Baseball pioneer Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr. (d.1892) comes into play with this signed and dated receipt. Great debate has been waged over the often unsupported claims regarding the origin of the American game of baseball. Often conflicting, the early reports and accountings of the National Pastime are generally the stuff of legend and can now safely be considered baseball mythology. The truth is the game evolved organically in the street and fields of America over a period of decades, dating back to the 1700s and was organized in formal versions during the 1830s-1840s by a number of passionate participants.
There is no doubt however that Cartwright was indeed at the center of the action. While working as a bank clerk in Manhattan, he served as a volunteer with the Knickerbocker Fire Engine Company and along with fellow volunteer firefighters and members of the Gotham Baseball Club (founded 1837) he helped found the New York Knickerbocker Baseball club in 1842. This informal organization lost its playing field and in 1845 moved to the Elysian Field in Hoboken, NJ. Numerous period and historical sources cite this 1845 edition as the first officially organized baseball team. Several members of this groundbreaking squad set down rules that formed the basis for the modern game. Cartwright served as Knickerbockers Secretary in 1846 and Vice President 1847-1848. It was during this period that he had the game rules printed and published as the first man to do so.
A true historic treasure of great import, this signed receipt originates during the Knickerbocker Club's early days. Hand dated 12/4/1843, this crisp document is signed by Cartwright at top left as "A.J. Cartwright Jr." with distinctive ("7-8") quality. This clean and supple receipt measures 7 x 3-1/4" with slightly irregular edges and a single fold line that has negligible impact on the sheet's display appeal. Made out in Cartwright's hand for payment of lodging expenses in the amount of $36.00, this voucher is countersigned by John C. Niebuhr. The fact that Cartwright signed this document at the tender age of twenty-three makes it not only one of his oldest surviving signatures, but also one of the earliest baseball HOFer autographs in existence. Full photo LOA from JSA.