The National League decides to downsize to eight teams for the upcoming season by eliminating the circuit’s franchises in Baltimore, Cleveland, Louisville, and Washington. The remaining eight cities will stay the same for more than a half of a century until the Braves leave Boston, moving to Milwaukee in 1953.
1900 – In New York, the National League meets, voting to shrink to eight teams. They pay the Baltimore owners $30,000 for their franchise, with Charles Ebbets and Ned Hanlon reserving the right to sell the players. Cleveland, Louisville, and Washington receive $10,000 each, with Louisville owner Barney Dreyfuss sending most of his players to his Pittsburgh Pirates team. The circuit will remain the same until the Boston Braves move to Milwaukee, WI in 1953.
In Indianapolis, John Powers, founder of last year’s failed mid-western Columbian League, organizes the Federal League. To avoid the agreement of the National Commission, the upstart league will operate independently with franchises in Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis.
1923 – Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis allows former New York Giants pitcher Rube Benton to return to the National League. Benton had admitted prior knowledge of the 1919 World Series fix, but remained active, winning 22 games for St. Paul (American Association). NL President John Heydler disagrees with Landis, calling Benton undesirable, but does not stop the Cincinnati Reds from signing him. Benton, at age 35, will be 14-10 for the second-place Reds.
In front of 5,000 fans at Havana’s new Gran Estadio de La Habana, the Yankees lose to the Dodgers in extra innings, 1-0, with Snuffy Stirnweiss’s tenth-inning single accounting for the Bronx Bombers’ only hit. Pete Reiser’s long double on a 3-2 pitch off Spec Shea scores Carl Furillo, giving Brooklyn the walk-off victory in Cuba.
1953 – OF Jim Rice is born in Anderson, SC. He will gain fame as a slugger with the Boston Red Sox, starting with an outstanding rookie campaign in 1975, when he will finish second to teammate Fred Lynn for the Rookie of the Year Award. He will be the American League MVP in 1978 and retire in 1989 with 382 homers and 1451 RBI, having played his entire career with the Sox. Rice will be elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA in 2009, in his last year of eligibility.
1956 – Pirates second-year man Roberto Clemente hits Pittsburgh’s inaugural dinger of spring training in an in-house affair, coached by two key figures in Clemente’s career: “Roberto Clemente slammed three hits today,” reports the Associated Press, “including the first homer by a Pittsburgh Pirate, as the ‘Sukeforths’ defeated the ‘Murtaughs’ 9 – 3 in an intra-squad game.”
1966 – The Hall of Fame Special Veterans Committee waives one of its election rules and selects manager Casey Stengel as the newest member of the Hall. Stengel managed the New York Mets for much of the 1965 season before falling and breaking his hip. The injury ended the elderly Stengel’s career. Given his age, the Veterans Committee decides to make him immediately eligible for Cooperstown.
1999 – Hall of Fame centerfielder Joe DiMaggio dies of a lung cancer at age 84. Born in Martinez, California, DiMaggio arrived in the major leagues at the age of 21. He batted .323 in his first season and helped the New York Yankees to the 1936 World Championship. His rookie performance served as an indicator of future success, both for him and the Yankees. During his 13-year career, DiMaggio participated in 10 World Series, with his team winning the Championship nine times. In 1941, DiMaggio achieved his most famous milestone when he compiled a major league record 56-game hitting streak.
2001 – In a press release, the Baltimore Orioles announce Albert Belle, “has been found to be totally disabled and unable to perform as a Major League baseball player,” due to a degenerative right hip. The Orioles will place the 34-year-old outfielder on the 60-day disabled list thus beginning the process which conforms to the procedure set forth by MLB in the case of a totally disabling and permanent injury to a player.
Five games are played today in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. In the day’s biggest upset, Adam Stern drives in four runs, has an inside-the-park home run and makes a clutch game-saving catch as Canada shocks the U.S., 8 – 6, leaving the Americans on the brink of elimination. The beating begins early as Canada powers over pitchers Dontrelle Willis and Al Leiter, taking an 8 – 0 lead at Chase Field.
In other games played today, Mexico beats South Africa, 10 – 4; Cuba defeats Panama, 8 – 6 in 11 innings in the first tournament they have played against Major League stars; Puerto Rico earns an 8 – 3 win over the Netherlands; and Venezuela rebounds from a loss in its opener with a 6 – 0 victory over Italy as pitchers Freddy Garcia, Carlos Silva, Rafael Betancourt and Francisco Rodriguez combine in the two-hit, 12-strikeout shutout.
In other games today, South Korea routs Australia, 16 – 2. Seung-yeop Lee scores 3 and drives in 4 and three other South Koreans tack on 3 RBI apiece in the unexpected rout. Canada easily turns back South Africa as expected, with a 10 – 0, 7-inning win; and the German national team beats Spain, 1 – 0, to assure that they will get at least one win out of the event.
In the 2008 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament, Taiwan tops Mexico, 6 – 1, as Mexico falls to 0-2 and is on the brink of elimination from contention. Chen-Min Peng collects three hits to lead the hit parade off Pablo Ortega and company, while Chien-Fu Yang and two hard-throwing amateur relievers shut down a Mexican offense which includes a couple of former major leaguers.
In other games, the Dominican Republic rebounds from their first-game defeat to rout Panama, 9 – 0, making the Panamanians the third country eliminated; Australia romps past Mexico, 17 – 7, as the hosts fade in Foro Sol Stadium after a five-run 1st inning against Craig Anderson; and in another high-scoring slugfest, Team USA beats Venezuela, 15 – 6.
2012 – At this stage of spring training, injuries are the big story. News from the infirmary today includes Cardinals P Chris Carpenter, out with a stiff neck, Nationals OF prospect Bryce Harper, who has a tight calf muscle, and Yankees P David Robertson, who sprained his foot falling down some stairs while moving boxes at home.
At the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the Dutch national team beats Cuba for the third straight game, having done so twice at the 2011 Baseball World Cup en route to the world title. Diegomar Markwell, Leon Boyd and Loek van Mil allow 12 hits but are backed by 5 double plays in the 6 – 2 win; Jonathan Schoop hits a three-run homer off Yadier Pedroso for half the offense and Curt Smith also goes deep for the winners.
Japan survives a scare to open the second round of the Classic, scoring twice in the 8th, once in the 9th and once in the 10th for a 4 – 3 victory over Taiwan. Sho Nakata hits a sacrifice fly off Yi-Hao Lin to score Nobuhiro Matsuda. The Tokyo Dome capacity crowd can’t breathe a sigh of relief yet, as Toshiya Sugiuchi gives up two hits in the bottom of the 10th with one out before Yung-Chi Chen hits into a game-ending twin killing. Chien-Ming Wang tosses six shutout innings for the losers, while Hirokazu Ibata and Atsunori Inaba each have three hits for the victors.
Three first round games are also played in Pools C and D, over in North America. Italy continues to surprise, downing Canada, 14 – 4, in a game shortened by the mercy rule, while Mexico bounces back from its opening loss to Italy to defeat Team USA, 5 – 2, as R.A. Dickey allows four runs in as many innings. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico opens its ledger with a 3 – 0 shutout of Spain, making its World Baseball Classic debut.
2015 – In a spring training game, nine Braves pitchers combine on a no-hitter against the Astros, but the game ends in a 2 – 2 tie after 10 innings. Houston manages to scratch together a pair of runs without the benefit of a hit in the 7th, taking advantage of some wildness, as the Braves’ hurlers walk 9 and hit a batter even though they don’t give up a safety.
A meeting today (3/08) at 3:08 p.m at Clemens Field, named after Samuel Clemens which has .308 gate and a 308 right-field foul pole, a .309 suite, and a monument depicting a .309 batting average, will help solve a mystery surrounding a not so well-known resident, Jake Beckley. The purpose of the gathering is to determine which number should be used to commemorate the Hall of Fame outfielder’s batting average, .308 as listed by Baseball-Reference.com and many other resources or the .309, engraved on his plaque at Cooperstown.
2016 – The Orioles reportedly sign free agent 1B/3B Pedro Alvarez for one year at $5.75 million. The 2013 National League home run champ had trouble finding a team after being let go by the Pirates last Fall because of concerns regarding his defensive play. He won’t have to worry about that as the Birds’ primary designated hitter this year.
“When Moses Fleetwood Walker walked onto a field in Toledo, he did more than play a game. He was more than just an athlete. He did more than throw, catch, or hit. That day and every day he played he started a conversation.” – CRAIG BROWN, an adjunct professor at Kent State University. By a vote of 93-1, the Ohio House passes Bill 59, setting aside October 7 each year in honor of Moses Fleetwood Walker, the first-openly African American to play under contract in the major leagues. In 1884, the bare-handed backstop caught for the American Association’s Toledo Blue Stockings, until a rib injury and the team’s excessive payroll led to his release late in the season.
Cuba picks up its first win at the 2017 World Baseball Classic by blanking China, 6 – 0 in a Pool B first-round match. Roel Santos hits a two-run triple as part of a four-run 4th inning, after 39-year-old Bruce Chen had started things off by blanking the Cubans or 2 2/3 innings. Vladimir Banos allows only one baserunner in five innings to pick up the win as four Cuban pitchers combine on a one-hitter.
In other WBC action, Australia manages to hang on to a 1 – 1 tie with hosts Japan until the 7th inning, when a solo homer by Sho Nakata sends the Japanese on their way to a 4 – 1 win. Australia’s run comes on a 2nd-inning homer by Allan de San Miguel while starter Tim Atherton manages to keep Japan off the scoreboard. Nobuhiro Matsuda ties the game with a sacrifice fly off Lachlan Wells in the 5th before the late runs break the Aussies’ dream of pulling off a huge upset. In the other game, the Netherlands qualify for the next round with a 6 – 5 win over Chinese Taipei, a win that also guarantees that Israel, winner of its first two games, will advance further. Jurickson Profar draws a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the 9th to cap a late comeback for the Dutch. Three doubles by Didi Gregorius figure in the Netherlands’ first five runs of the game, his third tying the game at 5 – 5 in the 8th by driving in a key run.
2018 – 3B Mike Moustakas, one of the most prominent free agents still unsigned at this late date, agrees to one-year deal with his former team, the Royals that involves a massive pay cut. Coming off a year in which he set a new franchise record for homers in a season, he signs for $6.5 million after having turned down a qualifying offer of $17.4 million earlier this off-season.
2019 – Major League Baseball announces that it has reached an agreement with the independent Atlantic League to have the circuit test out some potential rule changes this year, including larger bases, moving back the pitcher’s mound by two feet, limiting defensive shifts and imposing a minimum numbers of batters faced a by a relief pitcher brought into the game. All balls and strikes will also be called by an automated system, and not the home plate umpire, except for a few specific exceptions.