1938 – Commissioner Landis frees 74 St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, among them Pete Reiser, in yet another attempt to halt the farm system cover-up. Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Larry MacPhail makes a pact with his St. Louis counterpart, Branch Rickey, to take the as-yet unknown Reiser and swap him back in the future, but the young outfielder’s ability is too great to hide.
1955 – 160-something pound rookie Roberto Clemente flashes some of his under-publicized power in the form of a triple, “425 feet to the fence in center,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jack Hernon. In the process, Clemente hits a laser to the deepest part of the ballpark in the Pirates’ spring training home, Terry Park, in Fort Myers, FL, in the 3rd inning of an exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox. However, as Pittsburgh Press writer Les Biederman recounts, (Clemente) “then was an easy out at the plate when he tried to stretch the drive into an inside-the-park homer.”
1959 – The San Francisco Giants clear space for future Hall of Famers Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey by trading first baseman Bill White to the St. Louis Cardinals. Cepeda won the 1958 National League Rookie of the Year Award after batting .312 with 25 home runs and 96 RBI. McCovey, a top prospect in the Giants’ farm system, will make his major league debut this season.
1968 – In a spring training game, Chicago Cubs pitcher Jim Ellis creates the “Lip Pass” by going to his mouth on a 3 and 1 count to issue an intentional walk. Cubs manager Leo Durocher, who was opposed to the new strict enforcement of the rule preventing pitchers from going to their mouth while on the rubber, is warned not to repeat the Lip pass or he’ll be fined. He doesn’t, but the rule is relaxed.
Howard Spira, who was paid $40,000 by George Steinbrenner in January to dig up dirt on outfielder Dave Winfield, is arrested by the FBI for trying to extort money from the Yankees owner. Commissioner Fay Vincent bans the Boss from playing any role in the team’s day-to-day operations for thirty months, upon learning about the arrangement with the Bronx gambler.
Thanks to Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki’s two-out, two-run single in the top of the 10th inning, Japan defeats South Korea, 5-3, to win its second consecutive World Baseball Classic title. South Korea, the reigning Olympic champion, had tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth on Lee Bum-ho’s two-out RBI single off Japanese closer Yu Darvish in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 54,846 at Dodger Stadium.
The Miami-Dade County commissioners approve the final documents necessary to move forward on the Marlins’ new 37,000-seat home, planned to be located on the present grounds of Miami’s Orange Bowl. The long-anticipated retractable-roof ballpark will become a reality in 2012, with the team breaking ground this July.
Curt Schilling announces his retirement on his blog. He pitched 23 seasons in the major leagues and won three World Series (2001, 2004 and 2007), sharing World Series MVP honors in 2001. He went 216-146 with 3116 strikeouts in the majors. He made six All-Star teams and was a 3-time runner-up for the Cy Young Award. He retires 15th all-time in strikeouts and first in K:BB ratio for players from the 20th Century or later.
Japan wins the 2009 World Baseball Classic, its second World Baseball Classic title in the two times the tournament had been held. As in 2006, Daisuke Matsuzaka is named MVP after going 3-0. In the finale, Japan beats the South Korean national team, 5 – 3 ,in 10 innings, with a 2-run single by Ichiro Suzuki off Chang-yong Lim being the winning hit. Suzuki goes 4 for 6 in the game. Yu Darvish gets the win after blowing a save opportunity in the 9th.
Japan’s Central League announces that it will delay its opener, scheduled for March 25th, until at least April 12th in the wake of the devastating March 11th earthquake and tsunami. The Pacific League has already announced a delay in its opener, and both leagues will refrain from playing night games in April in order to ease the strain of the country’s battered power grid.
On the last day of the Cuban Serie Nacional 2010-2011 regular season, José Dariel Abreu cracks his 33rd home run. Despite missing about a quarter of the season with an injury, Abreu wins two legs of the Triple Crown. He and Yoennis Céspedes both break Alfredo Despaigne’s two-year old home run record of 32. Cuban baseball has seen increased home run outputs in recent years with the more lively Mizuno 150 baseball being used.
Boston reliever Bobby Jenks is arrested in Fort Myers, FL for driving under the influence, destruction of property and leaving the scene of an accident. Jenks argues that the cause of his erratic driving is because “I took too many muscle relaxers.” After further questions from police, he confesses that “I was just leaving Babes (nightclub) because I hit a car. I just had to get out of there.” Jenks had problems with alcohol in past years but claimed in 2010 that he had stopped drinking altogether.
Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain dislocates his ankle while playing on a trampoline with his son. Already recovering from Tommy John surgery, he undergoes emergency surgery for an open dislocation. Doctors report that he lost so much blood that there was concern for his life and that he will need to stay hospitalized for several days. While the injury is thought to be season-ending, Joba will be back pitching for the Yankees on August 1st.
2013 – The Dodgers complete a two-game sweep of the Diamondbacks in Sydney, Australia with a 7 – 5 win. They jump to a quick 6 – 0 lead against Trevor Cahill thanks to a combined 6 hits by their first two hitters, Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig. The D-Backs score 4 runs in the bottom of the 9th, including a two-run homer by Mark Trumbo off Kenley Jansen, but it’s not enough to reverse the early deficit.
2016 – In his first professional pitching appearance since being freed from prison after serving 51 months for driving under the influence, driving without a licence and causing grievous bodily injury, former Number One Pick in the 2004 amateur draft Matt Bush has a spectacular outing, flashing a fastball that hits 98 mph and a devastating curveball in pitching two hitless innings for the Rangers against the Cubs.
2018 – A few lines in a 2,000 page, $1.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress exempts Major League Baseball from certain terms of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The consequences are that minor leaguers need no longer be paid for spring training, off-season workouts or any overtime during the season. The change, misnomingly entitled the “Save America’s Pastime Act”, is the result of active lobbying by MLB to preempt a lawsuit filed four years ago in a U.S. District Court in San Francisco, CA by former minor league player Garrett Broshuis on behalf of three active players that accuses teams of systematically violating labor laws.
2005 – The burnt orange Hummer owned by Koby Clemens’ father is stolen from the Memorial High School parking lot. It is recovered later in a southwest Houston apartment complex, apparently unharmed. The Hummer was a gift from the New York Yankees to celebrate father Roger’s 300th major league win. The elder Clemens returns from the Astros’ spring training camp to aid in the investigation. Koby is later drafted and signed by the Astros as an infielder.