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It was not until the year 1862 that the game of base-ball was introduced into Harvard College, although it had been played for some years in New York and in some of the preparatory schools. In this year, however, the members of the freshman class established what was known as the "'66 baseball Club." They obtained permission from the Cambridge city government to use a part of the common as a practice ground and this was used until 1864.
As soon as the club was fairly organized, challenges were sent the different colleges, and among them to Yale '66. Yale replied that they did not as yet play the game, but that in the immediate future, they hoped to be able to arrange a match with Harvard.
After the introduction of the game by the class of '66, nines were formed in the various classes and many a stubborn contest was played by the different teams. These games brought out many men who showed proficiency in playing, and on October 12, 1864, a 'varsity club was formed. This club played many games with representatives of the different colleges, and with other amateur nines. In 1868, it received a challenge from Yale to play a championship game, in which the condition was that the men on both teams should be chosen from the academically departments. This challenge was accepted, and on July 23d of the same year, Harvard played her first inter-collegiate game with Yale. The game was well played on both sides, and was won by Harvard by a score of 25 to 17.
On June 5, 1869, the Harvard club visited Brooklyn, and played their second match with Yale, again winning by 41 to 24.
The next season Harvard sent out the strongest team which had yet represented her, and this nine met the Yale team on July 5, 1870. The club went on the field with great confidence, but played its poorest game, and barely escaped defeat. The score in this game was: Harvard, 24; Yale, 22.
Up to this time the condition which Yale imposed in her first challenge had been rigidly adhered to; but in 1871, the captains of the Harvard and Yale teams met and agreed that in the future the college nine should be selected from any department of the university.
In 1871, Yale greatly outdated Harvard, but the game was won through superior fielding. Harvard, 22; Yale, 19. Two games were arranged with Yale, both of which were won by Harvard through strong uphill play, and in 1873 two games were played with a like result.
In 1874, however, Yale put a remarkably strong team into the field, and Harvard was twice defeated, 4-0, 7-4.
Space will not permit accounts of later contests between Harvard and Yale. It is only fair to say, in explanation of the large scores made in some of the games, that a very lively ball was then in use, which was much more difficult to handle than the modern "dead" ball.
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