This Day In Baseball March 18
1942 – Two black players, Jackie Robinson and Nate Moreland, request a tryout with the Chicago White Sox during spring training in Pasadena, California. Sox manager Jimmie Dykes allows the two to work out but later dismisses them. Robinson will have to wait five years before making his major league debut.
1943 – Due to wartime travel restrictions, spring training camps begin opening in northern locations. Some of the locales include Bear Mountain, New York (Brooklyn Dodgers), French Lick Springs, Indiana (Cubs and White Sox), Asbury Park, New Jersey (Yankees), Medford, Massachusetts (Boston Red Sox) and Wallingford, Connecticut (Boston Braves).
“Braves Win Last Game for Boston, Milwaukee Loses It.” – BOSTON GLOBE, headline lamenting the city’s National League franchise move to Milwaukee.When the Braves’ move from Boston is officially approved unanimously by the National League owners, the team is on the field, beating the Yankees in the fifth inning, 3–0. The club now representing Milwaukee, as of 2:33 PM, blows the lead, dropping a 5-3 decision to the Yankees in the Bradenton, Florida exhibition game.
On the day that will become known as ‘Black Friday’ in Boston, Lou Perini announces he will seek permission from the National League to move his franchise to Milwaukee, home of the team’s top minor-league affiliate. The Braves owner cites poor attendance as the reason for asking to relocate the club, after spending 82 years in the New England city.
The Braves end the 77 year-old association with Boston and become the first major league club to move since 1903 when Baltimore moved to New York. The franchise will spend a dozen years in the mid-western city, setting attendance records and appearing in two World Series, before moving to Atlanta, lured by the promise of a brand new state of the art stadium in an area they would be the only big league club.
1953 – The Milwaukee Braves become the first franchise to move since 1903, when the Baltimore Orioles became the New York Highlanders. The Braves have been in Boston, MA for 77 years. In a related move, the minor league Milwaukee Brewers move to Toledo, Ohio, where they become the latest incarnation of the Toledo Mud Hens.
1957 – In what is believed to be the largest offer for a player to date, Cleveland Indians general manager Hank Greenberg reject a million-dollar offer for left-handed pitcher Herb Score from Boston Red Sox GM Joe Cronin. Greenberg refuses, saying that Cleveland is interested in building for the future, not in selling its premier ballplayers. Score won 20 games in 1956 and led the American League with 263 strikeouts. Unfortunately, six weeks later, Score will be struck in the eye by a batted ball by Gil McDougald and will win only 19 more games over the rest of his career.
1984 – Charlie Lau, renowned batting instructor, dies in Key Colony Beach, FL, at age 50 after a long bout with cancer. Lau, whose major league career batting average was .255, earned his fame as the Kansas City Royals batting coach from 1971 to 1978, where his star pupil was George Brett. Lau also served as a batting coach for the Baltimore Orioles, Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox and wrote a book called “The Art of Hitting .300”.
1990 – Major league players and owners reach a new collective bargaining agreement that will end the 32-day lockout of spring training camps. Highlights of the deal include increasing the clubs’ contributions to the players’ pension fund, raising the major league minimum salary to $100,000, and a compromise on salary arbitration that leaves 17 percent of players with between two and three years of major league experience eligible.
After Mark McGwire, who had previously denied the use of steroids, refuses to answer the questions concerning his involvement during the congressional hearings, U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay (D-MO) wants to remove the slugger’s name given to a stretch of highway in his state. The legislators officially renamed a five-mile segment of Interstate-70 the Mark McGwire Highway as a tribute to ‘Big Mac’ hitting a record 70 home runs in 1998.
In the next game, Japan pounds South Korea when it matters most. Byung-Hyun Kim gives up another big home run, a two-run shot by pinch hitter Kosuke Fukudome in the 7th inning that breaks a scoreless tie and sends Japan to a 6 – 0 victory. After falling short in their first two meetings, Japan gains a measure of revenge over their bitter Asian rivals and claims a place in the WBC final against Cuba on March 20th.
In the semifinals of the inaugural World Baseball Classic, Cuba advances to the finals with a 3 – 1 victory over the Dominican Republic at PETCO Park. Facing a batting order of major league sluggers that could rival the USA, starter Yadel Marti gives Cuba 4 1/3 shutout innings before turning to reliever Pedro Luis Lazo, who has helped pitch Cuba to two Olympic gold medals. Both pitchers combine to hold the Dominicans to a single run on eight hits. The only team without a major league player to make it to the final four, Cuba’s amateurs have demonstrated throughout the tournament that the small Communist nation continues to produce some of the world’s top baseball talent.
In an attempt to be part of a healing process on the campus where 32 students and staff became victims of a deadly shooting spree last April, the Yankees play the Hokies at Virginia Tech’s English Field. George Steinbrenner, moved by coverage of the massacre last spring, donated $1 million to a memorial fund and made arrangements for his team to participate in an exhibition game at the school.
Cuba fails to make the finals of a major global baseball competition for the first time since the 1951 Amateur World Series and gets their first-ever finish outside the top four. Japan eliminates them, 5 – 0, in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Hisashi Iwakuma and Toshiya Sugiuchi combine on a five-hit shutout. Norichika Aoki goes 4 for 5 with a run and 2 RBI to lead the Japanese offense. It is Japan’s third straight World Baseball Classic win over Cuba.
2010 – The Marlins and Mets announce that they will play a three-game series in San Juan, Puerto Rico June 28-30, marking Major League Baseball’s return to Hiram Bithorn Stadium for the first time since the Montreal Expos used it as a part-time home in 2003 and 2004. The series was originally to be played in Miami, FL and is part of an effort by the Marlins to expand their Caribbean fan base.
The Mets release veteran 2B Luis Castillo. While Castillo is coming off a poor season in which he hit only .235 with no homers and 17 RBI, the move is surprising as he is owed over $6 million and there is no obvious candidate to replace him as the starter. On March 20th, the Phillies, worried over Chase Utley’s persisting knee problems, will offer Castillo a minor league contract, but he will fail to make the team, ending his career.
2012 – The Nationals assign top prospect Bryce Harper to the AAA Syracuse Chiefs, where he will likely be the youngest player in the International League and will learn to play centerfield in anticipation of a call-up to Washington expected before the end of the summer. Indeed, the call-up will come earlier than anticipated, on April 29th, and Harper will never look back, earning Rookie of the Year honors in the National League.
The Dominican Republic will face Puerto Rico in tomorrow’s championship game in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, after it defeats the Netherlands, 4 – 1. The Dominicans score all their runs in the 5th against Diegomar Markwell as three members of the Blue Jays – OF Moises Sierra, 1B Edwin Encarnacion and SS Jose Reyes – drive in runs to erase an early 1 – 0 deficit. Edinson Volquez allows one run on two hits in five innings to pick up the win while Fernando Rodney records his 6th save of the tournament.
Jose Quintana of the White Sox is glad that Cactus League stats do not count after a truly dreadful start against the Athletics: all nine batters he faces reach base, and they all eventually come in to score, before he gets removed, having allowed 7 hits and 2 walks, retiring none. The hits include a long homer by Jed Lowrie and a triple by Sam Fuld. No starter has ever allowed 9 runs without retiring a batter in a major league game, although Hank Borowy managed the dubious feat in a relief outing with the Tigers in 1951.
The 2014 Recinto de la Fama balloting results are announced. Fernando Valenzuela, the 1981 National League Cy Young Award winner, leads the voting by a significant margin. Joining him in winning induction are Daniel Fernández (the Mexican League career leader with 1,837 runs), Ricardo Sáenz (the Mexican League double leader with 496 for his career) and Cuauhtémoc Rodríguez (an executive whose teams won eight titles).
2016 – In the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers, Colombia reaches the final of its group by defeating host Panama, 6 – 3 behind six hitless innings by Karl Lewis Triana. Mexico also qualifies for the finals in the group it is hosting with an 11 – 0 win over Nicaragua in a game stopped early by the mercy rule. France scores a historic win, its first in WBC competition, as it eliminates Spain, who had qualified for the 2013 tournament, with a 5 – 3 win thanks to a clutch relief performance by Pierrick Lemestre who strikes out Jesus Ustariz with the bases loaded in the 8th. The Czech Republic also registers a big win, eliminating Germany, 15 – 3, confirming its solid performance of a day earlier in which it made Mexico sweat to edge them, 2 – 1.
2017 – The final two second-round games of the 2017 World Baseball Classic are held. Puerto Rico confirms its flawless run so far by crushing Venezuela, 13 – 2, battering Martin Perez and five other pitchers for 17 hits. Carlos Correa and Kennys Vargas, who hits Puerto Rico’s sole homer in the 9th, both score three times, while Mike Aviles has four hits and drives in three. Both Venezuelan runs come on a homer by Rougned Odor. In the other game, the United States avenge a first-round loss by defeating the powerful Dominican Republic, 6 – 3. The Dominicans score a couple of 1st-inning runs off Danny Duffy, but the U.S. comes back with 2 in the 3rd before Giancarlo Stanton hits a two-run homer off Ervin Santana in the 4th. A solo homer by Robinson Cano in the 7th pulls the Dominican within one, but a two-run double by Andrew McCutchen in the 8th puts the game away. The win eliminates the title holders and puts the USA in the final four for only the second time in four tournaments.
2009 – Infielder Aaron Boone, a free agent signed in December, announces he will have aortic heart surgery and forgo the season. Boone is best known for his home run that decided the 2003 A.L.C.S. for the Yankees over the Red Sox. He was expected to platoon at third base. Successful surgery is performed eight days later. He returns in September but goes hitless in 13 attempts.