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This plaque commemorates the first inter-collegiate baseball game that occurred at this location on July 1, 1859. The game featured teams from Amherst College and Williams College and took almost four hours to complete. Amherst won the game 73-32, a score that provides some clues as to how the sport has changed over the years. This particular game was played with an early set of rules known as the "Massachusetts Rules." The game of baseball was evolving at this time, and this set of rules allowed fielders throw a runner out by hitting them with a baseball. This was a harder task than one might suspect, as therules did not require base runners to stay in the baselines.

  • Newspaper article talking about the game.
  • The actuals baseballs used in the game
  • Picture of the plaque denoting the location of the game
The first inter-collegiate game was billed as a grudge match between two rival colleges. At this time, Amherst and Williams had a strong rivalry that transcended academics. The rivalry started at the time of Amherst's founding in 1821. At that time, the president of Williams led students to establish a new college just as dissident religious leaders might lead their supporters out of a congregation to found a new church. Scholars at Williams accused their former president and students pf stealing books from their own college's library before establishing Amherst. The rivalry between the two institutions remained intense in the coming decades and little had changes when Amherst invited Williams to participate in a baseball game in neutral Pittsfield.

The teams met on July 1, 1859 at 11am. Neither college had an official baseball team and the players were each selected by the student body. Amherst edged out Williams in the almost 4 hour game 73-32 in a rivalry that still takes place today and is considered the oldest collegiate baseball rivalry.

The game was played under the "Massachusetts Rules" which are quite different than today's game. Under these rules, you could hit the ball in any direction because there were no foul balls. Fielders could hit players with the ball to get them out and base runners did not have to stay in the base line. In latter years, teams adopted the "Knickerbocker Rules" which are more similar to modern baseball rules.

There is some debate on whether the game between Amherst and Williams should be considered the first collegiate baseball game due to the divergence of rules, but this has not dissuaded residents of Pittsfield from claiming the honor or placing this historical marker on North Street. 
Thorn, John. The First Intercollegiate Ball Game, 1859. Our Game. December 4, 2012. Accessed July 1, 2017.

Beschloss, Michael. The Longest Game: Williams vs. Amherst. The New York Times. September 26, 2014. Accessed July 1, 2017.