Suffolk Honors ‘Father Of Baseball’

Henry Chadwick

Henry Chadwick, known as the “Father of Baseball,” was a pioneering journalist and historian credited with editing the first guide about baseball, creating the box score, abbreviating “K” for strikeouts, and creating batting average and earned run average statistics.

In May, he will recognized as the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame historic inductee during a ceremony at Watermill Caterers in Smithtown.

“I learned about Chadwick’s connection to the East End while working on a different history project in Sag Harbor, and knew immediately we had to honor him through the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame,” hall of fame executive director Chris Vaccaro said. “Last year we inducted the New York Cuban Giants as our historic inductee, and Chadwick was next on our list. His place is so unique in baseball history.”

When Vaccaro took over in 2017, he wanted to ensure the hall dove into different areas of history not often remembered or even known.

Chadwick, who was born in the United Kingdom in 1824 and died in Brooklyn in 1908, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938 and in 2009 had the Henry Chadwick Award created in his name by the Society for American Baseball Research to honor outstanding contributions of baseball researchers.

The sportswriter called Sag Harbor his summer home for decades.

“I would like to consider placing one of our Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame historic markers near the location he lived in Sag Harbor in the future,” Vaccaro said. “We started that program in 2019 and put our first marker at Bethpage Ballpark where the Long Island Ducks play.”

Chadwick played ball games like rounders and cricket before moving to the United States in 1837, and was a cricket reporter for The New York Times in 1856 when he witnessed his first game of baseball. From that point on he wrote regular columns about the sport.

“Americans do not care to dawdle over a sleep-inspiring game, all through the heat of a June or July day,” Chadwick wrote. “What they do they want to do in a hurry. In baseball, all is lightning; every action is as swift as a seabird’s flight.”

In 1859, he formulated his first modern box score, documenting statistics like runs, hits, put-outs, assists, and errors for the dominant Brooklyn Excelsiors club.

“The box score was the only way of showing the game — there really was no photography,” said Chadwick biographer Andrew Schiff, who wrote “The Father of Baseball.” “The writer really was the person at the center between the fans and the player at the game.”

“Chadwick was an influence for good at a time when the game badly needed such a person,” said National Baseball Hall of Fame historian Lee Allen. “For years he kept pounding away in print on such subjects as the desirability of temperance and the need for fair treatment of umpires, and he lived to see improvements in those and other areas.”

The Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020 with its May 26 ceremony. Among the other 19 inductees are Northport native and U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team 2019 World Cup winner Allie Long, Stony Brook University women’s lacrosse coach and Major League Lacrosse New York Lizards General Manager Joe Spallina; Northport native and current head coach of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets Kenny Atkinson, West Islip Hansen Award winner and three-year NFL player Kevin Riccio, and Shoreham-Wading River High School student Thomas Cutinella, who died as the result of a traumatic brain injury following a head-to-head collision with an opposing player in 2014, and as the result of a then-recent organ donor registration saved multiple lives.

“This is a very special year for the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame,” Vaccaro said. “We are celebrating a major anniversary while honoring an all-star induction class. These are some of the finest individuals to represent not only Suffolk County, but their respective sports and organizations at-large.”

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