1880 – At the annual National League meeting, the league rejects the Washington Nationals’ bid for admission, electing Detroit instead, although there is no established club there. The Michigan city is chosen for geographic reasons, since its 1880 population (116,340) is smaller than both Washington’s (147,293) and Cincinnati’s (255,139), the city being replaced.
1881 – The National League adopts a few new playing rules: the three-foot corridor along the first base line is adopted for the first time; runners can no longer be put out returning to their bases after a foul ball not caught; the fine for pitchers hitting batters with pitches is repealed; the “block ball” rule allowing runners to take as many bases as possible on balls going into the crowd, the fielding team being able to put them out only after returning the ball to the pitcher in his box, is also repealed.
1899 – Louisville president Barney Dreyfuss transfers to the Pittsburgh club (of which he is part owner) most of his top stars, including player-manager Fred Clarke, Hans Wagner, Claude Ritchey, Tommy Leach, Rube Waddell, and Deacon Phillippe. Louisville is a likely candidate in the reduction of National League franchises from 12 to 8.
Afraid of losing his unsigned second baseman to the upstart Federal League, Connie Mack sells Eddie Collins to the White Sox for the hefty sum of $50,000. The A’s have already lost Eddie Plank and Chief Bender to the new league. The deal breaks up the A’s “$100,000 infield” and raises conjecture that Mack, too, will leave to manage the Yankees. Ban Johnson reportedly had a hand in the negotiations, sending the A’s star to counter the box office effect of the Chifeds signing Walter Johnson.
At the December meeting of both leagues in Cincinnati, Judge Landis votes against all amendments favorable to farm systems. The Rules committee, with an eye towards raising declining batting averages, votes to restore the sacrifice fly for 1940. Seven American League owners push through a new rule barring the American League champion from making any trades within the league. Clearly aimed at the Yankees, winners of the last four World Series, the National League owners decline to vote it for their league.
1947 – In a move that will anchor The Boys of Summer, Brooklyn acquires SS Billy Cox, P Preacher Roe, and infielder Gene Mauch from Pittsburgh for pitchers Vic Lombardi, Hal Gregg, and former batting champ, 37-year-old Dixie Walker. In the spring Walker had requested in writing to be traded, but then changed his mind.
The Mets purchase outfielder Richie Ashburn from the Cubs. The veteran outfielder, who will be the club’s first-ever representative on the National League’s All-Star team, will be given a boat after being named the Most Valuable Player of the last-place team, which unfortunately will sink before he uses it.
The Yankees trade two-time MVP Roger Maris to the Cardinals for third baseman Charley Smith. The former Bronx Bomber outfielder will play a key role in the Redbirds’ World Championship next season and will help the club win another pennant the following year, while New York’s newest infielder will hit only .224 during his two-year tenure in New York.
1977 – The Rangers engineer a series of deals with the Braves, Mets, and Pirates, unloading a total of six players and getting three in return. Among those involved are 1B Willie Montanez (from Atlanta to New York), Bert Blyleven (from Texas to Pittsburgh), Al Oliver (from Pittsburgh to Texas), and 1B John Milner (from NY to Pittsburgh).
1987 – Cincinnati trades OF Dave Parker to the A’s for pitchers Jose Rijo and Tim Birtsas, the Braves trade SS Rafael Ramirez to the Astros for a pair of minor leaguers, and in the day’s biggest (and most lopsided) deal, the Cubs send dominating reliever Lee Smith to the Red Sox for pitchers Al Nipper and Calvin Schiraldi.
Pitcher Bruce Hurst, considered the cream of this year’s free agent crop, signs a three-year contract with the Padres. The Yankees sign free-agent pitcher Andy Hawkins, and the Expos trade P John Dopson and SS Luis Rivera to Boston for SS Spike Owen, and OF Tracy Jones to San Francisco for OF-1B Mike Aldrete.
Brewer reliever Julio Machado is arrested for murder in Venezuela. Machado is accused of shooting a woman following an auto accident between his car and a car in which the woman was a passenger. Machado will be convicted and, following appeals, be sentenced to 12 years in prison in 1996. He will never again play in the major leagues.
The Indians sign free agent OF Kenny Lofton to a three-year contract, and free agent P Dwight Gooden to a two-year pact. They also trade OF Marquis Grissom and P Jeff Juden to the Brewers in exchange for P Ben McDonald, Ron Villone, and Mike Fetters. Fetters is then sent to the Athletics in exchange for P Steve Karsay.
After signing the two-time Gold Glove shortstop to a four-year, $40 million deal, the Red Sox trade Edgar Renteria to the Braves for third base prospect Andy Marte. The 30-year-old Colombian infielder, who led the majors with 30 errors last season, will help to fill the void created when free agent Rafael Furcal signed with the Dodgers earlier this week.
In U.S. District court, Barry Bonds pleads not guilty to five felony charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Four years ago, the sworn testimony to a grand jury given by the new home run king, in which he denied using performance-enhancing drugs, is now being challenged by the federal government
Greg Maddux announces his retirement. The four-time Cy Young Award winner set all-time records for putouts by a pitcher (546), double plays (98) and seasons with 15+ wins (18). He finishes with a record of 355-227 with a 3.16 ERA (132 ERA+) and ranks in the top 10 all time in wins (8th) and starts (740, 4th). Maddux, like 354-game winner Roger Clemens, began his career while sportswriters were bemoaning the fact that no one would ever reach 300 wins again.
The Italian Baseball League gives out its 2009 awards. The MVP is Fortitudo Bologna’s Eddy Garabito. All-Stars are C Juan Pablo Angrisano, 1B Richard Austin, 2B Francesco Imperiali, SS Juan Carlos Infante, 3B David Sheldon, RF Mario Chiarini, CF Garabito, LF Lorenzo Avagnina, DH Max De Biase, UT Riccardo Suardi, SP Tiago Da Silva, RF Fabio Milano, Manager Marco Nanni and Umpire Alessandro Cappuccini. Five new people are inducted into the Italian Baseball Hall of Fame: slugger Roberto Bianchi, pitcher and manager Franco Ludovisi, umpire Sante De Francheschi, scorekeeper Osvaldo Faraone and executive Mario Bretto.
The first blockbuster deal of the winter meetings is a three-team effort: the Yankees receive CF Curtis Granderson, the Diamondbacks get Ps Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson, and the Tigers obtain Ps Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth and Phil Coke and OF prospect Austin Jackson. The deal will be beneficial to all three teams.
Chone Figgins (.298, 5, 54) and the Mariners finalized the $36 million, four-year deal which will bring the former L.A. Angel to Seattle. The 31 year-old infielder, who primarily played third, will switch to a new position if free-agent Adrian Beltre, the team’s current third baseman, returns to the team after an injury-plagued season.
The Tampa Bay Rays are at the center of dealings at the Winter Meetings today. Three of the starters from last season’s team, which posted the best record in the major leagues, change uniforms: OF Carl Crawford signs a seven-year, $142 million deal with Boston, 1B Carlos Pena inks a one-year deal with the Cubs, and the Rays trade SS Jason Bartlett to San Diego for two young pitchers, Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell. With P Joaquin Benoit signing with Detroit as a free agent last month, and closer Rafael Soriano expected to follow suit shortly, the team will have a very different look next year.
The Italian Baseball League awards for 2010 are given out. 39-year-old Orlando Muñoz of Parma edges out Carlos Duran for the MVP, 31.6% to 30.7% even though Duran had won the first Triple Crown in Italy in 19 years. Other award winners include Manager of the Year Gilberto Gerali, Umpire of the Year Pierfranco Leone, Robert Fontana Award winner David Sheldon and Best Young Player Stefano De Simoni. All-Stars are Juan Pablo Angrisano, 1B Jairo Ramos Gizzi, 2B Davide Dallospedale, SS Marco Yepez, 3B Muñoz, RF Mario Chiarini, CF Duran, LF De Simoni, DH Max De Biase and P Marco Grifantini.
Three-time MVP Award-winning 1B Albert Pujols signs a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Angels, leaving the St. Louis Cardinals after 11 seasons. He signs for 10 years and $254 million, the second-largest deal ever. Angels GM Jerry Dipoto is not done however: he also inks two-time All-Star P C.J. Wilson to a five-year deal worth $77.5 million. As a measure of comparison, Angels owner Arte Moreno bought the club for only $183 million in 2003.
The 2011 Rule V draft is held to close out this year’s Winter Meetings in Dallas, TX. Houston selects right-handed reliever Rhiner Cruz from the Mets with the top pick, one of 8 pitchers taken in the major league phase of the draft. Among the few well-known names selected is former top pitching prospect Aaron Poreda, drafted by the Pirates from the Padres in the minor league portion of the draft.
The 2011 Italian baseball and softball awards ceremony is held. The MVP goes to first baseman Willie Vasquez of San Marino, a former Yankees farmhand. Also honored as All-Stars are C Kelly Ramos, 2B Francesco Imperiali, SS Anthony Granato, 3B Giuseppe Mazzanti, RF Mario Chiarini, CF Carlos Duran, LF Lorenzo Avagnina, SP Kris Wilson and RP Darwin Cubillan (the pitcher of the year). Mattia Reginato is named the top utility man, Ruggero Bagialemani the manager of the year and Pierfranco Leone umpire of the year. Gold Gloves go to Ramos, 1B Alex Sambucci, 2B Alessandro Vaglio, Granato, 3B Andrea Sgnaolin, LF Stefano De Simoni, CF Ennio Retrosi, RF Mario Chiarini and P Roberto Corradini. Winning entry into the Italian Baseball Hall of Fame are pitcher Paolo Ceccaroli and umpire Francesco Neto, while Alessandra Cirelli is enshrined in softball.
25-year-old Yu Darvish, star pitcher of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, requests that his name be placed on the posting system. He is likely to attract the largest bid through the process since the Boston Red Sox landed Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006. Indeed, new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine immediately calls Darvish “one of the four best pitchers in baseball”.
Italy also hands its own annual awards. Danilo Sanchez of Godo wins the MVP, while Pierfranco Leone is named umpire of the year and Doriano Bindi Manager of the Year. All-Stars are C Simone Albanese, 1B Renato Imperiali, 2B Francesco Imperiali, SS Juan Carlos Infante, 3B Giuseppe Mazzanti, RF Mario Chiarini, CF Carlos Duran, LF Lorenzo Avagnina and utility man Gabriele Ermini. The Gold Gloves go to P Juan Figueroa, C Juan Pablo Angrisano, 1B Luca Bischeri, 2B Alessandro Vaglio, SS Jack Santora, 3B Andrea D’Amico, RF Chiarini, CF Leonardo De Donno and LF Avagnina. Pitchers Enzo Lauri and Alfredo Lauri are inducted into the Italian Baseball Hall of Fame.
The White Sox make a big splash at the winter meetings in San Diego, CA as they sign closer David Robertson from the Yankees for four years and $46 million and are also rumored to have acquired P Jeff Samardzija from Oakland for 3B Marcus Semien, P Chris Bassitt and another prospect. That trade will be finalized on December 9th, with P Michael Ynoa also headed to Chicago, while C Josh Phegley and 1B Rangel Ravelo go to Oakland.
The Winter Meetings are in full swing in Nashville, TN, and a number of deals are announced. The Cubs sign free agent 2B Ben Zobrist to a four-year deal, then trade incumbent Starlin Castro to the Yankees in return for P Adam Warren and a player to be named to clear out a starting spot for him. In another trade, the Diamondbacks acquire Ps Shelby Miller and Gabe Speier from Atlanta, but the price is steep: starting OF Ender Inciarte, SS Dansby Swanson, the top pick in the 2015 amateur draft, and minor league P Aaron Blair. The Cardinals trade OF Jon Jay to San Diego for 2B Jedd Gyorko, the Mariners land P Evan Scribner from Oakland for minor league P Trey Cochran-Gill, while C Tyler Flowers signs with Atlanta for two years and P Mark Lowe joins the Tigers, also on a two-year deal.
The KBO Gold Glove winners for 2015 are announced, with the NC Dinos taking four of the ten awards. Seung-yeop Lee wins his 10th award, this time at DH, becoming the first ten-time winner as well as the oldest (at age 39). Other winners are Eric Hacker (P), Eui-ji Yang (C), Eric Thames (1B), Yamaico Navarro (2B), Jae-ho Kim (SS), Seok-min Park (3B), Hyun-soo Kim (OF), Sung-bum Na (OF) and Han-joon Yoo (OF).
Amanda Hopkins is hired by the A’s as a full-time major league scout, becoming the first female to hold that position in over seventy years. The 22 year-old former Central Washington University softball captain, whose dad is a scout, joins Edith Houghton and Bessie Largent, who held similar positions with the Phillies and White Sox, respectively, in the 1930s and 1940s.
The news out of the winter meetings in National Harbor, MD is that the Yankees have brought back closer Aroldis Chapman on a five-year, $86 million contract. The Yankees sent Chapman to the Cubs at last year’s trading deadline in return for a boatload of prospects; the fireballer then helped the Cubs clinch their first World Series title in over a century before returning to the Bronx Bombers as a free agent.
In the annual Rule 5 draft, the Padres end up with the top three picks. Picking third, they make pre-arranged deals with the Twins and Reds, who hold the first two draft slots and select P Miguel Diaz and C Luis Torrens, respectively. Both teams send their selections San Diego’s way and with their own pick, the Pads then select IF Allen Cordoba, completing the unprecedented trifecta.
In one of the most anticipated signings of this off-season, P/DH Shohei Ohtani agrees to a deal with the Angels. Because he is not yet 25, international bonus rules apply to him, so the deal will be for a paltry $2.32 million and he will be paid the major league minimum salary his first season. The Angels will need to pay his former team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, the $20 million posting fee, however. He will go on to win Rookie of the Year honors.
2018 – The Dutch Baseball and Softball Hall of Fame announces two new members, Robert Eenhoorn and Fred van Groningen Schinkel. Eenhoorn played in the major leagues and Olympics and managed the Dutch national team among other roles, while van Groningen Schinkel is the first umpire inducted in 29 years; he had worked two Olympics, a World Baseball Classic and set the Hoofdklasse record for games umpired (over 1,200; no one else had topped 1,000) and seasons umpired (46).
2011 – Jeff Luhnow’s first player move as General Manager is to select reliever Rhiner Cruz from the Mets to open the Rule V draft. But his best move comes later that day when he drafts pitcher Marco Duarte from the Rockies organization and then swaps him to Boston for infielder Marwin Gonzalez. The switch-hitting utility player becomes a key member of the 2017 World Championship squad.