Souder: Fort Wayne TinCaps open season in city steeped in baseball tradition

From SABR member Mark Souder at the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel on April 1, 2014:

Opening day for baseball is this week, at least for the cold cities of the continental United States (the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks already played several games in Australia). Opening day in Fort Wayne actually is laden with historic importance.

The first professional league baseball game (I would argue “major league baseball,” but that is disputed) was played in our city May 4, 1871. The great pitcher Bobby Matthews, who should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, pitched the first shutout in professional baseball history, and Hall of Famer Deacon White got the first hit in history. (He was called Deacon because he didn’t drink or smoke. He also believed the world was flat.) In fact, everything done that day was a baseball first.

Opening day did not have the hoopla associated with it as it does today. President U.S. Grant did not come to Fort Wayne to throw out the first ball. Society of American Baseball Researchers historians Bill Griggs and Bob Gregory have done much to correct the abysmal historic “official” record of this event where Fort Wayne is recognized as the “first” in America’s pastime.

Hopefully, we can even get our own historic markers corrected (wrong places with wrong information).

SABR now has a Fort Wayne chapter headed by Gregory (who, as a member of the Hall of Fame Old-Timers selection committee, played a key role in the selection of Deacon White in 2013). At 10 a.m. on April 26 at the downtown Allen County Public Library there will be an open meeting of our local SABR chapter with several baseball research presentations.

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Originally published: April 1, 2014. Last Updated: April 1, 2014.