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Kansas State athletics, 1896-97: For real, this time

The first real “intercollegiate” contests, although not against real “colleges”...

The 1897 Aggie base-ball nine.
The 1897 Aggie base-ball nine.
Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries

In 1896, Kansas State Agricultural College took a giant step: they hired someone to oversee athletics. They also finally granted their teams the authority to compete as varsity units.

The school did not immediately begin engaging in intercollegiate competition, however. In 1896, the first real KSAC football team took the field, playing two games against Fort Riley. The first was held on November 28, on the army base; the soldiers defeated the students 14-0. A week later, they met again in Manhattan, battling to a 6-6 tie. And that was it for the first season of Aggie football. Ira Pratt was the coach, in his only season -- the first of nine coaches who would only lead the team for one fall. Pratt’s day job was a professor of music at the college; later in his career he would head KSAC’s music department and then move to Topeka as dean of music at Washburn.

H.W. Wagner coached the first Aggie baseball team, and led the squad to a 4-3 record. Actual results are unknown, although like the football team they did play at least one game against Fort Riley: their first game, a 4-3 win on April 10.

From this point forward, with the exception of wartime interruption, there would forever be football and baseball at K-State. It would take another few years to add any further sports, however.

Next: 1897-1898.