Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts HistorySauer, Anne
The first official baseball game at Tufts College was played on September 5, 1863, when a team of sophomores defeated the freshman team 9-6. Since then, baseball has flourished at Tufts, and the baseball program has consistently been one of the school's strongest athletic programs.
Although baseball has been played at Tufts since the opening of the college, it was not until 1863 that a game was recorded as official. That year, a group of freshman challenged the sophomore class to a game, and the next year, an official baseball program was organized. In 1864, two teams appeared on the Tufts campus, the All Nine and the Ballou Club. The teams competed against each other in a two-semester series, with the All Nine eventually coming out on top. In 1868, the Tufts College All Nine began competing informally against other local schools. The next year, Tufts recorded its first recognized intercollegiate game against Brown University. In 1870, after receiving brand new uniforms, the team rallied to a 12-4-1 season, but would struggle for the next few years. By 1883, the Tufts team was beginning to gripe about the lack of local media coverage they were receiving. They had been winning consistently, and even beat one opponent so badly that an opposing player left the field during the game with the only game ball, forcing the early cancellation of the match.
By 1890, baseball was beginning to cause controversy between the faculty, the administration, and students. The Tufts faculty was refusing to allow players to cut class for games, and would not give special treatment to student athletes. A year later, the baseball team charged the faculty with interference after they vetoed a team vote for captain. The player elected captain was no longer a student at the college, and the faculty felt it was unethical for the individual to play on the Tufts team. Although reluctant at first, the administration eventually came out in support of the faculty. In 1895, the Tufts squad beat Harvard for the first time, finally giving Tufts a victory in their long-standing rivalry with the neighboring university. The next year, the first inter-fraternity game took place, with the Delta Tau Delta fraternity defeating the Theta Delta Chi team. This game also marked the introduction of cheerleaders at Tufts baseball games.
Between 1910 and 1920, Tufts baseball had some of its most successful seasons since the inception of the program. In 1914, Tufts hired former major league catcher John T. Slattery as coach of the baseball team. George Stalling, the coach of the Boston Braves at the time, said of Slattery, "Jack knows more about baseball than any man in the country with the possible exception of Connie Mack." From 1914 to 1916, Slattery's team was 51-13, and the 1916 team produced six All Americans. In fact, three members of the 1916 team went on to play in the major leagues. That season, Harold Leland led all college hitters with a .437 average, Heinie Stafford stole twenty four bases and batted .406 in twenty games, and Horace Ford proved himself to be the premier shortstop in college ball. Stafford went on to play for the New York Giants, and Ford, who graduated in 1918, went on to play major league ball for four different teams in a fifteen year major league career. After Slattery left Tufts in 1916, Ford served as coach and as the starting shortstop while still an undergraduate. Also during the 1916 season, catcher "Red" Carroll caught his last game for Tufts on a Saturday, and was behind the plate the following Tuesday for the Philadelphia Athletics.
In 1920, Tufts hired another former major leaguer, Ken Nash, to coach the team. Nash coached from 1920 to 1940, serving as a district judge in Massachusetts at the same time. During the twenties, the team was quite successful. In 1927, they posted a 16-4 record and defeated Dartmouth on Class Day and Harvard on Alumni Day. In 1941, however, the baseball program was suspended due to the war, and didn't resume until after the end of the conflict. The post-war team would be the first to play on the new field across from Cousens Gym.
For the next five years, the program continued with moderate success, and in 1948 pitcher "Bud" Niles set a Tufts record with twenty-eight wins and three losses in his three varsity seasons. In 1950, the Tufts squad went to the NCAA World Series for the first time ever. They defeated Bradley College, but were beaten by Texas and Washington State. In 1958, Tufts captured its first Greater Boston League title with a 10-4-1 record, and in 1961, the team produced another two major leaguers, Norm Heinze and Joel Kelfer.
In 1964, Herb Eriksen was named coach of the Tufts squad, and served until he died of a heart attack in 1974, the morning after Tufts broke a nine game losing streak. He was replaced by assistant Rick Giachetti, who brought a novel coaching tactic to the Tufts squad. Giachetti made practices more rigorous, concentrating on different skills each day, but still the team only managed to post a 6-13 record that season. In 1976, Leo Fanning replaced Giachetti as coach, and in 1978 he led the team to a victory in the early spring Florida Tournament. Tufts lost only one game of the tournament; a short game called early due to rain.
In 1983 John Casey, A1980, was hired to coach the team. A former manager in the Boston Park League, Casey brought the team some of its greatest success in the history of the program, leading them to the ECAC tournament in 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990. It was in 1986, however, that Tufts saw some of its most exciting baseball action. On April 6, 1986, pitcher Jeff Bloom pitched a no-hitter against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Seven days later, he repeated the feat against a strong Boston University squad. Finally, on April 19, with major league scouts in attendance, Bloom pitched his third consecutive no-hitter, retiring the first twenty batters before walking what would have been the game's final out. The feat gained national attention, and even earned Bloom coverage on the NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.
In 1988, despite a sub-par 14-12 record, the Jumbos managed to be named the last seed in the ECAC tournament, and shocked everyone by winning their first two games and advancing to the finals, where they were defeated by Brandeis University. The next year, however, the team rebounded from a 10-9 start to capture the ECAC championship, defeating Wesleyan, Salem State, and Plymouth State in the tournament.
Although in the early nineties, the team had a few disappointing seasons, they were able to rebound, winning the ECAC again in 1994, and earning an NCAA tournament berth in 1995. These seasons, along with the 1996 and 1997 season, were highlighted by the pitching of Jeff Taglienti, A1997, who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox.
In the 1996, 1997, and 1998 seasons, the team advanced to the ECAC playoffs, but slumped in 1999 and did not advance to post-season play. The 2000 team, however, set the 136-year-old program's record for wins, posting twenty-six for the season.
Source: TW, TD, OBS, UA#046/001 4:8
The encyclopedia seeks to capture more than 150 years of Tufts' achievements, societal contributions and outstanding alumni and faculty in concise entries. As a source of accurate factual information, the Encyclopedia can be used by anyone interested in the history of Tufts and of the people who have made it the unique institution it is.