Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Week in Indiana History - March 16, 1894 - Traditional First Indiana Basketball Game

A Day in Indiana History - March
March 16, 1894 - Traditional First Indiana Basketball Game 
The traditional first basketball game held in Indiana was between the Crawfordsville and Lafayette YMCA's after Nicholas C. McCay introduced the game to Indiana. Recent research by blogger S. Chandler Lighty has uncovered earlier reports of basketball in Indiana.
Nicholas C. McCay (1860 - ?)
A native if Ireland, McCay (Often McKay) immigrated to the United States in 1881. McCay was a Presbyterian minister that became an enthusiast of the game, which he learned of the game while at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield. McCay moved to Indiana around and became secretary of the YMCA in Crawfordsville. He brought his knowledge and enthusiasm for the game with him.
The Game
The teams played the game at the Terminal Building, 100 West Main St., in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Crawfordsville won that game 45-21. The Terminal building in Crawfordsville no longer stands.
Earlier Reported Games
According to Lighty's research, YMCA Athletic Director William A. McCulloch organized a four-team league in Indianapolis and played the first exhibition game in this league between the Active, Rex, Aletta and the US Clubs on March 30, 1893. The writer of the story reported that basketball “has taken hold here and is awakening interest and promises to become the all-around game for general fun in the future.” He found reports of earlier games than that, the earliest in Evansville, Indiana in November 1892. There is more research by other basketball historians that confirm that the first game did not occur in Crawfordsville. However, tradition is hard to dispute and most people hold to the tradition of Crawfordsville being the first basketball game in Indiana. Whatever the truth is, the new game caught on and spread rapidly throughout the state.
S. Chandler Lighty
To learn more of Lighty's research, click this link.
To learn more about basketball in Indiana, visit the Indiana Basketball Heritage Trail.
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