Baseball History for February 24th

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1943 The Texas League, as will most minor leagues, announces it will cease operations for the duration of World War II. The difficulty to travel and the lack of able-bodied men available to fill team rosters make suspending play a necessity.
1948 The White Sox trade Ed Lopat to the Yankees for Aaron Robinson, Bill Wight and Fred Bradley.
1966 University of Southern California pitcher Tom Seaver is signed by the Braves. The deal will later be voided, and the USC stand-out will be selected by the Mets in a special draft.
1977 The Oakland A’s trade Ron Fairly to the Toronto Blue Jays for minor leaguer Mike Weathers and cash. The Macon, Georgia native, who played with the Montreal Expos from 1969 to 1974, becomes the first major leaguer to appear with both Canadian teams.
1986 Eleven weeks after Padres executives attempt to buy out his contract, only to be thwarted by team owner Joan Kroc, Dick Williams resigns as manager of the Padres. The future Hall of Fame skipper, who captured a NL pennant in 1984 and compiled a 337-311 (.520) record during his four seasons in San Diego, will be replaced by Steve Boros.
1990 At the age of 45, former Red Sox fan favorite Tony Conigliaro dies of pneumonia and kidney failure. Hitting 32 home runs in 1965 at the age of 20, the Revere, MA native becomes the youngest player ever to lead the American League in home runs.
2003 In the wake of Steve Belcher’s death, Commissioner Bud Selig bans the use of ephedra in the minor leagues. Players on the current 40-man major league rosters, which would have included the 23 year-old Oriole pitcher who died last week, are not prohibited to use the substance because as union members they are already covered by the drug-testing rules of the new collective bargaining agreement, which bans only drugs of abuse and certain illegal steroids.
2010 A Kansas man, who sat six rows behind the third-base dugout, files a lawsuit against the Royals as a result of being hit in the eye by a hot dog thrown by Sluggerrr, the team’s mascot. The suit is seeking $25,000 in damages for injuries caused by the flying frank, which includes a detached retina and the development of cataracts in the left eye.

 

Baseball History for February 23rd

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1921 Rabbit Maranville is traded by Brooklyn to the Pirates for Billy Southworth, Fred Nicholson, Walter Barbare, and $15,000 in cash. The future Hall of Fame shortstop will spend four of his 19 major league seasons playing for the Bucs, providing excellent defense for the team while compiling a .283 batting average.

1934 Brooklyn coach Casey Stengel signs a two-year deal to manage the Dodgers, replacing skipper Max Carey, who guided the sixth-place club to a 65-88 record last season. During the rookie skipper’s three-year tenure with the team, the Brooks will finish 43 games under .500.

1960 Twenty-eight months after the Dodgers play their last game in Brooklyn, the demolition of Ebbets Field finally begins. The National Anthem is sung by pop singer Lucy Monroe, and a wheel-chair bound Roy Campanella, the team’s former catcher, is given an urn of dirt from behind home plate.

1986 Although he loses his arbitration case, Boston third baseman Wade Boggs receives the largest amount ($1.35 million) ever awarded by this process. Last season’s AL batting champ had sought $1.85 million, but arbitrator Thomas Roberts rules in favor of the Red Sox, resulting in a drop of a half-million dollars for the infielder.

1987 Three days into spring training, Dick Howser’s attempted comeback after undergoing brain tumor surgery comes to an end when the frail-looking Royals manager finds he is physically too weak to continue. Third base coach Billy Gardner replaces the ill skipper, who will die three months later at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City.

1988 A committee of Chicago aldermen, facing the loss of the 1990 All-Star game and possible postseason games, allows the Cubs to play 18 night games at Wrigley Field, the last major league ballpark to be illuminated. In 1942, team owner P.K. Wrigley had planned to be among the first to install lights, but the idea was abandoned when the materials were needed for the war effort.

1990 Although the owners drop their arbitration and minimum salary proposals, spring training camps remain closed. Baseball’s seventh work stoppage in baseball will last 32 days, resulting in Opening Day being moved back a week and the over-all season extended by three days in order to accommodate the 162-game schedule.

1997 Ira Berkow’s front page story about Larry Doby appears in the Sunday New York Times. The article spurs much interest about the first black to play in the American League and many believe leads to the outfielder’s election to the Hall of Fame the following year.

2000 Cubs manager Don Baylor names four captains, including first baseman Mark Grace, right fielder Sammy Sosa, pitcher Kevin Tapani and reliever Rick Aguilera. The quartet will be the Cubs’ first captains since the 1960s and early 1970s, when Ron Santo held the position.

2006 Complaining about the lack of support from local baseball officials, Roberto Kelly resigns as manager of Panama’s team in the World Baseball Classic. The Giants spring training instructor believes some players were held back from participating in the WBC so they would play in the Panamanian championships.

2012 Avoiding a 50-game suspension, Ryan Braun becomes the first major league player to successfully challenge the results of a positive test. The panel that heard the appeal voted 2-1 in favor of the 28 year-old Brewer outfielder because the test collector kept the urine sample at home and stored it in his refrigerator for two days before sending the specimen to a Montreal laboratory for analysis.

2013 Jason Bay, who mutually agreed to terminate his contract with the Mets in November after three years of futility in New York, clouts a two-run homer in his first at-bat of spring training in the Mariners’ 8-6 exhibition victory over the Padres. The likable, but oft injured outfielder signed with Seattle in the offseason for $1 million, a far cry from the four-year, $66-million free-agent deal he inked when he left Boston for the Big Apple in 2009.

Baseball History for February 21st

1931 The White Sox and Giants become the first major league teams to play a night game. The Buffs Stadium (Houston, Texas) exhibition game lasts ten innings with the teams collecting a total of 23 hits.

1931 The Dodgers arrive in Cuba to start a series of five inter-squad games. Brooklyn right-hander Dolf Luque, known as the Pride of Havana, will appear in the exhibitions scheduled to be played in spacious Tropical Stadium.

1945 Due to wartime travel restrictions, baseball decides to cancel the All-Star game. It is the only time the Midsummer Classic will not be played since the game’s inception in 1933.

1966 Emmett Ashford becomes the first black to be a major league umpire when he is hired by the American League. ‘Ash’, known for his flashy style in the PCL, will spend five years in the bigs, working the 1967 All-Star game and the 1970 World Series, before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

1968 The first-ever collective basic agreement is signed by the players and owners. The CBA increases the minimum salary to $10,000 and introduces a formal grievance procedure.

1974 Tom Seaver becomes the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history when he signs a contract for $172,000 per season to hurl for the Mets. ‘Tom Terrific’ has posted a 135-76 record during his seven years in New York.

1986 In defiance of the Reds’ policy, Rollie Fingers refuses to cut off his trademark handlebar mustache and retires from baseball. The future Hall of Fame reliever, who leaves the game with 341 saves, had been offered a contract by Cincinnati’s skipper Pete Rose after being released by the Brewers at the end of last season

1989 Reds manager Pete Rose meets with Commissioner Peter Ueberroth and Commissioner-elect Bart Giamatti to explain the allegations concerning his gambling habits. Major League Baseball will launch a full investigation into the matter next month which will lead to “Charlie Hustle’s” permanent ban from the game in August.

2000 Denying the acquisition of Ken Griffey, Jr. as the reason, the Reds announce the team has dropped its ban on earrings. Players have worn them in the clubhouse, but weren’t allowed on the field with them.

2006 Gene Elston is selected by the National Baseball Hall of Fame to receive the Ford C. Frick Award. During his 47 years in the broadcast booth, the former Astros announcer brought a no-nonsense approach to reporting the happenings on the diamond.

2008 Ryan Howard, who made $900,000 last season, gets a substantial raise by winning his salary arbitration case against the Phillies. The 28 year-old first baseman is awarded $10 million, tying Alfonso Soriano, who had sought $12 million and lost, for the highest amount ever given to a player in the process.

2009 In a decision which team general manager Neal Huntington calls easy, the Pirates pick up John Russell’s contract option for this season. The sophomore skipper went 67-95 in his first season with the last-place Bucs.

Baseball History for February 20th

1923 After buying the club along with two partners for $300,000, Christy Mathewson becomes the president of the Boston Braves.

1929 The Red Sox announce the team will play its newly allowed Sunday games at Braves Field. Fenway Park is considered too close to a church.

1953 Pledging not to move the team from St. Louis, beer baron August A. Busch convinces the Board of Directors of Anheuser-Busch to purchase the Cardinals for $3.75 million.

1963 After leading the Giants to the pennant the previous season, Willie Mays becomes the highest paid player, signing a $100,000 contract.

1963 The Cubs officially put an end to their radical approach in using multiple field bosses during the course of the season when they hire Bob Kennedy as their only manager. With the “College of Coaches” system disbanded, the club will post an 82-80 record under their lone skipper.

1980 The era of ‘Billy Ball’ begins in Oakland when Billy Martin is hired as the manager of the A’s for $125,000. During his three-year tenure in the dugout, the fiery skipper will compile a 215-218 record and will win a division title as the first half leader in the AL West of the 1981 strike-shortened season.

1984 Pedro Guerrero becomes the highest paid Dodger when he signs a five-year, seven million dollar contract to play in Los Angeles.

1992 After Homer Simpson and his co-workers qualify the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant’s softball team for the league final, Mr. Montgomery Burns, the owner of the facility, hires nine professional MLB players, to win a $1 million bet with his against Shelbyville rival. Although he hits nine home runs, the southpaw-swinging Darryl Strawberry, the only major leaguer to actual participate in the game, after Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey Jr., Steve Sax, Ozzie Smith, José Canseco, Don Mattingly, and Mike Scioscia are all sidelined after being involved in a series of bizarre pre-game accidents, will be replaced by Homer in the last inning, because Burns wants a righty to face the opponent’s left-hander.

2008 “My, oh my”, Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus is going into the Baseball Hall of Fame. On his 73rd birthday, the veteran announcer learns he is the recipient of the 2008 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence.

2009 Tom Glavine, with the most wins among active pitchers, agrees to a one-year, $1 million deal to stay with the Braves. The 42 year-old southpaw, who underwent surgery for a torn ligament in his left elbow, posted a 2-4 record with a 5.54 ERA in 13 starts for Atlanta before being shut down for the season last August.

2009 Baltimore inks Brian Roberts to a four-year contract extension reported to be worth $40 million. Along with Nick Markakis, who recently signed a six-year, $66 million deal, the 31 year-old talented second basemen becomes the second home-grown Oriole player within a month to agree to a long term deal to stay with the last-place club.

2009 Avoiding arbitration, the Nationals and Ryan Zimmerman (.283, 14, 51) agree to a one-year, $3.3 million contract. The 24-year-old third baseman is Washington’s all-time leader in almost every offensive category, including homers, RBI, runs, and hits, as well as contests played, since the franchise relocated from Montreal four seasons ago.

Baseball History for February 19th

Baseball History

1935 Lou Gehrig signs a one-year deal with the Yankees for $30,000. Last season, the All-Star first baseman hit .363 with 49 homers and led the American League with 165 RBIs.


1942 Twenty-nine year old infielder first baseman Hal Trosky tells the Des Moines Register he is leaving the Tribe, citing his recurring migraine headaches, first experienced in 1938, as the reason for his early retirement. The good hitting infielder, who will finish his 11-year career with a .302 batting average, will attempt a comeback with the White Sox in 1944.


1946 Danny Gardella becomes the first major league player to jump to the Mexican League. The outfielder goes south of the border, lured by a salary of $10,000, more than double the amount offered by the Giants.


1953 After being hit by enemy fire during a Korean combat mission, Ted Williams safely crash lands his Panther jet.


1970 Effective April 1st, Tiger pitcher Denny McLain is suspended for three months by Commissioner Kuhn for his alleged connection with bookmakers.


1977 The Rangers purchase Paul Lindblad from Oakland for $400,000. The left-handed reliever will appear in 42 games for Texas this season, posting a 4-5 record with an ERA of 4.20.


1981 When the player-management panel is unable to reach a compromise, baseball implements a compensation plan that provides for the team signing a ranking free agent to give up a roster player and an amateur draft choice in return. The owners’ move, seen by the players as undermining the value of free agency, will lead to a mid-season strike, forcing the cancellation of 713 games.


1983 Fernando Valenzuela becomes the first player to be awarded $1,000,000 via the arbitration process. The 22 year-old Mexican southpaw has compiled a career record of 34-20 during his three years with the Dodgers.


1987 After signing a contract as a free agent with the A’s less than a month ago, Vida Blue unexpectedly retires from baseball.


2002 The 37 year-old Jose Canseco (.258, 16, 49) signs a minor league contract with the lame duck Expos. The 17-year veteran, who was the 1985 American League Rookie of the Year in 1985 and its 1986 MVP, is 38 homers shy of the coveted 500 mark.


2008 In a deal which includes a club option worth $10 million, sophomore Ian Kinsler (.286, 14, 55) signs a five-year, $22 million contract with the Rangers. With the signing of the 24 year-old second baseman and last season’s contract extension for All-Star shortstop Michael Young, Texas has locked up the middle of their infield through 2013.


2009 Despite his poor performance last season, the Braves give Jeff Francoeur (.239, 11, 71) a big raise over his previous salary of $460,000, agreeing to a one-year contract worth $3,375,000 with the outfielder. The deal, a compromise between their two offers, comes just hours prior to a scheduled salary arbitration hearing in Arizona.


2010 The Nationals finalize a $2 million, one-year deal, that includes the opportunity to earn up to $3 million in performance-based bonuses, with former Yankee pitcher Chien-Ming Wang (1-6, 9.64 ERA). The 29 year-old right-hander, who hasn’t been the same since injuring his foot running the bases in a 2008 interleague game against Houston, underwent shoulder surgery last July and is not expected to pitch in the first few months of the season.


2012 At the Bell Centre, Canadiens mascot Youppi! wears his jersey with the Expos colors in place of his usual bleu-blanc-rouge (blue, white, and red) to honor the memory of former major league catcher Gary Carter, who died this week as the result of a brain tumor. The 57 year-old Hall of Famer, the only player enshrined as an Expo, and Youppi! played key roles for the National League team before the franchise left Montreal to move to Washington, D.C. in 2005.


2014 Avoiding arbitration, Homer Bailey (11-12, 3.49) and the Reds agree to a $105 million, six-year deal, including a $25 million mutual option for 2020. The 27 year-old starter from Texas, the author of two major league no-hitters, will continue to be part of Cincinnati’s young rotation that includes Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and southpaw Tony Cingrani, who are all under the age of 30.

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