1942 – Hal Trosky, whose season ended last August when he injured his finger, and suffering from migraine headaches that cannot be treated, retires as first baseman of the Indians. Trosky will come back to play for the Chicago White Sox in 1944 and 1946, but the Hall of Fame-type brilliance he showed in the 1930s is gone.
1946 – Giants OF Danny Gardella becomes the first major leaguer to announce he is jumping to the “outlaw” Mexican League, the first shot in the series of events that will dominate baseball even more than the return of all the war veterans. His attempt to return to Major League Baseball a few years later will initiate a major court battle.
After being hit by enemy fire during a combat mission, Ted Williams safely crash-lands his Panther jet at the Suwon’s K-13 Airbase in Korea, skidding along the airstrip for nearly a mile before coming to a stop. The midnight-blue F9F is a total wreck, but the Marine reservist, who quickly evacuates the burning aircraft, suffers only minor injuries.
1954 – 19-year-old Roberto Clemente signs with the Brooklyn Dodgers for one year at $5,000 with a $10,000 signing bonus. The Dodgers thus beat out a number of other clubs in the Clemente sweepstakes. They’ve outspent the prior two entrants, their cross-river rivals in Manhattan and the Bronx, and simply beaten the Milwaukee Braves to the punch. By far the biggest spenders of the bunch (by all accounts exceeding Brooklyn’s offer by at least 150%), the Braves were just a tad tardy, Clemente having already accepted the Dodgers’ terms. The Dodgers may have won the first battle, but they will lose Clemente’s services in one year when they fail to protect him in the 1954 Rule V Draft.
1957 – The Kansas City Athletics ship pitchers Art Ditmar, Bobby Shantz, and Jack McMahan, and infielders Clete Boyer, Curt Roberts and Wayne Belardi to the Yankees. In return they receive pitchers Mickey McDermott, Tom Morgan, Rip Coleman and Jack Urban, OF Irv Noren, plus infielders Billy Hunter and Milt Graff. Roberts will not go to New York City till May 4th, while Boyer goes a month later, conveniently just when his mandatory service time in the majors as a result of the bonus rule expires. Hunter and Urban don’t switch until April 5th. The veteran Shantz and Boyer will be valuable pick-ups for New York, with Shantz leading the American League in ERA this year, and Boyer a tough defensive 3B for eight years in pinstripes. The A’s will eventually admit that when they signed Boyer for a $40,000 bonus in 1955, it was on behalf of the Yankees, with the understanding that they’d ship him to NY as soon as he became eligible to be sent down to the minors.
“….I have decided on the basis of facts developed at these conferences that Mr. McLain’s involvement in 1967 bookmaking activities and his associations at that time leave me no alternative but to suspend him from all organized baseball activities pending the completion of my review of his situation.” -BOWIE KUHN,commissioner of baseball announcing Denny McLain’s suspension. After a five-and-a-half-hour meeting with Denny McLain, the pitcher’s lawyer, William Aiken, and baseball’s security chief, Henry Fitzgibbon, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspends the Tigers right-hander indefinitely for bookmaking and his associations at that time. The 1968 Cy Young Award recipient appeared voluntarily before a Federal grand jury in Detroit yesterday.
1970 – Commissioner Bowie Kuhn announces the suspension of Detroit Tigers ace Denny McLain, effective April 1st, for McLain’s alleged involvement in a bookmaking operation. The suspension will last three months, setting off what will basically be a lost season for the two-time Cy Young Award winner.
1977 – The Oakland A’s sell P Paul Lindblad to the Texas Rangers for $400,000, calling into question Bowie Kuhn’s policy on player sales. Kuhn had previously voided an Oakland sale of players (on June 18, 1976) as “not being in the best interest of baseball,” but had not specified the maximum amount allowable in a player sale.
After signing a contract as a free agent with the A’s less than a month ago, 37 year-old Vida Blue unexpectedly retires from baseball. The veteran southpaw, who played a significant role in the A’s consecutive world championships in 1972, 1973, and 1974, compiled a 209-161 record during his 17-year major league career, which also included stints with the Giants and Royals.
In a deal which includes a club option worth $10 million, sophomore Ian Kinsler (.286, 14, 55) signs a five-year, $22 million contract with the Rangers. With the signing of the 24 year-old second baseman and last season’s contract extension for All-Star shortstop Michael Young, Texas has locked up the middle of their infield through 2013.
Before a 3-1 loss to the Devils at the Bell Centre, the NHL’s Canadiens pay an emotional tribute to the late Gary Carter with a five-minute video set to The Eagles’ New Kid in Town. The players don No. 8 Carter jerseys during warmups, and the team’s mascot Youppi!, who once represented the city’s National League team, wears the Expos colors in place of his usual bleu-blanc-rouge (blue, white, and red), honoring the memory of the only Montreal player enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Avoiding arbitration, Homer Bailey (11-12, 3.49) and the Reds agree to a $105 million, six-year deal, including a $25 million mutual option for 2020. The 27 year-old starter from Texas, the author of two major league no-hitters, will continue to be part of Cincinnati’s young rotation that includes Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and southpaw Tony Cingrani, who are all under the age of 30.
2016 – The Federal Bureau of Investigations arrests player agent Bart Hernandez on charges of human trafficking and conspiracy stemming from his association with two convicted fraudsters and their role in extorting large amounts of money from Cuban players seeking to defect to the United States. A lawsuit filed by OF Leonys Martin prompted the FBI investigation.
Commissioner Rob Manfred announces that he has come to an agreement with the Players Association on pace of play initiatives. Contrary to what he had announced a month earlier, the Commissioner retreats from his threat of imposing a pitch clock unilaterally. However, the two sides agree to place limits on the number of mound visits and to reduce the allotted time between innings.
High-ticket free agents continue to find a home now that spring training is under way. Today, the Red Sox sign slugging OF J.D. Martinez to a five-year contract worth $110 million. For their part, the Diamondbacks, Martinez’s former team, who were hoping to retain him, choose a more modest path as a replacement in the outfield, signing Jarrod Dyson for two years and $7.5 million.
2019 – Manny Machado signs the biggest free agent contract in history, agreeing to a ten-year deal worth $300 million with the San Diego Padres. This tops the $275 million given by the Yankees to Alex Rodriguez following the 2007 season. There were many teams interested in the infielder’s services, but only the unlikely Padres, in the middle of a rebuild, were willing to to give the kind of long-term commitment that Machado was seeking.
2008 – The first full day of spring training is a rough one for a trio of Astros. Outfielder Hunter Pence arrives with cuts all over his hands and knees after crashing through a sliding glass door while leaving the hot tub of his rental home. Shortstop Miguel Tejada is grilled by the press about his legal troubles stemming from the Mitchell Report and infielder Mark Loretta learns he has lost his arbitration case, receiving $2.75 million in salary instead of the $4.9 million he sought.
1999 – Astros General Manager Gerry Hunsicker announces that outfielder Moises Alou has suffered a knee injury while working out in the Dominican Republic. While initial reports are optimistic, Alou is lost for the entire season. Alou claims he hurt the knee while running on a treadmill but management expresses some skepticism.