Nine Firsts in Indiana Sports History

First Major League Baseball Game

The Fort Wayne Kekiongas lasted only a single season and won the honor of playing he first game of the newly-established National Association of Professional Base Ball (two words) Players by coin flip.

The community of Fort Wayne raised funds to build an impressive grandstand to observe games, nicknamed the “Grand Duchess”, but poor weather brought only 200 fans to observe the historic game against the Cleveland Forest Citys. It ended 2-0, with Cleveland never scoring a run, and officials calling the game in the ninth on account of rain.

First Hoosier High School Basketball Player to Score 1,000 Points in a Season

George McGinnis helped Indianapolis’ Washington High School achieve a 31-0 record and become state champions in 1969, all while scoring over 1,000 points in the season. He continued setting records at Indiana University (the first sophomore to led the Big Ten in scoring) and played 11 seasons in the NBA.

First High School to Win the IHSAA Title Twice 

In 1985, the 1984 Crown Point Bulldogs Girls’ Basketball Team defeated Warren Central by a single point in a title game considered one of the best in state history—55 to 54. Led by Coach Sue Parrish, they finished the season IHSAA champs undefeated, 26-0.

 First Astroturf in an Outdoor Stadium


Although the Houston Astrodome, an indoor stadium, installed Astroturf in 1966, Indiana State University’s Memorial Stadium in Terre Haute was the first to install the product in an outdoor stadium. The university planned a top-to-bottom renovation of Memorial Stadium from 1967-69, with Astroturf being the first major step.

“First successful” Forward Pass in Football 


Although Notre Dame football legend Knute Rockne admitted it wasn’t true, he is often credited with the first forward pass in football, a play that took decades to become both legal and popular in the American game. Rockne himself admitted he wasn’t the first, but his famous use of the play, in a 1913 game against the Army, increased its popularity dramatically and ended the controversy surrounding the game strategy.

First person to win seven gold medals in the Olympics 

In 1968, Indiana University alumnus Mark Spitz won two gold medals in Mexico City, and was determined to dominate the Munich competition four years later. He did exactly that, winning seven gold medals, a record which held for 36 years until Michael Phelps won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

“First” Auto Race

Another sport with bundles of contentions for “first”, most race historians agree that the 1903 race between two auto dealers can safely be considered ONE of the first auto races, if not the first. A Cadillac and Oldsmobile (sponsored by local dealers) each bet $500 on a race from Columbus to Indianapolis, a little over forty miles. The contest began at nine in the morning. When the Cadillac’s wheel bearing gave out just outside Columbus, the Oldsmobile passed it, winning the contest…which took over three hours.

First (and ONLY) Perfect Game in a World Series

23 perfect games (in which no opposing player reaches base) have been thrown in Major League Baseball history, but only one perfect game happened during the World Series—in 1956 by Hoosier Don Larsen, a member of the New York Yankees and born in Michigan City, Indiana.

Larsen shutout the Dodgers in Game 5 of the ’56 Series with only 97 pitches, and only one player received a three-ball count (Pee Wee Reese). The Yankees would go on to win the Series in Game 7, 4-3.