1891 – The Pittsburgh Alleghenys and Cleveland Spiders are the two National League clubs making the heaviest raids against American Association player contracts, following the latter’s denunciation of the National Agreement two weeks ago. Pittsburgh further earns its new nickname of “Pirates” by signing good-hitting outfielder Pete Browning and pitcher Scott Stratton away from the Louisville Colonels.
1893 – John Pickett wins $1,285.72 in a lawsuit against the Baltimore Orioles, his most recent team. Baltimore had claimed that they did not owe him this sum – Picket’s entire 1892 salary – because he “was slow in his movement, and had a sore arm which incapacitated him from being of service to the club.”
1919 – Philadelphia Athletics owner Connie Mack makes one of his biggest player mistakes, trading third baseman Larry Gardner, outfielder Charlie Jamieson, and pitcher Elmer Myers to the Cleveland Indians for OF Braggo Roth. Veteran writer Ernest Lanigan predicts that Roth will lead the circuit in home runs at Shibe Park, but Roth will be shipped to the Boston Red Sox by midseason. Gardner will put in six more .300 years, and Jamieson will be a top leadoff man and .303 hitter for the next 14 years.
A federal judge rules in favor of Grace Comiskey, who became owner of the Chicago White Sox after the death of her husband John Louis Comiskey in 1939, helping her keep control of the team. The widow needed to go to court because the First National Bank of Chicago, the trustee of the estate, wanted to sell the team because there was no specific instruction in her spouse’s will that she should take control of the franchise.
Father Vincent Powell announces the diocese’s Catholic Youth Organization will no longer participate in the Dodgers’ Knothole Club, stating the church cannot continue to have their youngsters associated with the team’s manager, Leo Durocher. The monsignor, who has been the director of the local CYO since 1940, believes the Brooklyn skipper “represents an example in complete contradiction” to the faith’s moral teachings.
In anticipation of the signing of the team’s first black players, Bill Veeck, a resident of Phoenix, Arizona, sets up a spring training camp there for the Cleveland Indians. Arizona is chosen because of its relatively tolerant racial climate. During the season, Veeck will sign the American League’s first black player, Larry Doby, who will train at the camp. The New York Giants also set up camp in Arizona, while the Brooklyn Dodgers move their training camp from Florida to Havana, Cuba.
1965 – Future Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente misses the first day of spring training because of a bout with malaria. The Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder will sit out a full month of training camp with the disease, which he contracted during the off-season. Clemente will recover to bat .329, but will hit only 10 home runs with 65 RBI, his worst totals since 1959.
Commissioner General William Eckert approves the BBWAA’s plan to select a Cy Young Award recipient from both the National League and American League. The honor, initiated in 1956, had been given to just one pitcher in the major leagues each season, a position strongly supported by former commissioner Ford Frick.
1967 – Commissioner William Eckert approves the Baseball Writers Association of America’s plan to select a Cy Young Award recipient from both the National and American Leagues. The honor, which was initiated in 1956, had been given to just one pitcher in the major leagues each season, a position strongly supported by former commissioner Ford Frick.
1969 – New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle announces his retirement. Mantle, who slumped to a .237 batting average in 1968, finishes his 18-season career with 536 home runs and a .298 average, numbers that would have certainly been higher if not for persistent knee injuries. The Yankees offer Mantle a coaching position on manager Ralph Houk’s staff.
Charlie Kerfeld and the Astros finally agree on a one-year contract worth $110,037.37 and 37 boxes of orange Jello, planned to be used future pranks. The Houston reliever, who wears number 37, insisted he earned more than right-hander Jim DeShaies, and the reliever’s new deal pays him $37.37 more than his teammate.
1996 – The Yankees christen Legends Field, their new $30 million, 31-acre complex in Tampa. The field has the exact dimensions of Yankee Stadium. On hand to see Phil Rizzuto toss out the first ball are former Yankees Whitey Ford, Catfish Hunter, Ron Guidry and Chris Chambliss, who then watch the new Yankees beat the American League Champions Cleveland Indians, 5 – 2.
In the episode “Big Shots” of the television show Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray Romano’s character, the fictional Newsday sports writer Ray Barone is kicked out of an event honoring the Mets’ 1969 World Series championship team. The Hall of Fame security guards lose their patience when the title character, who insists on using his journalist’s credentials to avoid the wait, refuses to get in line with the fans waiting to meet their heroes, including Tug McGraw and Art Shamsky.
After being suspended yesterday by major league baseball for one year for testing positive for the use cocaine, Yankee outfielder/DH Darryl Strawberry is invited to join the Newark Bears during the suspension. The New Jersey franchise, which is a member of the South Atlantic Independent League, is located near the slugger’s Fort Lee home.
2000 – Independent arbitrator Shyam Das cuts Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker’s suspension for uttering a number of insensitive remarks in a Sports Illustrated interview this offseason from 28 days to 14 days. Rocker, who is allowed to report to spring training with the team, also has his fine cut.
Construction for an additional 1,790 bleacher seats at Wrigley Field will begin after the season and will be completed in time for Opening Day 2006. An deal is reached for expansion as the Chicago Cubs agree to pay the city $3.1 million prior to the start of work and by contributing funds for a local school park and a $400,000 traffic signal system near the ballpark.
Pitcher Tim Hudson, deciding not to file for free agency at the end of the season, agrees to a four-year, $47-million contract extension with his new team, the Atlanta Braves. Hudson, who was acquired in a trade with the Oakland Athletics in the off-season, grew up near Atlanta and rooted for the local team as a youngster. In 2004 he posted a 12-6 record with a 3.53 ERA.
The Cardinals get another scare on the heels of losing ace starter Adam Wainwright to Tommy John surgery: their other ace, Chris Carpenter, is taken out of today’s Grapefruit League game against Florida after feeling a twinge in his hamstring. Fortunately, he is diagnosed with only a strain and will not miss significant time.
2016 – Commissioner Rob Manfred sends a strong message on the issue of domestic violence as he issues a thirty-game suspension to Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman in response to an incident on October 30th. The suspension comes even though police declined to file charges in the case because of inconsistent evidence, however MLB goes ahead based on the severity of the allegations. Chapman announces that he will not appeal.
1987 – Reliever Charley Kerfeld declares he will buy up 3,000 tickets per game to give away to charity causes. Without a discount, which the Astros didn’t discuss, the cost for the seats would total as much as $1.6 million dollars. Unable to afford that on a $110,000 salary, Kerfeld backs down from the offer.