The First MLB Player to _____: Can You Identify These Historical MLB Players?

By: Gavin Thagard

Five MLB players were included in the inaugural class for the 1936 Baseball Hall of Fame. At 98.2 percent, Ty Cobb received the most votes of any of those players​ from the initial class.

Babe Ruth helped MLB transition from the dead-ball era to the live-ball era during the 1920s. The transition saw a significant increase in home runs, as Ruth hit over 50 home runs four different times throughout the decade.

Playing baseball from 1890 until 1911, Cy Young was one of the earliest stars of the game. After his death, Major League Baseball created an award, the Cy Young Award, in his honor, which is given annually to the best pitcher in each league.

Nicknamed "The Iron Horse," Lou Gehrig barely missed a game during the prime of his MLB career. Sadly, his consistency ended when he was diagnosed with ALS, forcing Gehrig to leave the game at the age of 36.

The 1955 World Series pitted the Brooklyn Dodgers against the New York Yankees. The Dodgers won the series in seven games, giving the franchise their first-ever championship.

A crafty offensive player, Honus Wagner won eight NL batting titles during his time in the majors. He was also quite sneaky when he got on base, leading the league in stolen bases five times.

Hank Aaron had a stellar season in 1957, winning the NL MVP and leading the Braves to a World Series. In the 1957 World Series, the Braves defeated the Yankees in seven games.

Ichiro Suzuki holds the MLB single-season record for hits at 262, which he accomplished in 2004 with the Seattle Mariners. The legendary batter also has 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons.

One of the greatest pitchers to ever take the mound, Lefty Grove achieved a Triple Crown twice in his career, including his 1931 MVP season. The Triple Crown is earned when a pitcher leads the league in wins, strikeouts, and ERA.

The Yankees lost the 1960 World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates, but the loss​ had little to do with the play of Bobby Richardson. In the series, Richardson had 12 runs batted in, including a grand slam in Game 3.

Barry Bonds holds the career home run record in MLB. However, his 762 home runs will forever have an asterisk beside them because of Bonds' association with the steroid era in baseball.

George Burns played two different stints with the Cleveland Indians during his lengthy MLB career. In 1920, he helped the franchise win its first of two World Series when they defeated the Robins in seven games.

Cal Ripken Jr. was lucky enough to spend his entire 21-year career with the Baltimore Orioles. First selected in 1983, Ripken went to 19 straight All-Star Games with the team.

Finishing his career with 1,406 steals, Rickey Henderson is the only player to ever record over 1,000 stolen bases in a career. The next closest player is Lou Brock with 938.

With two World Series championships and various awards, few players are as decorated as Frank Robinson. His Hall of Fame career also resulted in three teams retiring his number 20.

Frankie Frisch was one of the first few star players to serve as both a manager and a player at the same time. Frisch played for and managed the Cardinals from 1933 until 1937 when he retired as a player.

Roberto Clemente was well-known for his charity work throughout Latin America. However, his charitable nature eventually led to his death when his plane crashed while he was trying to deliver relief aid to Nicaragua, where an earthquake had recently hit.

Despite racking up the most strikeouts of any batter, Reggie Jackson still had a Hall of Fame career. He was a 14-time All-Star and won five World Series, including two World Series MVPs.

Don Larsen threw the only perfect game in postseason history in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. Helping the Yankees secure a championship, Larsen was named the MVP of the series.

Over the course of four decades, Nolan Ryan played 27 seasons in the majors. He was part of four different teams during his incredible run to 5,714 strikeouts.

Stan Musial was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2011. The award is the highest that a civilian can receive​ from the U.S. government.

A left-handed pitcher, Johnny Vader Meer posted a 119-121 win-loss record during his time in the majors. He finished his career with a total of 1,294 strikeouts.

Playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Don Newcombe competed in the 1956 World Series against the New York Yankees. Newcombe pitched the deciding Game 7, but he gave up five home runs on his way to a loss.

The winner of 16 Golden Glove Awards, Brooks Robinson was a stellar defensive player at the third base position. His defensive play also earned him 18 All-Star appearances.

The Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson leading into the 1947 season. Robinson came into the majors ready to play, leading the NL in stolen bases his first season on his way to being named the MLB Rookie of the Year.

Roy Halladay spent part of his leisure time as a pilot when he wasn't playing baseball. However, his joy of flying led to his death when his plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico in 2013.

Mariano Rivera was a relief pitcher who spent his entire MLB career with the New York Yankees. Known for his control of the ball, Rivera recorded 652 career saves.

Gaylord Perry didn't win his first Cy Young Award until 1972 when he was 34 years old. He won his second award six years later at the age of 40.

Jimmie Foxx was the AL home run leader four times in his MLB career. This slugger's power hitting made him only the second player in MLB history to record over 500 home runs in a career.

Eighth on the all-time wins list, Greg Maddux won more games throughout the '90s than any other pitcher in baseball. He finished his career with a 355-227 record.

Joe DiMaggio had an on-and-off relationship with movie star Marilyn Monroe. The couple married and divorced before getting back together right before her early death in 1962.

Nap Lajoie served as a player-manager for the Cleveland Naps from 1905 until 1909. Lajoie was well-accomplished throughout his MLB career, but he never won a championship.

Joe Cronin played 20 seasons in Major League Baseball at the shortstop position. He spent most of that career with the Boston Red Sox, who retired his number 4 and added him to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.

Nicknamed "Old Pete," Grover Cleveland Alexander posted an overall winning record as a pitcher at 373-208. In fact, he was such a dominant pitcher that he led the National League in wins six different seasons.

Ron Cey helped the Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the New York Yankees in the 1981 World Series. After a spectacular series, he shared the MVP award with teammates Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager.

Receiving his first selection in 1933, Lefty Gomez made the first seven All-Star Games in MLB. Every All-Star selection he received was with the New York Yankees, who he also won five World Series with.

Don Mattingly might have been the most unlucky Yankees' player of all time, as he was part of the worst championship drought in Yankees' history. Adding to his lack of luck, the Yankees won a championship both the year before he joined the team as a rookie and the year after he retired.

Ernie Banks is widely regarded as the greatest Cubs' player of all time, even earning the nickname "Mr. Cub." He spent his entire MLB career with the team, which lasted from 1953 until 1971.

In 2013, MLB determined that Alex Rodriguez was involved in a performance-enhancing drugs scandal that ripped through baseball. Rodriguez was suspended for 162 games, causing him to miss the entire 2014 season.

Dale Long had a relatively uneventful stint in the majors, making only one All-Star Game during his career. However, despite only having 132 home runs over the course of his career, Long cemented a place in baseball history by hitting eight home runs in eight straight games.

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About This Quiz

There's something about human nature that makes us all want to be the first at something, and when it comes to a professional athlete, that competitive drive to be first is much more prevalent. They spend their entire career competing, after all, and it's hard to drive out a player's competitive nature when it has been ingrained for so many years. 

From certain home run marks to steals to the most All-Star Game appearances, there is always a goal out there that players can compete for aside from just team wins. Besides, as one player sets a record, the players behind them are ready to be the first to surpass the record holder by setting a new standard to be met, and although individual accolades should be put after the team, there's something special about watching a player be the first at something. 

How well do you know the MLB players who were the first to accomplish a goal in the league? That doesn't mean they are always the record holder, but it does mean they set the bar for future players to meet. 

If you think you know all the first from MLB history, here's a quiz where you can find out. Get started and see if you can be the first person to ace this quiz! 

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