1912 – Joseph (Arky) Vaughan is born in Clifty, Arkansas. Vaughan, a hard-hitting shortstop, will make his major league debut in 1932 and will go on to hit for a .318 batting average during a 14-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Brooklyn Dodgers. Vaughan will be elected to the Hall of Fame by the Special Veterans Committee in 1985.
1981 – The Chicago White Sox sign prized free agent catcher Carlton Fisk. The future Hall of Fame receiver was declared a free agent in February after the Boston Red Sox failed to mail him a contract by the deadline imposed under the Basic Agreement. Fisk batted .289 with 18 home runs for the Red Sox in 1980.
Tampa Bay’s new expansion team will be known as the Devil Rays, a name that will prove to be unpopular due to its un-Christian reference after being selected from more than 7,000 entries submitted by the public. The club’s owner Vince Niamoli had preferred his team be called the Sting Rays, but he refused to pay the $35,000 needed to buy the trademark from a club in the Hawaiian Winter League, who owned the rights to the nickname.
Nikko Smith, Ozzie’s son who made it to the third round of theAmerican Idol semi-finals, is voted off the popular reality show. A few days later, the young entertainer will be asked back by the producers to replace Mario Vazquez, who withdrew from the competition, prompting judge Paula Abdul to call him “The Comeback Kid” after his performance of West Side Story’s “One Hand, One Heart”.
At Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan a “Down with Fidel” sign, seen by millions of television viewers, including those watching the WBC contest in Cuba, creates an international incident. A Cuban official attending the game confronts the male sign-holder, but Puerto Rican police quickly intercede, taking Angel Iglesias to a nearby police station, where the vice president of Cuba’s National Institute of Sports is reminded that Puerto Ricans enjoy the right to freedom of speech.
At Cracker Jack Stadium, Adrian Beltre hits his third home run in two games and Albert Pujols and Moises Alou also homer, leading the Dominican Republic past Italy, 8 – 3. Meanwhile, Ramón Hernandez homers and starter Kelvim Escobar allows one hit and strikes out five in 4 2/3 innings, leading Venezuela to a 2 – 0 win over Australia
Four games are played today in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. At Chase Field, Jorge Cantú hits a home run and drives in three runs as Mexico defeats Canada, 9 – 1, to move into the second round of the Classic. At Hiram Bithorn Stadium, Yoandry Garlobo goes 4 for 5 with three RBI to lead Cuba to an 11 – 2 victory over the Netherlands, also advancing to the second round of the Classic. Cuba’s win also moves Puerto Rico into the next round.
In other games, Mexico is practically eliminated from contention with its third straight loss, falling 6 – 1 to unbeaten South Korea. The host Taiwan national team staves off a tough challenge from Germany, as André Hughes throws six shutout innings in a duel with Chih-Chia Chang before Kuo-Hui Lo doubles in a run with two outs in the 7th, then scores on a bloop single. Down only 2 – 0 in the 9th, Germany threatens when Jendrick Speer doubles and Dominik Wulf singles, but Chia-Jen Lo retires cleanup hitter Kai Gronauer and #5 batter Michael Franke to end it. Remigio Leal gives Spain its first win of the tournament with a 2 – 1 victory over South Africa. Barry Armitage gives up five hits while going the distance in defeat.
In the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Italy eliminates Team Canada, the fourth team ousted. Justin Morneau gets 4 hits for Canada, but Chris Denorfia goes 4 for 4 with 3 doubles, 2 runs, 2 RBI and a great catch and Italy holds on for a 6 – 2 win. The Dutch national team almost clinches a semifinal spot, leading 1 – 0 going into the bottom of the 8th against host Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, relievers Dennis Neuman and Michiel van Kampen walk three batters and Yadier Molina doubles off Leon Boyd en route to a 3 – 1 comeback win.
In today’s last game, South Africa stays tight with Mexico for 5 innings before the Mexican squad wakes up and goes on to a 14 – 3 rout. South Africa becomes the fifth country eliminated. Adrián González drives in six and Jorge Cantú scores two while driving home three. Gift Ngoepe is a bright spot for the losers, with two triples, a run and a RBI.
Amidst much hoopla, Stephen Strasburg throws two scoreless innings against Detroit in his much anticipated first exhibition start for the Nationals this spring. The former San Diego State right-hander, the recipient of the Golden Spikes award as best amateur baseball player in the nation, was selected as the number one overall pick in last year’s draft, signing a record $15.1 million, four-year deal with Washington.
At a spring training game in Kissimmee, FL, Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar is hit in the face by a foul ball off the bat of Brian McCann while standing in the dugout. Salazar immediately collapses and passes out and, bleeding abundantly, is transported by helicopter to a medical facility in Orlando, FL as trainers fear for his life. He regains consciousness in hospital, but has several facial fractures and will lose an eye as a result of the accident.
In an eery reminder of last year’s almost fatal spring training accident, the Orioles’ Nolan Reimold is hit in the head by a pitch by Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb in the 1st inning of a Grapefruit League game. Reimold stays face down on the ground for several minutes before being taken to Peace River Hospital in Port Charlotte, FL. However, preliminary tests reveal no significant injury.
In first-round games in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the Dominican Republic defeats Spain, 6 – 3, although the Spaniards score twice and leave the bases loaded in the 9th. Canada defeats Mexico, 10 – 3, eliminating them from the tournament in a game marred by a 9th-inning brawl which erupts after Mexican pitcher Arnold Leon plunks Rene Tosoni. For its part, Team USA beats Italy, 6 – 2, on David Wright’s 5th-inning grand slam. Italy is through to the second round, while the outcome tomorrow’s game between Canada and the USA will determine who joins them there. In the final contest, Puerto Rico beats Venezuela, 6 – 3, handing Venezuela an early exit from the tournament.
Kris Bryant (.292, 39, 102), who made $652K in his rookie year, becomes the highest-paid second-year player when he comes to terms with the World Champion Cubs on a contract reportedly worth $1.05 million. The Chicago third baseman’s deal surpasses the previous record major league record of one million dollars, given to sophomore outfielder Mike Trout in 2014 by the Angels.
“Major League Baseball’s greatest responsibility is to ensure that today’s youth become active participants in our game as players and fans. The ‘MLB Little League Classic’ exemplifies our entire sport’s commitment to building a stronger connection between young people and the National Pastime” – ROB MANFRED,Commissioner of Baseball.Major League Baseball announces the first “MLB Little League Classic” will be played between Cardinals and Pirates on August 20 at Williamsport’s BB&T Ballpark, the second-oldest minor league ballpark in the United States which was formerly known as Bowman Field when it opened 1926. The regular season game, originally scheduled to be played at PNC Park, will take place in conjunction with the Little League World Series that will be taking place in nearby Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
Already qualified for the next round of WBC action, Israel completes a sweep of its first-round matches with a 4 – 2 win over the Netherlands, who also come into the game unbeaten. Israel scores three times in the 1st and never looks back. Ryan Lavarnway is named the MVP of Pool A after batting .556 with 3 walks in the three games. In the other contest, South Korea avoids the humiliation of a winless first round by disposing of Chinese Taipei in a 10-inning slugfest, 11 – 8, but not before squandering a six-run lead. A sacrifice fly by Eui-ji Yang and a two-run pinch homer by Tae-kyun Kim off Hung-Wen Chen give the Koreans their winning margin in the top of the 10th. Closer Seung-hwan Oh is the winner.
It’s also the first day of games in the two North American pools. In Pool C, defending champions the Dominican Republic rout Canada, 9 – 2, behind a very supportive large crowd at Marlins Park. The Dominicans score 4 runs in the 2nd, including a two-run homer by C Welington Castillo, and never look back as they victimize starter Ryan Dempster, who has come out from three years of retirement to play for his national team. Jose Bautista hits a three-run homer off Dustin Molleken in the 6th and drives in 4 for the winners. In Pool D, Italy defeats Mexico, 10 – 9, stunning the hometown crowd at Estadio Charros de Jalisco by scoring 5 runs in the 9th inning. The Italians’ rally is capped by a two-run double by Alex Liddi against Roberto Osuna, and a two-run single by John Andreoli, off Oliver Perez.
Luke Hughes hits a two-run homer off Kwon Ju and drives in four runs to lead Australia to an 11 – 0 rout of China in a Pool B game in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Trent D’Antonio pitches in with a two-run triple and James Beresford adds a grand slam in the 8th to bring the lead into double digits and trigger the mercy rule that ends the game early. Travis Blackley pitches 4 2/3 scoreless innings to earn the win. Australia’s win guarantees that Japan, which won its first two games, is through to the next round, with the remaining spot to be determined by the winner of the Aussies’ upcoming game with Cuba.
1987 – A sign of things to come. Astros lose their home spring opener to Montreal, 19-3. Bob Knepper and Jeff Heathcock are knocked silly before the bullpen comes to the rescue. Five Houston errors worsen the mood. Knepper would slump from a 17-12 1986 season to 8-17 the next year, his ERA climbing by over two runs.