1884 – During an exhibition game between the National League Philadelphia Quakers and American Association Philadelphia Athletics, umpire William McLean, reacting to fans’ taunts, hurls a bat into the stands, hitting but not injuring a spectator. McLean is arrested after the game, but the charges are soon dropped.
1907 – Popular outfielder Chick Stahl, who replaced Jimmy Collins as manager of the Boston Americans at the end of last season, commits suicide while travelling with the team in West Baden Springs, Indiana. After breakfast he returns to his room and drinks four ounces of carbolic acid. He leaves a note: “Boys, I just couldn’t help it. It drove me to it.” Cy Young reluctantly agrees to start the season as Boston’s manager, but there will be three others during the year.
1913 – The St. Louis Browns make an unusual “trade,” sending infielder Buzzy Wares to a minor league team in exchange for the rental of a stadium. The Montgomery Black Sox will allow the Browns to use their stadium during spring training, rent-free. Wares will return to the Browns later in the season.
1927 – In a final exhibition match between the previous World Series’ opponents, the New York Yankees score four runs in the 1st inning off Grover Cleveland Alexander and the St. Louis Cardinals. Then, Alexander shuts down the Yankees until leaving in the 8th, and the Cardinals score two in the 9th to win, 6 – 4. Both teams use their regular lineups – the only teams to make no starting changes from last year’s teams. The four runs off Alexander are the first the 40-year-old veteran has allowed in 15 innings of spring training work.
1937 – Trying to see if a new “dead ball” is better than the existing one, the new sphere is tried in a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Senators. The Sox outslug the Nats, 13 – 12, as Joe Cronin drives in six runs. Last week, the ball was used in a game between the New York Giants and Boston Bees with much the same result. On April 12th, the Chicago White Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates will test the new ball, with the Sox winning, 9 – 6, though the longest hit is a double.
1958 – Slugger Chuck Klein dies in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the age of 53. Klein batted .320 with 300 home runs and 1201 RBI over a 17-year career. His most productive season came in 1933, when he won the National League Triple Crown. Klein will be elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1980.
1961 – In their first meeting since Pittsburgh’s dramatic World Series win over New York, the Bucs, behind would-be World Series goat Bob Friend, beat up the banged-up Bombers, 9 – 2. The game’s first run comes in the bottom of the 2nd on Roberto Clemente’s bases-empty bomb over the left-field fence. Pittsburgh goes up 3 – 0 in the 3rd on Dick Stuart’s two-run shot, likewise to left field. By the 7th, the Bucs have built their lead to 8 – 0 before New York can push across its initial tally. Today’s win boosts the Bucs’ Grapefruit League-leading record to 13-5, while miring New York ever more deeply in the preseason cellar.
1970 – In this first (and last?) “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial All-Star Baseball Classic”, solo home runs by Ron Fairly of Montreal and Ron Santo of the Chicago Cubs, plus a three-run 8th-inning brings the East a 5 – 1 victory over the West. A crowd of 31,694 watches the charity game in Dodger Stadium. Proceeds go to the late Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a memorial center planned for Atlanta. For this initial charity game, former New York Yankees great Joe DiMaggio manages the East, and ex-Dodger Roy Campanella, confined to a wheelchair since a 1958 auto accident, directs the fortunes of the West. Jim “Mudcat” Grant of Oakland sings the National Anthem in the pre-game program, and then becomes the victim of a four-hit uprising in the 8th inning that insures the outcome. Al Kaline of Detroit beats out an infield hit to open the frame and moves to second as Tommie Agee drives Hank Aaron to the left field wall. Kaline races home on Lou Brock’s double to left. Brock scores on Roberto Clemente’s double and Clemente comes home on Ken McMullen’s single.
1976 – Media sources report a potential blockbuster trade between the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers which involves two future Hall of Fame pitchers. According to the rumor, the deal will send Tom Seaver to the Dodgers in exchange for Don Sutton. Mets fans respond negatively to the proposed deal, perhaps influencing management to call off the trade. Seaver will remain with the Mets until 1977, when he is traded to the Cincinnati Reds, in a trade which will be universally rued by Mets fans.
Upset about losing his second base job to Bump Wills, Ranger Lenny Randle attacks and fractures the cheekbone of his manager Frank Lucchesi. The Ranger skipper may have triggered the episode, which occurred just before the team’s exhibition game against Minnesota, by once-again calling the usually even-tempered infielder a punk.
Texas Rangers second baseman Lenny Randle, upset at having been benched during spring training, physically confronts manager Frank Lucchesi, sending him to the hospital with a shattered cheekbone. Lucchesi helps precipitate the incident by calling the usually good-natured Randle a “punk”. Randle will receive a 30-day suspension. On April 26th, he will be traded to the New York Mets for infielder Rick Auerbach and cash.
1978 – The Oakland Athletics release veteran first baseman Dick Allen, ending his 15-year career. Allen finishes with 351 home runs, 1119 RBI and a lifetime batting average of .292. The highlight of Allen’s career occurred in 1972, when he earned the American League MVP Award while playing for the Chicago White Sox.
Four days shy of his 47th birthday, Phil Niekro’s 24-year Hall of Fame career comes to an end when the Yankees put him on waivers at the end of spring training. The right-handed knuckleballer, best known for his tenure with the Braves, compiled a 318-274 record along with a 3.35 ERA while hurling for four teams, that also included the Yankees, Indians, and Blue Jays.
1999 – The Baltimore Orioles make the first visit to Cuba by major leaguers since 1959, and defeat a team of Cuban amateurs by a score of 3 – 2 in 11 innings. Pitcher Jose Contreras hurls eight innings of two-hit, 10-strikeout ball in relief for the Cubans, while catcher Charles Johnson hits a two-run home run and DH Harold Baines drives in the winning run for the Orioles. The two teams will play a rematch at Camden Yards in Baltimore on May 3rd.
The commissioner’s office announces teams will pay tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces during the seventh-inning stretch of all home openers by having `God Bless America’ performed. Although the song has been part of all games since the September 11th terrorist attacks, it will be heard only in major league ballparks at the home openers, Sunday, and holidays games.
2003 – Three days prior to Opening Day, the YES Network claims Cablevision has pulled out of a proposed deal signed 17 days ago which would have provided televised New York Yankees games to nearly three million cable subscribers in the New York City metropolitan area. According to a YES press release, the giant cable television company failed to sign a finalized version of the hand-written document that both parties exchanged on March 12th, but Cablevision president, James L. Dolan, said when YES sent him a revised typewritten draft on two days later, the document contained alterations that he found unacceptable.
The insurance claim filed by the Astros in January to get back approximately $15.6 million of Jeff Bagwell’s $17 million guaranteed contract is denied by the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company. The insurers cite no adverse change in the 37 year-old first baseman’s condition between the end of last season and the Jan. 31, 2006 policy.
With starting C Jason Kendall unavailable for the first month of the season, the Royals acquire Matt Treanor from the Rangers for future considerations. In other moves, the Rockies acquire IF Josh Fields from the White Sox, also for future considerations, and the Padres land IF Alberto Gonzalez from Washington in return for minor league P Erik Davis.
2012 – Major League Baseball opens its season at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, with a 3 – 1 Seattle win over Oakland. The two teams are tied at 1 after exchanging runs in the 4th until the Mariners, who are considered the visiting team, score a pair in the top of the 11th off Andrew Carignan. Brendan Ryan opens the frame with a double and is driven home by Dustin Ackley’s single; Ackley then proceeds to steal second and scores on a single by Ichiro Suzuki, the local favorite’s fourth hit of the night. Both starters, Felix Hernandez and Brandon McCarthy, are excellent, but the win goes to reliever Tom Wilhelmsen.
Mike Trout and the Angels come to terms on a $144.5 million, six-year deal, keeping the 22 year-old outfielder on the team through 2020. The five-tool phenom from Millville, N.J., the American League’s MVP runner-up in his first two seasons in the majors, was the unanimous choice for the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2012.
Major league baseball is back in Montreal, QC for the first time since 2004 as the Blue Jays play the first of two exhibition games against the Mets. More than 46,000 fans, most sporting the colors of the defunct Montreal Expos, pack Stade Olympique to pay tribute to Hall of Famer Gary Carter and to their beloved former team. The Jays win, 5 – 4, on minor league veteran Ricardo Nanita’s run-scoring single with two outs in the 9th. Tomorrow, over 50,000 fans will be at the game in what will become an annual tradition to close out the Jays’ schedule of pre-season exhibition games.
Major League Baseball and the Players Association agree to a number of changes that toughen the major leagues’ PED policy. The penalty for a first offense goes from 50 to 80 games, suspended players will no longer be eligible for the postseason or for full a postseason share, while the number of random tests will be significantly increased.
The 2014 Nippon Pro Baseball season opens with a full slate of gems. The defending champion Rakuten Golden Eagles kick off with a 2-1 win over the Seibu Lions, as Kazuo Matsui hits a two-run homer off Takayuki Kishi and Takahiro Norimoto fans 10. Yakult Swallows rookie shortstop Naomichi Nishiura has a great debut, swatting a three-run dinger off of Kazuki Mishima in his first at-bat in NPB.
Two-time defending American League MVP Miguel Cabrera signs an eight-year contract extension with the Tigers. Including the two years remaining on his present contract, the deal is worth $292 million, making it the biggest in major league history. It surpasses the ten-year extension signed by Alex Rodriguez in 2006 for $275 million. In fact Rodriguez had held the record since signing as a free agent with the Texas Rangers for $252 million in 2001. The huge deal makes the six-year contract for $144.6 million that Angels OF Mike Trout also signs today seem like an anecdote.
2019 – It’s Opening Day across Major League Baseball as all 30 teams are active, one week after a preliminary two-game opening series in Japan. A record number of homers are hit today – 48 across the majors. Leading the charge are the Dodgers, who hit an opening day record 8 long balls in their 12 – 5 win over the Diamondbacks.
1990 – Astros Special Assistant Donald Davidson dies in Houston at age 64. Only four-feet-tall after contracting a childhood illness, Davidson spent 50 years in baseball, working his way up from batboy to baseball executive. Davidson came to Houston in 1976 and served a number of front-office roles. His body was donated to science.