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1852.1 Claim: Cartwright Laid First Base Ball Field in Hawaii, Taught Baseball Widely




Base Ball

[After he moved to Hawaii] "Cartwright never forgot baseball . . . As early as 1852 [he] measured out by foot the dimensions of Hawaii's first baseball field. . . .  [He] organized teams and taught the game all over the island."


Harold Peterson, The Man Who Invented Baseball (Scribner's, 1969), page 172.

This story is also carried in Frederick Ivor-Campbell, "Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr. (Alick)", in Frederick Ivor-Campbell, et. al, eds., Baseball's First Stars [SABR, Cleveland, 1996], page 24, and in Jay Martin, Live All You Can: Alexander Joy Cartwright and the Invention of Modern Baseball (Columbia U Press, 2009), pp. 62-63.  None of these authors provides a source, but Peterson seems to imply that Cartwright's son may have written of the incident in 1909.


This story has been seriously questioned by recent scholarship, which has found nothing in Cartwright's own papers, or his family's, that confirm it.  The two claims -- that Cartwright laid out a ballfield and that he taught base ball widely -- are thus not found in Monica Nucciarone's thorough Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend (U of Nebraska Press, 2009).


1855c.10 "New Game" of Wicket Played in HI





Age of Players:


[A] "In 1855 the new game of wicket was introduced at Punahou [School] and for a few years was the leading athletic game on the campus. . . . [The] fiercely contested games drew many spectators from among the young ladies and aroused no common interest among the friends of the school."

[B] "One game they all enjoyed was wicket, often watched by small Mary Burbank. Aipuni, the Hawaiians called it, or rounders, perhaps because the bat had a large rounder end. It was a forerunner of baseball, but the broad, heavy bat was held close to the ground."

[3] Through further digging, John Thorn suggests the migration of wicket to Hawaii through the Hawaii-born missionary Henry Obookiah. At age 17, Obookiah traveled to New Haven and was educated in the area. He may well have been exposed to wicket there.  He died in 1818, but not before helping organize a ministry [Episcopalian?] in Hawaii that began in 1820.

See also John Thorn's 2016 recap in the supplementary text, below. 



[A] J. S. Emerson, "Personal Reminiscences of S. C. Armstrong," The Southern Workman Volume 36, number 6 (June 1907), pages 337-338. Accessed 2/12/10 via Google Books search ("punahou school" workman 1907). Punahou School, formerly Oahu College, is in Honolulu.

[B] Ethel M.Damon M. , Sanford Ballard Dole and His Hawaii [Pacific Books, Palo Alto, 1957], page 41. 

[C] John's source is the pamphlet Hawaiian Oddities, by Mike Jay [R. D. Seal, Seattle, ca 1960]. [Personal communication, 7/26/04.]


Damon added: "Aipuni, the Hawaiians called it, or rounders, perhaps because the bat had a larger rounder end.t was a a forerunner of baseball, but the broad, heavy bat was held close to thee ground."

Source Text