New York Knickerbockers Baseball Team

Baseball history photo: A photo purported to be of the New York Knickerbockers Baseball Club circa 1847. The only positively identified member of the Knickerbockers Base Ball Club in this photo is Alexander Cartwright (top center). Harold Peterson, author of “The Man Who Invented Baseball”, has conjectured that the clean-shaven fellow at the top left may be Cartwright's younger brother, Alfred. Indeed, the two young men are similar in appearance and each has his arm around the other's shoulder. (According to club records, Alfred was never a member of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club.) Some have proposed that the individual at lower left is Duncan Curry, first Knickerbocker club president. This identification is based solely on a photo of a much older Curry on p. 54 of Albert Spalding's “America's National Game.” This identification is tenuous at best. The cigar-smoking chap at lower center bears some resemblance to Daniel “Doc” Adams, though the conjecture is by no means definitive. In short, though it is not unlikely that this image is of six members of the Knickerbockers, it is by no means definitively a Knickerbocker team photo.  Click photo to return to previous page.

The Knickerbocker Club was formed by members of the Gotham Base Ball Club, which became the first organized club in NY in 1837. Although the Knickerbockers existed in 1842, the Knickerbocker Club officially formed on September 23, 1845. The rules they recorded that day and were most likely used for a number of years prior became the foundation for the "New York Game." As the this set of rules was further developed, its popularity eclipsed the Massachusetts Game and the Philadelphia Game, which was based on town ball, to become the preferred game for amateur clubs and subsequently professional baseball.
Alexander Cartwright (center, back row), an early member of the Knickerbockers, is often the subject of conjecture when historians discuss baseballs beginnings and its founding members of the first set of written rules. Some accounts identify him as formulating the rules and others have members of the Knickerbockers disputing his involvement. Cartwright was elected as Secretary in 1846 and served as Vice President in 1847 and 1848. He left New York for California in 1849 during the god rush and eventually moved to Hawaii.
Alfred Cartwright (left, back row), the brother of Alexander, was never a member of the Knickerbockers.
William Wheaton (right back row), an attorney in New York City, was an original member of the Gotham Base Ball Club. He also served as Vice President of the Knickerbockers from September of 1845 through the following years elections in May of 1846 and was instrumental in helping formulate the first set of formal rules. He umpired two early Knickerbocker matches, the first recorded baseball match in the United States on October 6th and again on October 23rd 1845.
Duncan Curry (left, front row), was the first elected President of the Knickerbockers in 1845 and served as President for the 1846 season as well. He has been credited with assisting in formalizing the original rules of base ball and has also been reported to vehemently dispute Cartwright's involvement in the same.
Daniel "Doc" Adams (center, front row) was perhaps the most important figure regarding the development of the early game of base ball. He joined the Knickerbockers in 1846 and was elected Secretary the same year. He played in the first Knickerbocker match against an opponent, the New York Club, on September 23, 1846 and was elected President in 1847. He held that position until 1849 and in 1851 became a Director until 1855. In 1856, he was elected President for a fourth time and retained that position in 1857 and was also elected the President of the first base ball convention, held in New York in 1857. During this meeting he was appointed the head of the Rules Committee which standardized numerous rules including the distance between bases, the distance between the Pitcher's line and Home Base and requiring all matches to be nine innings in length. He was on of two delegates representing the Knickerbocker Club at the first National Association of Base Ball Players convention held in New York in 1858. He was elected president for the sixth and final time of the Knickerbockers in 1861.
Henry Tiebout Anthony (right, front row), an early member of the Knickerbocker Club, played in the first Knickerbocker match against an opponent, the New York Club, on June 19, 1846. He was elected Treasurer in 1851 and 1852 and held the position of Vice President in 1856 and 1857. He and his brother, Edward, were the first in New York to manufacture and sell cameras and photographic supplies through their business E & H.T. Anthony & Company. Their company eventually became the largest distributors and suppliers of photographic equipment in the US during the 19th century.
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