1920 – At spring training, Washington Senators pitcher Walter Johnson is out of control in his first intersquad game, hitting three batters and walking two. One of the batters he hits is Bucky Harris, who takes a pitch that glances off the side of his head. Johnson gives up seven runs in three innings.
1947 – Cleveland Indians manager Lou Boudreau orders Jackie Price off the train at San Diego after Price lets loose two five-foot long snakes on the trip from Los Angeles. A coach full of women returning from the American Bowling Congress are extremely upset by the prank. After Indians owner Bill Veeck says “either the snakes go or Price goes,” the 35-year-old infielder’s days are numbered.
During a spring exhibition game against the University of Southern California at Bovard Field, Mickey Mantle hits a home run which is estimated to travel 650 feet. The rookie’s performance, which includes a single, triple, and another homer, is one of the highlights of the Yankees’ first ever West Coast trip.
1951 – In an exhibition game at the University of Southern California, Mickey Mantle propels a home run estimated at 654 to 660 feet. The shot clears Bovard Field and then goes the width of a practice football field before landing. Mantle has two homers, a bases-loaded triple, and drives in seven runs as the Yankees flunk the Trojans, 15 – 1.
1963 – On an all-or-nothing day for the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax, he gives up long balls to Roberto Clemente and Donn Clendenon, but strikes out 9 Pirates batters in 7 innings, and also gives up six runs. Sandy’s performance probably looks pretty good to Pirate skipper Danny Murtaugh, whose own staff gives up 19 runs, but it doesn’t prepare fans for the four-year run on which Brooklyn’s late-blooming bonus baby is about to embark.
1974 – The Boston Red Sox dump two future Hall of Famers when designated hitter Orlando Cepeda and shortstop Luis Aparicio are both given their unconditional releases. Aparicio, who elects to retire, finishes his career with 2,677 hits and 506 stolen bases and will enter the Hall in 1984. Cepeda will eventually wind up with the Kansas City Royals, where he will complete his major league career this year. He will win election to Cooperstown in 1999.
The American League votes to expand to Toronto, awarding a franchise to a group consisting of Labatt’s Breweries (45%), the Imperial Trust, Ltd (45%), and CIBC (10%), who will eventually purchase the rights for the team for $7 million. At first, the decision will appear in peril when President Gerald Ford attempts to put pressure on MLB to give the expansion franchise to Washington, D.C., which has been without a major league team since the Senators moved to Arlington, Texas to become the Rangers following the 1972 season.
In a spring training deal, the Phillies trade outfielders Gary Matthews and Bob Dernier along with right-handed reliever Porfi Altamirano to the Cubs for right-hander Bill Campbell and Mike Diaz, a utility player. The former Philadelphia fly chasers, who will each receive consideration for the MVP award, both play a pivotal role in Chicago’s first-place finish this season in the National League Eastern Division.
1996 – Voters in San Francisco vote 2-to-1 in favor of a privately-funded stadium to replace Candlestick Park, the windy 36-year-old home of the Giants. The passage of the measure, the first step towards building the 42,000 seat bayside park, exempts the Giants from the waterside height restrictions. Plans call for the park to be ready for Opening Day, 2000.
Alberto Callaspo, subbing at 3B for Alex Gordon, who broke his thumb in the Royals’ third game of the spring, also injures himself, pulling a muscle in his right side during batting practice and is doubtful for Opening Day. Injuries have come in bunches for the Royals this spring, as CF Rick Ankiel and P Gil Meche have also been sidelined.
The 2010 Central League season begins. Tetsuya Utsumi allows 4 runs and fans 10 in 8 innings to lead the Yomiuri Giants to victory against Yakult. Kenji Johjima goes 3 for 4 with 4 RBI to lead his new team, the Hanshin Tigers, to a win over Yokohama. Finally, Kenta Maeda allows one hit in eight innings to give the Hiroshima Carp the win against Chunichi.
2011 – Veteran P Mike Hampton announces his retirement, ending an attempt to make the Arizona Diamondbacks’ staff. Once one of the most durable and consistent starters in the game, he began a string of injuries in 2005 that stunted the last six years of his career. He retires with a record of 148-115.
2015 – Brady Aiken, the first overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft who failed to reach an agreement with the Houston Astros, announces that he has undergone Tommy John surgery and will be out of action for a year. It is particularly tough news for Aiken, who decided not to go to college in order to be eligible for this year’s draft; any club who selects him now will be making a big gamble, and is unlikely to make an offer anywhere near what Aiken turned down last year.
2016 – In the first of two exhibition games played in Mexico City, the Astros defeat the Padres, 11 – 1, thanks to back-to-back homers by Carlos Correa and Tyler White in the 4th. The series is part of an effort by Major League Baseball to increase its visibility in Mexico, whose growing middle class makes it a potential future location for a major league team.
2019 – This spring’s trend of major league teams locking up key players with long-term deals continues. Following recent extensions granted to Mike Trout, Chris Sale and Justin Verlander, among others, today the Mets agree to a five-year extension with ace P Jacob deGrom for $137.5 million, while the Cubs ink Kyle Hendricks until 2023 for an extra $55.5 million.
1999 – Roger Clemens tosses six innings of no-hit ball but the Astros storm back to topple the New York Yankees, 7-5. Clemens had been the subject of intense trade talks during the off-season as the Astros tried to swing a swap with the Toronto Blue Jays to bring the multiple Cy Young Award winner home to Texas. Ultimately, Clemens was sent to New York.