FIRST PERIOD, 1862-1874.
COLLEGE memories are naturally brief. So quickly does one class follow another, that old traditions are soon forgotten, and even important facts in the history of our organizations lie buried in the volumes of College papers. Of nothing is this more true than of the Nine, whose past is unknown save to a few. To trace quickly and succinctly the chief events in its history is the object of this and succeeding articles.
Base ball originated in the old-fashioned game of rounders. The first game at Harvard was played in 1862, by the class nine of '66, which had been organized by G. A. Flagg and F. Wright, both of '66.
In 1863, interest in the game increased, and the Cambridge city government allowed a part of the Common near the Washington Elm to be used for practice. On June 27, 1863, the first game of base ball proper was played between our '66 nine and Brown, '66, the score standing 27 to 17 in our favor. In 1864, the first of many exciting contests with the Lowells took place, the latter winning two out of four games.
In 1866, Harvard won its greatest victory, defeating the Orients of East Boston by 97 to 11. At this time Wright was pitcher, and was looked upon as one of the best in the country; in one game with the Lowells, nine home runs were made. But this year was not an auspicious one, as six out of thirteen games were lost.
In 1867, the base-ball grounds were changed from the Delta to Jarvis Field. J. B. Ames, '68, was captain, and three great games were played with the Lowells, to decide the disputed question of championship. The scores are as follows: -
Lowell 37 26 28
Harvard 28 32 39
This year, too, the Athletics, then the best nine in the country, were beaten by 22 to 10. In the autumn, Bush, afterwards so famous in base-ball annals, played his first game with the University Nine. The record for the year was twelve games won, two lost.
In 1868, on July 25, the first of the intercollegiate contests with Yale was played at Worcester, our Nine winning 25 to 17. Out of seventeen games this year, Harvard won fifteen. From this time on, the Lowells were no longer feared by our Nine.
1869 is one of the great years in Harvard's base-ball history. The Dartmouths were beaten 38 to 0, and the Lowells were frequently worsted. A good game was played with the famous Red Stockings, then champions of the country. A trip was taken during the summer, and a number of professional nines were encountered. This year Perrin, still remembered for his brilliant play at first base, joined the Nine. Fourteen out of twenty games were won.
In 1870, occurred the remarkable Western tour of the Nine. It opened with a splendid game in which Yale was beaten 22 to 24, on July 3. The Haymakers, Mutuals, Red Stockings, and numerous other professional clubs were met, and twenty out of twenty-six games were won. This was the climax of Bush's base-ball career, and it has been said of him that without doubt he was the best player the country had seen.
1871 proved a less brilliant year than the preceding. Only sixteen games were played, ten being victories.
In 1872, the number of games with Yale was increased to a series of three, instead of one, annually, as had been the custom before. This year, Harvard began to lose its prestige as first of amateur clubs, losing five out of ten games during the season.
In 1873, the Nine proved more successful in some respects. Yale was defeated in two successive games, and the Bostons were also beaten 21 to 19. Hooper, '75, pitched this year, and Tyng played for the first time.
In 1874, several names since famous here are noticed among the players, especially those of Ernst, Leeds, Tower, and Thatcher. But the year was one of defeats: Princeton won two games; Yale won two, thus getting the championship for the first time, and also whitewashing us by 4 to 0. This is a fitting place to close this record of the first period of our Nine's history, for in 1875 several changes were introduced into the game, notably the substitution of curve pitching for the old-time under-arm pitching.