1894 – A U.S. Immigration Inspector in Buffalo, NY asks the Treasury Department if baseball is a “recognized profession” in order to determine if Buffalo has violated the alien contract labor law by signing two Canadian players. Before the inspector gets a reply, Buffalo decides to play only American residents.
1932 – The Cincinnati Reds acquire catcher Ernie Lombardi, outfielder Babe Herman, and infielder Wally Gilbert from the Brooklyn Dodgers for catcher Clyde Sukeforth and infielders Tony Cuccinello and Joe Stripp. Herman will bat .324 in one season in Cincinnati following the trade (he will later return to the club for two seasons), but Lombardi makes the trade a steal. Lombardi will bat .311 in 10 seasons in Cincinnati, winning a batting title and MVP Award in 1938.
Joseph Darst vows to fight losing the hometown Browns to Baltimore. The St. Louis mayor’s efforts will not be enough to prevent the franchise shifting cities when the team shareholders drop their suit against Bill Veeck and approve the move to the east coast after learning the club will be bankrupt if it stays put.
1954 – Hank Aaron makes his first spring training start for the Milwaukee Braves in an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox. Aaron, taking advantage of an injury suffered by starting outfielder Bobby Thomson, raps out three hits, including a home run. The noise of the contact is so loud that Ted Williams runs out of the Boston clubhouse to see who can make that sound with a bat. Aaron will eventually start for the Braves on Opening Day and will go on to hit a respectable .280 with 13 home runs and 58 RBI in his rookie season.
1960 – Kirby Puckett is born in Chicago, Illinois. Puckett will make his major league debut in 1984, when he hits .296 for the Minnesota Twins. Over a 12-year career, Puckett will bat .318 with 207 home runs and 1,085 RBI, helping the Twins to two World Championships. He will win election to the Hall of Fame in 2001.
The Mets, who will play their inaugural season next year, lure former Yankee general manager George Weiss out of retirement to become the club’s first president. The expansion team is believed to have been offered the iron-fisted executive a five-year deal at $100,000 annually, more than he ever earned during his 14 seasons with the Bronx Bombers.
1966 – Roberto Clemente’s three-run, 450-foot home run powers the Pirates to their fourth straight exhibition victory. Clemente’s blast follows 8th-inning singles by Manny Mota and Gene Alley and, judging from its epic dimensions, the early indications are that manager Harry Walker’s call for increased power and run production from his already-raking right fielder has not fallen on deaf ears. And just in case these indications are somehow too subtle or ambiguous, Clemente will amplify them by about 50 feet on March 24th.
Exactly nine days after his splashy spring debut on March 5th, indicative of a full recovery from last season’s right shoulder injury, Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Roberto Clemente injures the other shoulder. “Clemente, who played last season with a bruised right shoulder,” writes Charley Feeney in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, “injured his left shoulder when he attempted a diving catch of a foul fly in Friday’s game against the Red Sox in Bradenton.” After waiting 10 days for the shoulder to improve with no results, Clemente will return to Puerto Rico to consult his private trainer/chiropractor, Arturo Garcia.
Former major leaguer Heinie Zimmerman dies in New York, NY at the age of 82. The one-time Triple Crown winner was banned from baseball in 1919 for his alleged involvement in fixing games. Later research will show that he had not in fact led the National League in RBI in 1912, and the Triple Crown banner will also be stripped away from him.
1991 – The California Angels obtain DH Dave Parker from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for OF Dante Bichette. Parker will be released by the Angels before the end of the season, and will finish his 19-year major league career with the Toronto Blue Jays, while Bichette will turn into one of the decade’s most feared hitters while playing for the expansion Colorado Rockies.
The Reds announce the St. Bernard owned by Reds president Marge Schott is being prohibited access to the Riverfront Stadium field for the season. The edict to ban Schottzie 02 comes from the MLB’s Executive Council, who have received numerous complaints from the players about dogs running on the field.
Able to maintain the organization’s “long-standing philosophy,” which lets Cablevision customers choose whether or not to receive paid programming, the cable giant agrees to a one-year interim deal to offer YES Network to New York Yankees fans for a fee, ending a bitter and costly yearlong feud. The arrangement makes YES a premium channel, instead of a basic cable channel, which the new network had previously mandated and would have made every subscriber pay for the channel regardless of the viewer’s choice.
Vladimir Guerrero is suspended for three regular-season games and Marlin starter Brad Penny for five due to igniting an exhibition game bench-clearing brawl earlier in the week. After being hit in the chest by the Marlins’ starter’s first-inning pitch, the Expo All-Star outfielder, with his bat in his left hand, swung his right fist around Matt Treanor, the Florida catcher trying to restrain him, missing Penny, who retaliated with a punch which also missed its mark.
” ‘Must be in the front row! “- BOB UECKER, a quip from beer commercials which has a become a famous cry in ballparks around the country. Bob Uecker, the Brewers’ TV/radio play-by-play announcer, is chosen for induction into the broadcasters’ wing of the Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award. The 68 year-old former backup catcher, a member of Milwaukee’s broadcast crew since 1971, is best known for the humor he has brought to the game through his starring role in the cult movie Major League and the Miller Lite beer commercials.
Able to maintain the organization’s “long-standing philosophy”, which lets Cablevision customers choose whether or not to receive paid programming, the cable giant agrees to a one-year interim deal to offer the YES Network to New York Yankees fans for a fee, ending a bitter and costly year-long feud. The arrangement makes YES a premium channel instead of basic cable channel, which the new network had previously mandated and would have made every subscriber pay for the channel regardless of the viewer’s choice.
Milwaukee Brewers TV/Radio play-by-play announcer Bob Uecker is chosen for induction into the broadcasters’ wing of the Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award. The 68-year-old former back-up catcher, who joined the Milwaukee broadcast crew in 1971, is best known for the humor he has brought to the game through his starring role in the cult movie Major League and the beer commercial in which the phrase Must be in the front row! has become a familiar cry in ballparks around the country.
The Washington Nationals can keep their nickname. Major League Baseball settles a lawsuit with a company that says it owns the trademark rights to the name Washington Nationals. Designs for a 41,000-seat ballpark for Washington are also unveiled by District of Columbia officials, a glass-and-steel structure clad in pale stone chosen to complement the world famous skyline of the nation’s capital.
Two games are played today in Round Two of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. In Pool One, at Angel Stadium, pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka allows one hit in five shutout innings, and Japan beats Mexico, 6 – 1, to put the United States in danger of being eliminated before its next game. If Japan beats South Korea, the US team could be eliminated from contention before even playing Mexico.
Randy Wolf, the Padres’ new left-hander starter, struggles in a 6-2 spring training loss to the Brewers in Peoria, Arizona. The pitcher’s brother, Jim, isn’t much help as the home plate umpire, an occurrence which isn’t allowed during a regular-season game and is the only time it has ever happened, as the San Diego hurler gives up three runs in four innings.
2008 – Though the three spots for Beijing have already been clinched in the 2008 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament, the final day is an exciting one as there are three one-run games and one close slugfest. In the most notable close call, tournament champion Canada needs 10 innings to beat Germany, 2 – 1. Soft-throwing André Hughes silences the Canadian bats most of the day. In the 10th, Dirk Fries issues a bases-loaded walk to Emerson Frostad to score Emmanuel Garcia with the winner. Mexico edges Spain, 2 – 1, with Cristhian Presichi scoring both runs as Mexico has a surprisingly tough time with Spanish ace Manny Olivera. Australia beats South Africa, 13 – 10, after South Africa had scored four runs in its first six games combined. Tom Brice scores four times in the win. Finally, South Korea tops Taiwan, 4 – 3, in a matchup of Beijing-bound teams. Youngster Kwang-hyun Kim gets the win while South Korea takes advantage of three defensive lapses by Taiwan’s infield in the 2nd inning.
The second round of the 2009 World Baseball Classic begins. Puerto Rico stuns Team USA with a 11 – 1, 7-inning mercy rule romp. Javier Vázquez allows one run in five innings while his teammates pound Jake Peavy and company. Carlos Beltrán goes 3 for 3 with a walk, steal, homer, 3 runs and 2 RBI to lead a strong offense.
2011 – A’s closer Andrew Bailey leaves a game after experiencing discomfort while throwing. The team announces that he is headed to visit Dr. James Andrews in Alabama with what is described as “tightness in the forearm”. Bailey already underwent Tommy John surgery after tearing a ligament in his elbow in 2005, and missed the second half of last season with an elbow injury. The A’s will get some good news a day later when Dr. Andrews confirms that the injury is indeed only a strained forearm.
The bidding to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers from bankrupt owner Frank McCourt is down to four groups. Surprisingly, all the groups with strong ties to baseball or to the Los Angeles, CA area have been eliminated, leaving hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen as the front-runner. He is expected to hire long-time major league manager Tony LaRussa in a senior executive position if his bid, rumored to be worth $1.6 billion, is successful.
The Royals suddenly find themselves short of catchers when expected starter Salvador Perez suffers a torn knee ligament while warming up Jonathan Sanchez prior to today’s Grapefruit League game. He plays one inning, then leaves in pain and will need to undergo surgery. The injury comes three weeks after another backstop, Manny Pina, had to undergo surgery for torn cartilage, leaving the Royals with only two experienced catchers, Brayan Pena and non-roster invitee Max Ramirez, both of whom have been career back-ups.
The Baseball Australia Hall of Fame class of 2013 is announced. They are 1980s outfielder Geoffrey Martin (1982 Claxton Shield MVP and 1988 Olympics player), 19th Century infielder and manager Joe Quinn (the only Australian-born major leaguer prior to 1986), 1960s pitcher Donald Rice (a four-time Claxton Shield All-Star), 19th Century player Sydney Smith and 1960s-1970s catcher Garry Thompson (a six-time Claxton Shield champion with South Australia).
The Dominican Republic edges the USA, 3 – 1, to win the third spot in the 2013 World Baseball Classic finals. With the game tied at one in the 9th, pinch-hitter Erick Aybar singles off Craig Kimbrel to score Nelson Cruz with the winner; Aybar scores an insurance run on a Jose Reyes hit. Fernando Rodney then goes 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th for his fourth save of the Classic. The US is still alive, but it must win a make-or-break game tomorrow against Puerto Rico.
2017 – Tetsuto Yamada hits a pair of home runs to lead Japan to an 8 – 5 win over Cuba in second-round action at the 2017 World Baseball Classic. The game is tied 5 – 5 in the 8th when pinch-hitter Seiichi Uchikawa hits a sacrifice fly, before Yamada puts the game away with a two-run blast. In the other second-round pool, Puerto Rico ends the Dominican Republic’s run of 11 straight wins with a 3 – 1 win at Petco Park. The game has particular meaning for the Puerto Ricans, given they lost to the D.R. in the finals of the 2013 WBC. The D.R. starts off strong as its first three hitters reach base against Orlando Roman in the 1st, but a strikeout and a double play highlighted by a laser throw by RF Eddie Rosario keep them from scoring. Rosario then puts his team ahead with a ground-rule double that scores Javier Baez in the 4th, and Puerto Rico’s pitchers limit the powerful Dominicans’ scoring to Nelson Cruz’s 2nd-inning solo homer.
2018 – Minor League Baseball announces some changes to the rules that will be used throughout the minor leagues starting this season. First, there will be a limit of six mound visits per game in AAA, similar to the rule change just introduced in Major League Baseball; lower classifications will allow more visits: 8 in AA and 10 in Class A. A 15-second pitch clock will be introduced with the bases empty, and 20 seconds with men on base. Finally, a variation of the Schiller Rule will be used beginning in the 10th inning, as each half inning will start with the batter preceding the first batter of the inning already on second base. That last rule was already in use in some Rookie-class leagues.
2019 – Commissioner Rob Manfred announces rule changes for the coming season. While the idea of a pitch clock has been dropped, other measures adopted include: lowering the number of mound visits from six to five, following the successful introduction of the rule in 2018; a shorter break between innings; making the July 31st trading deadline a hard one, with no trades allowed for the two remaining months of the season; a shift in procedure for nominating starters in the All-Star Game and additional bonuses for participants in the Home Run Derby; beginning next season, a clear roster limit, with 26 during the first five months and 28 for September, with all teams being required to respect the limits; and a minimum of three batters faced for relief pitchers, barring injury or the end of the half-inning, also starting with the 2020 season.
1991 – It’s March Madness time and the most popular guy at the Astros camp is rookie Kenny Lofton. During his years at the University of Arizona, Lofton was known more as a guard for the highly-ranked Wildcat basketball team than as a speedy center fielder. Lofton becomes the resident expert in tournament betting pools.