Historic, but not famous

Henry Chadwick, sportswriter, historian

Henry Chadwick (1824 – April 20, 1908) was a sportswriter, baseball statistician and historian, often called the “Father of Baseball” for his early reporting on and contributions to the development of the game. He edited the first baseball guide that was sold to the public.

He was born in England and moved to Brooklyn with his family at the age of 12. He began to write music and to teach piano and guitar, somewhat against the education he received in commerce and finance. As an adult he played cricket and rounders for amusement and began writing about the games for local newspapers.  He came across organized baseball in 1856 as a cricket reporter for The New York Times; watching a match between New York’s Eagles and Gothams. By the next year, he devoted his writing to baseball coverage for the New York Clipper and Sunday Mercury newspapers.

Chadwick helped establish the keeping of statistics and promoted individual players. He was on the rules committee and influenced the early development and coverage of the game. His devotion to and promotion of the game led him to be referred to as the “father of baseball.” In his 1861 Beadle guide, he listed totals of games played, outs, runs, home runs, and strikeouts for hitters on prominent clubs, the first database of its kind. In 1868 he wrote the first book on baseball, The Game of Baseball.

Chadwick continued editing the Spalding Base Ball Guides and producing a column for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and The New York Times. He was struck by a car in 1908, bedridden for weeks, but made it to the opening game of the season at the Polo Grounds and Washington Park in Brooklyn. He caught a cold which worsened his condition. A fall while moving furniture that year brought him to his end.

He was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Please follow and like us:
Historic, but not famous

Dorothy Day, Catholic Worker founder

Dorothy Day (1897 – 1980) was an American journalist, social activist, and Catholic convert born in Brooklyn. Day initially lived a bohemian lifestyle before gaining fame as a social activist after her conversion. She later became a key figure in the Catholic Worker Movement and earned a national reputation as a political radical.

Day was an active journalist and wrote about her social activism. She was a suffragette, arrested many times for her activism and practiced civil disobedience. She established the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist movement that combines direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf in the 1930s. She co-founded the Catholic Worker newspaper in 1933, and served as its editor from 1933 until her death in 1980. In this newspaper, Day advocated the Catholic economic theory of distributism, which she considered a third way between capitalism and socialism. She was mentioned by Pope Benedict XVI as an example of conversion in a secularized time.

Ms. Day started her journalism career on the She settled on the Lower East Side and worked on the staff of several Socialist publications, including The Liberator, The Masses, and The Call.  She spent time in Greenwich Village with playwright Eugene O’Neill and radical writer Mike Gold. She had a variety of lovers and became pregnant. During that time, she became devoutly Catholic and insisted on having her child baptized, causing a rift between her and the child’s father.

The Catholic Worker movement started when the first issue of the Catholic Worker appeared on May 1, 1933, priced at one cent. It was aimed at those suffering the most in the depths of the Great Depression, “those who think there is no hope for the future”, and announced to them that “the Catholic Church has a social program…there are men of God who are working not only for their spiritual but for their material welfare.” It accepted no advertising and did not pay its staff.

She was active in social causes and the Catholic church until her death of a heart attack in 1980 in Manhattan. She had visited India and Russia and workers, priests and popes during her lifetime and remained committed to helping the disadvantaged.

Please follow and like us:
Historic, but not famous

William Leggett, writer, Evening Post

William Leggett (April 30, 1801 – May 29, 1839) was an American poet, fiction writer, and journalist. He was a New Yorker who attended Georgetown and then entered the military. His time in the military didn’t agree with him and he was court martialed for “dueling on duty”. Upon leaving the navy, he returned to New York City in 1826 and began writing.

Leggett became a theater critic at the New York Mirror and assistant editor of the short-lived Merchants’ Telegraph. In November 1828, he founded the Critic, a literary journal that lasted only a few months. In the summer of 1829, however, William Cullen Bryant (of Bryant Park fame) invited Leggett to write for the New York Evening Post. He wrote literary and drama reviews and began to write political editorials.

In 1831 he became part owner and co-editor and took over for Bryant when he traveled to Europe in 1834-35.  Leggett’s political opinions proved highly controversial, he often took on President Jackson in his editorials.  He also became an outspoken opponent of slavery. His opinions and the following controversy proved expensive for the paper and took a toll on his health. When Bryant returned from Europe, Leggett resigned his position and moved to Upstate New York. He continued to write and be involved in politics, a consistent and strong  advocate of laissez-faire (an economic system in which transactions between private parties are free from government intervention such as regulation, privileges, tariffs and subsidies.)

While he was in the Navy, Leggett had contracted yellow fever. This had left him in poor health for much of his later civilian life and he died in New Rochelle, New York in 1839 at the age of  38.

Please follow and like us:
Historic, but not famous

Sydney Howard Gay (1814–1888) was an American attorney, journalist and abolitionist who was active in New York City. Beginning in 1843, he was editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard for 14 years. His offices became a stop of the Underground Railroad, and he became very active in collaborating with others to help fugitive slaves reach freedom.

Gay worked closely with free black Louis Napoleon, and for about two years kept a detailed record of the approximately 200 men he and Napoleon aided in what is known as the Record of Fugitives. Later records discovered put the number of people assisted by the duo at almost 3000.

Gay’s journalist career led him to be assistant managing editor at The New-York Tribune and kept it a pro-Union paper during the Civil War. Gay defied  Tribune owner Horace Greeley’s command to arm the Tribune building during the 1863 Draft Riots and prevented a mob from burning it to the building to the ground. He eventually worked for the Chicago Tribune, covering the Great Chicago fire of 1971 and returned to New York to serve on the editorial staff of the New York Evening Post.

Please follow and like us: