Abner Doubleday

In 1905 the Beacon Journal in Akron, Ohio, published a letter by Abner Graves stating that the game of baseball was invented in 1839 by a war hero named Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown.

The letter offered an intriguing story. Cooperstown was founded by William Cooper, the father of famed author James Fenimore Cooper, and had become the first town of the Union inhabited by natives of European descent.

A Commission chaired by Abraham Gilbert Mills, the former President of the National League, started verification on the letter in 1905. By 1908 the Commission confirmed the version of Abner Graves.

The year after, Will Irwin found out that in 1839 Doubleday was not in Cooperstown. He was actually based at the Military Academy in West Point. Irwin published his findings on Collier's.

This was not enough to stop Spalding. He gave more credit to Graves, spreading in 1912 more details about those days of 1839. Graves said he had witnessed as a College students Doubleday draw the rules of baseball in the dirt 

Abner Doubleday
Abner Doubleday

Graves died in 1926 at the age of 92. Back in 1839 he was not older than 11, so he couldn't have been a College student. In 1924 Graves had killed his wife. One of the last things he said was: "I'd rather have Uncle Sam declare war to England, rather than admitting that one of his citizens invented baseball."

Spalding died in 1915, aged 66. The Graves version stood until 1939.