Friday, February 5, 2016

A commemorative uniform celebrating the Fort Wayne Kekiongas worn by the Fort Wayne Wizards during the 1995 baseball season. Ebbets Fields Flannels jersey is property of the Fort Wayne History Center. (Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society)
It was 143 years ago that Kekiongas hosted historical baseball game

Posted on May 1, 2014 at 7:58 a.m.

Sunday, May 4, marks an important anniversary in American and Indiana sports history.

It was on May 4 of 1871 that the first professional league baseball game was played in Fort Wayne between the Forest Citys of Cleveland and the Kekiongas of Fort Wayne.

The distinction as the first openly professional team has been credited to the Cincinnati Red Stockings.

The first attempt at forming a "major league" came with the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, which lasted from 1871 to 1875.

The all-pro loop had teams in big cities, but it was the game with Cleveland and Fort Wayne that was played first and it is recognized as the first league contest in U.S. sports history — long before football, basketball etc.

Baseball scholars are still working to establish the location of that first game.

Many articles have been written about it. Three of the most recent include those by Bill Griggs, Mark Souder and Major League Baseball historian John Thorn.

The newly-formed Society for American Baseball Research chapter in Fort Wayne is named for the Kekiongas, a nod to the Miami native American tribe.