Since professional baseball was invented in 1869, nobody has managed to steal first base. That is, until Saturday.
In a feat accomplished due to an experimental rule change in the independent Atlantic League, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs outfielder Tony Thomas successfully stole first base.
While standing in the box and facing an 0-1 count in the sixth inning, Thomas took off for first when the Lancaster Barnstormers' catcher failed to cleanly field a pitch. He reached safely without a throw.
The Atlantic League officially adopted the new stealing-first rule this week when the second half of the league's season began.
Batters have long been allowed to take first base on a dropped third strike. Now, the new rule permits them to attempt a steal on any count whenever a catcher doesn't catch a pitch.
Earlier this week, the Atlantic League also debuted an electronic strike zone at its All-Star Game. Through a partnership, MLB and the Atlantic League aim to test several other experimental rules over the next few years - including a three-batter minimum for pitchers and the banning of infield shifts - to gauge each rule's potential for use in the majors.