Marjorie Adams Going to Hit For Baseball Pioneer Dies At 72


Marjorie Adams, who tirelessly supported the candidacy of baseball’s 19th-century founding father, great-grandfather Daniel Adams, died July 7 in a nursing home in Branford, Conn. He was 72 years old.

His nephew, Nate Downey, said the cause was lung cancer.

Litigating for her great-grandfather, known as Doc (he had a medical degree from Harvard in 1838, legally coming under the pseudonym) became Ms. Adams’ consuming passion. He defended it on a website, at conferences, at meetings of the American Association for the Study of Baseball (SABR), and at old baseball festivals where fans played and celebrated the sport as if it were 19th century. He nicknamed himself Cranky for “cranks,” a term term for fans.

“Baseball is the national pastime” He said it in an interview with the Smoky Joe Wood episode of SABR in 2014. “It’s important that the historical record is accurate.”

According to the report, this record was a lie for a long time. John ThornThe official historian of baseball. For years, Abner Doubleday was mistakenly referred to as the inventor of baseball. And Alexander Cartwright, who played a role in the evolution of the sport, Inscribed on his Hall of Fame plaque In Cooperstown, NY, it turns out that some of the innovations were actually designed by Adams.

in the 1990s a article Thorn, a baseball magazine published in the Elysian Fields Quarterly helped Mrs. Adams see her great-grandfather as an important figure – and not as “Daniel, the baseball player” as the Adams family was known.

Doc Adams started playing for the lead New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club in 1845. While with the team, he created the short stop position – as an outfield relay player, not ground balls and pop flies. He made his most critical contributions to the game at a rule-making meeting he chaired in 1857.

There he coded some of the basics of modern play, determining the distance between bases as 90 feet, the length of the game in nine innings, and the number of men on both sides as nine.

Still, Adams remained obscure to anyone unfamiliar with baseball’s early history. In 2015, as Mrs. Adams continued her campaign to raise the profile of her great-grandfather, Mr. Thorn presented materials about Adams to a member of the Hall of Fame’s pre-integration committee, which voted to elect players, managers, referees, and players. From the beginning of baseball to 1946, the year before Jackie Robinson crossed the color line in Major League Baseball. Adams put on the committee’s ballot along with nine other candidates.

Awaiting the vote in December, Ms. Adams told “The first thing I do when I wake up is, ‘What’s my next step to help Doc?’ It is to think. I’m always talking about Doc. You can’t stop me.” He added: “As Baby Ruth said, ‘You can’t beat someone who won’t give up.’ I say that to myself 50 times a day.”

Marjorie Putnam Adams was born on December 7, 1948 in Manhattan. His father, Daniel Putnam Adams, was a banker and his mother, Adelaide (Barkley) Adams, was a housewife. After graduating from Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., she began her career as a marketer and interior designer for furniture stores in Manhattan and Connecticut.

Researching her great-grandfather’s baseball career – an effort that included several visits to Cooperstown – brought a natural appeal to Miss Adams.

“I am not an athlete,” he told SABR. “I’m a book person, a history buff.” He said it would be “the moment of my life” for Doc Adams to be elected to the Salon.

His great-grandfather’s determination to promote Hall-worthiness was enough for him to once print cards that read “Doc Adams: The Real Father of Baseball.” He handed them out to strangers and started conversations with them about him.

“Then he wanted to be fair and honest and printed cards that said ‘One of the True Fathers of Baseball’,” Mr. Downey said over the phone. “It made me throw out the previous ones.”

Adams was nearly elected when the pre-integration committee voted in December 2015. He received 10 votes, more than any other candidate, but two less than the required 12.

“He was very disappointed,” said Roger Ratzenberger, a member of the 19th-century research committee that assisted Ms. Adams in SABR’s campaign. “I spoke to him that night and I said to him, ‘Now look at the difference: They’re talking about Doc Adams on all the news channels tonight. That was his job – to get attention for him.’”

A few months later, Ms. Adams found new reason for hope: Documentary proof of Doc Adams’ role in baseball history is up for auction. Three surviving pages “The Laws of BaseballWritten by Adams and providing a physical record of his rulemaking in the 1857 convention, Sold for $3.26 million.

Survived by a sister, Nancy Adams Downey, Ms. Adams believed that “The Laws” would elect her great-grandfather to Hall at the next scheduled pre-integration committee meeting in 2018. In July 2016, however, Hall restructured the panel, renamed it the early baseball-era committee, and delayed voting until this December.

“It’s a pity he can’t wait,” said Mr. Thorn over the phone, “for his great-grandfather’s day is approaching.”


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