Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York

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The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York was the first organized baseball club. This claim does not include any teams that would have been created to play such things as Bat and Ball (referenced in William Winterbotham's 1796 work "An Historical View of the United States", where it stated that it was "common in America before the Revolutionary War"), or Jane Austen's "base-ball" (referenced in her 1798 novel Northanger Abbey, in which one of the main characters, a woman, is mentioned as playing cricket, base-ball, etc.).

The club first started play in 1842 (playing in Manhattan), but it was not until 1845 that the club formally organized. Under the leadership of club president and committee chairman Dr. Daniel Lucius Adams, the Committee to Revise the Constitution and By-Laws created a set of 20 rules to govern the club. Instrumental in forming these rules was Alexander Cartwright.

The team practiced during 1845 in Hoboken, NJ and on October 6, 1845 the club played a game with teams made up of club members. And then on June 19, 1846, the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club faced off against the New York Nine at Elysian Fields in Hoboken. The New York Nine won 23-1, with Cartwright serving as umpire (with the power to fine players on the spot for swearing).

1859 Photo: Knickerkbocker Baseball Club and Excelsior Base Ball Club


  • 1842: Club informally organized.
  • 1845: Club formally organized. Alexander Cartwright joins the club.
  • 1846: June 19: first game, lost to the New York Nine (score 23-1)
  • 1849: the position of short-stop is created, and for the first time the Knickerbockers wear uniforms. Alexander Cartwright leaves the New York area.
  • 1854: June: first game to go past 9 innings: Knickerbockers lose to Gothams 21-16 after 16 innings of play.
  • 1856: Base ball is named the national game by the New York Clipper; baseball is the National Pastime (New York Mercury). Also in 1856: the bunt is "invented" by Dickey Pearce ("tricky hit").
  • 1857: The first league is formed (National Association of Base Ball Players, which includes the Knickerbockers and 15 other New York City clubs, playing according to the original Knickerbocker rules plus additions).
  • 1860: 62 clubs in the National Association of Base Ball Players (not to be confused with the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players to be formed in 1871).
  • 1861: Civil War begins.
  • 1862: Dr. Daniel Lucius Adams resigns as Knickerbockers president.
  • 1868: 100 clubs in the National Association of Base Ball Players.


Further Reading[edit]

  • Howard Burman: Gentlemen at the Bat: A Fictional Oral History of the New York Knickerbockers and the Early Days of Base Ball, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2010. ISBN 978-0-7864-4720-6