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Baseball history unpacked, December 23

A surprisingly important date, especially in baseball labor relations annals.

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Doug Glanville
Photo by Albert Dickson/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

... 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*. Beware of rabbit holes.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1902 - John A. Hillerich is issued a patent which devises a method of hardening the surface of a bat, improving the wood’s ability to drive a baseball and to preserve the material from checking, chipping, or splintering on its surface from exposure to the sun or the weather. The name “Louisville Slugger” had become the Kentuckian’s business registered trademark in 1894. (1)
  • 1913 - The Sporting News reports that 15 men died from baseball injuries during the 1913 season, according to a list compiled by J.R. Vickery of Chicago. The only name given is that of J. Whetstone of New Orleans, who suffered “a broken spine sustained in sliding to a base”; all other fatalities were the result of foul tips or pitched balls. The list “does not include a major league player or even a minor league athlete of sufficient experience to be widely known.” (3)
  • 1960 - Former major league first baseman Ripper Collins, who played with the Cardinals’ Gashouse Gang, joins the Cubs’ college of coaches, a group of interim skippers that will manage the team for part of the season. The original ‘faculty’ will include El Tappe, Goldie Holt, Bobby Adams, Harry Craft, Rube Walker, Vedie Himsl, and Charlie Grimm. (1)
  • 1975 - A landmark decision by Peter Seitz begins a new era in major league baseball as the arbitrator’s judgment makes pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally the first true free agents in baseball history. After each played for their team, the Dodgers and Expos respectively, without signing a contract during their option year, they challenged the owners’ assumption that the reserve clause meant one-year contracts were automatically renewed.

On the day he delivers his now-historic ruling, Peter Seitz is dismissed by John Gaherin, the owners’ representative in labor matters. The fired arbitrator, hired by baseball to settle player disputes, is asked by management to refrain from discussing or writing about the landmark decision. (1)

  • 1994 - Major league owners implement a salary cap and revenue sharing on striking players. The new provisions never take effect because a ruling by a judge, which ends the protracted labor dispute, orders that the next two seasons must be played under previously existing labor conditions. (1)
  • 1997 - The Cubs trade outfielder Doug Glanville to the Phillies for second baseman Mickey Morandini. Chicago’s new infielder will spend two years with the team, hitting a respectable .272 in 298 games, and Glanville, who will become a clubhouse leader, will play the next six seasons in Philadelphia, enjoying his most productive years in the majors as a fine defensive outfielder who can handle a bat and steal bases. (1)
  • 2011 - The Cubs trade lefty reliever Sean Marshall to the Reds for southpaw starter Travis Wood, outfielder Dave Sappelt and minor league infielder Ronald Torreyes. In February, Chicago’s former set-up man will sign a three-year, $18 million extension with his new team that runs through 2015. (1)
  • Cubs birthdays: Doc Gessler, Danny Taylor, Elder White, Ken Hubbs, Vic LaRose, Alec Distaso.


*We try to vet each item. Please let us know if an item is in error, especially if you have a source.

Thanks for reading.