Enter the Spalding Commission, a board created by sporting goods magnate and former player A.G. Spalding to establish the genesis of baseball. After a few years of searching, they found their answer.
Abner Graves, a mining engineer, proclaimed that Abner Doubleday – a decorated Union Army officer who directed the first shot at Fort Sumter at the start of the Civil War and later served at the Battle of Gettysburg – invented baseball in 1839 in Cooperstown.
That was good enough for the Spalding Commission, which came to its conclusion in 1907.
Three decades later, Cooperstown philanthropist Stephen C. Clark – seeking a way to celebrate and protect the National Pastime as well as an economic engine for Cooperstown – asked National League president Ford C. Frick if he would support the establishment of a Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Clark was a local hotel owner, financially hurting because of the Depression. The farmers around him were also devastated because of Prohibition, which killed the hops industry.
Eventually, what could have been self-serving, became a great gift to baseball fans around the world.
Doubleday field itself dates back to 1920, and the first grandstand was built in 1924. Thanks to Works Progress Administration money during the Great Depression, Doubleday Field was expanded again in 1934. Today, the field is occupied non-stop during the spring, summer and fall as high school athletes, collegiate summer league stars and recreational league players savor the chance to play on hallowed ground.