Coming into the season, the Harvard baseball team looked like a legitimate contender for the Ivy League crown.
But expectations differed sorely from reality: the squad now holds a dismal 4-25 record. The Crimson hasn’t fared much better in league play, either, winning just once in eight tries. Currently, Harvard is in last place in the Rolfe Division, five games behind division-leading Dartmouth.
Harvard baseball may have dropped another one to Northeastern this evening, but the Huskies, and especially the team’s catcher John Puttress, are still indebted to the Crimson.
That’s right. Today marks the 135th anniversary of Harvard’s greatest contribution to baseball: the catcher’s mask.
Along with countless contributions to the landscape of American sports, the story of the first catcher’s mask is one of the University’s proudest athletic achievements. It’s also one of its most contested, despite what’s written in Harvard’s Hall of Athletic History.
With the Major League Baseball season officially starting today, and Harvard’s own baseball team toiling at 3-16, it’s a fair question to ask what—if any—relationship the Crimson and the big leagues have had over the years.
In February, we discussed Frank Hermann ’06 and his foray into the majors, pitching for the Cleveland Indians.
Hermann is the first Harvard baseball player to reach the majors since Jeff Musselman ’85 suited up for the Blue Jays and Mets between 1985 and 1990. But before Musselman, the Crimson had a pretty extensive history of major leaguers.
With some seasons just coming to an end and others picking up speed, Crimson athletics are feeling the ups and downs of collegiate competition.
The team won 14 straight matchups before ending its season by taking home four medals in the NCAA Northeast Region Championship and placing fourth in the NCAA Championships.
During the streak, Harvard took also home the Ivy League and Beanpot titles.
The Crimson won all five of its Ivy League Championship matchups, capping the tournament with a title-clinching victory against Yale on Feb. 13, downing the Bulldogs, 14-13.
Despite the Harvard baseball team’s 1-13 start to the season, not all is lost with the Crimson able to ride the strong play of senior pitcher Max Perlman.
The 6-foot-7, 230-pound right-hander heads into the weekend with a 1.40 ERA and 19 strikeouts in just over 19 innings.
Perlman pointed out his offseason dedication as the key for his impressive start.
“[I] worked very hard in the offseason and had a good experience this past summer when I got to play with some guys that were very good and will definitely play professional baseball,” Perlman said. “I definitely learned from them.”