ESPNU to air Williams-Amherst 150th anniversary baseball game
The anniversary contest between Williams and Amherst, who played their first game on July 1, 1859 in Pittsfield, will be televised live from Wahconah Park by ESPNU at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 3. One of the cable television giant's many networks, ESPNU only broadcasts college athletic contests. The rain date is May 4.
Pittsfield native Mike Ryan, ESPN's vice president for event programming and a member of the Amherst class of 1980, arranged the telecast, said former Red Sox general manager and Dalton native Dan Duquette, who helped set up the anniversary festivities with Williams alumnus Michael Barbera, a Washington D.C.-based lobbyist.
During a news conference on Monday, Mayor James M. Ruberto noted the "rich history" between Williams and Amherst and said that Barbera and Duquette had worked hard "to make the 150th anniversary of this contest something special."
As for Pittsfield's part in the historic affair, Ruberto said, "something special starts at a special place, and that's Wahconah Park."
Besides the anniversary game, a three-inning "vintage game" played by alumni of the two colleges in period uniforms under 19th century rules will be held. The two colleges also played a vintage baseball game at Wahconah Park in 1976, but this time noted baseball historian John Thorn will be on hand to teach the squads the rudiments of 19th century baseball. Free youth baseball clinics, sponsored by Duquette's Sports Academy in Hinsdale, will be offered at Wahconah on May 2.
There will also be a re-enactment of a chess match between Williams and Amherst that took place the day after the first baseball game, and a contest to design the anniversary game poster that includes a $1,000 honorarium and season tickets for baseball games at Wahconah Park this summer for the winner. Details are available at the Cultural Pittsfield Web site, www.CulturalPittsfield com. The College Baseball Hall of Fame is expected to attend this year's contest, Duquette said.
Amherst won the first contest between the two schools by a score of 73 to 32, in 25 innings. When the two schools couldn't agree on a site, the Pittsfield Base Ball Club donated its grounds, a field located near the intersection of North St. and Maplewood Ave. The schools have played each other 292 times, and Amherst leads the series 164-125-2. Each team has won 12 times since 2000.
In 1791, Pittsfield developed a town bylaw banning the playing of "base ball" in the vicinity of the new meeting house, a document that is currently the oldest known reference to the sport in North America.
To reach Tony Dobrowolski: TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com (413) 496-6224
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.