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Rankin to speak about ‘Origins of Monmouth Baseball’

Barry McNamara
The 1906 Monmouth baseball team is pictured at the former College athletic grounds at 11th and Broadway.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – On the eve of this year’s World Series, Monmouth College Historian Jeff Rankin will deliver a talk about the “Great American Game.”

Rankin will speak about “The Origins of Monmouth Baseball” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22 in the Pattee Auditorium of the College’s Center for Science and Business. His talk is free and open to the public.

“I’m describing it as a nostalgic look back at the early days of baseball at Monmouth College,” said Rankin, who prepared the talk for two recent alumni gatherings, held at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City and at the Iowa Cubs’ Principal Park in Des Moines.

Those “early days” go back to the Civil War era, not long after the College’s founding in 1853. Rankin’s talk will encompass those years through the 1920s.

“Because it could be played with a minimum of equipment,” Rankin said, “baseball began locally as an informal club sport, but soon evolved into a varsity sport, played in conjunction with intercollegiate debate contests.” He noted that varsity baseball at Monmouth predated varsity football by two full decades.

Rankin has written histories of both Monmouth College and the City of Monmouth during his professional career, which spans four decades. In addition to co-authoring the most recent history of the College, A Thousand Hearts’ Devotion, and writing the sesquicentennial history of Monmouth in 1981, Rankin writes a weekly local history column for Monmouth’s Daily Review Atlas