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Baseball history unpacked, April 23

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Borden, Breitenstein, Howell, and Totten

Christie's To Auction Memorabilia From Golden Age Of Baseball Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Today in baseball history:

  • 1876 - In the first National League game ever played, Joe Borden of Boston beat the hometown Philadelphia 5-4. (2)

John Zinn (SABR) writes it up.

More on Joe Borden. His career was short but his arm was alive.

Breitenstein was called “the greatest left-handed pitcher in America,” by Alfred H. Spink, the founder of The Sporting News. Wee Willie Keeler said “Breitenstein is one of the few left-handers who can locate the plate when he wants to, and in addition to this he has terrific speed, sharp curves, and there is not a pitcher in the league that fields his position better.”

Breitenstein was credited with 43 percent of the St. Louis Browns’ victories from 1893 to 1896. In 21 seasons of professional baseball from 1891 to 1911, the durable southpaw won more than 325 games. (4)

  • 1903 - The Highlanders, previously called the Orioles before their recent move from Baltimore, win their first game representing New York. Spitballer Harry Howell goes the distance, throwing a two-hitter to get the win when the team that will become known as the Yankees beats Washington at American League Park, 7-2. (1)

Hall-of-Famers Willie Keeler, Jack Chesbro, and Clark Griffith were on that 1903 Highlanders team, which went 72-62 that year. They played in Hilltop Park, along 168th St., Fort Washington Ave, and 165th St. in Washington Heights of Manhattan. The Giants played there in 1912 after the Polo Grounds burned.

More about Hilltop Park from SABR.

  • 1906 - A new rule puts the umpire in sole charge of all game balls. The home team manager previously had some say as to when a new ball was introduced. (2)

More about this in a good read from SABR.

  • 1924 - On WMAQ, Hal Totten, a Chicago Daily News play-by-play reporter, does a play-by-play radio report of the 12-1 Cubs’ victory over the Cardinals. It will be the first broadcast of every Cub and White Sox home game of the season, marking the first time a team’s games have been on the airwaves on a regular basis. (1)
Hal Totten, Hall of Famer