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The New Haven Register sports department is celebrating our 200th birthday by sharing 200 of the most interesting stories relating to sports in Greater New Haven over the past 200 years. Check back daily for historical updates.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Yale basketball began in 1895 with potato baskets

In the spring of 1895, less than four years after Dr. James Naismith invented basketball by nailing peach baskets to the walls of a gymnasium in Springfield, Mass., Yale organized one of the earliest college teams.

Dr. Henry Anderson, a physical education specialist, had trouble finding interested students. He had crudely marked off the dimensions in Yale’s gym, hanging old potato baskets for goals. Since there was no regulation basketball in all New Haven, Anderson used an old football instead.

By the fall, with more players and plenty of practice, Yale was ready for its first season. S.A. Marshall, an 18-year old junior who was 5-foot-9 and 140 pounds, was named team captain.

The game more resembled football. Teams used as many as nine men at a time. A New York Times article profiling the team lauded players who “throw” particularly well.
Center W.E.J. Kirk, a New Canaan native who, at 6-foot and 130 pounds towered over his teammates, was credited for his “way of running on his hands and feet that is a puzzle to the opposing players.”

Read Chip Malafronte's complete story.

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