Birthplace of Volleyball
On February 9, 1895, William G. Morgan invented volleyball, originally known as "mintonette" for its similarity to badminton, at the Holyoke YMCA. Though the original YMCA building in which the sport was first played was lost to fire in 1943, the Greater Holyoke YMCA remains an active chapter. Now officially dubbed the International Volleyball Hall of Fame, the museum resides in Holyoke at Heritage State Park and inducts a new class of athletes, coaches, and contributors every October. The city's legacy in the creation of the sport is also honored by two volleyball clubs in the Netherlands.
Holyoke Hitting it Out of the Park
Each summer, The Valley Blue Sox lure in thousands of spectators into Mackenzie Stadium, ranking them third in attendance in collegiate summer baseball. A member of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, The Valley Blue Sox won their first NECBL Championship in 2017 and proudly won back-to-back titles as they once again won the NECBL Championship game in 2018. The Chamber proudly supports The Valley Blue Sox and offer free tickets in our office to many of their home games throughout the summer!
Boxing – a strong history
Holyoke has a rich history in the world of boxing. It was in Holyoke that bantamweight Sixto Escobar, the first Puerto Rican to become a world champion, fought and won his first match in the United States, on May 7, 1934, against bantamweight contender and Canadian flyweight champion Bobby Leitham. Most notably, Rocky Marciano's professional debut took place at the Valley Arena Gardens on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1947; the venue also served as the ring for many other well-known fighters including Beau Jack, Fritzie Zivic, and Tony DeMarco.
Prior to his professional career, one of Mike Tyson's earliest fights was at the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club on February 12, 1983. As the 8th ranked amateur super-heavyweight in the country at the age of 16, Tyson won the fight handily with a knock-out and gained the Western Massachusetts Golden Gloves title. The Golden Gloves tournament was held in Holyoke from 1958 until 2005, when it was relocated to Vernon, Connecticut. Following an 8-year departure, it returned briefly to the city, but ultimately moved to Springfield, MA.