Albert Spalding, Madame Tingley and the Great Myth of Baseball

by on September 10, 2019 · 0 comments

in History, Ocean Beach, Sports

By Randy Dotinga / Voice of San Diego / September 2, 2019

If you head out to a Padres game this month, you might assume you’re enjoying the national pastime invented by a man called Doubleday in a bucolic place called Cooperstown. But this origin story is a hoax, perhaps the greatest in all of sports, and it has its roots right here in Point Loma, where wealth, the occult and shameless myth-making collided early in the 20th century.

At the center of it all was a man named Albert Goodwill Spalding, the early baseball player-turned-sporting goods king whose last name is emblazoned on countless baseballs, bats and gloves. He landed here around 1900 at the urging of his mistress-turned-wife, a follower of a pioneering New Age-adjacent religion known as Theosophy that had set up its fantastical “White City” headquarters along the shore.

Theosophy, one of the first New Age religions, blended Asian philosophies like Buddhism and Hinduism with homegrown American mind-over-matter philosophy and occult beliefs like clairvoyance and communication with spirits. (Unfortunately, no one appears to have tried to reach Abner Doubleday from beyond the veil to consult him about his supposed baseball bona fides).

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