A Collection of Baseball Firsts

Who hit the first grand slam? Who was the first pinch hitter? Presenting the nine players of Smithsonian’s “They Did It First” All-Star Team


First Pinch Hitter: Mickey Welch

Mickey Welch
(Library of Congress)

“Smiling Mickey” Welch is credited as the first pinch hitter in major-league history, when he batted for a New York Giants teammate on September 10, 1889—and struck out. The first successful pinch hit would be three years later, by Jack Doyle of the Cleveland Indians. (As Paul Votano notes in his book Stand and Deliver: A History of Pinch-Hitting, managers during this era were reluctant to rely on this practice because “many teams only had three pitchers on their rosters and, at most, only one or two substitute position players.”) Welch, however, is best known as a pitcher. On August 28, 1884, Welch struck out the first nine batters he faced, a record that still stands today. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973.


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