This Day in Baseball History: August 10th, 1889

Yep, that’s a card in a cigarette carton. Step right on up kids.

On August 10, 1889:

Mickey Welch becomes the first pinch-hitter in Major League Baseball history.

Early on in baseball history, roster sizes were limited. They didn’t have massive farm systems, 40-man rosters, and 25-man rosters. They didn’t have too many more players than the 9 on the playing field, and players were expected to play the entire game and take their at-bats. Of course, the only exception could be made for injuries, and because of an injury to Hank O’Day on August 10, 1889, Mickey Welch would become the first recorded pinch-hitter in baseball history. Another interesting thing to note is that pinch-hitters were essentially illegal at the time, and injury was the only way to get a new player into the game. Otherwise, pinch-hitters had to wait until 1892 to be able to come in for purely strategic reasons. Jack Doyle is popularly credited with being the first pinch-hitter to do so in that mindset.

What makes all this more interesting is that Mickey Welch was a pitcher. Unless your name is Micah Owings or Carlos Zambrano, you’re probably not going to pinch-hit as a pitcher. The other unusual thing about this is that Welch wasn’t even a good hitter. In 2,286 plate appearances, Welch hit .224/.252/.297 with 93 doubles, 16 triples, and 12 home runs. I guess if you compared him to modern pitchers, he would look pretty good, but he still wasn’t the ideal choice for a pinch-hitter.

But Welch was the ideal of a good pitcher (well, maybe not ideal, but he was pretty good). Enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1973, Welch won 307 games in his career with a 2.71 ERA (114 ERA+). Out of the 549 games he started, he finished 525 of them and 41 of them without giving up a run. He won 30+ games 3 times and even won 44 in 1885. Also in 1885, he set a major-league record (which still stands today) by striking out the first 9 batters in a game.

Trivia Time
Who holds the major-league record for most consecutive strikeouts and with how many?

Thursday’s Answer –> .270, almost 70 points below his father

Sorry for the slowness around these parts. I’m trying to get ready for school and pack everything to move back on Friday. Once I get back to Lexington, time will be plentiful for putting up posts.

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2 Responses to “This Day in Baseball History: August 10th, 1889”

  1. Ron Rollins Says:

    Tom Seaver, with 10, against the Padres in 1969, to end the game.

  2. Kevin Says:

    Notice that his name is misspelled on the card.
    Also, it took until 1892 before a pinch hitter got a hit. Tom Daly smacked a home run.

    Kevin

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