How Baseball Became Wheelchair Accessible To Me
Today, April 20, 2008, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Henry Chadwick, sportswriter, statistician, and often called “The Father of Baseball”.
Chadwick did not invent baseball, and he was not known to have played the game. But he was one of the first sports journalists to focus on baseball. And it was his early reporting of games in the New York area between newly formed teams that quickly turned this playground game into a game for men which would soon be referred to as “The National Game” or “National Pastime.” Chadwick popularized the collection of baseball statistics as we know it today, and he was strongly against the spread of the myth of baseball’s beginnings, the claim that Abner Doubleday invented the game in 1839 in a field in Cooperstown, NY. Chadwick knew that the game had a longer, richer history than that.
Now, why is this important to me? What does this have to do with the general theme of treadmarkz.wordpress.com? Good question.
First because early in life I became enchanted with the game of baseball, a “baseball history and statistics wizard” as my mom has often called me. It made me feel a part of something magical. Being born with spina bifida, and unable to fully take part in baseball, reading about it gave me something to look up to. Just to know about its history, and its players, men who, to me were close to supernatural, made me feel a part of something bigger.
Then there was that moment when I was in 9th grade, but I was at home, out of school for months, in a body cast after a back surgery. There was that one flash of inspiration while I lay there completely out of commission, not doing anything.
What do I want to do with my life? I want to be a journalist!
And what do I want to write about? I want to write about baseball!
That was all I wanted from the time I was 15 until I was about 25. I lived out that dream and I tried to write about it in a way that would fill another generation with wonder over the simple game.
Anyone who has ever written about baseball or has cherished the history of the “grand olde game” is in debt to Henry Chadwick.