The History of Amherst College Baseball

Amherst College features the oldest collegiate baseball program in the world. More than 150 years after playing the first intercollegiate baseball game* against Williams College, Amherst has developed one of the most successful Division III baseball programs in the country.

The baseball team competes in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and is one of 27 Amherst teams to compete in NCAA Division III play. Since the NESCAC began holding a baseball tournament in 2001, the Lord Jeffs have been champions three times and runners-up on two more occasions.

The team takes pride in its players’ excellence on the field, in the classroom and within the community. Their rich experience as Amherst student-athletes provides them with short- and long-term rewards. The Amherst baseball program and coaching staff are structured and committed to teaching and developing individual skills and techniques so that a player may advance in baseball as far as his desire, potential and ability permit. As with the students’ academic endeavors, the goal is excellence in individual and team performance.

Over the years, many Amherst players have received All-America and All-New England recognition. While most graduates of the Amherst College baseball program pursue careers in law, medicine, business and education, 23 players have signed professional baseball contracts. Many other former Amherst players have stayed in the game as college and high school coaches. The program has also produced an MLB team vice president, major league bench coach, minor league manager, scouts, four general managers, and marketing and public relations personnel, thus demonstrating the Amherst players’ love, understanding, and respect for the game.

To maintain a consistently competitive program, the coaching staff is committed to continuously search for and recruit top scholar-athletes who seek a rigorous academic education and a top-notch instructional and challenging baseball program. The primary goal of all Amherst student-athletes is to obtain a first-class academic education and an Amherst College degree.  

Amherst’s past two coaches, Paul Eckley (seasons 1923-1965) and Bill Thurston (seasons 1966-2009), have both been inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame. The current coaching staff—headed by Brian Hamm—is dedicated to offer players the highest level of instruction possible and to provide the best environment for players to develop their abilities. The program’s coaching expertise provides outstanding instruction and tactical game strategy for players to succeed on the field, as well as the proper support and guidance for players to grow off the field.

* Amherst College won the first intercollegiate baseball game ever played when it defeated Williams College in Pittsfield, Massachusetts by a score of 73-32 in 1859.