If you’re planning to visit Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in early May, stop by historic Wahconah Park on Sunday, May 3, to catch the city’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of the first game of college baseball, between Amherst and Williams.
On July 1, 1859, the two teams competed under “Massachusetts rules” — 12 to 14 players per side, no foul territory, one out per half inning — on a square-shaped field in Pittsfield (now the site of downtown shops) in the very first intercollegiate baseball game, and also met for a chess match afterwards, a two-day battle of “muscle and mind,” as one local newspaper called it at the time. Amherst defeated Williams 73 to 32 in 25 innings and also won the chess match.
On May 3 this year at Wahconah, Williams and Amherst will face off three times: for a re-enactment of the original baseball game (played by alumni in period uniforms) and a chess match, both beginning at 11 a.m., and for a varsity baseball game, starting at 1 p.m.
Pittsfield was the site of the earliest known game of baseball (1791), and was the birthplace of several pro players, including Ulysses Franklin Grant, considered the greatest African American hitter and infielder of the 19th century. In 1924, Lou Gehrig made his professional debut with Hartford Senators at Wahconah Park, where he hit a home run into the Housatonic River.
For more information:
150th Anniversary College Baseball Game