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Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

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Welcome to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library blog! As the special collections and archives library at the University of Kansas, Spencer is home to remarkable and diverse collections of rare and unique items. Explore the blog to learn about the work we do and the materials we collect.

Throwback Thursday: Baseball Edition

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 5,300 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is next Tuesday, so this week we’re sharing a fun picture of an early KU baseball game. A horse and buggy along the outfield wall is something you certainly don’t see today!

Photograph of a KU baseball game, 1890s

KU baseball game at McCook Field, late 1890s. McCook was located
approximately where Memorial Stadium is today. This photo looks south/southeast
from the field; Spooner Hall and Old Fraser Hall can be seen in the background,
on top of Mount Oread. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 66/12 1890s Prints:
Athletic Department: Baseball (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Robert Taft writes in Across the Years on Mount Oread (1941) that baseball has been played at KU since 1866, “almost from the first day of University history.” Games were sporadic until April 18, 1880, the date of KU’s first intercollegiate game of which there is a definite record. Washburn College emerged victorious, winning 29-23. This was a decade before the first intercollegiate football game at Kansas.

Taft also writes that “the baseball team in the earlier years was handicapped by the lack of a suitable playing ground.”

During the late eighties [1880s] a field was used on South Massachusetts street (the site of the present Liberty Memorial High Central Middle School) but its use, however, had to be divided in time with the town team. As the field was also some distance from the University, regular practice was seldom attempted (40).

The construction of McCook Field – also used by the football and tennis teams – in 1892 established “baseball as a permanent sport on campus” (40).

Photograph of McCook Field, 1890s

McCook Field, 1890s. This view was taken from Mount Oread and looks north.
Note the Old Dutch Windmill in the background, at what is now the corner of
Emery Road and 9th Street. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/47 1890s: Campus: Buildings: McCook Field (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

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