1883 – In Louisville a “first-class colored team” is formed. The team, later known as the Falls Cities, becomes one of the nation’s best black teams. It will join the National Colored Base Ball League (NCBBL) in 1887, but will apparently disband shortly after the collapse of the NCBBL in the first week of its season.
1894 – Veteran manager Jack Chapman expresses his support of a proposed rule change forbidding all but catchers and first basemen from wearing gloves. Citing Cincinnati’s Bid McPhee as an example of one of the few remaining outstanding gloveless fielders, Chapman remarks that “as it is now, inferior players with big gloves can get into the game and force good men out.”
Frank Lane replaces Hank Greenberg as the Indians’ general manager. ‘Trader Lane,’ who has made 60 separate deals since December 2, 1957, lives up to his well-deserved nickname when, just prior to Opening Day, he sends the Tribe’s very popular Rocky Colavito to Detroit for batting AL champ Harvey Kuenn.
The Reds acquire pitchers Joey Jay and Juan Pizarro from the Braves for SS Roy McMillan and a player to be named later. Cincy then trades Pizarro and P Cal McLish to the White Sox for 3B Gene Freese. The two pitchers will win 24 games between them for the Sox in 1961, while Freese will have one good year in Cincy.
The biggest trade in history? The Phils lose more than 1 1/2 inches when they acquire P Frank Sullivan from the Red Sox for 6’9″ Gene Conley. In the next two years, Conley will win 26 games for the Sox, the third Boston team he will play for: Conley started with the Boston Braves in their last year before moving to Milwaukee, and played several seasons with the Celtics as Bill Russell’s backup.
The Reds, who finished 20 games below .500, obtain two players in separate deals, who both will play key roles in the club’s unexpected run to next season’s National League pennant, when they send shortstop Roy McMillan to the Braves for Juan Pizarro and Joey Jay, who will win 21 games for his new team. Pizarro will be packaged by Cincinnati along with Cal McLish to obtain White Sox third baseman Gene Freese, who will hit 26 home runs and drive in 87 runs for the NL champs.
1983 – Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspends convicted Kansas City Royals Willie Wilson, Willie Aikens, and Jerry Martin, and Dodgers pitcher Steve Howe for one season without pay for their use of illegal drugs. The suspensions will be shortened by an arbitrator and lifted on May 15th. Former Royal Vida Blue, who was released during the season and is currently out of a job, is also suspended.
1997 – The Marlins trade ace Kevin Brown to the Padres for 1B Derrek Lee and pitchers Rafael Medina and Steve Hoff. In the next two days the Fish will send P Dennis Cook to the Mets for OF Fletcher Bates and P Scott Comer, and trade IF Kurt Abbott to the Athletics in exchange for P Eric Ludwick as the fire sale dismantlement of the World Champion team begins in earnest.
The Mets trade slick-fielding SS Rey Ordonez to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for two minor leaguers to be named. The Mets also throw in $4.25 million to help offset Ordonez’s $6.25 million salary. Ordonez, who had called the Mets fans “stupid”, departs as 3B Edgardo Alfonzo signs a four-year deal with the Giants, opening up the left side of the Mets infield. Nineteen-year-old Jose Reyes, the Mets’ top prospect, is expected to have first shot at the shortstop’s job.
A four-way trade is announced at the winter meetings in Nashville. The A’s get 1B Erubiel Durazo from the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks get P Elmer Dessens, who sported the 5th best ERA (3.03) in the National League, from the Reds. The Reds get SS Felipe Lopez from the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays get Jason Arnold from Oakland.
After the District of Columbia Council votes to require private financing for at least half of the construction costs of a Nationals’ new ballpark, Major League Baseball suspends all sales of the team’s merchandise and tickets. The decision may make anything with the National League’s newest logo quite a collector’s item.
After offering a four-year deal worth approximately $53 million, the Mets announce officially the club has come to terms with Pedro Martinez (16-9, 3.90 ERA). The former Red Sox ace, who posted a 117-37 record in seven seasons with Boston, criticizes his former team for not being more aggressive in retaining his services.
After the District of Columbia Council votes to require private financing for at least half of the construction costs of a Nationals’ new ballpark, MLB suspends all sales of the team’s merchandise and tickets. The decision may make any item with the National League’s newest logo quite a collector’s item.
Buck O’Neil, who passed away in October, is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously by President George W. Bush for his “excellence and determination both on and off the baseball field.” Accepting the country’s highest civilian honor on behalf of the Negro league baseball legend is his 91 year-old brother, Warren.
The Los Angeles Dodgers sign Hiroki Kuroda for 3 years and between $36 million and $40 million. Kuroda had been the top pitcher in the Central League in 2006 before fading in 2007. He was deemed to be the second-best Japanese free agent seeking to come to the US this winter, after Kosuke Fukudome. Hitoki Iwase, another top free agent, decided to stay in Japan.
The 2007 Hoofdklasse awards are given out. Fausto Álvarez, a 47-year-old Cuban slugger for the Amsterdam Pirates, wins MVP honors. He set a new league home run record in the wooden bat era with 12, easily breaking Ivanon Coffie’s record. David Bergman of Corendon Kinheim, the league leader in wins, is named Pitcher of the Year.
The White Sox acquire OF Juan Pierre from the Dodgers for two minor leaguers. Pierre, signed to a five-year contract worth $44 million before the 2007 season, has become the odd man out in the Dodgers’ outfield with the development of youngsters Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp and the acquisition of superstar slugger Manny Ramirez in 2008.
Hall of Famer Bob Feller, one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, dies at age 92. “Rapid Robert” made his major league debut at 17 and had the best fastball of his generation. He lost a good part of his prime years while serving with great distinction in the US Navy during World War II and spent his entire career with the Cleveland Indians, for whom he posted six 20-win seasons and pitched three no-hitters. He led the Indians to their last World Championship in 1948.
2014 – The Yankees re-sign 3B Chase Headley, acquired in a mid-season trade, to a four-year contract worth $52 million. The deal means that Alex Rodriguez, who is scheduled to be back with the team in 2015 after a one-year suspension due to his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, is being looked at strictly as a designated hitter.
The Cubs and Jon Lester have terms on $155 million contract that will keep the 30 year-old southpaw in Chicago for the next six years. The deal, which includes a record $30 million dollar signing bonus, makes the former Red Sox and A’s ace the second highest-paid by pitcher in baseball history, behind only Clayton Kershaw, who inked a $30.7 million pact with the Dodgers.
Major League Baseball’s goodwill tour to Cuba, the first official MLB visit to the country since 1999, opens with a news conference at Havana’s Hotel Nacional. Players participating in the four days of children’s clinics and charitable events include White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu and Dodger outfielder Yasiel Puig, who both defected from the island nation to play baseball in the United States.
In other moves, the Angels continue to be aggressive on the market, signing free agent SS Zack Cozart to a three-year contract. With defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons already on board, Cozart will likely move to 3B. The Rangers obtain P Matt Moore from the Giants for a pair of minor leaguers and the Rockies sign free agent reliever Bryan Shaw.
2018 – The amounts due for luxury tax payments this year are announced, and the World Series champions Red Sox lead the pack, being assessed a penalty of almost $12 million for exceeding payroll limits. The only other team over the threshold are the Nationals, who owe $2.3 million. In addition to the amount of the fine, the Red Sox will see their top pick in the 2019 amateur draft drop by 10 places as a result of the assessment, under a newly-adopted clause.
2016 – Astros sign 40-year-old outfielder Carlos Beltran to a one-year deal for $16 million. Beltran becomes the Designated Hitter, batting .231 with 14 homers, and providing veteran leadership to the team’s many Latin players. His reward is to close out his career with the Worlds Championship he had previously lacked.