Twenty Years of Harvard Base-Ball.


The autumn of 1866 saw two games in which the Harvard nine were engaged, and both victories: over the "Beacons," 53 to 18, and the "Trimountains," 33 to 16. But although winning seven out of thirteen games, the nine lost the silver ball and the college championship.

"The need of systematic practice," says the Advocate, "was felt at first. Harvard was the first college to take up base-ball and consequently easily distanced her sister colleges, and also wrested the championship from the Lowell Club in the first attempt. Defeat taught the vanquished the necessity of discipline. The Williams College nine was under the care of two professional trainers for several weeks before the match at Worcester, and the powerful batting of the Lowell nine was the result of faithful attendance at the gymnasium last winter. Success on the other hand blinded the Harvard nine to the necessity of exertion before was too late."

College sympathy and encouragement was not lacking. Prize bats and balls were offered as incentives to good batting and fielding large audiences followed the team to its games, and "playing ball in the yard. . . . superceded some of the good old customs of running foot-races, playing marbles in front of Holworthy, and other irregular practices which the seniors used to indulge in." Every class had a nine, nearly all of which had inter collegiate matches. The Law School had a nine. Scientific School had a nine. Everybody was wild over base-ball and 10,000 people it is estimated, stood on Boston Common at the Harvard-Lowell game.

It is amusing to see the inter-change of journalistic courtesies between the Harvard and Yale papers of those days, albeit they were less ill-natured and more humorous than those of to-day. The Yale Courant in September, says: "Let the various colleges throughout the country organize their nines and practice this fall. Immediately at the opening of spring, let the colleges throughout the West play for the championship there, and likewise those of the East for the championship here. Then at the time of the great boat-race between Harvard and Yale next summer, let the two champion nines play for a silver-mounted bat which will be given by the Yale Courant to the Champion Nine of American Colleges."

The Advocate terms this a "magnanimous offer of itself," on the part of the Courant, although wholly voluntary and gratuitous as a "guardian angel" to American college base-ball; and the Courant in reply, complains of the "whining, whipped dog" tone of the Advocate. This, of course, did not go unanswered, and so the war continued.


The Harvard champion nine of '65 was constituted from the following men, of whom Flagg, Abercrombie and Hunnewell were looked upon with as much veneration as Allen and Sam Winslow to-day: Flagg, Wright, Parker, Abercromble, Barker, Hunnewall, Davis, Gray, Nelson, Sprague, Miller, (this Nelson, by the way, was the man who used to visit freshmen's rooms and twist the knobs off the doors in his hand. He was the strongest man in college at the time).

The nine of '66 was composed from the following men: Hunnewell, Flagg, Ames, Wright, Abercrombie, Smith, Parker, Sprague, Watson, Baker, Nelson, Miller, Mealey, Shaw, Stevens, Stearns.

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