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Annie Glidden: The Laurels and the Abenakis

[ photo: Annie Glidden ]

The Laurels and the Abenakis

Whatever became of Annie Glidden, Vassar student in the spring of 1866, we'll never know. But she was a member of either the Laurels or the Abenakis, Vassar's first baseball teams, and she is famous for a letter she wrote to her brother John that contains the first known reference to women playing baseball. "They are getting up various clubs now for out-of-door exercise," wrote Annie. "They have a floral society, boat clubs, and base-ball clubs. I belong to one of the latter, and enjoy it hugely I can assure you."

It's pretty clear that baseball was not a sanctioned activity because then-President Raymond declined to mention it in his first annual report to the trustees, although he mentioned several other "sports." (Ummm - gardening?) So the likelihood is that the radical idea of "getting up" a baseball club came from the girls themselves, in defiance of the societal norms that placed the sport firmly on male turf.

The tone of Annie's often-quoted comment seems innocuous, but the rest of the letter, which isn't often quoted, suggests some attitude: "We think after we have practiced a little, we will let the Atlantic Club play a match with us. Or, it may be, we will consent to play a match with the students from College Hill [a local boys' preparatory school], but we have not decided yet."

"Bats, Balls and Books: Baseball and Higher Education for Women at Three Eastern Women's Colleges, 1866-1891," by Capt. Debra A. Shattuck, Department of History, U.S.A.F. Academy, in the Journal of Sport History, Summer 1992
Photo credit: While there is no photo of the Laurels and the Abenakis, this photo of the Resolutes is the earliest image, as far as we know, of baseball at Vassar. Courtesy of Archives and Special Collections.