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Baseball history unpacked, August 8

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A Tot, a Childs, and a GLOAT, and other stories

Happy birthday, Anthony Rizzo!
Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

A Cubs-centric look at baseball’s past. Here’s a handy Cubs timeline, to help you follow along as we review selected moments gleaned from the rich pageant of Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball history.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1877 - After St. Louis catcher John Clapp has his cheek smashed by a foul tip, replacement Mike Dorgan goes behind the plate wearing a mask. This is perhaps the first use of a catcher’s mask in an official National League game. (2)

Perhaps. There’s no mention of this incident in this excellent article. Here’s a salient quote:

Probably the first one was invented by an Ivy League man, Fred Thayer, who in 1876 adapted a fencing mask for Alexander Tyng, then with the Harvard Nine. At first, Thayer’s better mouse trap was derisively called a rat trap. But the catcher’s mask caught on quickly among pros and amateurs alike and was in wide use by the 1880s. Besides affording protection, it helped fielding from the very first game. Harvard’s Tyng made only two errors in that April 12, 1877, match, exceptionally low even for a pro catcher in those days.

Thayer’s patented mask (patent 200,358) went into the Spalding catalog for the 1878 season, and adaptations followed quickly. Its simple forehead and chin rests were embellished with padding—made from “imported dog skin,” according to one Spalding catalog— to insulate the steel-mesh frame from the catcher’s face.

Other articles bear out that same scenario. “Honest John” Clapp later became an MLB manager. He caught the game’s first official no-hitter, thrown by George Washington Bradley of the Hartford Dark Blues. This book refers to the incident, however, so it may not be apocryphal after all.

  • 1933 - A series of Midsummer Classic games is proposed by William Veeck, president of the Cubs. (1)

The idea had been floated before, but Arch Ward of the Tribune got it to happen in conjunction with the World’s Fair, and it just kept on going.

Box score. ‘Swish’ also walked three times that day, twice intentionally. Andy Pafko and Stan Hack chipped in with three hits each. Both starting pitchers went the distance.

Box score. Ron Santo hit two homers, one the walk-off in extras, catcher Dick Bertell drove in two more runs, and Ken Hubbs chipped in with an RBI. Lindy McDaniel got the win in relief.

Box score. Billy Williams went deep for two runs off Ron Reed. Spangler and Jim Hickman doubled for the victorious Cubs.

  • 1988 - In the first scheduled night game ever at Wrigley Field, the Cubs play host to the Phillies. The game does not become official when the contest is rained out in the third inning. (1)

This will be addressed by Al on the front page later today. I was at this game but couldn’t make the second, official contest.

  • 2000 - Cubs hurler Phil Norton becomes the 18th pitcher in major league history to give up four homers in one inning in the Dodgers’ 7-5 victory at Chavez Ravine. Kevin Elster, Darren Dreifort, Gary Sheffield, and Shawn Green all take the 24-year-old southpaw deep in the bottom of the fourth inning. Dreifort also goes deep in the bottom of the fifth and goes 6.2 innings for the win. (1)

Box score. Jeff Reed hit a solo homer and Gary Matthews, Jr. tripled in the top of the 8th.


Please note that quotes may have been corrected for spelling and/or grammarical errata. Thanks for playing along.