Around the League

Atlantic League In The Hall of Fame

The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. will induct seven new members on Sunday, July 24.

But the Hall of Fame, which honors the greatest players and contributors to build the game, is more than just a museum of busts and bios. The Hall of Fame is a place where some of the greatest artifacts from the game live in perpetuity. From Babe Ruth’s bats and Hank Aaron’s uniform to a ball from Bob Feller’s 1940 no-hitter and Yogi Berra’s catcher’s mitt.

The Atlantic League has its own collection of artifacts that are permanently situated within the walls of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

As the Hall prepares for its next class of inductees, here’s a look at what items the Atlantic League has in the Hall.


Stealing First Base

The Atlantic League in 2019 began using an experimental rule that allowed batters to advance to first base on any passed ball or wild pitch, regardless of the count. The first player to “steal first” was Southern Maryland’s Tony Thomas.

On July 13th, 2019, Thomas became the first player in the history of America’s pastime to steal first base. Per the Atlantic League’s partnership with Major League Baseball, batters may “steal” first base on any pitch not caught in flight. On an 0-1 pitch, Thomas watched a ball sail past the Lancaster Barnstormers’ catcher, Anderson De La Rosa. De La Rosa did not move to retrieve the ball, and after a moment of hesitation, Thomas took off for first. When his red and white New Balance cleats with the initials “TTJ” struck first base, he went down in baseball history as the first to steal first.

Rick White, President of the Atlantic League, said “It was just a matter of time until an enterprising batter seized the initiative to take first base on a wild pitch. Tony Thomas was the right player at the right time and will forever be known as the first player to steal first!” Blue Crabs General Manager, Courtney Knichel added “Tony Thomas, the Blue Crabs, and the Atlantic League are now and forever engrained into the roots of America’s pastime. It’s incredible to be a part of a first in a game with so much history.”

Upon hearing the news of his Cooperstown bound cleats, Thomas said, “I feel honored to be accepted into the Hall of Fame. We play this game to be there, no matter how you get in. It’s a blessing that something that I did will be a legacy that lasts forever.”

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