In Maryland, the Washington Senators start spring training with six knuckleballers likely to make the staff: Alex Carrasquel, Mickey Haefner, Dutch Leonard, Bill Lefebvre, Johnny Niggeling and Roger Wolff. Solid catcher Rick Ferrell will have to corral the flutterballs. Finally, Haefner, Leonard, Niggeling and Wolff will join Early Wynn in the starting rotation. The rest go to the bullpen.
Bert Shepard, a one-legged pitcher, begins a successful tryout with the Washington Senators. Shepard’s leg was amputated after a World War II flying mission. Shepard will pitch in only one game for the Senators, but his stint will be impressive. On August 4th, he will pitch five and one-third innings of one-run ball against the Boston Red Sox. Also a symbol of wartime baseball, outfielder Pete Gray of the St. Louis Browns, will field and bat with only one arm.
With World War II travel restrictions still in effect, the Brooklyn Dodgers open spring training at Bear Mountain, New York, with 15 players in camp. Seven teams – the St. Louis Browns, Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox – are training in Indiana, the most of any state. The Boston Red Sox are at Tufts College while the Boston Braves are prepping at the Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut.
Bernie Gera files a civil rights suit against MLB when her contract to umpire in the New York-Penn League becomes void after six days without an explanation. The New York Court of Appeals, in an eventual landmark 5-2 decision, will uphold a previous court’s ruling, agreeing with the 39 year-old housewife’s contention that she had been discriminated against unlawfully.
1971 – Bernice Gera, a 39-year-old New York, NY housewife, files a lawsuit against organized baseball, claiming violation of her civil rights. Mrs. Gera had completed an umpire school and signed a contract to work in the New York-Penn League, only to see the deal be voided six days later with no explanation. Gera will eventually umpire one game before quitting.
In a nine-player spring training swap with Pittsburgh, the A’s send Phil Garner, Chris Batton, and Tommy Helms to the Pirates for Tony Armas, Mitchell Page, and four pitchers, including Doc Medich and Dave Giusti. Pittsburgh’s acquisition of infielder Phil Garner, the key player in the deal, will move a very disappointed Bill Robinson back into a utility role after he worked all winter to get ready to be the team’s everyday third baseman.
1978 – The Oakland Athletics trade star pitcher Vida Blue to the San Francisco Giants for seven players and nearly $400,000 in cash. In exchange for Blue, Oakland acquires catcher Gary Alexander, infielder Mario Guerrero, outfielder Gary Thomasson, and pitchers Dave Heaverlo, Phil Huffman, John Henry Johnson and Alan Wirth. Blue will win 18 games for the Giants this season.
Two games are played today in Round Two of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. In Pool One, at Angel Stadium, Chan Ho Park and four relievers combine to pitch a six-hitter, Jong Beom Lee hits a two-run double in the 8th inning, and South Korea beats Japan, 2 – 1, to clinch a spot in the semifinals. The United States, who would have been eliminated with a low-scoring win by Japan, can wrap up the other semifinal berth tomorrow with Roger Clemens on the mound, by beating Mexico. South Korea went 3-0 in Round 2; the United States is 1-1, Japan finishes 1-2, and Mexico is 0-2. The US beat Mexico, 2 – 0, in the first round. South Korea (6-0) still is the only undefeated team in the Classic.
Alexei Bell hits his 29th home run of the Cuban Serie Nacional season, going deep against Ubisney Bermúdez in the 2nd inning. The Santiago de Cuba outfielder breaks Joan Carlos Pedroso’s five-year-old homer record. Bell also drives in his 100th run of the season, the first player ever to do that in the 46 years of the Serie Nacional.
Daisuke Matsuzaka tosses six scoreless innings against the Cuban national team and Hisashi Iwakuma, Takahiro Mahara and Kyuji Fujikawa complete the shutout as Japan wins, 6 – 0, in the 2009 World Baseball Classic matchup of the 2006 finalists. Aroldis Chapman hits 100 mph on the radar gun but has trouble hitting the strike zone without being hit by Japanese bats and is knocked out in the 3rd inning.
Team USA eliminates the Dutch national team with a 9 – 3 romp as middle infielders Jimmy Rollins and Brian Roberts combine for 5 hits, 2 walks, 2 triples, 4 runs and 5 RBI. The Netherlands had previously upset the Dominican national team twice and almost beaten Puerto Rico, which had routed the USA in their match-up.
For the second time this spring, the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton has to leave work early because of injury. This time, he’s hit on the left arm by a pitch from the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner in the 3rd inning of an exhibition game. His bosses are concerned, since he missed half of 2009 with various ailments.
It’s a short outing for the Mariners’ prize winter acquisition, Cliff Lee, in his second start of the Cactus League season. He is ejected in the bottom of the 3rd inning by umpire Brian Knight for throwing at the Diamondbacks’ Chris Snyder. He gets the rest of his scheduled work in by throwing on a back field in the spring training complex. He will receive a five-game suspension, to be served at the beginning of the regular season, for his actions.
The Major League Baseball Players Association circulates an expanded list of “dangerous contaminated supplements”, which now contains 104 products. These nutritional supplements are legal but potentially contaminated, and could cause false positives under Major League Baseball’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Commissioner Bud Selig forms a twelve-person committee to study the origins of baseball, with newly-appointed official historian John Thorn as its chair. The issue has been rekindled with the publication this week of Thorn’s book, Baseball in the Garden of Eden, which casts doubt on the role of Alexander Cartwright in laying down the fundamental principles of the game. Ironically, Cartwright was promoted as the “real” founder of the game to counteract the unfounded legend that Abner Doubleday had laid down the first baseball diamond in Cooperstown, NY in 1839. Thorn argues that the game is in fact much older than once thought, with traces found in 18th century records.
The Pacific League announces it is postponing its season opener following the major earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan four days ago; the Rakuten Golden Eagles play in one of the areas most affected. The Central League plans to go ahead with its regular schedule, with its teams being further away from the worst-hit zone. A number of US players are also leaving Japan because of fears of a potential radiation leak at the disabled Fukushima nuclear power plant.
The website Baseball-Reference.com chooses to leave a blank space next to 2011 on its National League MVP list instead of identifying Ryan Braun as the award’s winner. The Brewers outfielder, who received a 50-game suspension scheduled to the start of the 2012 season, became the first player to successfully challenge the results of a drug test when an arbitration panel overturned the suspension due to the improper handling of the specimen taken last Fall.
2012 – Oft-injured P Chien-Ming Wang, slated to be the Nationals’ fifth starter, has to leave a Grapefruit League game after landing awkwardly when he fields a slow grounder off the bat of the Yankees’ Russell Martin in the 3rd inning. Wang crumples to the ground after touching first base and has to be assisted to leave the field.
2013 – Puerto Rico eliminates Team USA from the 2013 World Baseball Classic with a 4 – 3 win. The Puerto Ricans take an early 4 – 0 lead behind a great start by Nelson Figueroa, who gives up no runs on 2 hits in 6 innings, but the USA claws back, with one run in the 7th and 2 in the 8th. J.C. Romero retires Eric Hosmer with the the bases loaded to end the 8th, then sets down the Americans in order in the 9th to end the game.
At the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the Netherlands humiliate Cuba with a 14 – 1 win, moving to the semi-finals as a result. Wladimir Balentien homers twice and drives in 5 runs in the rout, which is ended by the mercy rule after 7 innings. In the other game in the pool, Japan puts an end to Israel’s Cinderella story with an 8 – 3 win at home that prolongs its unbeaten streak to six games. The game is a scoreless tie through five innings, as Israel gets great pitching from Josh Zeid, who is normally the team’s closer, but after he leaves, Israel’s bullpen is bludgeoned for 5 runs in the 6th, including a homer by Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh. The lead eventually reaches 8 – 0 before Israel scores a few late runs. As a result of the win, Japan will join the Netherlands in the semi-finals.
In the other second-round game in the WBC, the United States defeat Venezuela, 4 – 2, after trailing 2-0 in the middle of the 7th. Playing probably its best game of the tournament so far, Venezuela takes a lead thanks to a sacrifice fly by Ender Inciarte that scores Carlos Gonzalez in the 3rd and a solo homer by Rougned Odor off David Robertson in the 7th. Felix Hernandez tosses five scoreless innings, but in the 7th, Odor’s error sets up a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Lucroy, then in the 8th, Adam Jones greets reliever Hector Rondon with a homer, Christian Yelich singles and Eric Hosmer hits another homer to put the U.S. ahead. Luke Gregerson then pitches a scoreless 9th for the save, as Pat Neshek gets credit for the win.
1988 – It hits the fan when newspapers publish pitcher Bob Knepper’s reaction to the performance of minor league umpire Pam Postema, attempting to become the first woman ump in the majors. Knepper states his religious beliefs that women should not “have authority” over men. Astros public relations say calls in reaction to the comments are running 70% opposed. Postema’s career eventually falls short of the big leagues.