Andy Ward's effortless pitching performances against Dartmouth yesterday afternoon reminds one of other days in Crimson baseball history. The first that comes to mind is this year's contest with Columbia in New York.
In the top of the tenth, the Crimson was tied with the Lions, 4 to 4. The Columbia pitcher shook off one sign. He didn't want to throw another fast ball to slugger Don Butters. The stocky third baseman had already hit one home run and the Columbia pitcher couldn't afford to let him hit another, not with a man on second and the score tied.
Finally he got the single for a curve. He stretched, looked around at John Simourian dancing off second base, and threw. Immediately he whirled around, but this time he wasn't interested in Simourian. He was gazing at the ball he had just thrown. It looked much smaller as it disappeared over the center field fence into the Harlem River.
This was a close game pulled out with timely hitting, and was typical of the come-from-behind spirit of this year's team. The Lions had been ahead by three runs going into the fifth inning, but the varsity won in the end. Princeton had a two-run lead in the fifth, and the varsity also won. That's the story with Tufts, Penn, and others.
What is unique about these games and the Dartmouth victory yesterday is that they add up to the best varsity baseball record since 1939, when the club won 16 and lost ten. They also add up to a tie with Yale for the lead In the Ivy League and Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League, and probably to the Greater Boston League crown.
And all this with the season only two-thirds over.
A year shy of 90 years ago, in 1866, close games were a rarity. That year the Crimson played against the Orient Club of East Boston, which could have used a Ward or two. Or maybe a Butters or eight. At any rate the final score was Harvard 97, Orient 11.
Sixty-eight years passed before any other "Orient club" played the varsity. In 1934 the squad went to the Philippines and Japan to meet 16 of them. The team was good enough to win a 9-0 decision over the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club. No other Crimson nine can make that statement.
Possibly the best varsity nine since the turn of the century was the 1916 squad, which ended the year with a 22-3 record. The season began with an auspicious 1 to 0 triumph over the World Champion Boston Red Sox. Come to think of it, the way the Sox are playing this year. . .
Recently the team has settled down to a regular list of opponents which rarely changes. Ivy League competition will probably stereotype this even more. Back in the 1860's, however, when baseball was in the disper stage around Cambridge, the varsity played a strange assortment of opponents.
Among them was the Trimountain Club, which the nine defeated by the odd-sounding score of 59 to 32. In 1866, a year after Crimson baseball began organized competition, the squad met Eureka. The final score was 70 to 9.
While no one around Soldiers Field expects the present club to duplicate these tremendous scores, the team can finish with the best record of any Crimson nine since the turn of the century if it wins its seven remaining games. And with the pitching, fielding, and clutch hitting the club is getting, they just may win all seven.