Born in Exeter, England, and raised on cricket, Chadwick was one of the prime movers in the rise of baseball to its unprecedented popularity at the turn of the 20th century. Chadwick moved to Brooklyn with his family at the age of 12, and became a frequent player of early ball games such as rounders. He began covering cricket for numerous local newspapers such as the Long Island Star. It is said Chadwick first came across baseball in 1856 in New York as a young cricket reporter, while watching a match between New York's Eagle and Gotham clubs. In 1857 he focused his attention as a journalist and writer on baseball after joining the New York Clipper. A keen amateur statistician and professional writer, he soon helped sculpt the public perception of the game, as well as providing the basis for the records of team's and player's achievements in the form of baseball statistics.
Chadwick edited The Beadle Baseball Player, the first baseball guide on public sale, as well as the Spalding and Reach annual guides for a number of years and in this capacity promoted the game and influenced the then-infant discipline of sports journalism. He also served on baseball rules committees and influenced the game itself.
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. His goal was to come up with numerical evidence as that would prove what players helped or hurt a team to win.
In 1867 he accompanied the National Base Ball Club of Washington D.C. on their inaugural national tour, as their official scorer, and in 1874 was instrumental in organizing a similar tour of England, which included games of both baseball and cricket. In his role as journalist, he campaigned against the detrimental effects on the game of both alcohol and gambling.
He is credited with devising the baseball box score (which he adapted from the cricket scorecard) for reporting game events. The first box score was a grid with nine rows for players and nine columns for innings. The original box scores also created the often puzzling abbreviation for strikeout as "K" - "K" being the last letter of "struck" in "struck out." The basic format and structure of the box score has changed little since the earliest of ones designed by Chadwick. He is also credited with devising such statistical measures as batting average and earned run average. Ironically, ERA originated not in the goal of measuring a pitcher's worth but to differentiate between runs caused by batting skill (hits) and lack of fielding skill (errors). He is also noted as believing fielding range to be a superior skill to avoiding errors.
The following description of a game was written by Henry Chadwick and appeared in his Base Ball Memoranda. It is typical of his style of sports journalism, and that of his time:
Chadwick was the younger half brother of Sir Edwin Chadwick, England's sanitary philosopher who developed environmental measures and laws designed to counteract the effects of the Industrial Revolution.
Chadwick died at age 83 in Brooklyn, New York and is interred in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. "Father of Base Ball" is inscribed on his grave marker. Henry Chadwick at www.sorabji.com See also: Baseball statistics