Other firsts in baseball/Event 7

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Spread project: Home -> Other firsts -> Other firsts in baseball/Event 7
Year 1859
Month 11
Date 3
City New York City
State NY
Country US
Description First Intercollegiate Game by Association Rules
Found by Gregory Christiano

The Rose Hill Baseball Club of St. John's College [later Fordham University] played in its first public game against a nine from St. Francis Xavier, a Manhattan college that closed its doors in 1913. This is apparently the earliest known intercollegiate game played by New York rules.

The university's account: "Fordham's baseball team was established on September 13, 1859, and played its first game on November 3, 1859 against Xavier College. Fordham was still known as St. John's College, and the team name was the Rose Hills. The game was played in six innings. According to a letter in the Walsh Library Archives, it was the first college game in the United States with nine men on each side. The Rose Hills won 33 - 11, launching an astonishing record of victories. . . . Over the years Fordham baseball teams have won over 4,000 games, more than any other Division I program in the country. The team had no losing seasons during the 19th-century."

Its personnel for that first game in 1859 was founder and Captain Numa Samoey of New Orleans, pitcher; John J. Gaynor of Richmond, pitcher; Nicholas Connell of New Orleans, shortstop; E. Brownson, first base; Henry Murphy, Albany, second Base; William J. Sheridan, Rochester, third base; James J. Doherty of New York, right field; James J. Sullivan, Brooklyn, left field; and Oliver McKeon, of Fordham, center field.

There is a further account from university archives that either in 1859 or 1860, a "Fordham Base-Ball team, known as the Rose Hills, captained by the late Frank Oliver, Father of the present day prominent 1st alumnus, F.V.S. Oliver, defeated the famous Atlantics of Brooklyn on the front lawn at Fordham, after the Atlantics had defeated the Mutuals in the best out of five games for the Championship of the United States. . ."

"All-Time Baseball Records - (from the Fordham University Archives) Records of the games from those early years:

1859 - '60  22 - 5
1860 - '61  28 - 7
1861 - '62  26 - 8
1862 - '63  25 - 7
1863 - '64  23 - 7
1864 - '65  25 - 8
1865 - '66  26 - 9
1866 - '67  29 - 9
1867 - '68  28 - 7
1868 - '69  27 - 9
1869 - '70  28 - 8"

OPEN ISSUES: Unfortunately, the university does not document the cited sources in making its claim, and the comprehensive Protoball Games Tabulation, which carries accounts of about 200 NYC games in 1859, reports no published accounts at all of St. Johns ballplaying until 1860. Also: Can we confirm the general frequency of the tabulated pre-Civil War games in newspapers or other period sources? The number and regularity of games is unusual for this period. Can we confirm the St. John vs. Atlantics game of 1859? Can we obtain a facsimile of the cited letter in the Walsh Archives, or is it now reported as lost? Can we ascertain why a game played by Association rules would end with six innings played?


Communication to Gregory Christiano from Patrice M. Kane, Head of Archives and Special Collections, March 25, 2009.

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