1895 – Responding to the complaints of senior citizens like Cap Anson, the National League restricts the size of gloves for all fielders, save catchers and first basemen, to 10 ounces, with a maximum circumference of 14 inches around the palm. In other words, less than 4 1/2 inches across. The NL also rescinds the rule forbidding “intentional discoloring” of the ball, thus allowing players to dirty the baseball to their satisfaction.
1901 – The National League Rules Committee decrees that all foul balls are to count as strikes, except after two strikes. To cut the cost of lost foul balls, the committee urges that batsmen who foul off good strikes are to be disciplined. The American League will not adopt this rule for several years. Other new rules: catchers must play within 10 feet of the batter; a ball will be called if the pitcher does not throw to a ready and waiting batter within 20 seconds, and players using indecent or improper language will be banished by the umpire. A ball will be called when a batter is hit by a pitch, but, in a mail vote, the owners will rescind this in April, and a HBP will earn a batter first base.
Pirates legendary third baseman Pie Traynor and left-hander Herb Pennock are elected by the BBWAA to the Hall of Fame. The Pittsburgh infielder spent his entire 17-year career in the Steel City, compiling a .320 lifetime batting average, and the ‘Knight of Kennett Square’ posted a .590 win-loss percentage during his 22 seasons in the majors, including a 162-90 stint for the Yankees from 1923-1933.
1989 – Washington State University first baseman John Olerud undergoes brain surgery for the removal of an aneurysm. The left-handed first baseman had collapsed on January 11th after a workout. As a result of the aneurysm, he will wear a helmet at all times while on the playing field. Olerud will go on to enjoy a successful 17-season major league career with the Blue Jays, Mets, Mariners, Yankees and Red Sox, winning a batting title in 1993 and two All-Star berths.
2003 – The new Hall of Fame Veterans selection committee, made up of mostly Hall of Famers, fails to select any of the 41 players, executives and umpires being considered. Former Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges is 11 votes shy of the 75 percent needed for induction receiving 50 votes of 81 cast (61.7%).
The White Sox wear Northern Illinois University baseball caps in their spring training opening game to honor the victims of a shooting rampage on the school’s campus earlier this month. After the contest, the players autograph the hats, which will be auctioned off at NIU to benefit a scholarship fund set up in memory of the five students killed in the attack.
2018 – The MLBPA files a grievance against four teams – the Marlins, Rays, Pirates and A’s – accusing them of not investing the money they are obtaining through revenue sharing in the on-field product, as is specified in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. This action is the latest salvo in a war of words between players and ownership that was started by the slow free agent market, resulting in over 100 players still being unsigned when spring training opened two weeks ago.
2006 – Roger Clemens sends a brushback message to his own 19-year-old son after Koby slams a home run off his dad in the minor league Astros camp where Koby is training. Roger is preparing to pitch in the first World Baseball Classic but is not officially with the Astros. Denied salary arbitration, the pitching legend is fielding contract offers from other clubs while mulling retirement. The Astros cannot negotiate with him until May 1st. Officially, that is.
2002 – Astros announce they have purchased back the naming rights of their ballpark from Enron for $2.1 million dollars. The 30-year deal signed in 1999 winds up in bankruptcy court after Enron collapses in scandal during the fall of 2001. Tentatively, the park is named Astros Field while a new sponsor is sought.
1962 – Catcher John Bateman is inked to a free agent contract. The hulking catcher leads the team in home runs and RBIs in 1963 but his career year comes in 1966 when Bateman puts up a .279 average with 17 homers, 24 doubles and 70 RBIs – all career highs. He hits .228 over six seasons in Houston (1963-1968). Bateman dies in Sand Spring, TX at age 56 on December 3, 1996.