1879 – Miller Huggins is born in Cincinnati, Ohio. A second baseman adept at getting on base, Huggins will lead the National League in walks four times, score 100 or more runs three times, and regularly collect 30 or more stolen bases and an on-base percentage near .400. He will start as a player-manager with the St. Louis Cardinals before heading to the New York Yankees in 1918. Huggins will lead the Yankees to six American League pennants and three World Series titles, and his “Murderers’ Row” club, which will win 110 games before sweeping the 1927 World Series, will be considered one of the greatest teams in history. Huggins will be selected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1964.
1897 – Cleveland Spiders president Frank DeHaas Robison proposes that National League clubs chip in to pay the 1896 salary of New York Giants stellar pitcher Amos Rusie, who refused to play due to a contract dispute. Robison and other NL officials want to avoid Rusie’s lawsuit, in which he seeks free agency. Although New York president Andrew Freedman vehemently opposes the plan, the $3,000 payment is made and Rusie rejoins the Giants.
A Chicago Daily News headline reads, ‘Manager of the Cubs is in Doubt Only on Two Positions,’ marking the first time that the team’s nickname has appeared in print. Although the moniker has been around since 1890, the Orphans, also once known as the Colts and White Stockings, will not officially adopt the Cubs as its new name until 1907.
1917 – The Boston Red Sox beat the Brooklyn Robins, 11 – 2, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. For tomorrow’s exhibition game in Memphis, Tennessee, players on both teams will sport numbers on their sleeves, the idea of Robins’ owner Charles Ebbets. His reasoning is that fans in non-major league cities would be unfamiliar with the players.
1935 – With two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning and the bases loaded at Asahi Field, California, Russell Hinaga singles the winning run to give the San Jose Asahi a 3 – 2 victory over the visiting Tokyo Giants. A Japanese-American semi-pro team, the Asahi took their name from the Japanese word for “morning sun”. The visitors will avenge their loss to San Jose the following season.
1960 – Pittsburgh’s defensive wizards Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski, future Hall of Famers both, strut their stuff in a spring scrimmage with Milwaukee. Red Thisted of the Milwaukee Sentinel reports: “Mazeroski, a slim-jim in comparison with the weight he was carrying around a year ago, made Danny Murtaugh look good in the 2nd inning when he skipped far out on the right field grass for a back-handed stab of Eddie Haas’ hopper and got his man… Roberto Clemente robbed Bill Bruton of a triple with a startling grab in right center in the 4th.”
Veteran pitcher Jim Perry of the Minnesota Twins becomes the first player in Major League Baseball to approve of being traded under the new “ten and five” rule. The Twins send Perry to the Detroit Tigers for a player and cash considerations. Perry, a 24-game winner in 1970, will win 14 games for the Tigers this year.
The Philadelphia Phillies trade outfielders Gary Matthews and Bob Dernier and pitcher Porfi Altamirano to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for pitcher Bill Campbell and catcher Mike Diaz. Matthews was named the NLCS Most Valuable Player last season, while Campbell led the National League with 82 pitching appearances. Dernier will win a Gold Glove for Chicago and help them reach the playoffs. His 45 stolen bases will be the most by a Cubs player since 1907.
1987 – The New York Mets make one of the best trades in franchise history when they acquire pitcher David Cone from the Kansas City Royals for catcher Ed Hearn and two pitching prospects. Cone will blossom as one of the National League’s better starting pitchers, posting a 20-3 record for the Mets in 1988, while Hearn’s promising career will be ended by injuries.
The San Diego Padres acquire third baseman Gary Sheffield and a minor leaguer from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for pitcher Ricky Bones, shortstop Jose Valentin and outfielder Matt Mieske. Sheffield will lead the National League in batting average this year, while making a strong run at the Triple Crown.
The Cubs, in desperate need of a closer due to Tom Gordon’s muscle tear, trade righties Julian Tavarez (10-9, 4.52) and Jose Cueto as well as southpaw Dontrelle Willis and catcher Ryan Jorgensen to the Marlins for Antonio Alfonseca (4-4, 28 saves) and right-hander Matt Clement (9-10, 5.05). Willis, next season’s Rookie of the Year in the National League, will become a twenty-game winner for the Fish in 2005.
Jose Canseco is given his release by the Montreal Expos after being told he would not be an everyday player. Canseco, who needs 38 home runs to reach 500, batted .258 and hit 16 homers for the Chicago White Sox last season while appearing in 76 games, but he will not play in the major leagues again.
The Chicago Cubs send reliever Julian Tavarez and three minor league prospects to the Florida Marlins for reliever Antonio Alfonseca and starter Matt Clement. One of the prospects, Dontrelle Willis, is rated among the Cubs’ top 20 prospects. Alfonseca, nicknamed “El Pulpo” (octopus) because he was born with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, will replace the injured Tom Gordon.
At the start of spring training, Hideki Matsui, who already made plans for marriage in a few weeks, a fact not known to the team, makes a wager with some of his teammates about who would be the first to get married. A surprised Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu agree to pay off the bet after learning the Yankee slugger pulled a fast one on them by getting ‘hitched’ in New York on the club’s off day yesterday.
In a Kansai Independent League game played at the Osaka Dome, knuckleballer Eri Yoshida makes her debut, becoming Japan’s first female professional baseball player. The 17 year-old faces two batters on Opening Day, walking one and striking out the other, in the ninth inning of the Kobe 9 Cruise’s 5-0 victory over the hometown Gold Villicanes.
Minneapolis’ new Target Field is inaugurated with a college game between the University of Minnesota and Louisiana Tech, in front of 37,757 spectators, a game which also serves as an open house for fans and a dry run for the new facility. The ballpark’s main tenants, the Minnesota Twins will play two exhibition games against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 2-3, while the official home opener is set for April 12th.
The 2010 Korea Baseball Organization season begins with a new 12-second limit between pitches and a widened strike zone to speed up games. Min-woo Kim of the Nexen Heroes hits the first home run of the year, to help his club beat the Lotte Giants. The defending champion KIA Tigers fall, 8 – 3, to the Doosan Bears, as Doosan’s Hyun-soo Kim goes 4 for 4.
Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka will make a $1 million contribution to the Red Sox Foundation for victims of the earthquake and tsunami in his native Japan. The team’s official charity has raised more than $1.3 million in response to the March 11th disaster, including personal donations from other Japanese players Hideki Okajima, Junichi Tazawa, and Itsuki Shoda.
Cubs P Carlos Silva fails in his bid to become the team’s fifth starter, but says he will refuse an assignment to the minor leagues and makes disparaging remarks about pitching coach Mark Riggins. This pushes the Cubs to release him and swallow $8.5 million for the two years remaining on his contract, while the Seattle Mariners, who traded Silva to the Cubs before the 2010 season, are on the hook for another $5.5 million. Silva has a 10.90 ERA in spring training after a terrible second half last year, and made headlines earlier for getting into a fight in the dugout with 3B Aramis Ramirez.
2012 – The group led by former NBA star Magic Johnson and executive Stan Kasten emerges as the winner of the bidding process to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers from owner Frank McCourt under supervision of a bankruptcy court judge. The winning bid is estimated at $2 billion, the highest amount ever paid for a North American professional sports franchise; an additional payment of $150 million will secure the land around Dodger Stadium that McCourt originally wanted to keep for himself. The huge prize tag will allow McCourt to make hundreds of millions in profit, even after paying back the loans he took out to purchase the team for $430 million in 2004, and the $131 million owed his wife Jamie as part of a divorce settlement. The purchase must now be submitted to the bankruptcy court by April 6th, and the sale completed by April 30th.
2016 – In the second of two games played in Mexico City, the Padres take advantage of favorable hitting conditions at Fray Nano Stadium and explode for 5 homers and 21 runs in defeating the Astros, 21 – 6. Jabari Blash, Adam Rosales and Jon Jay all go deep off Astros starter Brady Rodgers in the 1st. The Padres also score 8 runs in the 7th, with Casey McElroy supplying a two-run blast, to seal the landslide win. For his part, Rodgers gives up 8 runs in only two-thirds of an inning and reliever Brendan McCurry is also lit up for 8 runs.
2017 – The announcement that the Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas, NV puts an end to the last ballpark-sharing arrangement between a Major League Baseball team and an NFL franchise. The Oakland Athletics will now be the sole tenant at the O.co Coliseum, a situation that may make it easier to resolve the ballpark issues that have plagued the franchise for decades.
2018 – Playing for the first time in the old stomping grounds his father, newly-minted Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, at Stade Olympique in his birth city of Montréal, QC, top Blue Jays prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. begins to build his own legend. He ends an exhibition game against the Cardinals by hitting a walk-off homer off Jack Flaherty with two outs in the 9th, breaking a scoreless tie, much to the delight of the 25,800 spectators present.
2004 – In a scene that gave Astro veterans flashbacks, shortstop Adam Everett is hit in the face by a fastball from Toronto’s Miguel Batista. Fortunately, the throw glances off Everett’s shoulder before striking him in the mouth, unlike the blow that another Houston shortstop, Dickie Thon, took in 1984 that significantly altered his career. Bloodied and sore, Everett leaves the game, a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays, but returns before the regular season began.
2003 – Houston veterans are stunned to learn that pitcher Shane Reynolds, who had been with the team since 1992, has been released. Coming off back surgery and having a shaky spring, the Astros pull the plug on an incentive-laden deal that could have been worth as much as $5 million dollars to Reynolds. Penciled in as the third starter, Reynolds comments that he thought he was just sharpening up for the season and didn’t need to compete for a job. He soon finds a new home pitching for Atlanta, posting an 11-9 record.
1997 – New manager Larry Dierker finds out he doesn’t get the final say on his own roster. Dierker wants to keep righthander Donne Wall on the pitching staff but Wall is sent to the minors in favor of Chris Holt. Wall returns when Sid Fernandez goes on the disabled list after only one start, yet pitches just eight games while Holt and Ramon Garcia fill the void in the Astros rotation.
1985 – Shortstop Dickie Thon impresses as he comes back from the beaning that ended his 1984 season in the opening week. He swats a double off the wall in a 3-1 victory over the Dodgers and turns a thrilling double play behind Bob Knepper. Thon explains his injured eye socket seems healthy once again.