John A. Hillerich is issued a patent which devises a method of hardening the surface of a bat, improving the wood’s ability to drive a baseball and to preserve the material from checking, chipping, or splintering on its surface from exposure to the sun or the weather. The name “Louisville Slugger” had become the Kentuckian’s business registered trademark in 1894.
1913 – The Sporting News reports that 15 men died from baseball injuries during the 1913 season, according to a list compiled by J.R. Vickery of Chicago. The only name given is that of J. Whetstone of New Orleans, who suffered “a broken spine sustained in sliding to a base”; all other fatalities were the result of foul tips or pitched balls. The list “does not include a major league player or even a minor league athlete of sufficient experience to be widely known.”
A landmark decision by Peter Seitz begins a new era in major league baseball as the arbitrator’s judgment makes pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally the first true free-agents in baseball history. After each played for their team, the Dodgers and Expos respectively, without signing a contract during their option year, they challenged the owners’ assumption that the reserve clause meant one-year contracts were automatically renewed.
Thousands of fans, including former President Richard Nixon and Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, attend a memorial mass conducted by John Cardinal O’Connor at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral held for Roger Maris. The moving service for the recently deceased ballplayer is arranged by Yankee owner George Steinbrenner.
1995 – The St. Louis Cardinals sign a pair of free agents, outfielder Ron Gant and pitcher Andy Benes. Gant hit 29 home runs and stole 23 bases for Cincinnati, and Benes won 11 games while splitting his season between San Diego and Seattle. Benes will join younger brother Alan in the Cardinals’ rotation.
The Cubs trade outfielder Doug Glanville to the Phillies for second baseman Mickey Morandini. Chicago’s new infielder will spend two years with the team, hitting a respectable .272 in 298 games, and Glanville, who will become a clubhouse leader, will play the next six seasons in Philadelphia, enjoying his most productive years in the majors as a fine defensive outfielder who can handle a bat and steal bases.
2005 – Several free agents agree to contracts terms: OF Johnny Damon with the New York Yankees (four-year); OF Juan Encarnación (three-year) and 2B Junior Spivey (one-year) with the St. Louis Cardinals; OF Reggie Sanders (two-years) and P Joe Mays (one-year) with the Kansas City Royals; C John Flaherty with the Boston Red Sox (one-year); OF Endy Chavez with the New York Mets (one-year), and IF Jose Vizcaino with the San Francisco Giants (one-year).
Versatile outfielder Coco Crisp (.228, 3, 14), who can play all three spots in the outfield, signs a $5.25 million, one-year contract with the A’s. The 30 year-old flychaser underwent surgery on both shoulders last season, limiting his playing time to only 49 games with the Royals, who declined an $8 million option on the speedy switch-hitter from California.
Nick Johnson, finalizing a $5.75 million, one-year deal, returns to the Yankees to become the team’s designated hitter, a void created by the departure of Hideki Matsui. Prior to the start of the 2004 season, the Bronx Bombers dealt the 31 year-old first baseman to the Expos in exchange for right-handed starter Javier Vazquez, who was recently reacquired by the club in a trade with Atlanta.
In player moves today, the Rangers sign veteran lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes, an All-Star for the first time at age 41 last year; the Rockies trade two minor leaguers, Wes Musick and Jonnathan Aristil, to Houston to land reliever Matt Lindstrom; and the Diamondbacks sell utility player Rusty Ryal to the Yomiuri Giants.
A U.S. District Court judge in Delaware deals a blow to Fox Sports in its quest to maintain an exclusive hold on broadcast rights for the Los Angeles Dodgers for another year. Judge Leonard Stark states that he will likely overturn a lower court ruling that authorized this provision, because the team’s bankrupt status does not allow it to conclude deals that affect the long term, since the team is to be sold by April 30, 2012. The deal would have prevented the new Dodgers’ owners from approaching competitors to bid for the broadcast rights before November 30th and would have given Fox the right of first refusal on any deal.
1999 – Lefthander Mike Hampton and outfielder Derek Bell are traded to the Mets for pitcher Octavio Dotel and outfielder Roger Cedeno. It’s primarily a financial move that causes the Astros to part with their 22-game winner. While Dotel would flourish, Cedeno would be gone after one season in Houston, batting .282 in 74 games.
1993 – Jim “Doc” Ewell dies of a heart attack during surgery at Methodist Hospital. The 74-year-old trainer had been with Houston since the beginning in 1962 and had worked, before that, for the Kansas City Athletics and the New York Yankees. He did not limit himself to baseball players, working also in football, basketball, boxing, tennis and gymnastics.