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Baseball history unpacked, February 4

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The Messerschmidt decision, Bowie Kuhn, Plesac’s birthday, and other stories

MLB: Winter Meetings
Happy birthday, Dan Plesac
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A wildly popular 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. The embedded links often point to articles that I’ve chosen as illustrative of the scenes, from The Society for American Baseball Research, reproductions of period newspapers, images, and other such material. It’s all lightly unpacked and tidied up, just for you.

You might learn something, but mostly, it’s for fun!

Today in baseball history:

  • 1861 - In front of a reported crowd of over 10,000 spectators, the champion Atlantics defeat the Charter Oak Club, 36-27 on a game played on frozen Litchfield Pond in South Brooklyn. The players, wearing ice skates, are permitted to glide past the bases painted on the frozen surface. (1)

More. (4)

  • 1882 - National League players are now responsible for carrying their own bats and uniforms on road trips. They are also required to purchase and keep clean two complete uniforms, including the white linen ties to be worn on the field at all times.
  • 1893 - The first recorded version (Columbia Graphophone Grand, #9649) of the poem Casey at the Bat, vocalized by recording pioneer Russell Hunting, is released. The more well-known rendition of Earnest Thayer’s work, the one popularized by DeWolfe Hopper, will not be heard by the public until 1906. (1)
  • 1956 - In memory of the Hall of Fame hurler who died the previous year, the Cy Young Memorial Award is established to honor the outstanding major league pitcher of the year. The first recipient will be Don Newcombe, who will post a 27-7 record along with an ERA of 3.06 for the Dodgers next season. (1)
  • 1969 - Bowie Kuhn, a compromise candidate elected to an interim one-year term after the owners cannot overcome the stalemate between the NL’s strong support of Giants vice president Chub Feeney and the AL’s staunch choice of Yankee president Michael Burke, becomes baseball’s fifth commissioner, a position he will hold until 1984. The 42-year-old former National League attorney, a future Hall of Famer for the role he will play during a turbulent time in the game, replaces William Eckert, who was forced to resign after serving only three years of his seven-year term. (1)
  • 1976 - Federal judge John W. Oliver of the United States district court for Western Missouri upholds Peter Seitz’s arbitration ruling which made Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally free agents. The Dodger and Expos pitchers challenged the reserve clause by playing, but not signing their contracts, contending they are now free to sign with another team for next season, negating the owners’ belief that the one-year contracts are perpetually renewed without a player’s consent. (1)
  • 2005 - The Cubs, needing to fill the void created by the departure of Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou, sign an arbitration-eligible Aramis Ramirez (.318, 36, 103) to an $8.95 million, one-year contract. The 26-year-old third baseman will be selected to the National League All-Star team this season. (1)
  • Cubs birthdays: Doc Miller, Pat Perry, Dan Plesac.


Thanks for reading. #Cubsnews