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William Van Cott

Club President
  • Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: New York
  • Team: Gothams

William Hathaway Van Cott (1821-1908) reminds us that nostalgia never gets old. In 1854 he wrote a letter to the New York Times that became the Gray Lady’s first reference to the game of “Base Ball.” He emphasized that the game his Gothams and friendly rivals the Excelsiors and Knickerbockers were playing was greatly improved from the “old-fashioned game” of yore; “thoroughly systematized” and played more skillfully. By 1858 he had been chosen the first President of the first official league, the NABBP. Future “Father of Baseball,” sportswriter Henry Chadwick’s first exposure to the game he would bring to national fame occurred in July of ‘58, at the renowned “Fashion Course Games” where Brooklyn’s all-stars vied with NYC’s finest. Justice (16 years on the bench) Van Cott scored that game. William’s brother Thomas was the star pitcher of all the NY clubs in the 1850s and pitched the game. The young NY centerfielder was Harry Wright, a cricketer who would go on to invent professional ball.

  • The jurist would go on to campaign for the elimination of New York gang influence and paid a hefty price: two attempts were made to burn his home. A founding father and courageous public servant

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