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Fort Sumter: Where Baseball Wasn't Invented, Not Even A Little Bit

With the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War at Fort Sumter just past, it's worth taking this opportunity to remind viewers, including, hopefully, MLB commissioner Bud Selig, that Abner Doubleday, supposed to have fired the first shot in defense of the fort, absolutely did not invent baseball. (Doubleday is one of very few historical figures who's famous primarily for not inventing baseball, which—well, I guess it would satisfy Herostratus.) 

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Doubleday was an important general in the Civil War—and, as a result, an important figure in the history of the United States—but he is, thanks to Al Spalding's designs for the All-American game, most famous for having never claimed to invent baseball in 1839. We have the Mills Commission, which in 1905 also decided that Doubleday, acting alone, assassinated John F. Kennedy, to thank for this. Spalding, baseball's first great pitcher and public booster, was infuriated by the idea that the sport evolved from British yard games like rounders.

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Having formed the commission, they waited for one letter from an old man who remembered Doubleday inventing a superior version of "Town Ball" in 1839. This would be little more than a footnote in baseball history by now if it weren't for the fact that Bud Selig, commissioner of baseball, still claims to believe it.

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So here's to Abner Doubleday, defender of Fort Sumter. Maybe someday he can be famous, again, for the things that he did. 

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