First on First: Ed Abbaticchio

220px-Ed_Abbaticchio,_1903Edward James Abbaticchio was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, on April 15, 1877. He began his athletic career in 1895 where he played football as both a fullback and kicker for the Latrobe Athletic Association. Ed became one of the first professional football players as the team was the first pro-football team in the nation. His coach, Fielding Yost, credited Ed with the invention of the spiral punt.

By the time he turned 20, Ed switched sports and made his Major League baseball debut with the Philadelphia Philles. During the next eight seasons, he played shortstop and second baseman for teams in Latrobe, Milwaukee and Boston. In 1906, he retired and moved back to his hometown. Ed took over his father’s hotel and managed the newly renamed 777 Latrobe House. A year later he 150px-Ed_Abbaticchiocame out of retirement and joined the Pittsburgh Pirates. He stayed with the team for three years before joining the Boston Doves (better known today as the Atlanta Braves) in 1910, which was also his final season playing baseball. After his second retirement from the sport, Ed returned to the family hotel. When he was 60-years-old, he relocated to Florida where he lived until his death in 1952.

While Ed “Batty” Abbaticchio might not be a household name, he was one of the first Italian Americans to join Major League baseball, and he was the first to be an athletic celebrity.

Sources: NIASHFThe American Game, MLB.Com

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