Virginia College Baseball: Bridgewater College and My Dad


Do you love Virginia college baseball? I hope so, because today I’m going to tell you a little about a college team that’s been playing for more than 100 years, and how they’re part of another of my nostalgic roadtrips. I’ve already told you that my dad was from a little town in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He grew up there and graduated from Bridgewater College, sometime in the 1920s.

Bridgewater College began as the Spring Creek Normal School and Collegiate Institute in 1880, with its first class consisting of five men and one woman. Women have been admitted to Bridgewater ever since, and it was the first private liberal arts college in Virginia to do so. In 1882, the college moved from Spring Creek to Bridgewater, graduating its first class in 1886 and officially becoming Bridgewater College in 1889. Sometime in there, my grandfather graduated. And my father, born in 1898, attended as well.

Since my family history is a little sketchy, and those who might answer my questions are no longer around, I’m not exactly sure when my dad began playing baseball.

I know that there were amateur teams that traveled around the country, and it was during this time that Cy Young, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth ruled the professional game.

But whenever he started playing, he played baseball for Bridgewater College. According to their website, the school colors of crimson and gold were first worn by the baseball team in 1903, and in 1923 the name Eagles was adopted as the name for their athletic teams based on a suggestion by a catcher on the baseball team.

Obviously, baseball at Bridgewater was always important! And it continues to be. This past year, the Bridgewater Eagles had one of the best seasons in program history. They won the ODAC Championship and a record 36 games, finishing one win away from playing in the Division III national tournament in Appleton, Wisconsin.

My dad would be proud! He taught high school English for more than forty years. But when he got his teaching degree, he was sometimes recruited as a baseball player, rather than as a teacher. He loved to tell the story about getting a telegram from a school in North Carolina, I believe it was, saying “SEND THAT PITCHER.” So I guess schools had teams made up of their employees as well as their students!

Throughout his life, he loved baseball. He died before he got to meet any of his grandchildren. But I’m sure he was smiling down on them as they played their Little League games, their high school games, and even when one of them worked for a minor league team. And now there are great-grandchildren coming along. I’m sure he’ll be smiling down on them too as they hear, “Batter up!”

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