As we know, that baseball was not “invented” but evolved as a game most notably in the baseball incubator of the New York Metropolitan area.
While the Giants –Dodgers rivalry commenced with 1889 “World Series” between the National League Champion Giants and the American Association’s Brooklyn Atlantics, won by the Giants 5 games to 3; the baseball rivalry between Brooklyn and New York was already more than a generation old. Brooklyn teams have been playing New York teams since the 1840’s.
Thus todays’ batter of the day was a hero on the field back in the halcyon days of baseballs earliest years in Brooklyn. Yet this player is also a current TV personality, as he was immortalized as being the staring right fielder for Mr. Burn’s initial all-star nine in the episode of “Homer At The Bat.”
As John Thorn noted in his SABR Bio Project and the book, Baseball in the Garden of Eden, that baseball’s first hitting hero was Brooklyn’s own, Jim Creighton.
On October 14, 1862, Jim Creighton, went 5 for 5 this day. Four doubles in his first four at bats. As baseball heroes are wont to do, his last at bat resulted in a Home Run.
It is rather ironic that while we live in the current era of the Designated Hitter, it was a pitcher who hit baseball’s first heroic home run. Baseball tradition has it that Creighton was the first person to bend his elbow and thus the pitching rules and throw the first fast ball.
In hitting his bases clearing shot, Jim Creighton, re-injured an existing cricket injury most likely a ruptured inguinal hernia.
On October 18, 1862, was the day Jim Creighton died.
In Creighton’s death baseball’s classical, tragic hero arises.
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
— A. E. Housman
In the decades after his passing, his fame grew as teams were named Creightons, while others paid tributes at his gravesite. Thus today we can state with great certainty, that whenever a pitcher, especially a son of Brooklyn, ascends the mound or any home run is smote; it is fitting to say he “warn’t no Creighton.”
As his gravesite was vandalized in the twentieth century, it was restored to its original state just this year by SABR members and others led by John Thorne. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRD5lIyu9UA.
Thus the larger question arises why is he not in the Hall of Fame? After all, baseballs first hero, the guy who invented the fastball needs his rightful place of honor in the Pantheon of Baseball Heroes. The other guy from Brooklyn, the one who invented the Curve Ball, is already enshrined. Why no Creighton?
Homer At The Bat, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer_at_the_Bat