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Baseball history unpacked, June 8

Happy birthday, Luke Farrell, and other stories

Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs
Birthday boy Luke Farrell
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In our previous edition, we examined an example of a fog out, ‘spoke’ of the day after the day after corkgate, and other stories. Today, Luke Farrell’s birthday, we have a variety of things in various states of undress.

Here’s a handy Cubs timeline.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1920 - The RedsEdd Roush falls asleep in center field during a long argument in the infield. Heinie Groh goes out to wake him, but the ump ejects Roush for delaying the game. (2)

Roush and Groh are not well-known today, but they were two of the best players of that era. The famously fiesty Roush made the Hall of Fame, and Groh was regarded as the best third baseman of his time. Historian Greg Gajus suggests that Groh would have won at least one Most Valuable Player award (for the 1919 season) and perhaps two others (1916 and 1918), and that eight of his 12 full seasons were of All-Star quality. Furthermore, contemporaries considered him the NL’s best-fielding third baseman, so he likely would have added at least a half-dozen Gold Gloves to his trophy case.

Roush was considered the best defensive center fielder of his time, comparable, some say, “to Hall-of-Famer Tris Speaker.” Here he says a few words:

  • 1934 - The Reds become the first team to travel in an airplane when Cincinnati GM Larry MacPhail flies 19 of his players to Chicago for a series against the Cubs. In 1946, New York will be the first team to fly on a regular basis, using a chartered Douglas DC-4 that will become known as the ‘Yankee Mainliner’. (1)
Yankee Mainliner
  • 1951 - White Sox reliever Marv Rotblatt becomes the first pitcher to be driven in from the bullpen when he enters the game in the 8th inning to face the Yankees in a 4-2 loss at Comiskey Park. At the present time, transportation to the mound is only for White Sox pitchers, but later in the season, the team will provide the visiting bullpen hurlers with a black Cadillac, which has been supplied by a local funeral home. (1)

I love this idea. Had to be a Bill Veeck joint. Marvin Rotblatt wasn’t very big, and didn’t have a long or very successful Major League career, but you can’t deny he made his mark.

  • 1955 - The Dodgers option pitcher Tommy Lasorda to Montreal to make room on the roster for bonus baby Sandy Koufax, who has been on the injured list. (2)
  • 1965 - In the first major league free-agent draft of students and sandlot players, the A’s select Arizona State star Rick Monday, making him the first player ever to be drafted. Kansas City will also select his Sun Devil teammate Sal Bando in the sixth round. (1)
  • 1969 - On Mickey Mantle Day, the Yankees retire uniform number 7 in front of a crowd of 60,096, the first sellout at the Bronx ballpark since the 1964 World Series. The Mick also receives a plaque from Joe DiMaggio that will be hung on the center field fence, and, then in turn, he gives the ‘Yankee Clipper’ a similar plaque, telling the crowd, “His should be just a little bit higher than mine.” (1)
  • 1970 - Players and management end their labor dispute by agreeing to a new standard player contract. Among the players’ victories is a raise in the minimum salary from $10,000 to $12,000 per year.

This was only the second standard contract agreed to, according to Cot’s. During the agreement (April 1-13, 1972), players voted to strike over dispute regarding financing of the pension plan. This led to the cancellation of 86 games and shortening of the season.

Here’s the text from that link:


Term: 1970 – Dec. 31, 1972. The new basic agreement covers the 1970, 1971 and 1972 seasons. All provisions, including new Spring Training payments, are retroactive to the beginning of 1970.

Minimum Salary: The minimum salary increases to $12,000 for 1970, $12,750 for 1971, and $13,500 for 1972.

Reserve Clause: The Reserve Clause issue is tabled until Curt Flood’s antitrust lawsuit is resolved by the courts. Once Flood’s case ends, the issue may be re-opened for negotiation between playing seasons.

Arbitration: The arbitration procedure is altered, with an impartial arbitrator handling “nuts and bolts” labor grievances which do not involve “integrity of the game” issues. The commissioner retains his role as final arbiter, after formal hearing, in cases involving “integrity” or “public confidence” in the game. The commissioner had previously been the court of last resort in settling virtually any differences.

Pay Cuts: The maximum salary cut allowed remains 20 percent from the previous year’s salary. The new agreement adds an additional requirement: No player may have his salary cut by more than 30 percent over two years.

Severance Pay: The agreement expands the number of players entitled to severance pay, with players released during Spring Training receiving 30 days’ pay (a first), players released after Opening Day receiving 60 days’ pay (one-third of their salary), and players released after May 15 receiving full salaries for the year.

Right to Representation: Owners recognize the right of players to hire an agent for contract/salary negotiations with management.

Tender Deadline: The deadline for teams to offer contracts for the following season to unsigned players is January 15.

Winners’ Shares: Owners agree to increase by $250,000 the pool of money paid to players for their clubs’ place in the standings and post-season performance. (Players receive money for finishing first, second or third in their division, as well as advancing to or winning the World Series.)

Operational Rules: The 1970 agreement prevents changes in baseball’s operational rules, such as waivers, options or scheduling, without prior negotiation and agreement with the union. Previously, owners could make changes regarding player benefits unilaterally.

Expense Money: The agreement increases amounts of weekly stipend during Spring Training and daily meal money in-season.

Schedule: Start time for “getaway” games moved from 6 p.m. to 5 p.m., when a club has a game in another city the next day. The 162-game schedule remains, however. (Players had lobbied for a return to a 154-game schedule.)

Pension: With the pension agreement expiring March 31, 1972, players again seek an increase in contributions from management. (The benefits fund is financed by a $5.45M allotment from national television revenues from the World Series.) Players vote to strike April 1 over the financing of the pension plan, arguing that the plan’s $900,000 surplus should distributed to qualified players. MLB cancels 86 games. After a 13-day strike, the owners agree to increase their contribution by $500,000 annually, to $5.95 million. The canceled games are not rescheduled, and teams play 154-156 games in 1972, with division titles decided on a strict percentage basis. The players are not paid for the time spent out on strike.

  • 1993 - After serving as Milwaukee’s mascot from 1973 to 1984, Bernie Brewer comes out of retirement after an eight-year absence. The mustachioed costumed character, once renown for sliding into a mug of beer after hometown homers, is brought back by popular demand when the fans vote for his reinstatement by an overwhelming 21,751 to 1,389 margin.
  • 2001 - In front of a record-setting crowd of 45,936 at the new Comiskey Park, the White Sox beat their North Side rivals in ten innings when Carlos Lee hits a two-out walk-off grand slam to give the Pale Hose a dramatic victory over the Cubs, 7-3.

Box score. I was at that game. It was the last game I saw in Chicago. Ugh.


Thanks for reading.