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Henry Chadwick

The only sportswriter enshrined in the Hall of Fame, the British-born Henry Chadwick was called by none other than Teddy Roosevelt (himself an avid sportsman) the "Father of Baseball."

After emigrating to the United States from England in 1837 at age 13, Henry Chadwick (1824-1908) settled in Brooklyn with his family. He remained a Brooklynite for the rest of his life. At first a devotee of cricket, the na­tional game of his native country, he gradually found himself drawn to baseball.

Henry Chadwick was so prolific that his byline appeared in most major newspapers.
Henry Chadwick was so prolific that his
byline appeared in most
major newspapers.

Upon joining the New York Clipper as a sportswriter in 1857, he decided to use his post to remedy a problem with the game that had long disturbed him. Chadwick thereupon set about designing his own system for scoring a baseball contest. He came up with an instrument that is remarkably like the modern box score.

Chadwick himself was anything but a modernist. During his long career as a writer he never owned a typewriter, always penning his newspaper columns and books in longhand. He also continued to expect players to behave like gentlemen, railing against rowdyism and the evils of drink long after most other writers had accepted the two as part of the game.

Yet at the same time that he was an anachronism, Chadwick was an astonishingly prolific innovator. He was the first to compile reference books on baseball, and instructional guides on how to play the game. In 1872, he assembled the first listing of all professional baseball players, containing their heights, weights, and dates and places of birth.

Chadwick’s work provided the main source for future historians seeking the vital statistics of participants in the first major league, the National Association. In addition, his writing was peppered with many descriptive words and phrases about baseball that are still in vogue.

Beginning in 1881, Chadwick edited the Spalding Official Baseball Guide until his death. Included in the guide along with yearly standings and individual batting, pitching, and fielding statistics was Chadwick’s trenchant commentary on the game. So expert and revered was he that when he happened to be in attendance umpires frequently stopped play to confer with him about a rule interpretation.

Chadwick contracted pneumonia after attending the Giants' opening game at the Polo Grounds in 1908 while suffering a fever. He died slowly thereafter on April 20. The following day, flags in every major-league park were lowered to half-mast. In 1938, Chadwick was selected for the Hall of Fame.

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