July 1 marked the 160th anniversary of the first collegiate baseball game, which pitted Amherst College against rival Williams College at in Pittsfield, Mass., and Amherst College won.
NCAA.com recently ran an account of that historic 1859 game, noting that modern ball fans might have been confused had they been there.
The teams played following Massachusetts rules of the day: “The playing field was a square with no foul territory, with the ‘striker’ setting up on a line halfway between first base and home base … there were no balls in pitching. If a striker swung at a pitch and missed, he received a strike. But if he repeatedly decided not to swing at good pitches in an attempt to delay the game, the referee would give a warning,” Daniel Wilco wrote.
“One of the most significant differences under Massachusetts rules was the ability to get a runner out by throwing the ball at him and hitting him. Seems just slightly dangerous,” he continued.
The two teams agreed to limit the game to 65 “tallies” (or runs), and that each team would consist of 13 players. Each inning only lasted for one out, meaning it took 25 innings before Amherst beat Williams 73-32.
“And for good measure, the two teams played a chess match afterwards, which Amherst also won,” Wilco wrote.
Later in 1859, St. John’s College Fordham Rose Hill Baseball Club (now known as Fordham University) played against St. Francis Xavier College in what would be the first collegiate game with the modern rules of the game.