Baseball

Baseball was one of the earliest sports in which UNC played against other schools. In December 1866, as baseball was catching on across the Southeast following the Civil War, a group from Carolina known as the University Club of Chapel Hill defeated the Pioneer Team in Raleigh. The university team played again, against another Raleigh club, in early 1867. This early interest in baseball appears to have faded as the student population dwindled prior to the university's closing in 1870. Baseball came back to Carolina in 1891 when a varsity team was formed and intercollegiate competition began. The baseball team soon found itself overshadowed by the rising popularity of other sports. In 1916 members of the Carolina team wrote a letter to the Tar Heel complaining of inferior treatment compared to the football and basketball teams. Nonetheless, the baseball team did well, winning the Southern Conference several times in the 1930s and 1940s under Coach Bunn Hearn.

The early 2000s saw the most successful run in UNC—Chapel Hill baseball history: the team made it to the College World Series six times in seven seasons, going all the way to the final round in 2006 and 2007 before falling to Oregon State both times. Several UNC baseball alums have gone on to play Major League Baseball, including Walt Weiss, B. J. Surhoff, Brian Roberts, and Andrew Miller. One of the best-known baseball players from the university is probably Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, brother of Frank Porter Graham, who graduated in 1901. After several years in the minor leagues, Graham was called up to the New York Giants. He played only one inning in the major leagues and never got a chance to bat. His story caught the attention of author W. P. Kinsella, who made Graham a character in his novel Shoeless Joe. Graham's story got even more attention when the novel was made into the 1989 movie Field of Dreams.

Carolina baseball has an interesting connection with George Steinbrenner, former owner of the New York Yankees. Steinbrenner's daughter and son-in-law are Carolina alums. In 1977, 1979, and 1981 the Yankees played exhibition games against the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. In 2006 Steinbrenner gave $1 million toward the renovation of Boshamer Stadium. The area outside of the renovated stadium was named the Steinbrenner Family Courtyard.


Date Established: 1866

Date Range: 1866 – Present

UNC baseball team on McCorkle Place, ca. 1890s. UNC Image Collection, North Carolina Collection Photo Archives, Wilson Library.