Odd Pittsburgh: First Video Call On Earth Takes Place In Pittsburgh

Also, learn about the Pirates pitcher allowed to hurl an illegal pitch

Larry Richert and John Shumway
June 29, 2018 - 1:52 pm
Odd Pittsburgh

John Schalcosky

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - John Schalcosky, Founder of the Odd, Mysterious and Fascinating History of Pittsburgh says he has an almost endless supply of Pittsburgh firsts that will make you proud to be from the ‘Burgh! He tells the KDKA Morning News about some of the crazy anniversaries  that happened this week in our history.

  • First Video Call Takes Place In Pittsburgh

Facetiming and other video conference calls are commonplace in today’s world but of course that always hasn’t been the case. Did you know Pittsburgh is home to the world first Video phone call?

Schalcosky says Bell Labs in Pittsburgh decided to test market the idea, and so on June 30, 1970 Pittsburgh mayor Pete Flaherty video-called from the mayor’s office to the office of the CEO of Alcoa and the first words that were spoken? “Here’s looking at you.”

Schalcosky says it was hard for the technology to catch on because rate at the time for a video call were up to $200 a minute!

  • Anniversary of Forbes Field Opening

On June 30, 1909 the Pirates took the field for the first game at Forbes Field in Oakland. Schalcosky says it was the first ball park to be made with steel, was host to three World Series’ (1909, 1925 and 1960), was home to Homestead Grays for a time as well as Steelers and Pitt football.

  • Pirates Pitcher Burleigh Grimes Throws Last Legal Spitball.

Grimes was a pitcher for the Pirates in 1915 and 1916 as well as during the 1925 World Series season for the Bucs.

Grimes is a Hall of Fame pitcher and had one of the best fastballs during his time.

Schalcosky says one of Grimes’ pitches was the spitball. By adding spit or sweat to the ball a pitcher can make his pitches do something crazy things over the plate.

“That ball would have a mind of its own and so people were getting mad because people wanted to see homeruns and when [a pitcher] throws a spitball it’s pretty hard to hit a homerun,” said Schalcosky.

Major League Baseball made the spitball illegal in 1934 but because Grimes had used the pitch for 20 years before the ban, was allowed to continue to throw the pitch legally until his retirement.

Schalcosky says of course pitchers still use the spitball all the time but Grimes was the last one to legally throw it.

Listen below for more on these stories and the grisly tale of the torso murders in 1936!

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