Did you know that college baseball was born in Pittsfield?

It was a simple gesture, an act of kindness done to settle a dispute that over time became history.

When Amherst College challenged rival Williams to a “friendly game of ball” in the summer of 1859, the two schools couldn’t agree on a site until the Pittsfield Base Ball Club stepped up and offered its playing grounds, a field located near the intersection of Maplewood Avenue and North Street.

That is how Pittsfield came to host the first intercollegiate baseball game ever played in the United States. Next Saturday, the College Baseball Hall of Fame intends to recognize Pittsfield for that achievement.

A representative of the College Baseball Hall of Fame, former major leaguer Neal Heaton, will officially commemorate Pittsfield as the “Birthplace of College Baseball” before Williams and Amherst play each other at 1 p.m. at Wahconah Park. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children.

The Hall of Fame, which is located in Lubbock, Texas, will also make up a special sign for Wahconah Park that contains the logo “Birthplace of College Baseball.” The first known reference to the game of “base ball” in North America also occurred in Pittsfield in 1791.

Dan Duquette, who played baseball at Amherst, his cousin Jim Duquette, a former Williams baseball player, and former Williams baseball player Mike Barbera, a lobbyist in Washington, were instrumental in setting up next Saturday’s festivities. The Duquette cousins both held general manager positions in the major leagues.

Barbera, who graduated from Williams in 1989, is a lobbyist for the America Continental Group, which represents halls of fame for different college sports. Having played for Williams at Wahconah Park — “I have a fondness for Wahconah,” he said — Barbera e-mailed the College Baseball Hall of Fame to see if they were interested in the Williams-Amherst rivalry and Pittsfield’s historic ballpark.

Perhaps one of our readers will provide a report from the game . . .

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