... on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Bleed Cubbie Blue brings a you a lighthearted Cubs-centric look at baseball’s past. Here’s a handy Cubs timeline, to help you follow along as we review select scenes from the rich tapestry of Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball history.
Today in baseball history:
- 1884 - The National League agrees to allow overhand pitching, but rules that pitchers must keep both feet on the ground throughout their pitching motion in order to reduce the velocity of their pitches. They still must throw the ball at the height requested by the batter. In addition, teams are now required to supply a separate bench for each club at their park to limit inter-team fraternization. (3)
- 1888 - The Joint Rules Committee reduces the number of balls for a walk from five to four, establishing the four balls/three strikes count that remains in effect to this day. It also eliminates an out on a foul tip if the catcher catches it within 10 feet of home plate. (3)
- 1934 - Seventeen-year-old Eiji Sawamura gives up one hit, a home run to Lou Gehrig, as the touring American All-Stars win in Japan, 1-0. At one point Sawamura strikes out four future Hall of Famers in a row: Charlie Gehringer, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, and Gehrig. (2)
- 1952 - Commissioner Ford Frick states his belief that the Pacific Coast League will eventually reach major league status. The PCL is the only minor league in history to be given the “Open” classification, considered a step above the Triple-A level, that limited the rights of big league clubs to draft players from its teams, and is perceived as a precursor to the circuit becoming a third major league. (1,3)
With change swirling around him, Frick often appeared to be a bystander. The press painted him as an empty suit who dodged most issues by throwing up his hands and saying, “It’s a league matter.”
He was an employee of the owners, and he acted like it. At the same time, he maintained the fiction that the commissioner represented “in that order — players, the public, and the owners.”
“The very threat of congressional legislation is enough to make baseball club owners quiver like custard pudding.”
- 1952 - Chicago Cubs slugger Hank Sauer is named National League Most Valuable Player by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The Cubs finished in fifth place despite Sauer’s 37 home runs and 121 RBI. (2,3)
- 1987 - Don Zimmer, former skipper of the Padres, Red Sox, and Rangers, is hired by longtime friend Jim Frey to manage the Cubs. In his last managerial stint, ‘Popeye’ will compile a 265-258 (.507) record during his 3+ year tenure in Chicago, including a division title in 1989. (1,3)
- 2007 - Nippon Pro Baseball announces the MVPs for 2007. Yu Darvish, a 21-year-old pitcher for the Nippon Ham Fighters, wins the honors in the Pacific League. Only Eiji Sawamura (in 1937) and Kazuhisa Inao (in 1957) had been named MVP at a younger age. Michihiro Ogasawara, the 2006 Pacific League MVP, wins in his first year in the Central League after batting .313/.363/.539 with 31 homers for the Yomiuri Giants. (3)
- Cubs birthdays: Andy Coakley, Jess Dobernic, Jay Johnstone, Rick Monday, Alex Arias, Sam Fuld. Also notable: Clark Griffith (HoF).
- (1) — The National Pastime.
- (2) — Today in Baseball History.
- (3) — Baseball Reference.
- (4) — Society for American Baseball Research.
- (5) — Baseball Hall of Fame.
- (6) — This Day in Chicago Cubs history.
Thanks for reading.