1895 – John T. Brush, owner of the Cincinnati Reds and the Indianapolis Hoosiers, transfers six Reds players to his other team. This sort of exchange becomes increasingly common in the 1890s as owners of more than one team shuttle their players between their teams throughout each season in an attempt to stock their most profitable team of the moment. This strategy causes much distrust among fans, who feel that their loyalties are being trampled.
1900 – At an American League meeting in Chicago, Ban Johnson announces that an A.L. team will be placed in the Windy City to ensure the stability of the league. Other franchises are in Kansas City, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. In an agreement with Chicago National League officials, the A.L. club will be situated on the south side of the city and will be permitted to use the nickname Chicago White Stockings, formerly used by the N.L. team. However, the White Stockings will not be able to use the word Chicago in their official name. The new franchise, known as the White Sox, will be the 1901 A.L. champion in the junior circuit’s inaugural season as a major league.
1906 – Lloyd Waner is born in Harrah, Oklahoma. Although Waner weighs only 150 pounds in his prime, he can hit for average, steal bases, field and throw as a center fielder, and beat opponents in countless ways. He does not draw many walks or hit for much power, however. He will make his major league debut in 1927, batting .355 while garnering 223 hits, the latter figure establishing a National League rookie record that will stand until the 21st century. Waner will hit over .300 in 10 of his first 12 seasons, compiling a career mark of .316 with 2,459 hits, striking out just 173 times in an 18-season major league career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies and Brooklyn Dodgers. Waner will be elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1967 during one of their “open-door” periods.
1907 – In a trade of legendary outfielders, the Detroit Tigers send Ty Cobb to the Cleveland Naps in exchange for Elmer Flick. But Cleveland’s manager, Nap Lajoie, rejects the trade of the future Hall of Famers. Flick will bat .302 this year, while Cobb will lead the American League with a .350 mark.
1908 – Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Honus Wagner, at age 34, announces his retirement. An annual rite of spring, it will not keep him from playing in 151 games, more than in any of the past 10 years, and leading the National League in batting average (for the sixth time), hits, total bases, doubles, triples, slugging, runs batted in, and stolen bases. He will miss the Triple Crown by hitting two fewer home runs than Tim Jordan’s 12.
The American League rejects Bill Veeck’s request to shift the Browns to Baltimore, voting 6-2 to keep the failing franchise in St. Louis. The lack of support from his fellow owners, except for Charles Comiskey of the White Sox, is an effort to oust the independent-minded maverick from the Junior Circuit.
1953 – American League owners turn down a bid made by Bill Veeck to move the St. Louis Browns to Baltimore, MD. Spearheaded by Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith, the vote is 6-2 against. Some observers speculate that the rejection is meant to force Veeck into selling his majority interest in the franchise. The next day, Veeck announces his willingness to sell the Browns for just under $2.5 million. The vote only delays the move by a year, however.
1956 – Two Triples and one Triple Play, courtesy of Roberto Clemente and Eddie O’Brien respectively. These, along with the first home runs of the spring for Frank Thomas and Jack Shepard, are the highlights of Pittsburgh’s exhibition win over Detroit, a somewhat slovenly 10 – 5 affair. For sheer novelty, O’Brien’s spectacularly unsuccessful 6th-inning sacrifice attempt is hard to top. Les Biederman of the Pittsburgh Press reports: “O’Brien tried to bunt but popped the ball to pitcher Bill Black, who threw to first and the relay went to second base in time for the first triple play of the exhibition season.” Going from the ridiculous to the sublime, there’s Clemente, who, in Fort Myers as in Forbes Field, has quickly established himself as the fan favorite. By far the most incendiary of today’s highlights are Clemente’s two two-run triples. “Clemente brought down the house when he twice tripled with two aboard,” writes Biederman, “and the 1,289 fans gave him the glad hand.”
1969 – A plane crash in Maracaibo, Venezuela kills 155 passengers including highly touted prospect Nestor (Latigo) Chavez, en route to the San Francisco Giants spring training camp. The 21-year-old pitcher, who posted a 1-0 mark in his rookie season with the Giants, was 12-5 with Double-A Waterbury in the Eastern League in 1967, including seven shutouts. Also on board were minor leaguer Carlos Santeliz and Venezuelan League executive Antonio Herrera Gutiérrez.
The state of New York approves a bond issue for the construction of a 55,000-seat stadium on the site of the 1939-40 World’s Fair in the Queens Flushing Meadow area. The ballpark will be named Shea Stadium to honor William Shea, a lawyer who was instrumental in bringing the National League back to New York.
Oakland Athletics holdout Vida Blue announces that he has rejected the team’s latest contract offer and will retire to work for a company that makes toilet fixtures. The “retirement” won’t last long, as Blue will eventually come to terms with Oakland and begin his season in May. A 24-game winner in 1971, Blue will have a 6-10 record in 1972 but redeem himself by saving Game 1 of the World Series.
Roy Halladay (12-4, 2.41) agrees to a $40 million, three-year contract extension which could keep the ‘Doc’ with the Blue Jays through the 2010 season. The 2003 American League Cy Young winner’s season was cut short after getting drilled by a line drive hit by Ranger Kevin Mench, resulting in a broken leg.
2006 – In the inaugural World Baseball Classic, Mexico eliminates the United States, 2 – 1, at Angel Stadium in front of 35,284 boisterous fans whose allegiance is split down the middle. Mexico had helped the United States in Round One by beating Canada, thus staving off elimination for the Americans, but showed no such gratitude in Round Two. Jorge Cantú drives in both runs and eight pitchers limit the US team to three hits, none after the 5th inning. With Japan, the United States and Mexico all finishing 1-2 in Round Two, a complicated tiebreaker involving runs allowed divided by the number of innings played against each other is invoked. Japan allowed the fewest runs per inning played and joins South Korea, Cuba and the Dominican Republic in the final round in San Diego. Roger Clemens gives up six hits and strikes out four, allowing two runs in 4 1/3 innings. In the 3rd inning, Mario Valenzuela slices a fly ball directly down the right field line that hits off the foul pole for a home run. But controversial umpire Bob Davidson rules the ball went off the short outfield wall and awards Valenzuela a double, which sets off a lengthy argument from Mexico. On March 12th, Davidson overruled a decision that denied Japan a crucial run in a loss to the United States. Cantú, however, nullifies the call this time with a two-out RBI single for a 1 – 0 Mexico lead. The United States score their only run in the 4th, when Vernon Wells drives in Chipper Jones with a sacrifice fly. In the inning, Valenzuela makes a defensive gem in right field, taking away a home run from Alex Rodriguez. He then scores his second run in the 5th on Cantú’s RBI groundout. Those are all the runs Mexico needs.
Venezuela becomes the first team to clinch a semifinal spot in the Classic as they top Puerto Rico, 2 – 0. Puerto Rico had been the only unbeaten team left in the competition; they strand numerous runners in the game. The contest involves an instant replay controversy. Ramón Hernández homers in the 7th; umpire Mark Wegner initially says the ball is in play and a triple. The umps try to use instant replay but the TV feed does not work. Relying on the opinion of 3B umpire Hitoshi Watarida, they rule it a home run. Replays later show that Watarida was correct.
2010 – Former All-Star second baseman Chuck Knoblauch pleads guilty to a charge of domestic violence, stemming from an assault on his common-law wife in their Houston, TX home last September. He is given a $1000 fine and probation time. Retirement has not been easy for Knoblauch; in 2007 he was named in the Mitchell Report for his use of performance-enhancing drugs as a player.
The 2012 Mexican League season begins with an exciting contest. The Mexico City Red Devils trail the Quintana Roo Tigers, 2 – 1, entering the 9th. Sandy Nin gets the first two outs for Quintana Roo and is about to shut the door when Mario Valenzuela goes deep. Two innings later, Mexico City’s John Rodriguez clubs a two-run homer to wrap up the 4-2 comeback.
Only eight days after pitching his final game for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic, Yadier Pedroso dies in a car crash on a highway outside Havana. Pedroso had beaten Yu Darvish in the finale of the 2004 World Junior Championship, been named Serie Nacional Rookie of the Year (2004-2005), had won a Silver Medal in the 2008 Olympics and had been the All-Star relief pitcher in both the 2010 Intercontinental Cup and 2011 Baseball World Cup.
Investigators into the fatal boat accident that killed young Marlins star P Jose Fernandez last September have determined that he was piloting the speeding vessel when it crashed into a jetty in Miami, FL harbor. He was also above the legal limit for alcohol and had trace amounts of cocaine in his system at the time of his death.
The Dominican Republic gets back to its winning ways in the second round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic as six pitchers combine to shut out Venezuela, 3 – 0. Edinson Volquez starts things off with 4 1/3 scoreless innings then in the 5th Gregory Polanco homers off Jhoulys Chacin to give the D.R. the only run it needs. The Dominicans add a couple of insurance runs, with Nelson Cruz also going deep in the 8th, off Arcenio Leon, before Jeurys Familia strikes out the side around a pair of singles in the 9th to close out the win.
2018 – News stories emerge that defending AL MVP José Altuve has signed a contract extension guaranteeing him $151 million over five years starting in 2020. The huge salary will compensate for the fact that Altuve has been a tremendous bargain for the Houston Astros until now, earning just $6 million this season.
2018 – Jose Altuve and the Astros agree to a five-year extension to his contract, paying him $151 million for the 2020-2024 seasons, ensuring the popular infielder stays in Houston through his peak playing years. On the field, Lance McCullers leads a two-hit shutout of the Yankees with solo homers by J.D. Davis and Tyler White providing the offense.
2003 – As America prepares for a second war with Iraq, opinions are strong on both sides. After the lead singer of the country music group “The Dixie Chicks” causes an uproar by saying on stage that she’s embarrassed that President George W. Bush is from Texas, Lance Berkman, another native Texan, says he’s embarrassed for her and suggests she move to Oklahoma.
1994 – A poll conducted for the city of Houston at the request of Astros owner Drayton McLane shows 56 percent disapprove of building a downtown domed stadium primarily for the NFL Oilers and the NBA Rockets. Only 24% approve. Among those who disapprove, 49% say a new park is simply “not needed”. Mayor Bob Lanier backs away from supporting the proposed stadium, which sets the scene for the Oilers’ later move to Nashville, TN and the creation of a baseball-only downtown facility for the Astros.