A frail-looking Christy Mathewson, who served as class president in 1899, is elected as Bucknell’s “B” Club first president. The beloved future Hall of Famer, who will die prematurely in 1925 from tuberculosis after being accidentally gassed in a training exercise during WWI, played on the school’s football team as a placekicker and excelled as a pitcher on the baseball team.
Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale’s refusal to report to spring training ends when the hurlers agree to the Dodgers’ offer of $235,000, signing for $130,000 and $105,000, respectively. The LA starters’ joint holdout lasts for 32 days, paving the way for other players to be more aggressive when negotiating with owners.
The Padres obtain Yankee veteran third baseman Graig Nettles for pitcher Dennis Rasmussen and prospect Darin Cloninger. The 39 year-old infielder’s postseason experience will prove to be invaluable for the NL’s West Division champs, but his on-field contributions will be minimal, hitting just .228 in 124 games.
1992 – The Chicago Cubs make one of their best trades ever, acquiring outfielder Sammy Sosa and pitcher Ken Patterson from the Chicago White Sox for outfielder George Bell. While Bell’s career will last only two more seasons, Sosa will become an All-Star and capture national attention by hitting 66 home runs in 1998. Later with the Cubs, in 2003, Sosa will hit his 500th career home run.
New York Southern District judge Sonia Sotomayor, after careful consideration of the case, rules that the owners’ use of replacement players is in good faith regarding the negotiation for a new collective bargaining agreement, resulting in the players returning to work under the terms of the expired agreement. The future Supreme Court Justice’s decision ends the 232-day work stoppage, but the fans show their displeasure about the loss of last season and the cancellation of the World Series by not immediately supporting their local teams when the games resume in late April.
At the Tokyo Dome, the New York Mets defeat the Chicago Cubs in 11 innings, 5 – 1, on Benny Agbayani’s pinch-hit grand slam. Rey Ordóñez commits an error in the game, ending his major league record streak of 101 consecutive errorless games at shortstop. With a swipe of second base, Rickey Henderson joins Ted Williams as the only major league players to steal a base in four different decades.
Major League baseball returns to Brooklyn for a day when the Mets appear at KeySpan Park, the Coney Island home of the short-season single-A Cyclones, for the team’s final preseason workout. Although the practice session is rained out, fans enjoy meeting the players and collecting autographs, with the profits made from beverage and other sales being donated charities in the NYC area serving children.
As a result of the recently released book detailing Barry Bonds allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs, Bud Selig appoints George Mitchell to head an investigation into the use of steroids in baseball. The former Senate Majority Leader will have the authority to expand the probe, which will be made public, into events before Fall of 2002, covering a period when the substances became banned by major league baseball.
2008 – Nationals Park opens for action with the host Nationals beating the Braves, 3 – 2. Odalis Perez pitches a solid game and Jon Rauch gets the historic first win after blowing a save. Nick Johnson drives in a run with a double in his first at-bat in over 18 months. With two outs in the bottom of the 9th, Ryan Zimmerman hits a walk-off home run off Peter Moylan.
Pat Venditte, the first ambidextrous pitcher in organized baseball since Greg Harris retired in 1995, gets to show his stuff in an exhibition game for the Yankees against the Braves. The 24-year-old ends the 5th inning by retiring Yunel Escobar on two pitches from the right side; he then moves from one arm to the other as he works his way through the Braves’ batting order in the 6th. When switch-hitter Brooks Conrad steps to the plate, home plate umpire Mike Reilly reminds Venditte of rule 8.01 that states that he must commit to one arm, in order to avoid the fiasco of his professional debut with the Staten Island Yankees in 2008, when he and switch-hitter Ralph Henriquez Jr. changed sides repeatedly in a cat-and-mouse game. Venditte choses to face Conrad right-handed, and retires him on a ground ball to end his turn on the mound, Venditte will start the year with the Class-A Tampa Yankees, where he was 2-0, 2.21 in 21 games last year.
2011 – Two persons are selected by Major League Baseball from among 10,000 applicants to live the ultimate fan dream this season. 37-year-old Mike O’Hara, a New York Yankees fan from Los Angeles, CA, and 25-year-old ex-actor Ryan Wagner of Baltimore, MD will spend the season in the “MLB Fan Cave” watching every single one of the 2,430 regular-season games and every postseason contest in a room equiped with multiple television screens at 4th and Broadway in New York City. They will blog about the experience for mlb.com and various social networking web sites and be featured on MLB.TV. Their lair will be visible from the street through 14-foot windows, and they will be joined from time to time by visitors, including a large number of major league ballplayers, for parties, interviews and special events.
On Opening Day in Nippon Pro Baseball, the pitching dominance of 2011 looks to be ready to repeat. Masanori Ishikawa tossed 8 1/3 hitless innings for the Yakult Swallows in a 4-0 win over the Yomiuri Giants; Hayato Sakamoto breaks up the no-no bid in the 9th. Meanwhile, Chunichi Dragons star Kazuki Yoshimi goes 7 perfect innings in a 4-2 victory over the Hiroshima Carp.
Major League Baseball opens its season stateside, one week after playing a two-game series in Sydney, Australia. The Dodgers, who won both games in Sydney, are again involved, visiting San Diego where they lose, 3 – 1, in front of the biggest crowd in Petco Park history – 45,567. Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu holds the Padres scoreless for 7 innings, but Seth Smith ties the game with a pinch homer off Brian Wilson to lead off the 8th. Yasmani Grandal scores the winning run later that inning after stealing the first base of his professional career.
As had been rumored, the Cubs announce that they have sent top prospect Kris Bryant to their minor league camp, even though he has had an outstanding spring training. Agent Scott Boras expresses outrage, claiming the move is motivated by financial and not baseball reasons, while the Players’ Association threatens some form or retaliation. However, Major League Baseball reminds everyone that teams have the sole right to determine which players end up on their roster, as confirmed under the Basic Agreement. Bryant will be called up on April 17th and will end up winning the Rookie of the Year Award.
2018 – For the second straight day, the Giants defeat the Dodgers, 1 – 0, thanks to a solo homer by 2B Joe Panik. After pulling the trick against ace Clayton Kershaw on Opening Day yesterday, Panik connects off closer Kenley Jansen in the 9th inning, after starter Alex Wood had limited the Giants to one hit over the first eight frames. The Dodgers manage just one hit off three Giants pitchers, but will get their revenge over the next two days, defeating the Giants by a combined score of 14-0.
2019 – In a very rare occurrence, position players take the mound for both teams in the Dodgers’ 18 – 5 win over the Diamondbacks. The two teams’ bullpens are worn out after playing a 13-inning game the previous night, so with a large deficit in the 7th, Arizona sends back-up catcher John Ryan Murphy to pitch, and he gives up 7 more runs in 2 innings. The Dodgers then ask their own back-up catcher, Russell Martin, to close out the win in the 9th, and he obliges by setting down the side on 10 pitches.
1993 – Astros release pitcher Jason Grimsley, whom they acquired for pitcher Curt Schilling the previous year. Grimsley catches on with the Cleveland Indians. He did not pitch an inning while in Houston. Schilling, meanwhile, becomes a six-time All-Star who is a pivotal member of four pennant-winners.
1961 – Rumors swirl that legendary manager Leo Durocher, currently a coach with the Dodgers, would be named the first manager of the new Houston franchise. Reports of phone conversations between Durocher and General Manager Gabe Paul are true but nothing materializes beyond that. Durocher would eventally lead the club in 1972 after several years as skipper of the Cubs.