1859.1

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First Intercollegiate Ballgame: Amherst 73, Williams 32

Salience Noteworthy
Tags College
Location New England
City/State/Country: Pittsfield, MA, United States
Game Base Ball
Age of Players Youth
Text

In the first intercollegiate baseball game ever played, Amherst defeats Williams 73-32 in 26 innings, played under the Massachusetts Game rules. The contest is staged in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, a neutral site, at the invitation of the Pittsfield Base Ball Club.

The two schools also competed at chess that weekend. A two-page broadsheet tells of Amherst taking on Williams in both base ball and chess. Headline: "Muscle and mind!"

The New York Clipper thought that the game's wimpy ball lessened the fun: "The ball used by Amherst was small, soft, and with so little elasticity that a hard throw upon the floor would cause of rebound of scarcely a foot." Ryczek goes on to say that the ball, while more suitable for plugging than the Association ball, detracted from the excitement of the game because it was not or could not be hit or thrown far.

Sources

Pittsfield Sun, July 7, 1859. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 32-34. Also, Durant, John, The Story of Baseball in Words and Pictures [Hastings House, NY, 1947], p .10. Per Millen, note # 35.

Amherst Express, Extra, July 1 - 2, 1859 [Amherst, MA], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 219. 

New York Clipper, cited in William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 127 and attributed to the July 16 issue of the Clipper.

Jim Overmyer, "Baseball Goes to College-- Amherst vs. Williams", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 19-20.

 

Comment

For a stern critique of the student time spent away from studying, see The Congregationalist [Boston], September 2, 1859, cited at https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/amherst-and-williams-play-the-first-intercollegiate-game-of-baseball-1859-b1c0255f6338, posted January 15, 2018. 

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