A 19th century document which helped shape the sport of baseball is heading for sale at SCP Auctions next month.
Described as “the Magna Carta of our national pastime”, the manuscript entitled ‘Laws of Base Ball’ was written by Daniel ‘Doc Adams, one of the founding fathers of the game.
Adams served as captain and later President of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, and in 1857 attended a conference of 14 New York-based teams with the mission of revising and improving the game.
Adams presented his ideas for the new rules of baseball, which were revised with hand-written notes as the convention proceeded.
Together the delegates decided on numerous laws which form the basis of the modern game, including the length of base paths to be 90 feet; the number of men on each team to be nine; the duration of the games to be nine innings; and a complete ban on betting for anyone involved in the game (sorry Pete Rose).
Many of these laws originated from Adams’ document, which survives as a vital artifact from one of the defining moments in baseball’s history.
“When you come across this rough draft of history, it’s compelling,” MLB’s leading historian John Thorn told the New York Times.“It’s like the Dead Sea Scrolls — it is endlessly worthy of research. I didn’t know these documents existed and never imagined they would surface. They are improbable survivors.”
Having previously sold at Sotheby’s back in 1999 for just $12,650, the document is now heading back to auction with a far greater understanding of its importance – with some experts speculating it could now sell for a seven-figure sum.
“No earlier baseball manuscript of this significance has ever come onto the open market,” said Thorn.
The SCP Auctions sale opens for bidding on April 6.