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Historic Baseball Game Returns to WSC

by WSC Marketing

Posted on 9/24/2018

WILLISTON, N.D. - Wednesday, September 26 will mark the ninth historic baseball game staged at Williston State College.

Richard Stenberg, Associate Professor of History and Political Science, teaches the eight-week course on 19th century period baseball and the historic game is used as a type of hands-on final.

"These students show the skills they have learned in an authentic period play," stated Stenberg. "Though some of the play is similar, other things are uniquely different."

An offensive-driven game, 1870s baseball has more balls and strikes and a smaller field of play (around 50 feet versus 90 feet) than modern baseball. No gloves are used, "strikers" (batters) get two warnings before a strike is called, and if a fly ball bounces on the ground and is caught on the first hop, it's considered an out.

"Cranks" (fans) are encouraged to come and cheer on the "ballists" (players).

This type of baseball spread throughout the county as Army camps hosted many of the early games. Stenberg has documented that US soldiers at Fort Buford, many of whom were Civil War Veterans, played the first baseball in western North Dakota.

"This is an important event," explained Stenberg. "It shows the development of 'the national pastime' and how baseball was - and continues to be - a community event."

WSC faculty and staff have volunteered their time to supplement the teams so that each team has a 9-member roster.

The exposition game will be on the south west side of campus along University Avenue and west of Frontier Hall. Warm-ups, prepping for play, and singing will proceed the first "hurl" (pitch) planned for 5:30.

Burgers and hotdogs, cooked by Arts and Human Sciences faculty, will be available to enjoy.

Faculty, staff, students, and community members are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to take part in this wonderful WSC tradition.

If you have any information on the Williston Oilers Baseball team, please contact Professor Stenberg. He is researching the team from the 1950s and welcomes any information from community members on the team, especially team uniform and hat colors, personal experiences, etc.

For more information on WSC, please visit, call 1.888.863.9455 or stop by 1410 University Avenue, Williston, ND.

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