Handle the Bat (1868)

“FEMININE BASE BALL—At Peterboro, writes Mrs. Cady Stanton, there is a base club of girls. Nanny Miller, a granddaughter of Gerrit Smith, is the captain, and handles the bat with a grace and strength worthy of notice.” Wisconsin State Journal, August 12, 1868, p2. 

  • NOTE: The source of this is Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the suffragist and social activist, who first met her husband in Peterboro, New York, at the home of her cousin Gerrit Smith, and spent considerable time there. This brief item appeared in many other newspapers as well. 
Article showing first use of "handle the bat"

Previous earliest use (Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2009):
1ST USE. 1870. “There is probably nothing as troublesome to the ball player as the matter of selecting a bat, which he can handle with confidence and certainty” (Chadwick Scrapbooks; John Freyer).