Odd Pittsburgh: Baseball Has Been Around Longer Than You Think In Pittsburgh

Also: KDKA Radio is home to the planet's first sports broadcast

Harold Arlin

Andrew Limberg/KDKA Radio Archives

Time to take another trip down “I didn’t know that” lane with The Odd, Mysterious and Fascinating History of Pittsburgh’s John Schalcosky, who was recently voted in Pittsburgh Magazine as “Best Local Historian (with a Different Day Job)" for 2018's "Best of the Burgh".

  • Baseball Around In Pittsburgh Longer Than You Think

Since 1887 the Pirates have played baseball in Pittsburgh, but that wasn’t the beginning of baseball in our town. Schalcosky tells us baseball in the ‘Burgh goes back before the Civil War.

“All the way back to 1860, the first games were played in the same place where they’re being placed today in old Allegheny City in the original Exposition Park.”

  • KDKA Radio – The Birthplace Of Sports Broadcasting

On August 5, 1921, KDKA Radio broadcaster Harold Arlin set up a booth at Forbes Field and called the action between the Pirates and the Phillies. It was the first sports broadcast in the history of the planet. Schalcosky says the broadcast didn’t have any commercials and Arlin said he didn’t know if anyone was listening to him while he was trying to think of creative ways to explain the action on the field. The Bucs won 8-5.

  • The Babe That Played For the Pirates

Schalcosky says Babe Adams was a star Pitcher for the Pirates and continues to hold records for the Bucs today.

Adams was the first rookie to pitch a shutout during a World Series game. His game 7 shutdown helped the Pirates win their first championship.

“He later when on to win the 1925 World Series with the Pirates as well, he still today hold the record for the most career shutouts with 47 for the Pittsburgh Pirates . . . total strikeouts 1,036. He was no joke,” said Schalcosky.

The other famous Babe, Babe Ruth hit his last three home runs at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh as a member of the Boston Braves on May 25, 1935.

Ruth’s last homerun sailed over the right field roof at Forbes, the first time it had ever been done.

The Pirates ended up winning the game 11-7.

  • The story of Celeron

One of Schalcosky’s favorite tales of Pittsburgh is the 1749 expedition by Celeron de Bienville to Pittsburgh, claiming all of this land in the name of France.

Schalcosky says the French military leader and explorer went by one name like Cher or Madonna.

Celeron was sent to explore Western Pennsylvania, the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers and during his journey, he buried lead plates in the ground along the Allegheny River claiming the land for France.

“Once was found . . . in Washington, PA many years ago. The one here in Pittsburgh was has never been found.”

Schalcosky says there were two buried in the area one near Lawrenceville and the other in Ambridge. Schalcosky says he is currently investigating to locate the Ambridge plate.

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