Today in baseball history:
- 1919 - William Veeck Sr, former sportswriter, replaces Fred Mitchell as Cubs president, but Mitchell remains field manager for Chicago. (2)
President at that time was similar to the General Manager position today. Bill Sr, father of the more infamous Jr, “brought home two National League pennants (1929 and 1932) and helped build the foundations for two others (1935 and 1938).” (4)
This great article tells more, if you’d care to read. “He was a fighter and a great guy,” Babe Ruth said. “If Bill Veeck would have been in the Cub lineup in 1932, I don’t think we’d have won in four straight games.” (4)
- 1930 - Bill Veeck Sr’s very popular Ladies’ Day promotion at Wrigley Field reaches new heights when more than 30,000 female fans attend the Cubs’ doubleheader against Cincinnati. An over-capacity crowd packs the small ballpark, with thousands of others, including late-arriving regular paying patrons, unable to gain admission into the North Side venue. (1)
The Book Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick says that 51,556 people were in the park that day.
- 1932 - Cubs shortstop Billy Jurges is shot twice in his Chicago hotel room by a spurned girlfriend, Violet Popovich Valli. In a scuffle for the gun, Jurges is hit in the shoulder and hand. Jurges fails to prosecute, and Valli will be signed to a 22-week contract to sing in local nightclubs. (2)
“The shooting incident, along with a similar incident involving Eddie Waitkus in 1947, probably provided Bernard Malamud inspiration for his 1952 novel The Natural, the basis for the classic 1984 baseball movie. It also triggered a chain of events that set the stage for one of the most famous stories in baseball history: Babe Ruth’s supposed called shot in the third game of the 1932 World Series.” (4)
SABR of course has the inside baseball. It didn’t end well for Popovich. The show ran for only a few weeks. Her nephew, Mark Prescott, conjectured during a recent interview that her lack of success may have stemmed from her lack of talent. “She liked to sing,” Prescott said. “That is, she tried to sing.” (4)
- 1933 - At Chicago’s Comiskey Park, the first ever All-Star game is played. Babe Ruth’s third-inning two-run home run off Bill Hallahan proves to be the difference when the American League defeats the Senior Circuit, 4-2. (1)
- 1938 - At Crosley Field, Yankees’ hurler Lefty Gomez is defeated for the first time in four All-Star starts as the NL wins the All-Star game 4-1. National League shortstop Leo Durocher becomes the first Dodger to start in an All-Star Game and gets a ‘bunt’ home run. (1)
Box score. Baseball Almanac describes the bunt homer. “...third baseman Jimmie Foxx charged in. Playing the ball, Foxx made the scoop and threw the ball into right field. Joe DiMaggio, in right in deference to Earl Averill, raced in, picked up the ball and fired it home. The throw was too high and sailed over catcher Bill Dickey’s head, allowing McCormick to score. Meanwhile, Durocher never stopped running until he reached home.”
- 1956 - Ford Frick inaugurates the Cy Young Award, to honor one outstanding pitcher each year. The Baseball Writers Association will do the voting. Only one pitcher will be honored each year until 1967, when a pitcher in each league will be selected. (2)
- 1970 - Ron Santo drives in 10 runs, helping the Cubs sweep a doubleheader against Montreal at Wrigley Field. The third baseman’s two-run homer in the opener gives the team a 3-2 victory, and his eight RBIs, that includes another two round-trippers, contribute to the club’s 14-2 rout in the nightcap. (1)
- 1977 - After 1,887 plate appearances without a home run from the start of his career, Cubs outfielder Greg Gross finally goes deep when he homers off Don Stanhouse, a three-run shot to left field with two outs in the sixth-inning, in the team’s 8-6 victory over the Expos at Wrigley Field. The 24-year-old’s homerless drought establishes a new major league record, far surpassing runner-up Duane Kuiper, who recorded his first round-tripper needing 355 fewer trips to the plate to accomplish the feat. (1)
- 1992 - Using his ‘in the best interest of baseball’ power, commissioner Fay Vincent mandates the National League be realigned next season, forcing teams to be more geographically correct in their respective divisions. The realignment, which was approved by the 12 of the 14 NL owners in March, but blocked by Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago franchise, will send the Cubs and the Cardinals to the West Division with the Braves and Reds moving to the East. (1)
- 2001 - The Cubs, playing in their 101st different park since 1876, beat the Tigers in Comerica Park, 15-8. The Cubs win for the first time in Detroit in 56 years, dating back to Game 3 of the 1945 World Series, when Claude Passeau threw a 3-0 shutout in Briggs Stadium. (1)
- (1) — The National Pastime.
- (2) — Today in Baseball History.
- (3) — Baseball Reference.
- (4) — Society for American Baseball Research.
Thanks for playing along.