1860 – John Montgomery Ward is born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. During his illustrious career in the majors, Ward will hit for a .371 batting average twice, will win 40-plus games as a pitcher twice, including the second perfect game in baseball history, will be the captain and manager of the first and original New York Giants, and will be one of the prime movers in the constitution of the Brotherhood and of the Players League. Ward will gain election to the Hall of Fame in 1964.
1872 – Willie Keeler is born in Brooklyn, New York. A remarkable hitter, Keeler will hit over .300 16 times in 19 seasons, hit over .400 once, and will finish with a .341 batting average over his career, currently 14th on the all-time list. Keeler will be selected to the Hall of Fame in 1939 with 75.55% of the vote.
1940 – The Boston Bees sell outfielder Debs Garms to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Garms will get only 358 at bats for Pittsburgh but, nevertheless, will lead the National League in hitting with a .355 average. Unlike what is the case in the American League, where 400 at bats are required to be eligible for the batting title, the NL rules state that a player must appear in at least a hundred games: Garms will play in 103. Ford Frick, NL president, will clarify this in September when it is clear that Garms will not reach the 400 at bats. Pirates teammate Virgil Davis will be the nominal runner-up at .326, but will play just 99 games. Garms will drop to .264 in 1941 and he will be out of baseball a year later.
1953 – The Boston Braves, owners of the Milwaukee minor league franchise, block the St. Louis Browns’ attempt to shift their franchise to Milwaukee. Lou Perini, the Braves’ owner, invokes his territorial privilege, stating he has not been offered enough for the rights. By the time the season starts, it is the Braves who will have made Milwaukee their new home.
In an effort to keep the Giants in New York, Manhattan Borough President Hulan Jack makes plans for a new 110,000-seat stadium over the New York Central railroad tracks, on a 470,000-foot site stretching from 60th to 72nd streets on Manhattan’s West Side. The estimated cost of $75 million for the stadium eventually dooms the project and will be a major factor in Horace Stoneham’s decision to move to San Francisco.
Danny Kaye, the original owner of the Mariners, along with his partner Lester Smith from 1977 to 1981, dies of heart failure. The 74 year-old entertainer was a life-long fan of the Dodgers, recording a hit tune entitled The D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song, which detailed a fictitious encounter with the rivals Giants during the actual 1962 pennant race.
1988 – Los Angeles Dodgers star Kirk Gibson walks out of training camp after teammate Jesse Orosco plays a practical joke by placing “eyeblack” in his cap. The incident illustrates Gibson’s intensity and no-nonsense approach to the game. Gibson, who returns to camp the next day, will be the National League MVP and help the Dodgers win the World Series this season.
1997 – The New York Yankees offer the San Diego Padres a choice of one from a list of players for the negotiating rights to Japanese pitcher Hideki Irabu. The list includes Brian Boehringer, David Weathers, Chris Cumberland, Andy Fox and Matt Luke. The Yankees also offer one player from a list of five minor leaguers, plus $3 million. The Padres are talking to several other teams beside the Yankees.
In the first-ever World Baseball Classic game, Jae-Weong Seo pitches two-hit ball and Chan Ho Park works three effective innings for a save to lead South Korea past Taiwan, 2 – 0. The 16-nation tournament starts at 11:30 a.m. local time and is played before a sparse crowd of 5,193 at the Tokyo Dome.
2011 – Former top OF prospect Elijah Dukes, whose once-promising career was derailed by behavioral problems, is once again in trouble with the law. Dukes, 26, is arrested in Tampa, FL on charges of aggravated battery against his pregnant former girlfriend and driving with a revoked or suspended license.
Cuba wins its opening game in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, defeating the pesky Brazilians, 5 – 2, but not before being held hitless through four innings by Andre Rienzo. However, their ace, Ismel Jiménez, is also strong, and they record the win in spite of being limited to a single extra-base hit all afternoon.
In the third game of the day, Japan beats China as expected, although once again, the two-time defending champions do not particularly impress, having to settle for a 5 – 2 win. Starting pitcher Kenta Maeda gets the Japanese off to a strong start, giving up a single hit over the first five innings, but his teammates only score once within that span, before finally erupting for four runs in the 5th, with Yoshio Itoi’s three-run double being the key blow.
Taiwan gets its second win in as many days, defeating the Netherlands, 8 – 3, even though they fall behind, 3 – 0, after 2 innings. The Dutch manage their only hit of the game during that outburst, however, and can’t reply when Tom Stuifbergen gives up 4 runs in the 4th, and Dai-Kang Yang hits a two-run homer off Shairon Martis in the 6th. Reliever Wei-Lun Pan is the winner, giving up only one hit and a walk over 4 2/3 innings.
During five exhibition contests played in Arizona and Florida; baseball introduces its new pace of play initiatives designed to make the games shorter in duration. The new rules, which includes having batters keeping one foot in the batter’s box after taking a pitch, and the use of a clock to make innings start more punctually, will be slowly introduced before penalties for the players are implemented.
2016 – The first spring training injuries hit the Dodgers and Tigers. Los Angeles P Brett Anderson will be out three to five months after undergoing surgery for a bulging disc in his back, while Detroit OF Cameron Maybin is diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture in his left wrist one day after being hit by a pitch in his team’s first exhibition game and will miss at least a month.