The struggle for the championship of the American College Base-Ball Association for the coming season promises to be a most interesting one. At all the colleges more than the usual enthusiasm prevails, and each seems to be making the most strenuous efforts to turn out "the best nine yet."
The teams that are to represent the various members of the association have been put through a pretty severe course of gymnasium exercise during the winter, and, in addition to this, at most of the colleges, facilities are afforded for practice, not only in fielding, but also in batting, so that when the men first take to out-door work they are already in excellent condition, and need but a few days' open-air practice to get well shaken together.
It is rather early in the day to make any predictions as to the probable outcome of the contest. The "unexpected" forms such a very important element in the chances of base-ball that the role of a prophet is by no means an easy one to fill. At the present writing, however, it seems safe to say that, barring accidents, the first place lies between Harvard, Princeton and Yale.
Harvard has the advantage of retaining all but two of her last year's nine, including the "battery." Nichols and Allen, and four of her best batsmen. In selecting new men, the aim seems to be to look to the batting qualities rather than the fielding, and it is not unlikely that some of the men who played last year, but showed weakness at the bat, will be replaced by others who have more "slugging" abilities. It is, therefore, probable that the nine will keep up its reputation of being the heaviest batting team in the association. Reliance will be placed on this batting ability to get runs, while the very efficient battery will be depended upon to prevent run getting on the other side. It remains to be seen how this combination will work.
Yale retains seven of her last year's nine, but loses two of her best batsmen. Of those who remain, judging from last year's record, only two can be considered strong at the bat, the remainder having attained very low averages. It is probable, however, that the fielding of the nine will be good.
Princeton, also, loses two of her best batsmen, but will probably rank this year, as she did last, next to Harvard in batting strength. In fielding, the nine will, from present indications, equal that of Yale, with the additional advantage of having a more effective pitcher.
Taking all these facts into consideration, and the additional fact that both Princeton and Yale seem to find it very difficult to obtain a satisfactory catcher - a most important position - we are disposed to think that, while the struggle will be centered between Harvard, Princeton and Yale, their relative standing at the end of the year will be in the above order. A very possible contingency, however, such as a sprained arm or a broken finger might materially alter the result. - Outing for April.