Dodger prospect Pete Reiser, one of 74 minor leaguers who became free agents when Commissioner Landis ruled that the Cardinals had signed too many players who played illegally on multiple teams in the same leagues, homers in his first at-bat during the second game of spring training to begin a streak of ten consecutive hits. The 20 year-old ‘Pistol Pete’ will hit .301 in 38 games in an injury-plagued season with the Elmira Pioneers, the team’s single-A affiliate in the Eastern League.
1939 – Rookie outfielder Pete Reiser starts his second spring training game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After going 0 for 3 yesterday against the Yankees, Reiser belts a home run in his first at bat against the Cardinals, and follows with a walk and two singles. He will have 10 straight hits before striking out three times against Yankees pitcher Oral Hildebrand six days later. When Jack Haley relieves Hildebrand, Reiser hits a home run off him. Reiser will go north with Brooklyn and play in an April 15th exhibition against the Yankees in Ebbets Field before being sent to the Triple-A Elmira Pioneers.
A former member of the New York Giants requesting anonymity reveals that Bobby Thomson’s home run in the 1951 playoffs against the Brooklyn Dodgers was helped by a sign-stealing clubhouse spy. The spying is claimed to have gone on for the last three months of the season. Thomson, along with former Giants manager Leo Durocher, vehemently denies that he received help, but a source close to the team confirms the spy operation.
1963 – The New York Mets, who finished last in the National League with a 40-120 record in their inaugural season, purchase pitcher Carl Willey from the Milwaukee Braves. Willey will boost a pitching rotation that includes Roger Craig, Al Jackson and Tracy Stallard. The Mets will improve to 51-111 this season.
In one of the best trades in franchise history, the New York Yankees acquire reliever Sparky Lyle from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for 1B/OF Danny Cater. In seven seasons with the Yankees, Lyle will post a 57-40 record with 141 saves and a 2.41 ERA, win a Cy Young Award, and help the team to three World Series.
The American League approves the sale of the Cleveland Indians by Vernon Stouffer. A group headed up by businessman Nick Mileti purchases the team for an estimated $9.7 million. Mileti also owns the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association and the Cleveland Crusaders of the World Hockey Association. Stouffer turned down an earlier offer from local business tycoon George Steinbrenner to buy the team, but when the AL owners reject his proposal to have the Indians play some of their games in the New Orleans Superdome, Stouffer decides to sell the team.
1981 – American League President Lee MacPhail suspends Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver for removing his team from the field and forfeiting a spring training game to the Kansas City Royals. It is the fourth career suspension for Weaver, who was upset that the umpires did not provide him with an official batting order after Kansas City made numerous substitutions. Weaver’s suspension will last three days.
1991 – At Sotheby’s in New York, a 1909-10 tobacco card in mint condition of Honus Wagner sells for $451,000, with the 10% auction house premium. Ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall purchase the rare card. On the same day, a 1952 Topps card of Mickey Mantle goes for $49,500, tripling the pre-auction estimate, while a baseball, signed by 12 players at the 1939 Hall of Fame induction ceremony, sells for $20,900.
1993 – Cleveland Indians pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews are killed, and Bob Ojeda is seriously injured, when the motorboat in which they are riding strikes a pier on Little Lake Nellie near Winter Haven, Florida. Crews and Olin are the first active major leaguers to die since Thurman Munson in 1979.
Giants’ slugger Barry Bonds, 11 home runs shy of passing Babe Ruth on the all-time list, indicates he may not play this season. The 40 year-old National League MVP, who has had two knee operations and implicated in the sport’s steroids scandal, cites being physically and mentally “done,” and blames the media for much of his unhappiness.
2005 – Eleven home runs shy of passing Babe Ruth on the all-time list, San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds indicates he may not play this season. The 40-year-old National League MVP, who has had two knee operations and has been implicated in the sport’s steroids scandal, cites being physically and mentally “done” and blames the news media for much of his unhappiness.
2008 – Javy Lopez retires. Lopez hit 260 home runs and slugged .491 in his major league career, producing a 112 OPS+ in 15 seasons. He set a single-season home run record for catchers with 42. A three-time All-Star, Lopez sat out 2007 before managing just a .188 average in his comeback attempt with the Atlanta Braves this spring.
With the same pen he used to sign his rookie contract in 2001, Twins catcher Joe Mauer (.365, 28, 96) signs a $184 million, eight-year contract extension, keeping him with the small market team through 2018. Last year, the 26 year-old backstop, after starting the season on the DL as result of back surgery the previous year, captured his third batting crown and was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player.
Albert Pujols gives the Cardinals a scare as he is scratched from the line-up for today’s Grapefruit League game against the Red Sox, suffering from tightness in his lower back. The 2009 National League MVP has already missed a week of work this spring; he undergoes a MRI and receives an anti-inflammatory injection as a precaution. On the positive side of the ledger for the Cards, OF Matt Holliday is back in the line-up after missing two weeks with a strained chest muscle.
Major League Baseball announces it is setting up a new league for amateur players in the Dominican Republic, in order to give them an opportunity to perform against top competition without having to commit to a professional contract at a very young age. The lack of high school or equivalent competition has hampered the development of the game in the D.R., whose national teams have performed poorly in international competitions in spite of the large number of professional players born in the country.
New Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine gets an early introduction to the fierce rivalry with the Yankees. After the Sox tie a spring training game, 4 – 4, on a squeeze bunt by Jason Repko in the bottom of the 9th inning, Valentine has reliever Clayton Mortensen on the mound ready to pitch the 10th when rival manager Joe Girardi announces that his team is leaving Fort Myers, FL immediately, taking a bus back to their base in Tampa, FL. Girardi later justifies his last-minute decision by the fact that he has used all of the pitchers he had planned to bring into the game, but Valentine is still irked.
2013 – Major League Baseball files a lawsuit against Anthony Bosch and five others connected with the Miami clinic “Biogenesis” that allegedly provided PEDs to a number of players. The suit charges that the defendants “knowingly participated in a scheme to solicit or induce major league players to purchase or obtain performance-enhancing substances in violation of MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.” The suit seeks monetary damages and other relief.
Major League Baseball’s regular season begins with the first of two games played at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, Australia. The Dodgers defeat the Diamondbacks, 3 – 1, behind a vintage performance from defending Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, and a pair of extra-base hits by OF Scott Van Slyke, including the first homer to be hit in the southern hemisphere. Ironically, Van Slyke is only in the starting line-up because OFs Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp have failed to make the trip. It is the first time a regular season game has been played in Australia.
2015 – Yankees prospect Jose Pirela runs into the center field fence at full speed in trying to chase down a drive off the bat of the Mets’ Juan Lagares. He suffers a concussion and has to be taken to hospital, but escapes more serious injury. Meanwhile, Lagares circles the bases with an inside-the-park home run.
In a game attended by Barack Obama, the first sitting United States president on Cuban soil since 1928, the Rays beat the Cuban National team, 4-1, marking the first time in 17 years a major league team has visited the island nation. In 1999 at Havana’s Estadio, the Orioles edge the home team, 3-2, thanks to a Harold Baines’ eventual game-winning hit in the 11th inning.
The Rays defeat the Cuban national team, 4 – 1, in a historic exhibition game played at Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana, Cuba. Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro are in attendance as the ballgame, which is the first by a major league team in Cuba since the 1999 Baltimore Orioles-Cuban National Team Exhibition Series, and only the second since the 1959 Cuban Revolution.
2017 – The United States wins the 2017 World Baseball Classic by defeating heretofore unbeaten Puerto Rico, 8 – 0, in the finals played at Dodger Stadium. Tournament MVP Marcus Stroman gives the U.S. a great start with six innings of one-hit ball, and Ian Kinsler hits a two-run homer off Seth Lugo in the 3rd. Two more runs chase Lugo in the 5th, and the U.S. puts the game away with a three-run outburst in the 7th. Andrew McCutchen and Brandon Crawford drive in two runs each and Nolan Arenado scores twice. It is the U.S.’s first win in four editions of the World Baseball Classic, and Puerto Rico second straight loss in the finals.
2018 – Grapefruit League games are usually pretty laid-back affairs, as the final score is of minor concern to players, managers and fans alike. However, today, umpire Tom Hallion is apparently keen on working out the rust from his ejection gesture, as he gives the thumb no less than five times in a meaningless game between the Tigers and Phillies. Things start in the 5th inning when he tosses Tigers pitcher Matt Boyd for supposedly throwing at Odubel Herrera, then in the 8th he gives the heave-ho to Phillies P Parker Frazier for losing control of a slow curve that ends on Derek Hill’s leg. When manager Gabe Kapler comes out to point out the absurdity of the call, he is sent off as well. Then in the 9th, it’s Pedro Beato who gets his time on the mound shortened for pitching inside to Dylan Rosa, and he’s quickly followed to the clubhouse by bench coach Rob Thomson when he attempts to remind Hallion that this is a spring training game and guys are just trying to throw some pitches against live batters.
2007 – After almost 20 years of wearing a pin in his cap to promote the Sunshine Kids charity for cancer-stricken children, Major League Baseball tells 41-year-old Craig Biggio that he can no longer wear the emblem during spring exhibition games. Biggio reacts angrily while the Astros front office refrains from comment. A week later, after a mild media uproar, Major League Baseball rescinds the order.