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Baseball history unpacked, May 4

the first pro game, the balata ball, Rick Monday Day, and other fun stuff

NLCS - Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Three
Rick Monday
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

In out previous episode, we touched on Kerry Wood’s return, Hoak’s super-sombrero, extra-extra innings, and more. Today we discuss and Rick Monday Day, the balata ball, and other items of interest. The National Pastime’s site was down all day Thursday, so we have no data from that source today. Baseball Reference has a lot of internal links, and I’ve left those in and added a few more items for your possible reading pleasure.

Here’s a handy Cubs timeline.

Today in baseball history:

Nice picture here.

  • 1871 - A National Association contest between the Cleveland Forest Citys and Fort Wayne Kekiongas is officially the first Major League game ever played. Fort Wayne is the winner, 2 - 0, behind a four-hit shutout by pitcher Bobby Mathews. Al Pratt is the losing pitcher. Cleveland’s catcher, Deacon White, is 3 for 4, including the first hit(a double) and also is the first to hit into a double play. Bill Lennon becomes the first catcher to throw a runner out trying to steal second base. In the 127 games during the 1871 season, there are a total of four shutouts.
  • 1943 - Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick demonstrates the revised balata (the stuff that the outer covers of golf balls were made of) ball to reporters by bouncing it on his office carpet. This ball will prove to be fifty percent livelier than the 1942 model. When introduced in games on May 9, there are six home runs hit in four doubleheaders compared with nine home runs hit with the previous ball in the first 72 games. The major leagues have turned to the balata ball because of wartime restrictions on the supplies used to make standard baseballs. (1) (3)
This Great Game.

Noel Hynd (Sports Illustrated) had a good article.

The history of the baseball.

  • 1963 - Bob Shaw of the Milwaukee Braves sets a major league record by committing five balks. In the 3rd inning, Shaw walks Billy Williams and sends him home with three straight balks. Shaw lasts five innings before he is ejected for arguing. The Chicago Cubs beat Milwaukee, 5 - 3. (3)

Box score.

  • 1976 - The Illinois Legislature declares today “Rick Monday Day” to honor his patriotic gesture on April 25th of saving an American flag from being burned by two spectators at Dodger Stadium.
  • 2009 - Ernie Harwell, one of the greatest broadcasters in baseball history, dies at the age of 92 after a year-long bout with cancer. He was the radio and television voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 years, retiring from the booth in 2002. He received the Ford Frick Award in 1981 and was a member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame.
Ernie Harwell


Thanks for reading.