Penn History

Penn Athletics in the 19th Century

Timeline of Organized Sports

This exhibit was created in 2005 by Mary D. McConaghy and by Michael T. Woods, University Archives Summer Research Fellow and an undergraduate at Penn State University

Sports are arranged according to the year of the earliest known university organization and also the year of the earliest known team. All of these sports had been played earlier by Penn students, both as individuals and in contests between College classes. The first Athletic Association was founded by students in 1873. For general background on the early development of sports at Penn see The Origins of Penn Athletics.

Cricket team, 1887
Cricket
1842: first Penn cricket team, “Junior Cricket Club”
1864: first intercollegiate match
Crew team, 1893
Crew
1854: University Barge Club founded
1872: College Boat Club founded
1877: first University crew put on the water
1879: first intercollegiate race
University Baseball Team, 1886
Baseball
1865: first Baseball Club
1867: first University baseball team
1874: first intercollegiate baseball game
Michael C. Murphy at Franklin Field
Track
1873: Athletic Association formed to support baseball and track
1874: first games held in spring of 1874
1875: first intercollegiate meet
Football team, 1882
Football
1876: first football organization on campus and
also first intercollegiate football game
Tennis courts at 34th and Chestnut, 1907
Tennis
1880: first organized tennis associations on campus
1887: first intercollegiate tournament
Gun Club, series of caricature drawings, 1890
Gun Club, series of caricature drawings, 1890
Gun Club
1883: first organized
Gymnastics team, 1899
Gymnastics
1893: first University team
Houston Hall pool, c. 1900
Swimming
1897: Coach George Kistler organized swimming and water polo teams
1905: first intercollegiate meet
Golf team, 1899
Golf
1898: University Golf Club organized
1899: first University or varsity team
1900: first intercollegiate tournament
Lacrosse team, 1902
Lacrosse
1900: first University or varsity team

First varsity teams for other sports:

Basketball, 1902
Fencing, 1903
Soccer, 1905
Cross Country, 1907
Wrestling, 1909
Hockey, 1910
Rugby, 1910