1871 – Joseph Jerome (Joe) McGinnity is born in Cornwall Township, Henry County, Illinois. A right-handed pitcher, McGinnity will gain notoriety by winning both ends of doubleheaders, and in 1903, he will pull off the feat three times in a single month, winning all six games. In a ten-season major league career, he will amass 246 wins, including 31 in 1903, 35 in 1904, and seven seasons with 20-plus wins. McGinnity will be elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1946.
1927 – Don Richard (Richie) Ashburn is born in Tilden, Nebraska. A five-time All-Star, Ashburn will be a solid center fielder and a solid hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies. He will hit over .300 during 9 of his 15 major league seasons, twice capturing the National League batting title and conclude his career with a .308 lifetime average. Following his playing career, he will call Phillies games for more than three decades. Ashburn will be elected to the Hall of Fame by the Special Veterans Committee in 1995.
1940 – In an exhibition game that might be a spring training record of sorts, the Triple-A Kansas City Blues pound the Washington Senators, 22 – 5. The Blues collect 23 hits for 46 total bases. Frenchy Bordagaray starts the scoring with a home run in the 1st inning; Jack Saltzgaver hits three triples in three at-bats with five RBI. Another familiar name, Johnny Lindell, yields three hits in three innings on the mound for the Blues.
John Henry (Pop) Lloyd dies in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at the age of 80. Considered one of the best black players of the deadball era, Lloyd was a line drive hitter whose extraordinary skills at shortstop drew favorable comparisons to Honus Wagner. From 1906 through 1931 he played for 12 Negro League teams, primary with the New York Lincoln Giants. Lloyd later became a player-manager, and was given the affectionate nickname, “Pop,” by the young players he mentored. Lloyd will be elected to the Hall of Fame by the by Negro Leagues Committee in 1977.
1974 – In a five-player, three-team deal involving the Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, and New York Yankees, pitcher Jim Perry joins his pitching brother, Gaylord, in Cleveland. Detroit sends Perry to the Indians and Ed Farmer to the Yankees, who send Jerry Moses to Detroit, and Cleveland sends Rick Sawyer and Walt Williams to the Yankees. This season will mark the Perrys’ first as teammates during their major league careers.
1981 – Toronto Blue Jays 3B and All-American basketball player Danny Ainge drives the length of the court for a lay-up with two seconds to play, giving Brigham Young University a 51-50 upset victory over seventh-ranked University of Notre Dame in the NCAA East Regional semifinals. Ainge will hit .187 in 86 games for Toronto this season, retire, then sign to play for the NBA Boston Celtics.
1999 – The career of New York Mets pitcher Paul Wilson is derailed again when he suffers a partially torn ligament in his pitching elbow while warming up before a three-inning stint in a minor league game. An MRI will show a partial tear of a ligament in his elbow, and on March 30th he will undergo Tommy John surgery which will sideline him for the year.
2005 – After avoiding salary arbitration by signing a one-year deal worth $10.5 million in the off-season, Lance Berkman agrees to a six-year, $85 million contract with the Houston Astros. The three-time All-Star outfielder will be an Astro until 2010, with the club holding the option for an additional year.
In protest of coaches not receiving the same $40,000 stipend negotiated by the players union, the Red Sox players vote to boycott playing in their exhibition game, scheduled to be televised nationally from the City of Palms Park, and tomorrow’s flight to Japan for the season-opening game against the A’s. The delayed game starts an hour later when MLB consents to pay the managers, coaches, and trainers $20,000 each from management’s proceeds, with the team agreeing to make up the difference.
2010 – Oney Guillen, the son of White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, is asked to resign from his job as a member of the team’s minor league department because of uncomplimentary remarks about the organization which he made on his “Twitter” account. Says Ozzie about the incident: “It’s hard when you see your kids and tell them, ‘I just told the people you got to resign.’ I think that’s the hardest thing I ever did in my life.”
2012 – New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, facing a $300 million lawsuit, agree to pay $162 million into a trust fund for victims of Bernard Madoff’s fraudulent investment scheme, thus averting a trial. The payoff is because the Mets were among the few investors who made money out of their investments in Madoff’s fund, while thousands of smaller investors lost everything when the whole house of cards collapsed in 2009. Wilpon and Katz will put up $29 million of their own money in the settlement.
2013 – The Dominican Republic national team wins the 2013 World Baseball Classic, topping Puerto Rico, 3 – 0, in the finale. Samuel Deduno, Octavio Dotel, Santiago Casilla and Fernando Rodney combine on a three-hit shutout, Rodney notching his 7th save of the tournament for the unbeaten Dominicans. Edwin Encarnación’s two-run double off Giancarlo Alvarado is the biggest hit of the night. Robinson Canó hits .469 with six runs and six RBI in eight games to be named MVP of the Classic; he sets a new Classic record for hits with 15, breaking Nobuhiko Matsunaka’s record.
2014 – A Cactus League game between the Reds and Royals is abruptly stopped in the 6th inning when Reds closer Aroldis Chapman is struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of Salvador Perez. Chapman is taken off the field on a stretcher, with fractures above his eye and in his nose, as well as multiple lacerations. The two managers then elect not to continue play, with the blessing of home plate umpire Chris Guccione.
2016 – In the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers, host Panama overcomes an early 3 – 0 lead by the underdog French national team before escaping with a 7 – 4 win that will have them face Colombia in the group finals. In the other pool, Nicaragua needs extra innings to defeat a pesky Czech team, 7 – 6. Nicaragua strikes out a combined 18 batters in the contest.
Putting financial considerations ahead of on-field competitiveness, the Braves send top prospect Ronald Acuna to the minors, even though the Baseball America 2017 Minor League Player of the Year has been red hot in spring training, hitting .432 with 4 homers, and is obviously ready for the Show. However, the Braves want to delay the start of his arbitration clock by a year by keeping him away from the bigs for at least a couple of weeks.
1988 – Larry Andersen closes out a 4-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals. It was number 42 but it didn’t look like Andy and, in fact, it wasn’t. It’s Dave Smith, who forgot to pack his jersey for the short bus trip. Andersen bought an unmarked jersey at a concession stand so as to not be missed in the bullpen. The stunt leads to a fine for both players.
1962 – Mickey Herskowitz of the Houston Post has his first column published as a mythical Houston pitcher named “Lefty” who tells about life with the Colt .45s. He continues the columns for five years and they sell as a book entitled “Letters From Lefty”. A few more letters show up through 1971. They remain some of the best stories about the early years of the franchise.