John McGraw, manager of new American League’s Orioles, signs Charlie Grant, trying to pass off the black infielder as a Cherokee Indian named Tokohoma. The skipper’s scheme to secretly integrate the major leagues unravels in Chicago when White Sox president Charles Comiskey objects to Baltimore’s new player, after recognizing the true identity of the team’s second baseman.
1901 – The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Baltimore Orioles manager John McGraw has signed a Cherokee Indian named “Tokohama” to play second base. In reality, Tokohama isn’t a Native American; he is an African-American whose actual name is Charlie Grant, who McGraw is trying to pass off as an Indian, but the ruse does not work. Baseball’s color line will prevent Grant from ever playing a game for the Orioles.
Rogers Hornsby returns to the Cardinals as a player after being fired as the Cubs’ manager last August. The ‘Rajah’s’ return to the Redbirds, after a six-year absence, will be short-lived when he is claimed on waivers in July by the crosstown AL’s Browns, who make him the skipper of the last-place club, replacing the recently-resigned Bill Killefer.
The Dodgers defeat the A’s, 4-2, in the first game played in Holman Stadium, their Grapefruit League ballpark at the team’s spring training complex in Vero Beach, better known as Dodgertown. Fifty-five years later, Carl Erskine, the game’s starting pitcher, will return to play the national anthem on his harmonica as an 81 year-old at the club’s last game at the storied facility.
In the first game of a doubleheader, Giants right fielder Don Mueller hits for the cycle in team’s 13-7 victory over the Pirates at the Polo Grounds. ‘Mandrake the Magician,’ who homers in his final at-bat to complete the deed, will be the only major league player to accomplish the feat this season.
1956 – At Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg there are no maybes about it as Mickey Mantle hits a Grapefruit League pitch from Larry Jackson over the left field wall into the bay. The Yankees top the Cardinals, 4 – 3. Stan Musial contends, “no home run has ever cleared my head by as much as long as I can remember.” Mantle will hit another at Al Lang Field on March 20th off Bob Mabe that also lands in the water, and will clock a 500-foot shot in Miami four days later against the Dodgers.
1957 – New York Representative Emanuel Celler, whose committee investigated baseball, calls Ford Frick a “czar” who wishes to “gag” officials; Frick had cautioned Major League Baseball owners about commenting on the recent Supreme Court decision on professional American football coming under antitrust rules.
American League president Will Harridge informs the circuit’s umpires the wearing of a helmet is mandatory for batters this season, reinforcing the edict passed by a 7-1 vote of the owners at their December meeting in Colorado Springs. The Red Sox dissent, knowing their slugger Ted Williams adamantly is opposed to wearing headgear, asserting the protective equipment will interfere with the timing of their hitters.
1981 – Slugger Johnny Mize and Negro Leagues pioneer Rube Foster are elected to the Hall of Fame by the Special Veterans Committee. Mize hit .312 with 359 home runs during a 15-year major league career, while Foster served as a pitcher, manager, and Negro League organizer in the first quarter of the 20th century.
The Red Sox replace Joe Kerrigan, who was fired last week, with Grady Little, who will manage the team for two years, compiling a 188-136 (.580) record and making one appearance in the postseason as the AL wild card. The once-popular skipper’s contract will not be renewed for 2004 when he becomes the target of fans’ angst for not pulling out starter Pedro Martinez with a three-run lead in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the ALCS, a contest Boston will eventually lose in the eleventh on Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run.
The Yankees release outfielder Ruben Rivera for stealing Derek Jeter’s mitt out of his locker, and selling it on the black market for $2,500. There are rumors that Rivera also took other memorabilia items, such as things belonging to Roger Clemens, but Clemens denies it. Rivera had been signed to a one-year contract for $1 million.
The first contest played at Petco Park, the Padres’ new home, establishes the record for the best-attended game in college baseball history when 40,106 fans watch Tony Gwynn’s San Diego State Aztecs beat the University of Hawaii, 4-0. The previous mark of 27,673 was established in 2002 when state rivals LSU and Tulane met in the Superdome in New Orleans.
2004 – The first game to be played at PETCO Park, the San Diego Padres’ new home, establishes a new record for the best-attended game in college baseball history as 40,106 fans watch Tony Gwynn’s San Diego State Aztecs beat the University of Hawaii, 4 – 0. The previous mark of 27,673 was established in 2002 when state rivals LSU and Tulane met at the Louisiana Superdome.
The Mexican national team wraps up the 8th and final spot in round two of the 2009 World Baseball Classic by annihilating Australia, 16 – 1, to avenge an earlier loss. Jorge Campillo picks up the win, while the offense is fueled by Korea Baseball Organization player Karim Garcia, who goes 4 for 4 with 2 homers, 4 runs and 4 RBI.
A coup in the front office of the Texas Rangers results in Chuck Greenberg, who masterminded the team’s purchase from bankruptcy court last summer, resigning as Chief Executive Officer and managing partner in favor of Nolan Ryan. Other members of the ownership group cite philosophical differences as the cause of the rift that pushed Greenberg aside.
One of the strongest recorded earthquakes in history rocks Japan, with its epicenter in the Pacific Ocean near the city of Sendai, which is also hit by a destructive tsunami caused by the quake. Major leaguers Takashi Saito and Kei Igawa are both from the area most affected and spend the day trying to contact relatives, while Commissioner Bud Selig issues condolences on behalf of Major League Baseball. Yomiuri Giants backup catcher Takanori Hoshi will lose two grandparents to the tsunami.
2013 – With a spot in the final round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic at stake, the Netherlands wins a back-and-forth battle with Cuba. It is the fourth straight Dutch win over Cuba, dating to the 2011 Baseball World Cup, perhaps Cuba’s worst stretch ever against another nation. In today’s game, Kalian Sams hits a sacrifice fly off Diosdani Castillo in the bottom of the 9th to score Andruw Jones with the run that ends a 7 – 6 contest. Andrelton Simmons hits a two-run homer in the 8th, Curt Smith gets three hits and Loek van Mil escapes a jam in the top of the 9th to pick up the win. Yulieski Gourriel gets three hits for Cuba but makes a crucial error in the 9th.
After blowing an 8th-inning lead the day before, Team Europe stuns the Japanese national team with a 6 – 2 win at the Tokyo Dome. Diegomar Markwell (Netherlands citizen, born in the Dutch Antilles, and a star in the Netherlands’ top league) gets the win with three shutout innings while Yurendell de Caster (a fellow Antillean) hits a three-run homer. Kalian Sams (Netherlands) again starts the scoring and Alessandro Vaglio (Italy) scores twice. Takahiro Matsuba gives up 5 runs in 3 innings for the loss as Europe splits the series, nearly having swept it.
Colombia wins a World Baseball Classic game for the first time in its history as it defeats Canada, 4 – 1, behind the pitching of Julio Teheran and Yohan Pino. Brothers Donovan and Jhonatan Solano account for 2 runs (one scored by a pinch-runner) and 3 RBIs between them. For Canada, 41-year-old Eric Gagné makes a remarkable appearance 9 years after last pitching in the majors as he gives up no runs in 2 1/3 innings of relief. In the other Pool C game, the Dominican Republic defeats the USA, 7 – 5, in front of a boisterous and record-sized crowd that belies the fact that Marlins Park is in the U.S. Leading 5 – 0 in the 6th, the Americans wilt, the Dominicans’ comeback being fueled by a monster home run by Manny Machado. The big blow is a three-run homer by Nelson Cruz off Andrew Miller.
In Pool D, Venezuela defeats Italy, 11 – 10, in 10 innings, after coming back from a 5 – 0 deficit. However, the win is costly as C Salvador Perez injures his knee in a collision with Drew Butera, who is ironically his back-up with the Royals, in the 9th inning with the score tied at 10; reliever Francisco Rodriguez also injures a groin muscle on the same play. In the other game in the pool, Francisco Lindor homers twice to lead Puerto Rico to a 9 – 4 win over Mexico.
2000 – Major League Baseball comes to the Dominican Republic for the first time as the Astros drop the Boston Red Sox, 4-3, at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo. Jeff Bagwell launches two homers to pace the Houston victory. Dominican pitcher Jose Limathrills his countrymen with a 3-2 triumph the next day.