Sportress of Blogitude

1886 baseball team photo the first time a guy was photographed flipping the bird


This story has been covered on the interwebs on several occasions before this post — including a mention on Wikipedia, a source of 100% reliability — but it’s making the rounds again and given its whimsical nature and cultural and historical importance, it is certainly worth another visit.

Old Hoss Radbourn was a pitcher for the 1886 Boston Beaneaters, an organization that after many years would one day become the Atlanta Braves. During a team photo, Old Hoss can be clearly seen giving the middle finger, flipping the bird, the one-finger salute, what have you.

As the story goes, the Beaneaters were set to face the New York Giants on the day the photo was taken and apparently, Old Hoss felt the urge to send a little message to the players on the rival squad. And he accomplished delivery of said message by way of shooting up his middle finger. And as luck would have it, the photographer snapped the picture — or whatever they did back then — at the perfect moment. As mentioned above, the photograph generally is believed to be the first-ever documented time that a person was photographed flashing the old middle finger.


And an even more close-up of Old Hoss’ middle finger:


Awesome. And here’s an interesting little nugget: Some time ago, an enterprising wisenheimer created an Old Hoss Radbourn Twitter account and it is quite popular, with over 50,000 followers. Way more than I have. And I’m not dead. Sigh.

[H/T via TPS]