The Little Three
Williams • Amherst • Wesleyan
There are at least two athletic seasons for each Williams varsity team, the regular season and the Little Three.
The three schools first formally banded together in 1899 as the Triangular League. The Triangular League broke up over an argument concerning the eligibility of college baseball players who received pay during summer league play. As a result of the ill feelings, Williams and Amherst did not play from 1902 to 1904.
In 1905 the Williams Athletic Council voted to consider the games against Amherst and Wesleyan as championship contests. When Amherst and Wesleyan resumed competition in 1910 the Little Three as we know it today began in earnest. Once referred to as "The Triumvirate," the exact origin of the term "Little Three" is not known. One of the earliest references appeared in John Hallahan’s Football in New England Colleges in 1923. Said Hallahan, "Williams College again won the championship of the "Little Three" which includes Wesleyan and Amherst..."
The Little Three is believed to be America’s oldest, continuous intercollegiate athletic conference without a membership change. Little Three championships are contested in 24 sports throughout the academic year.
Well before the founding of the Little Three Williams and Amherst engaged in the first intercollegiate baseball game played in the United States when they met in Pittsfield (MA) on July 1, 1859.
Williams' Weston Field became the site of the first appearance of ESPN's College Football GameDay at a Division III school when the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" was on hand for the 2007 Williams-Amherst game, known as "The Biggest Little Game in America." Williams won that contest 20-0.
In April of 2012 bleacherreport.com ranked the Williams-Amherst rivalry as the 51st most heated sports rivalry in the world -- don't beleive it -- check it out HERE.
From 1985-86 to 2009-10 Williams had great success in Little Three competitions, winning the most Little Three titles each year and frequently winning more in one year than Amherst and Wesleyan combined! In the 1990s the Ephs averaged 19 Little Three titles per year.
Williams won 17 outright Little Three titles and tied for two more in 2009-10 to top the Little Three competition with Amherst and Wesleyan for the 25th consecutive year.
In 2010-11 Amherst stopped the Eph streak of most Little Three titles won in a year by claiming 12 to the Ephs's 10.
The high water mark for the Ephs in Little Three play came in 2001-02 when they won an unprecedented 22 of 26 Little Three crowns outright. The Ephs went 56-8 (.875) in Little Three competitions that year.