The First Photograph Depicting Someone Flashing The “Middle Finger” Is A Photo Of A?
Answer: Baseball Player
Charles Radbourn was a professional baseball pitcher in the late 19th century with more than a few accomplishments to his name. Active at the Major Leagues level between 1880 and 1891, Radbourn earned a Triple Crown (leading the league in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average), set numerous records in the National League, pitched a no hitter in the summer of 1883, and set the Major League Baseball record for wins in a single season (a record that remains unbroken to this day).
For all that, Radbourn was inducted into the Baseball Hall of fame in 1939 and is remembered to this day as an early, influential, and accomplished figure in the history of the sport. But none of that is what caught our eye while digging for trivia gems. What caught our eye is that, hilariously, Radbourn is responsible for the first recorded instance of anyone “flipping the bird”, using their middle finger in the widely recognized obscene gesture.
Despite the fact that the use of the extended middle finger as an insult has roots reaching back thousands of years, it wasn’t until the opening day of the Major League Baseball season in 1886, which saw the Boston Beaneaters face off against the New York Giants, that the gesture was caught on film. In the photo seen here, a tight crop of the opening day roster shot of the two teams gathered together in front of the waiting crowd, Radbourn is standing at the far left, casually flashing the middle finger at the photographer.
While this is the first recorded example, the motivation for the gesture will forever be a mystery. Was Radbourn goofing around and sneaking the gesture in as a prank of sorts? Was he annoyed the photographer was barking orders at him? The world will never know.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.