Abner Doubleday

In 1905, a commission headed by Al Spalding wrongly credited Doubleday with inventing the game of baseball in in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. Doubleday was actually a cadet at West Point when he was alleged to have mapped out the first baseball diamond, and after graduating in 1842 he enjoyed a distinguished military career. He fought in Mexico as well as the Civil War, eventually becoming a major general.

The commission was convinced of Doubleday’s role by the testimony of an elderly gentleman named Abner Graves, who claimed to be a childhood playmate of Doubleday’s and present when the game was invented. Graves’s story was later “verified” by the discovery of a rotting baseball among his personal effects. That ball became known as “The Doubleday Baseball” and remains on display at the Hall of Fame. Doubleday left behind numerous diaries and never claimed to have invented baseball, yet he remains one of the game’s great mythological figures. The annual Hall of Fame Game is played each summer at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.