Baseball history marches forth ... as always on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I bring 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 folded neatly, just for you.
You might learn something, but mostly, it’s for fun!
Today in baseball history:
- 1933 - After missing half of last season when he broke his leg, Cubs outfielder Kiki Cuyler breaks his other leg and will miss nearly three months of this season. The 36-year-old future Hall-of-Famer has led the league in stolen bases four times and will finish with 328 career steals. (1)
- 1954 - The Cubs fire skipper Phil Cavarretta after he tells reporters the team had little chance to finish in the first division. The 36-year-old player-manager, who compiled a 169-213 (.442) record during his three years at the helm, is the first person to lose a managerial position during spring training. (1)
- 1973 – The “Alert Orange Baseball” is used for the first time in major league history. The unique baseball, an invention of Oakland Athletics owner Charlie Finley, is used in an exhibition game between Oakland and the Cleveland Indians. Finley contends the ball, painted the color of a construction worker’s hat, will be easier for both players and fans to see. But pitchers complain that the ball is slippery and hard to grip, while batters are unable to pick up the spin of the ball without seeing the seams. Although Finley pushes for the use of colored baseballs during the regular season, the idea will never come to fruition.
- 1988 - Popular slugger Ted Kluszewski dies in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the age of 63. In a 15-season career, Kluszewski hit 279 home runs, including a National League-leading 49 in 1954.
- 2000 - In Japan, the Chicago Cubs open the major league season at the Tokyo Dome by defeating the New York Mets, 5 - 3, in the first major league opening day ever played outside of the United States, Canada or Mexico. Jon Lieber gets the victory and Mike Hampton takes the loss. Shane Andrews, Mark Grace and Mike Piazza hit home runs in the game.
- 2007 - In a split-squad game between the Cubs and Diamondbacks at Mesa’s HoHoKam Park, Ria Cortesio becomes the first female ump to work a major league exhibition game since Pam Postema in 1989. The thirty-year-old, who is starting her ninth year overall as an arbitrator and fifth in Double-A minor league ball, hopes to be the first woman umpire in major league history.
“It’s awesome,” Cubs star Derrek Lee said. “I think it’s about time. Female eyes are as good as male eyes. Why can’t they be umpires? Good for her.”
Jen Pawol is the latest to try.
- 2018 - The Major League Baseball season starts today with all 30 teams being scheduled to play although a couple of games are rained out. Ian Happ of the Cubs launches the season by homering off Jose Urena of the Marlins on the very first pitch thrown in the earliest of the 15 games. For his part, Giancarlo Stanton, acquired by the Yankees in a major off-season trade, also has a memorable day as he starts his career in pinstripes with two long balls in a 6 - 1 win over the Blue Jays.
- Cubs birthdays: Bill Harbridge, Karl Pagel, Domingo Ramos. Also notable: Cy Young (HoF).
- (1) — The National Pastime.
- (2) — Today in Baseball History.
- (3) — Baseball Reference.
- (4) — Society for American Baseball Research.
- (5) — Baseball Hall of Fame.
Thanks for reading. #Cubsnews