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April 7, 2009

150th anniversary of 1st college baseball game -- Williams vs. Amherst to air LIVE on ESPN360 from Pittsfield's Wahconah Park and on tape delay on ESPN U May 4, 6 and 13

1859 game to be re-enacted under
'Massachusetts Rules' at 11:00 AM/
chess match between the archrivals
will also begin at 11:00 AM


PITTSFIELD, MA –
The 150th anniversary celebration of the first college baseball game between Williams College and Amherst College will be aired live on ESPN360.com and when the two storied rivals meet in Pittsfield's historic Wahconah Park on Sunday, May 3rd at 1:00 PM.

ESPN U will air the game on Monday May 4th at 7:00 PM EST, again on Tuesday May 6th at 7:00 PM and on May 13th at 12:00 AM. ESPN U is also available on Channel 614 on DirecTV.

The nationally syndicated radio talk show – Talkin' Baseball – hosted by Tim Donner and Phil Wood will also originate from Wahconah Park on the day of the game. In addition, NPR's "Only A Game," is expected to be on hand as well.
 
The anniversary game is the brainchild of Williams baseball alum Michael Barbera '89 (baseball) and it came to fruition with his involvement of Amherst grad Dan Duquette '80 (football and baseball) in the planning and implementation of all of the activities surrounding the event that has captured the imagination of the City of Pittsfield and the region.
 
Pittsfield was the site of the first college game played on July 1, 1859 when Williams and Amherst squared off under "Massachusetts rules" and also competed in a chess match. The chess competition will be a part of this year's anniversary celebration as well with the two schools facing off at Wahconah Park in three competitions – chess, an alumni game in period uniforms donated by Nokona and the Varsity contest.

The alumni game and chess matches will begin at 11:00 AM and the varsity contest, which is expected to have New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) playoff implications will follow at 1:00 PM. Most often the winner of the annual three-game series between Williams and Amherst has been the NESCAC West Division champion and the West Division winner this year will host the NESCAC Tournament.

Tickets for the 150th year anniversary game may be purchased in advance by calling The American Defenders of New Hampshire offices at 603-883-2255. General admission tickets are $5.00 each. Williams and Amherst students will be admitted for free by displaying a valid student ID.

On May 2nd the College Baseball Hall of Fame (Lubbock, TX) and the Dan Duquette Sports Academy (Hinsdale, MA) will team up to provide a free first class baseball clinic for local youths at Wahconah Park at 3:00 PM. Joining the Duquette Sports Academy staff will be one member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame to be named later.

Amherst overcame an early 9-2 Williams lead back in 1859 and ended up defeating Williams by the score of 73-32 in a 25-inning game. Amherst also won the accompanying chess match.

While the baseball rivalry between Williams and Amherst began in 1859, the real rivalry commenced when some members of the Williams community defected east to the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts in 1818 and later founded Amherst Academy, which became Amherst College.

322 Games have been played in this rivalry through 2008:

Amherst leads the all-time series 189-131-2

To date this century Amherst leads: 19-14

Williams leads in re-enactment games played under "Massachusetts Rules": 2-0

1959 – 11-5
1976 – 13-12

Amherst head coach Bill Thurston is in his 44th year and is 90-34-1 vs. Ephs

Williams head coach Bill Barrale is in his 3rd year and is 4-4 vs. Amherst

Longest Amherst win streak:  15, 1971-75

Longest Williams win streak:  9, 1896-98

Wahconah Park, which is listed as a National Historic Site, has a rich history as evidenced by

U.S. House Resolution 1050 (June 23, 2008):

Whereas Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is the birthplace of college baseball in the United States as it is the site of the first intercollegiate baseball game between Amherst College and Williams College, which took place on July 1, 1859;

Whereas in 1865, Ulysses F. `Frank' Grant, generally considered the best African American player of the 19th century, was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts;

Whereas Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is the home of Wahconah Park, an enclosed ballpark and grandstand, originally built in 1892 and placed on the National Historic Register in June 2005;
Whereas Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is where in 1921 and 1922, the Boston Red Sox played 2 exhibition games at Wahconah Park against the Hillies;

Whereas Boston won the first game with a score of 10 to 9 and the Hillies won the second with a score of 4 to 1;

Whereas in 1922, Jim Thorpe, considered one of the most versatile athletes in modern sports, played baseball at Wahconah Park;

Whereas in 1924, Lou Gehrig made his professional debut with the Hartford Senators at Wahconah Park, where he hit a home run into the Housatonic River;

Whereas in 1942, future major leaguer Mark Belanger was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts;
Whereas on June 1, 1976, a recreation of the 1859 Williams and Amherst collegiate baseball game took place in Pittsfield, Massachusetts;

Whereas Pittsfield, Massachusetts, hosted a vintage baseball game which was broadcast on national television in 2004;

Whereas Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 2005, welcomed the Pittsfield Dukes, a member of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, who made their second season debut at Wahconah Park in 2005; and

Whereas on August 31, 2007, His Excellency, Deval L. Patrick, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, proclaimed September 5, 2007, to be Pittsfield Baseball Day in the Commonwealth:

Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the United States House of Representatives --
(1) recognizes the importance of college baseball to the Nation; and

(2) recognizes the birthplace of college baseball as Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

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