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A Baseball Game on Washington Green, 1869

The Reunion Game, August 4, 1869

This photograph is from the Archives at The Gunnery, a private, college preparatory school located in Washington, Connecticut. The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, thinks this is one of the earliest images of a baseball game in progress. Through extensive research much information has been uncovered about this very interesting image.

The photographer was Seth C. Landon. On this day, August 4, 1869, the game was played between Gunnery alumni and a team from New Milford (the Weantinaugs). With Mr. Landon and his new camera, it took approximately twenty minutes to complete a photograph. It is remarkable that people stood still for that long!

It is believed that the game being played is the New York Game, or baseball according to the Knickerbocker rules, rather than an earlier version known as Town Ball. It is said that the new and improved game of baseball, familiar in cities like New York, was brought by the Van Cott boys to rural Washington. If you examine the photograph carefully, you can outline the playing field. You will notice that it is in the form of a diamond (Knickerbocker Rules) rather than a square (Town Ball).

The photograph of this particular game, referred to as "The Great Game" by Headmaster John Brinsmade, was part of a week-long Gunnery Reunion.

Washington Green

Ever since the construction of the First Congregational Church, the Green in the village of Washington has been a center of life and activities. In addition to a place of worship, the nearby Gunnery School and Library had their modest beginnings here, and business and commerce were evidenced by a carriage maker's shop, tavern and Post Office. Today the Green is an area of about two acres of carefully maintained greensward with beautiful trees and surrounded by many stately and historic buildings. In 1869 when classes ended, the Gunnery's first and second "nine" went to the Green -- where the baseball field was located-- for practice. One can mark the progress of years by noting the changes since this photograph was taken:
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