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Baseball history unpacked, April 1

Sidd Finch and other stories

Hit That Ball
Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

... 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:

  • 1914 - Rube Waddell dies from tuberculosis in San Antonio, TX, at the age of 37. One of the top lefthanded pitchers in major league history, Waddell led the American League in strikeouts for six years in a row, collected four consecutive 20-win seasons from 1902 to 1906, including the Triple Crown in 1905 with 27 wins, 287 strikeouts and a 1.48 ERA, leading the league in all pitching categories. Waddell, who dies in a sanitarium, had seen his condition weakened by his efforts to contain a winter flood in Kentucky. He will be selected to the Hall of Fame by the Special Veterans Committee in 1946. (3)
  • 1949 - The St. Louis Browns, owners of Sportsman’s Park, move to evict the St. Louis Cardinals in order to gain a rent increase. (3)
  • 1970 - Federal Bankruptcy Referee Sidney Volinn, after ruling the team is insolvent, orders the Seattle Pilots be sold to a group headed by mid-western businessman Bud Selig. The American League expansion team’s tenure in the Northwest is over after just one season when the club is hastily moved to Milwaukee to start the new season as the Brewers. (1)
  • 1980 - After failing to come up with a new collective bargaining agreement with the owners, the Executive Board of the Players’ Association votes unanimously to cancel the 92 remaining exhibition games and to strike on May 22 if a deal has not been reached by then. During spring training, the players had voted 971-1 in favor of a strike. The lone dissenter was Kansas City’s Jerry Terrell, who voted no for religious reasons. (2)
  • 1985 - Today’s issue of Sports Illustrated contains a fictitious article about a New York Mets pitching prospect named Sidd Finch, whose fastball has been timed at 168 miles per hour. Author George Plimpton offers bogus quotes from real-life members of the Mets, as well as several staged photos, and fools readers nationwide. (3)
  • 1989 - Former Yale University and National League president Bart Giamatti becomes the seventh commissioner of major league baseball. Baseball’s new leader, a lifelong Red Sox fan, is the author of The Green Fields of the Mind, an essay which laments the end of a season in Boston. (1)
  • 1996 - N.L. umpire John McSherry collapses and dies behind home plate seven pitches into the season opener between Cincinnati and Montreal. McSherry, who weighed close to 400 pounds, had postponed a physical until after the opener. The Reds-Expos game is postponed until the next day. (2)
  • 2011 - Neil Walker hits the second Opening Day grand slam in Pittsburgh Pirates history, powering a shot out of Wrigley Field. It had been 49 years since Roberto Clemente had delivered a grand slam in an opener for the Bucs. Pittsburgh wins, 6 - 3, over the Cubs.
  • 2014 - For an April Fools prank, the Frontier League announces that all batters will start a 1-1 count in the coming season as a move to speed up games.
  • Cubs birthdays: Hal Reilly, Jake Jaeckel, Frank Castillo, Daniel Murphy. Also notable: Phil Niekro (HoF).


Thanks for reading. #Cubsnews