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Baseball at the University of Michigan has had a long and rich tradition. Base ball, to use the contemporary vernacular, began as a club sport during the 1860s. By the dawn of the 20th century, the sport had evolved into the most popular spring leisure event in which students participated. Crowds of greater than 500 were not unusual, at a time when enrollment at the university was approximately 2500 students. Each class and college fielded a team. Prominent names in UM baseball history include the legendary Walker brothers, the first African Americans to play major league baseball, and Branch Rickey, who developed the powerful Dodger teams of the 1940s and integrated baseball with the signing of Jackie Robinson. George Sisler, among the greatest in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, began his career as a Michigan pitcher. And of course there was Ray Fisher, who coached Michigan for 38 years. The end of the century was marked by scandal, but it also brought major league stars such as Hal Morris, Jim Abbot and Barry Larkin, as well as David Parrish and Jake Fox, potential stars of the future.
In the shadow of UM football and basketball, baseball is sometimes considered the "other" sport. But in terms of excitement and accessibility to the students, it is still "Number One."