Kill the Ball (1888)

“Connor was expected to kill the ball, but only disturbed the atmosphere around the plate three times, and went to the bench.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 25, 1888, p8

Previous earliest use (Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2009):
1ST USE. 1901 (Burt L. Standish, Frank Merriwell’s School Days, p. 240; Edward J. Nichols).