it was fun being part of all this excitement. He knew about General Lafayette's visit tomorrow because Pa had told him. Pa was editor of the newspaper, the Cayuga Patriot.

"Look!" Tom tried to point with his big roll of bunting and Abner stared. Big piles of lumber were scattered along the street, and men on ladders were building something.

"What are they doing?" Abner asked.

"They're building arches across the street," Tom said wisely. "When they're finished they'll be decorated with greens and streamers. Then General Lafayette will ride right through the arches when he rides down Genesee Street."

Abner was so interested in watching the carpenters that he was walking backwards.

"Abner!" cried Mrs. Scott sharply. "Turn around! The bunting will be in the dirt again if you don't watch out. Now hurry!"

Abner turned and trotted along behind Tom until they reached the Exchange Hotel. Here, too, there were men working on ladders all around the ballroom. The chandeliers had been decorated and the walls were being draped with red, white, and blue bunting and flowers and evergreens.

Tom and Abner stood holding their bundle of bunting while Mrs. Scott hurried off to the other end of the room. A workman approached them, but instead of taking the bundle he climbed up on a ladder beside them. A woman hurried past them with a large basket of flowers, but she paid no attention to them.

"Boys!" Mrs. Scott called. "Come here and put the bunting on this table."

Abner and Tom ran to place the bunting on the table, then turned to go.

"You boys go straight home now," Mrs. Scott called after them.

The boys ran down the steps and out the door to Genesee Street. Tom looked at Abner with a grin. "Come on!" he shouted. "Let's go!"

They started to run, but not toward home — only to the first of the arches. When they reached it, Abner had to tilt his head back to look up at the framework arching the street. Two men were fastening evergreen branches to the arch. One stood by a pile of branches on the ground and handed them up, one at a time, to a man on a ladder. This man threaded the branches through the framework, then fastened them in place with two or three nails.

The man on the ladder looked down at the boys. "Won't this be a sight for Lafayette to see when he comes tomorrow?" He smiled with pleasure. "All these arches standing in a row, all the way down Genesee Street, looking just as if they grew here!"

"Will General Lafayette's coach come right through this arch?" asked Tom.

"Indeed it will," the man answered. "Right down Genesee Street, through the middle of the green arches with their flowers and red, white, and blue streamers. It ought to be a sight to see."

"Tom, what did General Lafayette do?" Abner asked without taking his eyes from the two men working on the arch.

The corners of Tom's mouth turned down in disgust. "Oh, Abner!" he exclaimed. "What did he do! You ought to know!"

Abner shook his head agreeably. "I know, but what did he do?"

"During the Revolutionary War General Lafayette came to America and helped the colonies win the war. That's what he did!" Tom took a deep breath and went on. "That was nearly fifty years ago, when he was young. Now he's visiting the United States again, and he's coming here to Auburn tomorrow."

"That's right, lad," said the man by the pile of branches, smiling and nodding his head. "Everybody is going to be here in Auburn — the Governor of New York, army officers, veterans of the Revolution. There'll be a big parade with a salute of big guns —"

Abner's brown eyes grew wide with excitement. "Guns?" he repeated.

"Yes, sir! A real twenty-four gun salute to the General! This will be a day you'll never forget, mark my words."


A Patriot's Name

"Well, hello there! What are you two doing here?" Pa's voice boomed out behind the boys.

"Oh Pa!" Pa's loud voice made Abner jump.

Tom laughed. "We helped Mrs. Scott bring some of the decorations down to the hotel."

Pa's face crinkled with a smile. "Shouldn't you be getting back home? Your mother will wonder where you are."

"Can't we go back to the newspaper office with you, Pa?" asked Abner.

"Not today, son. I have many things to do for General Lafayette's visit."

"We'll get to see him, too, won't we?" Abner looked up at his father.

"Of course you will!" Pa laughed. "Everyone in Auburn will be here to see him." He looked across the street. "There's Judge Miller, and I want to talk with him. You boys go on home."

Tom jammed his hands into his pockets. "All right. Come on, Abner."

Abner took a deep breath. It seemed a shame to leave all the excitement. He walked along slowly beside Tom.

The boys walked home without speaking. They lingered here and there, scuffing their shoes in the dust. Abner looked up at the clear, bright sky. The sun looked as if it were standing still. He wondered whether today would ever end to make way for tomorrow.

"Want to play ball?" asked Tom.

"Sure," Abner answered. "I'll get the ball." He started to run.

"Wait. I bet Ma hasn't fixed it yet."

"Maybe she did." Abner shook his head. "Everybody is so busy." He ran into the house, shouting, "Ma! Ma, did you mend our ball for us?"

Mother was sitting in the rocking chair by the window with her sewing in her hands. She didn't look up as she answered, "Over there."

Abner ran to the sideboard. He picked up the ball, which had been neatly sewn together again, and ran back to his mother. "Thanks, Ma!" He flung his arms around her neck.

"Abner! Be careful or you'll get stuck with my needle!" Ma said, but she was laughing at her son.

Abner ran out the door with the ball in his hand. (Figure 2.1)

"Tom! Tom! The ball is fixed!"

"Stand over there by the tree," Tom called as he ran toward the fence. They had just started tossing the ball back and forth when Ma came to the door. She smiled a little when she saw them, then called, "Abner, Tom — both of you come here. There are many things for you to do."

Abner frowned, but he was really pleased. He was glad to be able to help as everyone else was doing.

"Boys, get the can of grease," Ma went on. "Tom you get the harness out of the barn and polish it. Abner, you get all the shoes and boots and polish them for tomorrow."

Abner lined the shoes and boots up on the kitchen floor. There were Ulysses' little boots with all their buttons, Amanda's slippers, Ma's slippers, Pa's big shiny black shoes, and the boots for Tom and himself. He sat cross-legged in front of the row and carefully covered each shoe with grease. Then, one by one, he rubbed and polished them with a soft cloth. When his nose started to itch he rubbed it with his sleeve, because he couldn't touch his face with his greasy, dirty hands.

Finally the shoes and boots all stood in a shiny, well-polished row. Ma came in and looked at them. "You did a good job with your polishing, Abner."

Suppertime came, and soon afterward dusk fell. By now all preparations were finished. The children went to bed to dream of tomorrow.

Abner listened to the crickets and thought he would never go to sleep. Then suddenly he woke up. Sunlight poured through the window. He sat up quickly. He heard voices from the kitchen below — the low rumbling of his father's voice and the soft tones of his mother's replies.

Still in his nightshirt, he ran downstairs. The door was open and the hall was filled with sweet fresh summer air. He wriggled up his shoulders and shut his eyes as he breathed deeply.

Suddenly a sharp noise cut the air. Abner jumped and ran into the kitchen. "Pa! What's that?" he cried.

Before his father could answer, there came another sharp report. Father smiled. "That is the beginning of the twenty-four gun salute to Lafayette. All the towns near us will hear it and come to the celebration."

Tom came running into the kitchen. "What was that noise? Did you hear it?"

Abner's eyes shone as he repeated his father's explanation. "We must hurry and get ready," he added. "We can't miss him!"

Like everybody else in Auburn, the Doubledays dressed carefully in their Sunday clothes. Abner's tight white shirt collar was stiff and uncomfortable. He stretched his arms down as far as he could in his dark suit coat. It had been Tom's and was still a little large for Abner. Tom held his arms up because the sleeves of his coat were just a little short.

Ma stood straight in her good silk dress with a brooch at her throat and her good black shawl over her shoulders. Amanda looked very pretty in her new dress with the ruffles at the shoulders. Her soft brown hair was drawn back smoothly. Ulysses stood holding his sister's hand, his brown eyes shining in his freshly scrubbed face.

Ma looked proudly at their children. She straightened Tom's tie a bit and smoothed Abner's hair. Ma stepped back and inspected the children again, then nodded her approval. "Let's go now."

* * *

When the Doubledays reached Genesee Street it didn't even look like the street they knew. People were lined up on both sides of the street. The Doubledays joined the crowd and waited.

They waited a long time, it seemed to Abner. He looked down at his shiny boots and saw dust creeping over the toes. He stood on tiptoes and stretched his neck to look beyond the crowd. He put his hands in his pockets and waited.

Finally someone shouted, "Here he comes!"

Abner looked beyond the crowd again and saw a coach drawn by four big horses just coming into view. He took a deep breath and poked Tom with his elbow. "Look! Look!" People around him began to cheer.

The driver of the coach tightened his reins to slow the horses, and the coach rolled slowly along the street, passing under the green arches. Old soldiers along the street saluted and women and children waved.

General Lafayette took his hat from his head and waved to all the people along the way. Abner struggled to stay in front of the crowd, and Tom pushed forward beside him. General Lafayette nodded and smiled at them.


Excerpted from Abner Doubleday by Montrew Dunham, Harold Underdown, Cathy Morrison. Copyright © 2005 Montrew Dunham. Excerpted by permission of Patria Press, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Montrew Dunham is an author of titles in the Childhood of Famous Americans series, from which the Young Patriots were derived. Her books include James Whitcomb Riley, Young Poet; Langston Hughes, Young Black Poet; and Mahalia Jackson, Gospel Singer and Civil Rights Champion. She lives in Downers Grove, Illinois. Cathy Morrison is the illustrator of Ignacio's Chair and the Young Patriots series. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and Picturebookartists.org. She lives in Denver, Colorado.

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