This Day In Baseball January 31
Baseball history on January 31 includes Major League baseball players born that day of the year, Major League baseball players who died on that date, baseball players who made their Major League debut on that date, and Major League baseball players who appeared in their final game that date.
Events for January 31
1898 – Cap Anson is released after 19 years as first baseman/manager with the Chicago National League teams. Strong-minded Cap, with a record of 1,288 victories and five NL pennants, was enormously popular in Chicago. Former infielder Tom Burns takes over as manager of the teams which is now dubbed the “Orphans” by reporters.
1927 – National League President John Heydler rules that Rogers Hornsby cannot continue to both hold stock in the St. Louis Cardinals and play for the New York Giants. Seemingly oblivious, the Cards’ board of directors, meeting in St. Louis, votes stockholders a 10% dividend, earning Hornsby $2916 for his 1167 shares.
1950 – The Pittsburgh Pirates sign high school pitcher Paul Pettit for a record $100,000 after buying his contract from a film producer, who had signed him to an exclusive contract as an athlete/actor. Under Major League Baseball’s “high-school rule”, scouts are barred from doing so prior to graduation. Unfortunately, with an eventual 1-2 career mark, Pettit will prove not to be worth the trouble.
The Hall of Fame elects two new members: Harry Heilmann, with 203 votes, and Paul Waner with 195. Waner, a .333 career hitter, rapped out 3,152 hits and struck out just 376 times in 9,459 career at-bats. Heilmann was similarly skilled with the bat, winning four batting titles with the Detroit Tigers and finishing his career with a .342 average.
Former major leaguer Buck Weaver dies at the age of 65. One of the eight members of the Black Sox to be banned for life, Weaver batted .324 in the 1919 World Series. Although Weaver maintained that he did not participate in the fix, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banished him for failing to report those players who had met with gamblers.
Masanori Murakami, the first Japanese player in the major leagues, says he will not play for the San Francisco Giants this season, instead returning to the Nankai Hawks. This ends a long dispute over the rights to Murakami and no Nippon Pro Baseball player will try to come to the US for almost 30 years due to the legal and cultural barriers on both sides.
2001 – A story in The Wall Street Journal quotes players Monte Irvin, Sal Yvars and Al Gettel, three former members of the 1951 New York Giants, as admitting that they stole catchers’ signs at the Polo Grounds to help the club overtake the 13 1/2-game lead of the Brooklyn Dodgers and win the National League pennant. Except for Yvars, all the participants will deny using the system during the three-game playoff with the Dodgers. According to the report, Bobby Thomson, whose three-run, ninth-inning home run in Game Three of the playoff won the pennant for the Giants, did not, however, steal a sign before hitting his historic home run.
2003 – In an effort to secure funding for a major re-design of the 12-year old “New” Comiskey Park, the Chicago White Sox announces the ballpark will now be known as U.S. Cellular Field. The 23-year deal with the wireless service provider, which will pay the White Sox $68 million, changes the name used for home by the Southsiders since 1910.
In an effort to secure funding for a major re-design of the 12 year-old ‘new’ Comiskey Park, the White Sox announce the ballpark will now be known as U.S. Cellular Field. The 23-year deal with the wireless service provider, which will pay the White Sox $68 million, changes the name of the home used by the Southsiders since 1910.
2005 – The Seattle Mariners sign relief pitcher Jeff Nelson to a minor league contract, his third stint with the club. The reliever previously pitched with the Mariners from 1992 to 1995 and again from 2001 to 2003. He is Seattle’s all-time record holder for most games pitched with 383 and has a 23-20 record with the team.
At New York’s Gracey Mansion, Major League Baseball announces the 2008 All-Star Game will be played at Yankee Stadium for the fourth time (1939, 1960, 1977) in the ballpark’s history. The annual Midsummer Classic will showcase the historic ‘House that Ruth Built’ in its final season as the home of the Bronx Bombers.
At Yankee Stadium, a trio of Angels hit three-run home runs as the team blasts the Bronx Bombers, 12-6. The homers, all hit by LA’s outfielders, Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero, and Juan Rivera, account for nine of the dozen runs scored as the club improves its record to 68-40, the best in baseball.
2002 – Despite a petition drive seeking to honor longtime Astro broadcaster Gene Elston with the Ford C. Frick Award at the Baseball Hall of Fame, the winner is his former broadcast partner Harry Kalas. Kalas worked six seasons (1965-1970) with Elston before becoming the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies and NFL Films. Kalas’ signature call while with Houston was to describe their home runs as “Astro orbits”.
Birthdays January 31
Death January 31