1921 – Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis suspends eight members of the Chicago White Sox for their alleged involvement in the fixing of the 1919 World Series. The group includes outfielder Joe Jackson, who batted .375 in the Series. Others banned are Eddie Cicotte, Happy Felsch, Chick Gandil, Fred McMullin, Swede Risberg, Buck Weaver and Lefty Williams. None of them will ever play in organized baseball again.
1980 – Slugging outfielder Chuck Klein and former Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey are elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Klein batted .320 over a 17-year career with the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and Pittsburgh Pirates. Yawkey becomes the first Hall of Fame owner who never served as a player, manager, or general manager during his career.
Ballantine Books publishes the first of seven annual Bill James Abstracts, bringing the author into the national spotlight for his statistical insight into the game. The sabermetrician’s original self-published efforts, written while working the night shift as a security guard at the Stokely-Van Camp’s pork and beans cannery, introduces baseball fans to new ways of measuring a player’s ability, using stats such as such Runs Created.
Jim Palmer’s attempted comeback at the age of 45 comes to an end when the newly elected Hall of Famer tears his hamstring warming up before an exhibition appearance against Boston. The Orioles right-hander, who hadn’t thrown a major league pitch in seven seasons, keeps his 268-152 and 2.86 ERA intact which he accomplished during a 19-year career on the mound.
At Hiram Bithorn Stadium, 10-time Gold Glove winner Omar Vizquel misses a double play opportunity and gives up an additional out on a fielder’s choice, and Cuba capitalizes with a five-run 6th inning in a 7 – 2 victory over Venezuela. Frederich Cepeda hits a three-run home run and Ariel Pestano follows with a solo shot as the underdog Cubans break out after Johan Santana departs. Santana, the unanimous AL Cy Young Award winner in 2004, strikes out five in five innings and gives up two hits and one earned run. Starter Yadel Marti and reliever Pedro Luis Lazo provide a solid pitching outing, and silence the powerful Venezuelan lineup. A two-run homer by light-hitting outfielder Endy Chavez provides the only runs for the losers. In the second game, Jose Cruz, Jr. goes 3 for 5 with three RBI and four Puerto Rico pitchers combine to shut down the Dominican Republic in a 7 – 1 victory. Javier Vazquez, Jose Santiago, Kiko Calero and J.C. Romero combine to limit the Dominicans to one run and six hits. Bartolo Colón matches Vazquez in the early going, allowing one run and four hits in five innings, but Puerto Rico roughs up reliever Damaso Marte in the 6th. Vazquez allows a solo home run to Adrian Beltre – his fourth of the Classic – for the only Dominican run.
In the World Baseball Classic, Alex Rodriguez hits a bases-loaded, two-out single in the 9th inning, to give the United States a victory over Japan, 4 – 3, but the victory is shrouded in controversy when an umpire’s ruling denies the losers a crucial run. Japan looks to have broken open a 3 – 3 tie at the top of the 8th when Tsuyoshi Nishioka comes home on Akinori Iwamura’s sacrifice fly off reliever Joe Nathan with the bases loaded. Second base umpire Brian Knight rules the run good, but U.S. manager Buck Martinez races from the dugout to appeal to home plate umpire Bob Davidson. Davidson overrules Knight and calls Nishioka out for leaving third base early, a decision that brings Japan manager Sadaharu Oh and a translator out of the dugout to argue the call. Television replays do not show that Nishioka left before outfielder Randy Winn made the catch. It is a crushing defeat for Japan, which led 3 – 0 after two innings and never trailed until Rodriguez’s game-winning hit. Ichiro Suzuki puts the U.S. in an early hole with a lead-off home run off Jake Peavy to open the game. Japan adds two more runs in the 2nd. Chipper Jones answers back for the Americans with a towering home run but the U.S. cannot get level until the 6th when Derrek Lee crushes a two-run shot. In the second game, Jae Weong Seo pitches 5 1/3 strong innings, Seung Yeop Lee hits a two-run home run, and South Korea beats Mexico, 2 – 1, for its fourth straight victory in the Classic.
The benches clear in a rare spring training brawl when Shelley Duncan slides into second base, with his spikes aimed at Rays infielder Akinori Iwamura after being thrown out by a wide margin. The incident was precipitated by Tampa Bay’s aggressive play four days ago which resulted in a home-plate collision which injured Yankee catcher Francisco Cervelli.
In the other games played in the tournament, Canada shuts out Spain, 11 – 0, as Aaron Wideman and Alexandre Periard team on the shutout while a balanced offense carries the day, and Mexico wins, 5 – 0, over South Africa behind the pitching of Francisco Campos. Campos strikes out 18 and allows just two hits in eight shutout innings. However, Mexico is eliminated from Olympic contention because of the wins by Taiwan and Canada.
2009 – Cuba tosses aside Mexico, 16 – 4, in the World Baseball Classic. It is the 4th straight Mexican game in which one team scores at least 14 runs. Yulieski Gourriel drives in 4 and Frederich Cepeda and Michel Enríquez each drive in three, while Yoennis Céspedes scores three. Francisco Campos takes the loss one year after his star turn in the 2008 Olympic qualifier.
In the opener of a scheduled three-game exhibition series in Taiwan, the Dodgers are defeated by an All-Star squad from the Chinese Professional League (CPBL) at Taipei’s Tienmu Baseball Stadium, 5-3. The road trip is the team’s second journey to the Chinese island, having finished with one win and two losses during a trio of spring training games in 1993.
2012 – New Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen is already in mid-season form. He gets ejected in the 6th inning of an otherwise placid Grapefruit League game against the Red Sox for arguing a foul ball call with umpire Tim Timmons. As Ozzie explains afterwards: “I don’t mind getting ejected, man. That’s my job. If I get ejected protecting my players, I can sleep at night.”
In the second-round games of the 2013 World Baseball Classic played at Marlins Park, Team USA defeats Puerto Rico, 7 – 1, as Gio Gonzalez pitches five innings and David Wright drives in 5 runs. In the other game, underdog Italy gives the Dominican Republic a scare when it takes a 4 – 0 lead in the 1st inning as Edinson Volquez walks the first three batters he faces and gives up a three-run homer to Chris Colabello. The Dominicans finally take the lead with a three-run burst in the 7th, to win the game, 5 – 4.
With both teams having already locked up spots in the final round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Japan beats the Netherlands, 10 – 6, thanks to an eight-run 2nd inning. Shinnosuke Abe homers twice in the 2nd, taking both David Bergman and Jonatan Isenia deep. Hisayoshi Chono adds five RBI, and Hideaki Wakui escapes a jam in the 8th, striking out Randolph Oduber with two on, two out and a two-run lead.
2014 – The Braves sign P Ervin Santana, one of the last free agents remaining on the market, to a one-year contract for $14.1 million. Injuries this week to two of the team’s projected starters, Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen, prompt Atlanta to open its wallet and also give up a draft choice to add the experienced hurler.
Will Ferrell, hoping to raise awareness of organizations trying to cure cancer, plays nine different positions while appearing for ten teams in five Cactus League exhibition games in Arizona. The comedian’s effort, detailed in an upcoming HBO documentary, is severely criticized by former NFL coach and broadcasting legend John Madden, who calls the stunt disrespectful and insulting to the game of baseball.
2015 – Actor Will Ferrell pulls off a bizarre and hilarious stunt to drum up support for cancer survivors, as he suits up for ten different teams and takes part in five different games (all of them for both teams) during Cactus League play today. He plays all nine positions as well as designated hitter and even puts in some time as a third base coach, while being rushed from game to game. He retires the only batter he faces as a pitcher for the Dodgers, but for some reason all the teams he plays for decide to cut or trade him, once for a couple of hot dogs, after each of his brief appearances. He uses a police escort and a helicopter to ferry him from ballpark to ballpark, wearing uniform number 19 at every stop. “I’m a five-tool guy”, the comic actor explains. The strange adventure will be the subject of a television special to be broadcast on HBO during the season.
Colombia literally comes within inches of upsetting the powerful Dominican Republic national team and winning Pool C outright. With the score tied at 3 in the bottom of the 9th, Reynaldo Rodriguez hits a liner to LF Jose Bautista, who guns a perfect throw to C Welington Castillo, who tags out speedy pinch-runner Oscar Mercado on a play that could hardly have been closer. The D.R. then bursts out for 7 runs in the 11th, thanks to a two-run single by Castillo and a bases-clearing double by Jean Segura and puts the game away, 10 – 3, for its 11th straight win in WBC competition. In the other game, the United States also confirms its spot in the next round, eliminating Colombia, by thrashing Canada, 8 – 0. Nolan Arenado and Buster Posey both homer as the U.S. beats up on Ryan Dempster, scoring three runs before he leaves after only a third of an inning. Danny Duffy strikes out 7 in four innings to pick up the win.
In the first second-round game of the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Israel continues its amazing run, winning its fourth straight game, 4 – 1 over Cuba. The Israelis overcome an early solo homer by Alfredo Despaigne as Blake Gailen drives in a couple of runs and Josh Zeid gets out of a bases-loaded jam in the 9th. In the other second-round game, Japan needs 11 innings to dispose of the Netherlands, 8 – 6. Starting the 11th with two men on base due to the Schiller rule, the Japanese execute their strategy perfectly, starting with a sacrifice bunt, and score both runners; but the Dutch are unable to follow suit, as their own bunt is popped up to the catcher and they strand both runners to suffer the loss.
Puerto Rico also completes its first round games unbeaten in Pool D by defeating Italy, 9 – 3. Homers by John Andreoli and Drew Butera in the first two innings account for all three Italian runs, but they are held to one hit the rest of the way and, once again, their pitchers get beat up, giving up 9 or more runs for the third straight game. A three-run homer by Carlos Correa in the 4th proves to be a knock-out blow. The final pool game is another barnburner, with Mexico earning its first win, 11 – 9, over Venezuela. Homers by Brandon Laird and Esteban Quiroz account for six Mexican runs, but they end up on the short end of the tiebreaker by the slimmest of margins: giving up one fewer run or scoring one more would have turned the trick. In spite of Mexico filing a protest, it will be Italy and Venezuela who will play an extra game to determine which will be the second team from the pool to move to the next round.
2018 – The Astros take a short break from spring training for the traditional visit of the World Series-winning team to the White House, given they are not scheduled to visit the Washington, DC/Baltimore, MD area until September. A couple of team members, Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran, choose to boycott the outing as they are still mad at President Donald Trump for his contempt of their native Puerto Rico after it was battered by Hurricane Maria in September.
2002 – Astros deal third baseman Chris Truby to Montreal for infielder Geoff Blum. Since the Expos were purchased by Major League Baseball during the winter and is technically run by them, this makes the first trade by the sport itself on behalf of one of their clubs. Blum would bat .272 with 20 homers during two seasons in Houston.
1949 – Jim Wynn is born in Hamilton, OH. Drafted away from the hometown Reds by the fledgling Colt .45s, the “Toy Cannon” would become the first Astro to reach 40 steals, hit 30 HRs or drive in 100 runs for the team. His tape-measure homers are still described with awe today. Wynn’s number 24 is retired in 2005.