The first organized baseball match in Salem was held in 1867, between the Pacific Club’s “town nine” and a group of young men from Willamette University known as the “college nine.”  The teams played on a field just east of where the Marion County Courthouse now stands.

It is information such as this that the fortunate attendee will pick up at the show, The Boys of Summer, held at Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill for two months.

The exhibition is a fun and breezy affair, with solid information (baseball began in the 1750s as a form of British cricket and rounders, and American barnball) embedded every step of the way.

In one section, an 1897 challenge is issued in the Salem newspaper of the time, the Capitol Journal, between teams of town bartenders and barbers;

“The bar tenders team… will be hard to beat.  The JOURNAL would be pleased to see the “Knights of the Razor” accept the challenge immediately and put up an intensely interesting game.  We predict they will give their robust competitors a close shave.”

The Boys of Summer provides many such nuggets, including stadiums of many eras, Mid-Valley teams that reached from Grand Rhonde to Mt. Angel, Portland down to Albany, Native American teams, youth teams, the modern Volcano team that became champions in 2006 and 2007, several sketches by Homer Davenport – and more.

Were you aware that in the early days, games continued as long as necessary until a team reached a score of 21?

Such tidbits and many more are ripe for discovery at this unique show.


The Boys of Summer – Mid-Valley Baseball

June 20 – August 18, 2013

Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill

1313 Mill Street SE, Salem