“[Wild Bill] Donovan succeeds Jack Chesbro of the New York American League club as pitching coach.” Chicago Daily News, January 11, 1904, p1 (Also appeared elsewhere.)
- NOTE: This refers to Donovan being named pitching coach for the Harvard baseball team. Willie Keeler, the articles reports, will continue as batting coach. There are references to other major leaguers serving as pitching coaches at Harvard and Yale before there are any such references to pitching coaches in the major or minor leagues.
Earliest examples from professional baseball:
“Eight St. Louis Boys Will Help Win Three-I Flag. Besides These, Manager and Pitching Coach of Peoria are Mound Cityans.” (Headline). St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 15, 1912, p15
- NOTE: Refers to “Charlie Barrett, the Brown’s scout, who has just been signed as coach for the Peoria pitching staff.”
- “Barrett’s position is unique in the minor league world. Perhaps in most major league clubs there is nothing to correspond to it. Barrett will go to Peoria in April, and for three weeks will devote his time exclusively to developing the recruit pitchers of the team. He will draw down pretty good pay for the task, too. Wilbert Robinson, with the Giants, is about the only man now hired exclusively to work in this capacity for a team.”
“Pitching Coach Jim McGuire of the Tigers says the best way to judge a pitcher is to see him pitch. Wonderful, Jim, wonderful!” Daily Advocate (Stamford, CT), March 26, 1912, p7
- NOTE: This is the earliest reference to McGuire as “pitching coach” but there were numerous articles on February 2nd announcing his appointment as a coach who would work with the pitchers in the early part of the season and later serve as a scout. There are reports that it was later decided he would stay with the team all year, but I have not yet found a source for that.
Previous earliest use (Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2009):
No first use given, but there is this note:
— The first pitching coach in the major leagues may have been Jack Coombs for the Detroit Tigers in 1920, although the term “pitching coach” was not used. Detroit manager Hughie Jennings (quoted in Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, May 18, 1920; David W. Smith) explained, “So I turned the whole thing over to Jack…. Here’s one department I take my hands entirely off of. It’s up to Jack. He says who pitches, how long he pitches, when does he come out and who goes in next.