learn the batter / learn the hitter (1888)

“…. although Roach was hit hard, he was remarkably cool and steady, and, after he learns the batters of the New England league, will hold his own.” “Worcester 16, Portsmouth 7,” Fall River (MA) Herald, July 25, 1888, p2

“Theirs is to learn baserunners and batters, and this is what makes a great catcher or consigns a receiver to the ordinary class.” Ralph S. Davis, “Reforms in Training: Early Spring Work of a Ball Team Should All Be Done in One Well=Selected Place,” Pittsburg Press, March 24, 1907, p19

“In order for an outfielder to be able to shift his position so as to be always where the different batters hit, it is necessary for him to first learn where these batters are most likely to clout the ball and then take into consideration who is pitching and what he is handing this particular hitter.” “Joss Boosts Fielder Jones: White Sox Leader a Great Manager and Star Player, Says Cleveland Pitcher,Kansas City Star, February 1, 1909, p5

No earliest use given in 2009 Dickson Baseball Dictionary

NOTE: The Dictionary defines “learn the hitter” as “To study the habits of a hitter to understand the pitches he will hit and the direction in which such hits will go.” (It does not include the earlier term “learn the batter.” The 1909 citation is the earliest appearance of that term with this meaning. The earliest use of “learn the hitter” is in 1925.