... 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:
- 1947 - During the sixth inning of an exhibition game against their minor league team at Ebbets Field, the Montreal Royals, Dodgers’ president Branch Rickey issues a brief statement to the press. The two sentences will forever change the game when the team announces “The Brooklyn Dodgers today purchased the contract of Jackie Roosevelt Robinson from the Royals. He will report immediately.”
- 1962 - At Colt Stadium, the Houston Colt .45s make their major league debut with an 11 - 2 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Houston right fielder Roman Mejias hits a pair of three-run home runs before a crowd of 25,271 fans. Bobby Shantz pitches a complete-game five-hitter and Don Cardwell is the loser. The Colt .45s and New York Mets join the National League as expansion teams this year.
- 1976 - After being granted his free agency in a landmark case which will forever change baseball, Andy Messersmith becomes one of the first major leaguers to use his new status to sign with a team of his choice. The former Dodger right-hander comes to terms with the Braves and will post a 16-15 record during his two-year tenure for his new club.
- 1997 - The Chicago Cubs fall to 0-8, the worst start in the club’s 122-year history, following a 1 - 0 loss to the Florida Marlins at frigid Wrigley Field. Florida pitcher Alex Fernandez, making his first appearance in Chicago since he left the White Sox over the winter as a free agent, is two outs away from a no-hitter when pinch-hitter Dave Hansen legs out an infield hit off the pitcher’s glove. Fernandez settles for the one-hitter. (3)
- 2013 - Cubs minor league prospect Jorge Soler is ejected from a game in the Florida State League for charging the opposite dugout with a bat in the 7th inning. Soler had been spiked while sliding at second base the previous inning. He will receive a five-game suspension for his outburst. (3)
- 2015 - Mound opponents Cubs Travis Wood and Tyler Matzek of the Rockies each hit eighth in their team’s lineup, marking just the 12th time in major league history that both pitchers have not batted ninth in the same game. The last time this occurred was in 2008 when the Cardinals, led by Tony La Russa, who frequently employed his hurler in that slot, played the Pirates.
- 2017 - After a wait of 108 years, a two-hour rain delay pushes back the ceremony to raise the Cubs’ 2016 World Championship banner at Wrigley Field a little bit more, but a boisterous sellout crowd is on hand to see 1B Anthony Rizzo being the first player to raise the flag and to take the World Series Trophy on the field. Rizzo is then the hero of the home opener, as his 9th-inning single off Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers drives in the winning run in a 3 - 2 win.
- Cubs birthdays: Tom Parrott, Chuck Connors, Tom Lundstedt. Also notable: Ross Youngs (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.