1882 – James H. Dudley, manager of a top black club in Richmond, VA, initiates discussion concerning the formation of a black league with teams from New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Washington, DC, and Richmond. On February 10, 1883, Pittsburgh manager W.C. Lee expresses interest in the plan, but nothing comes of it.
1923 – Traveling to Chicago for the Major League meetings, Wild Bill Donovan, New Haven manager, is killed in a train wreck. Donovan was a pitcher for Detroit and manager for the Yankees and Phils. New Haven president George Weiss had swapped berths with Donovan and escapes with a minor injury. Phils owner William F. Baker is also on the train, but he is unhurt.
1931 – Baseball owners, fearful of the effects of the Depression, vote to cut squads from 25 players to 23. Both leagues will stop awarding MVP trophies. The National League continues to prohibit uniform numbers. The NL loans the Phillies $35,000 and loans Judge Emil Fuchs, owner of the Braves, $20,000 secured by his stock. Fuchs’s finances are such that he won’t even pay the interest from 1935 to 1937, and will file for bankruptcy in 1938, three years after retiring from the Braves.
1947 – The Indians pick up Johnny Berardino from the Browns for Catfish Metkovich and $50,000. Because of a broken finger, Metkovich will be returned to Cleveland, and the Indians will add another $15,000 to complete the deal. At the end of 1952, Berardino will drop baseball as well as the 2nd “r” in his name, and start a successful acting career in Hollywood.
The Phils purchase veteran Frankie Baumholtz from the Cubs. Frankie will play in 76 games next year without an extra-base hit, a National League record that will not be topped. Red Sox Mike McNally, in 1916, played in 87 games without an long hit, a record Luis Gomez will break with 89 games in 1975.
One day after announcing that manager Bob Lemon will return next season, the Yankees announce that former manager Gene Michael, whom Lemon replaced on September 6th, will return as manager for the 1983 season. They won’t wait that long, as Lemon will give way to Michael after only 14 games, and Michael himself will be gone before the end of the year.
In other free agent signings, the Red Sox put OF Andre Dawson under contract for two years, the Giants sign OF Dave Martinez, the Cubs sign P Randy Myers, who had lost his closer role with San Diego for a month after giving up a game-tying home run to Dawson on June 2nd, to a three-year contract, and the Dodgers sign free agent P Todd Worrell to a three-year contract.
Florida Marlins president Carl Barger dies from a heart attack at age 62. Despite the pall cast over the gathering by the death, the players’ agents scoop up $228 million dollars worth of contracts in the five days of the winter meetings. Because of the auction-like atmosphere, the owners will terminate the meetings for the next six years.
1997 – Free agent signings today include IF Jack Howell with the Astros, P Orel Hershiser with the Giants, P Tom Candiotti with the Athletics, OF Luis Gonzalez with the Tigers, SS Jeff Blauser with the Cubs, 3B Wade Boggs with the Devil Rays and P Dennis Eckersley who returns to Boston, after pitching there from 1978 to 1984.
2000 – At a Coors Field press conference, the Rockies announce the signing of free agent starting pitcher Mike Hampton to an eight-year, $123.8 million contract. The southpaw will compile a 21-28 record during his two-year tenure with Colorado before being unloaded on the Braves before the 2003 season.
The Mets sign Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million contract, the team’s richest free-agent deal since Sandy Alderson became the GM in 2010. The 32 year-old outfielder, who hit 84 homers in two seasons for the Yankees before being limited to 61 games last year due to injuries, is expected to provide some much-needed power for the team that ranked 25th in the long ball in 2013.