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 to Use a Helmet: Roger Bresnahan

Roger Bresnahan
(Library of Congress)

After getting beaned by a ball, the New York Giants’ Bresnahan was the first player to experiment with wearing a batting helmet in 1905. It was an awkward device—similar to an inflated boxing glove wrapped around the head—created by inventor Frank Mogridge. (Batting helmets would not become mandatory until 1971.) As a catcher, Bresnahan would introduce far better protective gear to the game, including shin guards and padding for catcher’s masks. During his 17-year career, Bresnahan played all nine positions with several teams. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.


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