Frank Baker is born in Trappe, Maryland. A third baseman and left-handed hitter, Baker will guide the Philadelphia Athletics to three World Series championships. He will be nicknamed “Home Run” during the 1911 World Series, in which he will hit a go-ahead home run off Rube Marquard in Game Two and a 9th-inning game-tying home run off Christy Mathewson in Game Three. Baker will lead the American League in home runs for four consecutive seasons, twice lead the league in RBI, and bat .363 in six Series. Baker will earn Hall of Fame honors in 1955.
Dodger manager Wilbert Robinson, thinking he is going to catch a baseball dropped from a plane, is surprised and splattered when the sphere turns out to be a grapefruit. Although legend has it that Casey Stengel is behind the prank, the pilot, Ruth Law, a pioneer in American aviation, substituted part of her lunch when she realized she forgot to bring a baseball.
1917 – After hearing that Gabby Street had caught a ball dropped off the Washington Monument in 1908, Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robinson brags that he could catch a ball dropped from an airplane at spring training, even though he is in his mid-50s and well above his playing weight. Robinson circles unsteadily under the descending spheroid. Instead, a grapefruit was secretly substituted and it explodes on impact with his glove. Once he feels the ooze, Robinson thinks it is blood, and screams that he is dying, until he tastes the juice. He later concedes that he probably would have been killed if a real baseball had been dropped from the plane. Aviatrix Ruth Law dropped the grapefruit as outfielder Casey Stengel assumed culpability for the switch.
1943 – The major leagues approve a new official ball manufactured by the Spalding Company for the upcoming season. Instead of the usual combination of cork and rubber, the inside of the ball is made up of recycled cork and balata, materials not needed in the war effort. Officials insist the ball will have the resiliency of the 1939 ball, but the players will express dismay that they cannot drive the new ball and point out the dearth of runs and homers in 1942 even with the old ball.
Brooklyn signs a 21-year lease with the City of Vero Beach to use an abandoned naval base as their spring training facility, which will become known as Dodgertown. The site will be the team’s Grapefruit League home through the 2008 season, with exhibition games taking place at the 6,000-seat Holiman Stadium.
Much to the chagrin of other owners and most of his players, Bill Veeck’s White Sox become the first team to put the players’ names on the back of the jersey, unveiling the new look on their road uniforms in an exhibition game against Cincinnati in Tampa. After the rest of the league’s clubs protest the Chicago owner’s innovation, the commissioner’s office will rule that in addition to displaying traditional numbers, each team will have the option to use monikered uniforms.
1960 – The Chicago White Sox unveil an important uniform innovation. The Sox’s road uniforms feature players’ names on the backs of the jerseys, marking the first time that players’ names will appear on major league uniforms. The innovation will make it easier for fans watching games on television to identify the players on the field. The idea is yet another creation of colorful White Sox owner and innovator Bill Veeck.
1969 – In addition to this year’s lower mound and tightened strike zone, Major League Baseball tries an experimental ball with 10% more resiliency for a spring training game between the Mets and Tigers in Lakeland, Florida. It has an all-rubber center instead of a cork and rubber core, and the seams are higher than the regular ball. Mets pitcher Don Cardwell surrenders three home runs in the 4th inning to Dick McAuliffe, Norm Cash, and Gates Brown in the Tigers’ 7 – 4 victory. Tomorrow, in Phoenix, Arizona, the same ball is used in the Giants’ 13 – 1 win over the Angels, with Bobby Bonds hitting the only two homers off George Brunet. The players agree the ball is definitely livelier and sounds louder coming off the bat.
1986 – The father-and-son team of Hal and Brian McRae appears together in an exhibition game for the Kansas City Royals. Brian, who will be sent back to the minor leagues before the start of the season, will not make his major league debut until 1990. In 1991, Brian will play for his father, when he takes over as Royals manager.
2001 – At spring training, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Rick Ankiel makes his first appearance since the 2000 playoffs in which he lost his control throwing seven wild pitches in three postseason appearances. Ankiel throws 22 strikes out of 29 pitches over two innings of shutout ball in his surprise start against the Mets, but his control problems will reappear within a short while.
At Hiram Bithorn Stadium, Odalis Perez pitches 4 2/3 shutout innings and David Ortiz powers the Dominican Republic to a key victory over Cuba, 7 – 3. A 5th-inning mammoth blast by “Big Papi” – hit clear out of the stadium – is symbolic of Cuba’s defeat. In the second game, Victor Martinez belts a grand slam, Endy Chavez hits a two-run homer for the second consecutive day, and Carlos Zambrano combines with six pitchers on a seven-hit shutout, as Venezuela defeats Puerto Rico, 6 – 0. Pool Two is all knotted up with 1-1 records among all four teams.
Major League Baseball agrees to a five-year contract with the North American Sports Network to televise about 275 games live each season. NASN, which gained rights to the All-Star Game, the playoffs and the World Series, is televising the World Baseball Classic. The subscription network, based in Dublin, Ireland, broadcasts in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Iceland and the Netherlands. The deal is valued at $18 to $20 million, according to Sports Business Journal.
In other games in the tournament, Taiwan, led by Chien-Ming Chiang, tops South Africa, 4 – 0, and will join Canada and South Korea in Beijing (as well as the five teams that qualified previously). Francisco Campos strikes out 18 in just 8 innings as Mexico beats Germany, 4 – 0, and four Australian pitchers combine on a one-hitter as the Aussies rout Spain, 9 – 0.
In the 2008 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament, Team Canada locks up an Olympic berth, beating South Korea, 4 – 3, for South Korea’s lone loss of the tournament. Matt Rogelstad hits a 3-run 1st-inning homer off Hyun-jin Ryu and Nick Weglarz later adds a solo shot. South Korea rallies for two in the 9th before Mike Kusiewicz slams the door.
2011 – Marlins P Ricky Nolasco, usually known for his outstanding control, goes wild in a spring training start against the Nationals in his first outing since August 28th, when his season ended with a knee injury. He gives up 4 runs on 4 hits, a walk, a wild pitch and two hit batsmen in 1 2/3 innings of work. After he is plucked, the game’s leadoff batter, Nyjer Morgan, claims Nolasco is throwing at him, but the Marlin hurler’s further performance is proof that he is simply out of form.
2012 – In Cuba, the Schiller Rule takes effect in a no-hitter for the first time. 20-year-old Raimar Navarro enters the game with a 12-23 career record for Holguín but overcomes eight walks to toss nine no-hit shutout innings. He is matched zero for zero by Frank Madan of Camagüey. Madan finally allows a run in the 10th thanks to the Schiller Rule. In the bottom of the 10th, Pablo Fernández finishes the no-hitter, the third combined no-no in Cuban annals and the first since 1979.
2013 – In a crucial game at the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Puerto Rico stays alive by beating Italy, 4-3, sending home the Azzurri. Italy takes a 3-0 lead in the 5th on a double by Anthony Rizzo and leads 3-1 going into the 8th behind the pitching of Alex Maestri and Chris Cooper. Things unravel, though, as four Italian hurlers allow three runs in the bottom of the 8th, while closer Jason Grilli sits unused in the bullpen. The winning blow is a single by Andy González off Pat Venditte, scoring Alex Ríos. Italy is plagued by bad defense, as three errors by shortstops Anthony Granato and Jack Santora play a big role in its defeat.
In a second-round game at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the Netherlands ends Israel’s string of wins with a 12 – 2, mercy rule-shortened win. The Dutch score four times in the 3rd, and as many again in the 4th to build a huge lead, with a three-run homer by Didi Gregorius off Danny Burawa in the 4th constituting a big blow. Wladimir Balentien adds 3 RBIs to Gregorius’s 5, while Jair Jurrjens is the winner.
Venezuela becomes the final team to qualify for the second round when they defeat Italy, 4 – 3, in tiebreaking game in Pool D. Italy has a 2 -1 in the top of the 9th, following John Andreoli’s third homer of the tournament in the 7th, but Mike DeMark can’t close the door, giving up a game-tying homer to Miguel Cabrera to start the 9th, before walking Victor Martinez. Rougned Odor then hits an apparent homer, but a video review reduces the hit to a single, although the go-ahead. run scores. Frailyn Florian replaces DeMark, but a single by Carlos Gonzalez and a squeeze bunt by Alcides Escobar add an insurance run, which becomes precious when Alex Liddi hits a solo homer off Francisco Rodriguez in the bottom of the inning. But it’s not enough to knot up the score again, and Venezuela moves on, continuing its wild ride in the tournament thus far.
1995 – Only 621 attend an Astros-Royals replacement exhibition game and both clubs, in spite of fairly new spring facilities, grumble about declining revenues. The Astros weigh an option to return to Arizona when their contract in Kissimmee is up, looking at Tucson where their AAA team used to play.