- Born November 1, 1814 Mont Vernon, New Hampshire, U.S.
- Died January 3, 1899 (aged 84) New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
- Occupation Player and executive for New York Knickerbockers Leader of National Association of Base Ball Players rules and regulations committee
- Education Yale University Harvard Medical School
Daniel Lucius Adams (November 1, 1814 – January 3, 1899) was an American baseball player and executive who is regarded by historians as an important figure in the sport’s early years. For most of his career he was a member of the New York Knickerbockers. He first played for the New York Base Ball Club in 1840 and started his Knickerbockers career five years later, continuing to play for the club into his forties and to take part in inter-squad practice games and matches against opposing teams. Researchers have called Adams the creator of the shortstop position, which he used to field short throws from outfielders. In addition to his playing career, Adams manufactured baseballs and oversaw bat production; he also occasionally acted as an umpire.
Early life and Education
Born in Mont Vernon, New Hampshire, on November 1, 1814, Adams was the fourth of Daniel and Nancy Adams’ five children. The elder Daniel Adams was a physician and author; he wrote a math textbook that was widely used in the United States in the early- to mid-1800s. After being schooled at Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire from 1826 to 1828 and Amherst, Massachusetts’ Mount Pleasant Classical Institution, Adams attended three colleges from 1831 to 1838. He studied at Amherst College for two years, then transferred to Yale University, where he acquired a bachelor’s degree upon his graduation in 1835. Nancy Adams, Daniel’s sister, indicated in a letter penned in the early 1830s that he began playing with “bats and balls” by this time.
Daniel Lucius Adams continued his studies at Harvard Medical School through 1838, obtaining an MD. Following his time in college, he joined his father’s medical practice. The pair worked in Mont Vernon, before the younger Adams relocated twice, first to Boston and then to New York City. Adams also worked for the New York Dispensaries, which provided medical care to poor residents. He offered his assistance when outbreaks of cholera affected New York City. For providing vaccinations, Adams received yearly pay of $400 for a time. His field of employment gave rise to his nickname of “Doc”, which was given as “Dock” at the time.
According to baseball historian John Thorn, 1839 is the year Adams became a baseball player. In an 1896 interview in The Sporting News, Adams said that “soon after going to New York I began to play base ball just for exercise, with a number of other young medical men.” Starting in 1840, he was a player with the New York Base Ball Club. This team had been founded in 1837, eight years earlier than the New York Knickerbockers, who are credited in several baseball histories as pioneering the modern version of baseball. Adams played an early form of the game, but Thorn writes that he “understood to be baseball, no matter what it was called”.