“That unaccountable defeat by the Philadelphia champions to the Haymakers, last Saturday, may be explained by a reference to the following score, as it will be seen that Dick McBride, the Athletics’ most valuable player, was absent. He is as necessary to the Quaker City club as George Wright is to our nine a close game.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette, September 28, 1870, p1
Previous earliest use (Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2009):
1ST USE. 1875. Jim “Deacon” White was presented, by an ardent Boston Red Stockings admirer, with a silver tray, water pitcher, and loving cup inscribed “Won by Jim White as most valuable player to Boston team, 1875” (Bill Deane, in Total Baseball, 8th ed., 2004, p. 707).
- NOTE: The 1870 use is descriptive but the 1875 use in the Dictionary is the earliest use of the term to refer to an actual award.