1878 – The professional Baseball League of Cuba begins play in Havana, making the Cuban Winter League the world’s second oldest professional baseball organization, trailing North America’s National League in seniority by only two seasons. Havana wins the first game, 21 – 20, over Almendares in a contest featuring ten men to a side (the extra position was “right short”). The inaugural Cuban championship consists of only three clubs – Havana, Matanzas, Almendares – and Havana wins the trophy with a 4-0-1 record behind the leadership of manager and captain Steve Bellan.
1890 – In the Players League, after the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Burghers clubs combine with their National League rivals, Al Spalding buys out Chicago’s PL backer, John Addison, for $18,000, some of which goes to pay off unpaid salaries and reimburse players half of their investments. Spalding gets the club’s grandstand, equipment, and player contracts.
1917 – The Philadelphia Phillies keep swapping with the Chicago Cubs, this month sending OF Dode Paskert, a seven-year veteran, to Chicago for slugger Cy Williams. Williams will flourish in the Baker Bowl, and will hit 222 home runs for the Phillies over the next 13 years. Paskert will not enjoy the same success at Wrigley Field.
The New York Times reports Curt Flood will challenge the reserve clause by suing major league baseball. The Cardinals’ outfielder’s case, which will ultimately be appealed unsuccessfully in the U.S. Supreme Court, will pave the way for the players to overturn baseball’s reserve clause in their attempt to gain free agency.
Three blocks away from the blast, thousands of spectators at Paul Brown Stadium cheer as 1,275 pounds of explosives implodes Cinergy Field, which was opened in 1970, sending a huge dust cloud down the Ohio River. The structure, formerly known as “Riverfront Stadium”, was the site where Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth’s career 714 home run record on Opening Day in 1974, and Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb’s all-time 4,189 hits record in 1985. The site will become the western concourse of Great American Ball Park and will include the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame when it opens in the 2004 season.
Sending a huge dust cloud down the Ohio River, Cinergy Field, formerly known as Riverfront Stadium, is imploded with 1,275 pounds of explosives. The former home of the Reds was the site where Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth’s career home run record on Opening Day in 1974, and Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb’s all-time hits record in 1985.
2005 – Elrod Hendricks is remembered as a “kind, wonderful person” today at a funeral attended by thousands in honor of the man who spent nearly four decades as a catcher and coach with the Baltimore Orioles. Baseball stars Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Lee May, and former Orioles managers Earl Weaver and Mike Hargrove are among those filling the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in tribute to Hendricks, who died December 21st of a heart attack at age 64.
In an attempt to permit Cuba to participate in the 16-team World Baseball Classic, Venezuela offers to host the Group C teams in place of the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and suggests the finals be played in Canada, rather than in San Diego’s Petco Park. The changes in venue would mean Castro’s charges would avoid playing on U.S. soil, and not be subject to the U.S. Treasury Department regulations which ban the team due to American trade and financial embargoes.