Now, this wasn’t a typo or a brain fart on Selig’s part. He actually says, “From all of the historians that I have spoken with, I really believe that Abner Doubleday is the ‘Father of Baseball.’”
This is essentially the baseball equivalent of not believing in anthropogenic climate change.
The old myth about the invention of baseball — that, in 1839, Abner Doubleday interrupted a marbles game in Cooperstown, New York, to draw a diagram of a baseball field and explain the rules of what he called “base ball” — is itself an invention, one promulgated by this Mills Commission, which was the sort of handpicked blue ribbon panel that a century or so later Bud Selig would call on to reach certain handpicked conclusions. The Cooperstown creation story has been debunked by everyone from Stephen Jay Gould to Donald Honig to freaking Wikipedia. As far as anyone can tell, Honig once wrote, Doubleday “didn’t know a baseball from a kumquat,” and the only evidence marshaled in support of the theory was a letter supposedly written by a mining engineer in Denver named Abner Graves. But Doubleday was a minor Civil War hero — as captain of the Union artillery in Charleston, he gave the orders to return fire after the initial attack on Fort Sumter — and as such he perfectly suited the story baseball wanted to tell about itself, one in which an indigenous game emerged fully formed from the American soil (without the contributions of any inconvenient foreigners).
The only good news to come from Bud Selig’s admission of stupidity is the Twitter hastag #ThingsBudSeligBelieves, a smattering of which I’ve collected below.