First game in major league history

From BR Bullpen

The Fort Wayne Kekiongas defeated the Cleveland Forest Citys on May 4, 1871 in the first game of the National Association at the Kekionga Base Ball Grounds. Full play-by-play for the game is available from Retrosheet. Some notable firsts in the game:

  • Deacon White led off the game with a double off Bobby Mathews, thus recording the first ever hit and extra base hit.
  • White promptly became the first runner erased on a double play when Tom Carey caught a line drive from Gene Kimball and finished the play unassisted.
  • Art Allison became the first strikeout victim (and Mathews the first pitcher to record a strikeout) leading off the 2nd, but reached first base on the first error by catcher Bill Lennon.
  • Allison then stole second for the majors first stolen base. In the 7th he became the first batter caught stealing.
  • Lennon atoned for his error in the bottom of the inning by scoring the first run, with Joe McDermott getting credit for the first ever run batted in.
  • Cleveland pitcher Al Pratt gave up the first walk, to Wally Goldsmith leading off the bottom of the 4th.
  • Goldsmith was forced at second base, giving John Bass credit for the first ever assist.
  • In the 5th, White allowed the first passed ball.
  • Bobby Mathews threw the first ever victory, complete game, and shutout. By the rules of the time, a team leading in the bottom of the 9th was allowed to play the inning. The Kekiongas elected to do so, so Forest City pitcher Al Pratt didn't complete his game until after Mathews did. Although he thus missed a chance at the first complete game, he did become the first losing pitcher.
  • John Boake umpired the game.

The final score of 2-0 was unusually low for the time; it was in fact the lowest-scoring ball game in the first four seasons of the National Association. The game was only the first by accident, as another game scheduled that day, between the Boston Red Stockings and Olympics of Washington, was rained out. The weather was not perfect in Fort Wayne either, as threatening skies kept the crowd to somewhere between 200 and 500 spectators.

On May 4, 2017, a monument was unveiled on the site of the game, now part of Camp Allen Park in Fort Wayne.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Blake Sebring: "Monument to mark site of 1871 pro baseball game", The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, May 2, 2017. [1]

Related Sites[edit]