Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr. (1820-92) was present during the organization of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York in the mid-1800s. That much is certain. Since that time, Cartwright has been celebrated as the founder of our national pastime, much like Abner Doubleday. As with Doubleday, however, Cartwright's claim to fame has also spawned all sorts of conjecture and controversy. His complex life, not just the mythography surrounding him, comes clearly into focus in Monica Nucciarone's biography of the incomparable Cartwright. Nucciarone traces Cartwright's path from Elysian Fields in New Jersey to a gold-rush adventure in California, and on to Honolulu, where he became involved in the movement to annex Hawaii to the United States. Beginning with the widely held notion that Cartwright created the game of baseball as we know it today, then spread it across North America to Hawaii like a Johnny Appleseed, Nucciarone's book separates fact from speculation. Although the picture that emerges may not be the Alexander Cartwright of legend, it shows us a man as colorful, complicated, and immense in character as any legend he inspired.
Monica Nucciarone is a professor and faculty counselor advisor at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom in Washington and teaches part-time in the field of social sciences and career development. John Thorn is the official historian for Major League Baseball.
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