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.
- 1947 - At Wrigley Field‚ Bill Nicholson breaks up a pitching duel between Johnny Schmitz and Ewell Blackwell with an 11th-inning solo homer. The Cubs whip the Reds‚ 2 - 1. Nicholson also scores the Cubs’ first run‚ an unearned tally. Chicago helps Schmitz out with a 7th-inning triple play when Lennie Merullo snags a liner‚ steps on second base‚ and fires to Eddie Waitkus. (3)
- 1952 - Bob Neighbors, who played seven games for the St. Louis Browns, is killed in action in North Korea. He is the only major-leaguer to die in action in the Korean War. (3)
- 1963 - In the 5th inning‚ Frank Howard and Moose Skowron pinch-hit back-to-back home runs for the Dodgers‚ only the second time this has ever occurred in the National League. Cub pitchers Bob Buhl and Don Elston are the victims. But the Cubs hold on to win, 5 - 4, at Wrigley Field. (3)
- 1968 - The Cubs trip the Braves‚ 4-0‚ behind Bill Hands‚ with relief help from Phil Regan. Umpire Chris Pelekoudas goes to the mound to inspect the cap and glove of the Cubs’ Regan. When the game continues, Pelekoudas accuses Regan of three illegal pitches, nullifying a fly out‚ a strikeout‚ and changing a strike to a ball. Wrigley fans toss garbage on the field. Leo Durocher‚ Randy Hundley‚ and Al Spangler get tossed as well. National League president Warren Giles, after a special hearing‚ says umps should have better evidence before calling pitches illegal. (3)
- 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)
- Cubs birthdays: Cupid Childs, Chick Keating, Tot Presnell, Ken Raffensberger, Vern Morgan, Vicente Amor, Ray Fontenot, Dave Meier, Chad Meyers, Anthony Rizzo.
- (1) — The National Pastime.
- (2) — Today in Baseball History.
- (3) — Baseball Reference.
- (4) — Society for American Baseball Research.
Please note that quotes may have been corrected for spelling and/or grammarical errata. Thanks for playing along.