Athletic Field

Now: Library/Rugby Field
Athletic Field
College baseball, Athletic Field, 1892
Union College Schaffer Library,
Special Collections Picture File
Athletic Field
College baseball, Athletic Field, 1897
Union College Schaffer Library,
Special Collections Picture File
Athletic Field
Athletic Field, circa 1905
Union College Schaffer Library Postcard Collection

Most of the College’s athletic activities and games during its first century took place on this field. Students started playing baseball and football regularly there in the 1870s. Class games were also held in this open area.

Because the Athletic Field was right across from her house, Mrs. Perkins often sent her son the College’s athletic news, including scores and her assessment of any new equipment in use on campus, such as bleachers or megaphones, the latter of which she found “mournful and mooing.” She often reported the action as it was happening, reporting in undated letter from 1895, for example, “There is a furious ball game going on [and …] an immense deal of shouting and cussing.” Watching a game from her windows was not always a safe pastime. Right before a match against Colgate in 1899, “a ball came smashing in and broke the window and the ball rolled into the middle of the room. The two culprits ‘skinned away,’ in the language of their kind and I retain the ball” (May 4, 1899.) Regarding another game in 1900, attended by at least 1000 people, she noted that the seats in the stands cost an extra fifteen cents.

The Athletic Field became known as Library Field after 1905 when the library moved into the Nott Memorial. It was no longer needed for intercollegiate games once Alexander Field was established on the eastern end of the campus in 1913, but intramural games and varsity practices were still held there. It was also the site of drills during the two World Wars and, in later years, the activities of the campus Air Force ROTC. It is now used for intramural sports, rugby games, outdoor ceremonies, and other types of College gatherings.