Wednesday, November 12, 2014


TigerBlog used 10 different calculators, an abacus, pen and paper, his phone and a team of Nobel-winning mathematicians to make sure that 1864 + 150 actually does equal 2014.

The first intercollegiate athletic event in Princeton history was a baseball game against Williams, way back on Nov. 22, 1864. To put that in a bit of context, by the way, Princeton played Williams in a baseball game while the Civil War was going on.

When TB stumbled upon that date, it dawned on him that the 150th anniversary of intercollegiate athletics at Princeton was nearly here - though only if 1864 was 150 years ago. For some reason, it took TB awhile to be comfortable that in fact that's true.

It is, isn't it?

Athletics had always been a part of campus life at Princeton, and there were baseball games against outside teams prior to 1864. The first game against another actual college team, though, was the one against Williams.

Here's a thought TigerBlog has about that game. How in the world did it get scheduled?

Who decided "hey, let's schedule Williams in baseball?" And then how did they go about it?

Somebody here must have known someone there, TB supposes. Then what? A letter? No wonder it took until Nov. 22 to get a baseball game played.

The first football game was played five years later. Princeton vs. Rutgers, Nov. 6, 1869. Everyone knows that.

TB gets how that happened. The schools are 20 miles apart or so.

Princeton and Williams? TB wishes he could get the back story on that one.

Baseball was Princeton's first sport. Football was second.

Before the 1900s, Princeton was competing in intercollegiate athletics in six sports, having added heavyweight rowing in 1872, track and field in 1876, lacrosse in 1882 and golf in 1897.

Basketball, hockey and tennis were next. By 1906, Princeton fielded teams in wrestling, swimming, soccer and cross country. Following next were lightweight rowing (1920), fencing (1925), 150-pound football (now sprint football) and men's squash (both in 1931).

From there, there was a 40-year break. See if you can guess why teams were suddenly added in 1971.

Yes, obviously the answer is that Princeton finally admitted women. Shortly after that, women's teams were added, first in tennis, field hockey, rowing, squash and basketball.

Today, Princeton's athletic department has 38 varsity teams and 1,000 varsity athletes. Scheduling is a bit more modern than TB supposes it was in 1864.

For the record, the most recent is women's lightweight rowing, added in 1998.

The 150th anniversary itself is a week from Saturday, when Princeton hosts Incarnate Word in men's basketball at 11, Dartmouth in football at 1 and Clarkson in women's hockey at 4.

On that day, one ticket will get you into both the men’s basketball and football games; there is free admission to the women’s hockey game. There will be t-shirt giveaways at all three games as well as 150th themed promotions.

The next big event comes up on Dec. 2, when there will be a Give Day of fundraising, which will feature competition among all of Princeton's Friends Groups.

The event is known as "Tiger Athletics Give Day," with the hashtag #TAGD. It even has its own website, which you can access HERE.

TigerBlog is fascinated by the thought of Princeton Athletics in the 1800s. What must it have looked like? What kind of spectacle was it?

And how competitive was it?

What must Princeton-Williams baseball in 1864 have looked like? The final score was Princeton 27, Williams 16.

Clearly the pitching wasn't overwhelming.

From what TigerBlog has read, that game was played on a Thursday afternoon. The weather wasn't favorable, with rain the morning, and it was wet throughout.

After the game, the Williams players were invited to a dinner with the Princeton players. TB has a vision of the incredibly wealthy young men of the day, talking about baseball and the possibility of ending up in the war.

Now it's 150 years later.

Princeton Athletics is going strong. What will it look like in another 150 years? Will the people then wonder what this era looked like? TB doesn't like his chances of being there to find out.

In the meantime, the 150th celebration is coming. is counting down with a series on the history of each team. The 22nd will be a big day, and then of course comes the Give Day.

As the campaign says, it's a great day to be a Tiger.

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