Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Play Ball

Aloha, Welcome!
click on photos to enlarge
Morning in Waikiki!

"Modern man thinks he loses something - time - when he does not do things quickly. Yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains except kill it."
Erich Fromm

This young man changed America

"If anyone can figure out a way for me to collect my royalties posthumously, I will hurry up and reincarnate."

Noel Coward

He grew into a leading citizen of his adopted home town

"In the end, people will act more on their personalities than on their politics." Chris Fox

The roots of baseball lie far to the east.
Its legends are enshrined in Cooperstown New York, but every year on April 17, true devotees of "America's pastime" make their way here to Honolulu.

Gathering at historic Oahu Cemetery before a handsome pinkish monument, they oft find baseballs, bats, lei, and even baseball cards, waiting there on the hallowed ground for them. For this is the grave of Alexander Joy Cartwright, the inventor of the game of baseball. This year marked the 189th anniversary of his birth.

He served as trustee of Queen Emma's estate, President of the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce, and was 40 years Chief of the Honolulu Fire Department, dying just a year before the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy. These facts of his life describe the very coming-of-age of our city.

But it is what he accomplished before taking ship for Hawaii that assures his place among the immortals. In 1845 he and some friends founded the Knickerbocker Baseball Club in Hoboken New Jersey where they played at the aptly named Elysian Fields. It was during those Summer afternoons, that AJC formalized the new game's rules, differentiating it from English "Rounders" or any other game. His creation has been by called "The Perfect Game" for over a hundred years.

The influential Spalding family supported the myth that Abner Doubleday, a Civil War general, was the game's inventor. But the Hall of Fame, and scholars of the game agree: Alexander Joy Cartwright is the rightful father.

This year Alexander Joy Cartwright IV was here on the island with us. And his sincere pride was evident.

Not far from Waikiki, in the Makiki neighborhood, recreational leagues play the game at Cartwright Field, a Honolulu City Park. I bet lots of kids (and adults) never give the field's name a second thought. But fanatics of the game are lobbying for a AJC postal stamp, and there is talk of launching a web site. I wish them all the best.

As for why the gentleman made such a momentous move in those days of sailing ships around "The Horn?"
I just think of the crowded 19th century City of New York, and of the sweet smelling trade winds that refresh our town; I think of the lovely character of these islands and her people and one thing becomes abundantly clear.

With the middle name of "Joy" AJC evidently had much in common with the citizens of Honolulu, where joy will always have a home. . .

A L O H A! Cloudia