1884 – P/IF Terry Larkin, released from prison after serving several months for beating his wife and shooting a policeman, is rearrested for threatening to shoot his father. Larkin will eventually be freed to conclude his major league career this year, playing for the Washington Nationals and the Richmond Virginians in the American Association.
1891 – American Association owners dismiss league President Allen W. Thurman and replace him with Louis Kramer of Cincinnati. The owners also denounce the National Agreement, launching a new war with the rival National League. The owners are unhappy with Thurman’s decision in the Lou Bierbauer case. In his capacity as Chairman of the National Board of Control which decides disputes under the National Agreement, he ruled that the AA’s Philadelphia Athletics no longer had reserve rights over Bierbauer, who jumped from the Athletics to the Players League in 1890, and then refused to return to his old team after the Players League folded.
In their first significant trade since moving from St. Louis, the Orioles, formerly known as the Browns, exchange outfielders with the Senators, sending Roy Sievers to Washington for Gil Conan. Sievers will spend five solid seasons in the nation’s capital, making the All-Star squad twice, and Conan, playing less than two seasons in Baltimore, compiles a .266 batting average with three home runs, appearing in 155 games.
Longtime baseball announcer Harry Caray dies at the age of 84 after suffering a heart attack four days earlier while having Valentine’s Day dinner with his wife, Dutchie. The colorful “Mayor of Rush Street” started his career in 1945 with the Cardinals and also did play-by-play for the A’s, White Sox, and the Cubs during his 52 years in the broadcast booth.
Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray dies four days after collapsing at a Valentine’s Day supper. Caray, age 84, was known, among other things, for leading the fans in a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th-inning stretch at Wrigley Field. He previously broadcast the games of the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox in a career that spanned half a century.
2005 – After five months of captivity in a Venezuelan jungle surrounded by explosives to keep her from escaping, Ugueth Urbina’s mother, Maura Villarreal, is rescued during a daring eight-hour police raid. The kidnappers had demanded a $6 million ransom from the Tigers relief pitcher for his mom’s freedom.
At 11:25 a.m., the last remaining piece of Shea Stadium, the ramp to section 5, is demolished, marking the end of the New York venue where the Mets played for 44 years. The footprint of the old ballpark will become a parking lot for the team’s new home, the $800-million Citi Field, which will open in April.
The Cleveland Indians shake up their front office: they announce that GM Mark Shapiro will become team President at the end of the season, when his assistant Chris Antonetti becomes General Manager. Current President Paul Dolan, the son of owner Larry Dolan, will become Chairman and CEO in his father’s place. Antonetti, like newly-appointed Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, began his career as an intern with the Montreal Expos. He joined the former franchise in 1997, before moving to the Indians in 1999, where he has held a number of front office positions.
The Dodgers offer former Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagné a minor league contract. One of LA’s most popular players in the 2000s, Gagné saw his career hit the skids following elbow and back surgeries in 2005 and 2006, then was named in the Mitchell Report in 2007. Last season, he pitched for the Québec Capitales of the independent Can-Am Association, but he will fail in his attempt to return to the big leagues.
The Orioles officially announce the signing of Vladimir Guerrero after the 36 year-old passed his physical. The team’s new everyday designated hitter, who batted .300 with 29 homers and 115 RBIs with the American League Champion Rangers last season, agrees to a one-year, $8 million deal to play in Baltimore.
In the first game of the season, Garrett Wittels goes 0-for-4 against Southeastern Louisiana, leaving the Florida International University junior two games short of Robin Ventura’s Division l record of hitting in 58 consecutive games, established by the former major leaguer in 1987. The overall NCAA mark is 60 straight games, set by Damian Costantino playing for Division III Salve Regina from 2001-03.
OF Jim Edmonds announces his retirement for the second time, two weeks after signing a minor league contract with the Cardinals, because of an achilles tendon injury he sustained while trotting out a home run on September 21st in what turned out to be the last at-bat of his career. He had first retired after the 2008 season, then came back last year to play with Milwaukee and Cincinnati when he hit .276 with 11 home runs and 23 RBI.
SS Garrett Wittels of Florida International University goes hitless in a game against Southeastern Louisiana University, ending his hitting streak at 56 games, two shy of the NCAA Division I record of 58 games set by Robin Ventura of Oklahoma State University in 1987. Wittels’ streak began on February 10, 2010 and lasted all of last season before ending in this year’s season opener.
The Orioles clear a spot on their roster for free agent DH Vladimir Guerrero, whose contract is finalized today, by placing P Alfredo Simon on the restricted list. Simon is still in custody in the Dominican Republic following a shooting death on New Year’s Eve, but the O’s are now cautiously optimistic that he may be released within 10 days as a result of developments in the investigation into the shooting that could clear him as a suspect.