Then & Now


Baseball’s rules, equipment, and uniforms (especially the uniforms!) may have evolved since 1842, but the love of the game at Williston remains the same

The history of baseball at Williston Northampton stretches back to its earliest days as Williston Seminary. While there are no records of games from the school’s founding in 1841, the first snippets of America’s pastime crept into the record just a year later, when students began playing wicket, “a game somewhat on the order of baseball, but far in arrears of it when finesse was called for,” according to a later edition of The Log. As the school continued to grow, so did its sports offerings. In the early 1850s, Williston students played a baseball-like game called “round ball,” which was “composed of as many fellows as wished to participate, with few rules and no ‘arbitrators,’” and over the next 20 years, the game continued to evolve “both in the finer points of the game, and in the ever-changing interests of the students.” By the mid-1880s, baseball was the most popular and “honorable” sport at the school, and it became the main spring sport for young Williston athletes.

School records show that from 1881 onward, Williston has fielded a baseball nine every year. The current Wildcat ballplayers compete in the Western New England Prep Baseball League, which expanded to 10 teams in 2007. Williston has made the playoffs the past two seasons, and the spring 2024 team features players that have committed to play Division I baseball at programs like St. John’s and Boston College. The team is led by Head Coach Matt Sawyer, who has been in charge since 1995. Among current Williston coaches, Sawyer holds the longest streak of consecutive seasons coaching a varsity sport. To honor baseball’s rich history at Williston, we asked Williston’s current starting nine to recreate a picture from the 1879 Log yearbook. The evolution of team photos throughout the years is just as apparent as the changes in the rules of the game, but whether looking at players from 1879 or 2024, one thing is clear: These Wildcats come to play.