1906 – Rookie owner Charles W. Murphy puts the last pieces of a Chicago Cubs dynasty in place, trading rookie infielder Hans Lobert and pitcher Jake Weimer to the Cincinnati Reds for third baseman Harry Steinfeldt. Not a heavy hitter, Steinfeldt completes the Frank Chance-Johnny Evers-Joe Tinker infield with more than adequate defense.
Babe Ruth becomes the highest paid player in history when he inks a three-year deal with the Yankees worth $52,000 per season, more than three times as much as teammate Home Run Baker, the second best paid major leaguer. The ‘Sultan of Swat’ will prove worthy of his contract, hitting 122 home runs during the span of the deal and earning MVP honors in the team’s first World Championship season in 1923.
The Cardinals announce players will wear numbers on their sleeves of their uniforms, with the digits corresponding to the player’s place in the batting order. The Redbirds strongly disapprove of the concept implemented by St. Louis manager Branch Rickey, who acted on a suggestion put forth by sportswriter John Sheridan.
Charlie Brown, who made his debut in Charles Schultz’s Peanut comic strip in last October, appears in his first baseball game. The perennial loser, who served as his team’s pitcher and manager, usually fielded the following lineup: first baseman – Shermy, second baseman – Linus, third baseman – Pig-pen, shortstop – Snoopy, right fielder – Lucy, center fielder -Patty, left fielder -Violet, and catcher – Schroeder.
Joe Cronin, the AL president, gives in to A’s owner Charlie Finley’s request to allow three balls, rather than four, to constitute a base on balls during an exhibition game against the Brewers. The experiment, designed to add offense and speed up the game, proves to be tedious for both teams when 19 walks are issued as well as six homers being drilled during the 13-9 spring training victory for Oakland.
1985 – Enos Slaughter and Arky Vaughan are elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Slaughter, known for his hustling style of play, gained fame for his celebrated “Mad Dash” home during the 1946 World Series. Vaughan batted .318 over a 14-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Brooklyn Dodgers.
1987 – Prized free agent Andre Dawson signs a one-year contract with the Chicago Cubs worth $650,000, well below his market value. A former Montreal Expos star, Dawson had previously offered to sign a “blank check” contract with Chicago, because collusion prevents him from signing a contract at the market rate for his services.
2001 – Former Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star second baseman Bill Mazeroski and Negro Leagues pitching great Hilton Smith are elected to the Hall of Fame by the Special Veterans Committee. Mazeroski, an eight-time Gold Glove Award winner, hit one of the most memorable home runs ever – a 9th-inning blast in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.
2005 – Suzyn Waldman becomes the first woman to be a full-time color commentator in major league history, making her debut with John Sterling on WCBS-AM 880, the radio flagship of the New York Yankees. The former radio-talk host on WFAN, the first all-sports radio station in United States, was also the first female to broadcast on a national baseball telecast, as well as the first to provide local TV (Yankees) major league play-by-play.
2006 – Hall of Fame outfielder Kirby Puckett dies in Scottsdale, Arizona, at age 45, a day after suffering a massive stroke. Puckett, who led the Minnesota Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and 1991, hit .318 with 207 home runs and 1085 RBI over 12 seasons. A 10-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove winner, Puckett ended his career abruptly due to irreversible retina damage in his right eye.
2008 – La Habana hurler Jonder Martínez throws a no-hitter against Ciego de Avila to improve to 12-1 on the season. It is the first no-hitter by a La Habana hurler in their 30 years in the Cuban Serie Nacional. Martínez uses a fastball over 90 mph, excellent curveballs and his change-up for the masterpiece performance.
Marlins Park in Miami, FL is host to its first game, an exhibition contest won by the Marlins, 7 – 6, over the University of Miami. Newly signed Mark Buehrle starts for the Fish, Hanley Ramirez hits the first-ever homer in the new ballpark off Alex Fernandez Jr., son of former Marlin Alex Fernandez, and Terry Tiffee ends the game with a game-winning single in the bottom of the 9th.
In the final game of Pool A in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Cuba defeats Japan, 6 – 3. Both teams start the game unbeaten and assured of moving to the next round, with the final result of little consequence. Cuba builds a 6 – 0 lead on the strength of homers by Yasmani Tomás and Alfredo Despaigne. Japan scores three runs againt Cuba’s bullpen in the 9th, but it’s not enough to negate the Cubans’ big lead.
The seemingly cursed Yankees get more bad news when they learn that 1B Mark Teixeira’s wrist injury is more serious than thought and that he will be out until mid-May, with no obvious back-up plan in place. At least, SS Derek Jeter and reliever Mariano Rivera seem to be doing well in their bid to come back from season-ending injuries, but the Yanks’ spring training complex is starting to look like a field hospital, with GM Brian Cashman addressing reporters on crutches resulting from a sky-diving accident.
2014 – Dr. Frank Jobe, the pioneer surgeon who performed the first ligament replacement surgery on pitcher Tommy John in 1974 and then popularized the technique that has saved hundred of pitchers’ careers, dies in Santa Monica, CA at age 88. He had been a medical adviser to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 50 years, continuing even after his retirement from regular practice in 2008.
2017 – The 2017 World Baseball Classic gets underway with a huge upset as Israel wins its debut game on the WBC stage over hosts South Korea, 2 – 1 in 10 innings. Jason Marquis starts things off with three scoreless frames, as both teams score once in regulation innings. Korean closer Seung-hwan Oh escapes a jam in the 8th, fanning SS Scott Burcham with the bases loaded for the final out. However, Burcham redeems himself in the 10th with a two-out infield single off Chang-yong Lim that scores pinch-runner Mike Meyers from second base. Josh Zeid then closes out the win with his third straight scoreless inning for Israel.
2018 – To celebrate their 20th anniversary this year, the Diamondbacks announce that they will re-introduce a contraption dating back to the days before the team existed: a bullpen cart. The modified golf carts were popular in the 1970s and early 1980s, but had seemingly gone the way of the dodo since that time.
1989 – After blowing late leads in each of their first three spring games, the Astros score four in the bottom of the ninth to steal a 5-4 victory over Kansas City for the first win in Art Howe’s managerial career. Thad Bosley, Craig Biggio and Karl Allaire drive in the runs after three walks start the inning.