“Then, being placed five feet nearer the exact centre of the diamond, he is relatively nearer to first base, and will therefore be able to hold runners closer to that base what time the ball remains in his hand–an advantage which will in part, if it does not wholly, offset the increased chance of stealing second base because of the greater length of time consumed in the passage of the ball from pitcher to catcher.” “Base-Ball: Theories As to the Affect of the New Rule Regarding the Pitcher’s Position: It Will Increase the Batting, and to Some Extent Effect the Fielding,” Chicago Tribune, March 27, 1881, p20
NOTE: This article about the moving of the pitcher’s mound five feet back, to 50 feet from home plate, focuses mainly on the impact on hitting — the main purpose of the change — and on fielding, but also includes this comment on holding runners.
Previous earliest use (Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2009):
1909. “Neither [Charley] Schmidt nor [Oscar] Stanage could compare with [George] Gibson in ‘holding’ runners.” (The Sporting News, Oct. 21; Peter Morris).