... as always on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I bring a you 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:
- 1820 - Alexander Cartwright, considered by many the father of the national pastime, is born in New York City. This pioneer banker, who is given credit for establishing three strikes for an out and three outs for each half inning, will be elected into the Hall of Fame in 1938 after a review of his journals reveals his many contributions in developing and promoting the sport of baseball. (3)
- 1869 - The Cincinnati Red Stockings defeat the rival Amateurs, 24-15, in baseball’s first professional game. Team captain Harry Wright had put all of his players under contract, making the club, that will become known as the Reds, the first pro team in sports history.
- 1912 - In front of a larger than usual crowd at the Polo Grounds of over 14,000 patrons that includes Broadway legend George M. Cohan, the Giants beat the new-look Yankees, now sporting pinstripes, in an unscheduled exhibition game, 11-2, to raise money for the survivors of the HMS Titanic. The charity contest, the first Sunday game ever played between major league teams at the Coogan’s Bluff ballpark, raises over $9,000 when each fan donates the price of an admission ticket to purchase a special program for the event.
- 1934 - On Opening Day at the newly-named Crosley Field, Reds’ announcer Red Barber calls his first play-by-play for a major league team. The 26-year-old future Hall of Fame broadcaster had never attended a major league game before today’s 6-0 loss to Chicago.
- 1951 - Before the Cubs’ home opener, Sam Snead tees off from home plate, sending a golf ball soaring over the 89-foot Wrigley Field scoreboard in center field. ‘Slammin’ Sammy’ won three Masters, three PGA Championships, and one British Open during his nearly 40 years as a professional golfer. (1)
The Associated Press reports: “Sammy Snead settled a long-standing argument today over whether a golf ball could be driven from home plate over the towering scoreboard at Wrigley Field. It can, by a golfer like Sam. Wearing street clothes, Snead sent a ball zooming well over the scoreboard with a No. 2 iron after hitting the board with a swing with a No. 4 iron. Snead calculated the carry was 175 yards. The scoreboard rises 89 feet in the air some 50 feet behind the 400-mark on the centerfield wall.” (3)
- 1956 - Three future Hall of Fame members make their major league debuts. Luis Aparicio of the Chicago White Sox, Don Drysdale of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Frank Robinson of the Cincinnati Redlegs all play the first games of their brilliant careers. The trio of debuts marks the first time that three future Hall of Famers have made their initial appearance on the same day. (1,3)
- 1974 - C George Mitterwald has a career day in leading the Cubs to an 18 - 9 win over the Pirates. He goes 4-for-4 with a walk, a double, three homers, and 8 RBI. The next Cub catcher to hit three homers in a game will be Dioner Navarro, in 2013.
- 1976 - At Wrigley Field, Mike Schmidt hits four home runs in one game, including the game-winner, when the Phillies come back from an 11-run deficit to beat the Cubs in ten innings, 18-16. The Phillies’ slugging third baseman is the first National Leaguer, third overall, to hit the homers consecutively.
- 2015 - Kris Bryant makes his much-anticipated major league debut for the Cubs, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in the team’s 5-4 loss to the Padres at Wrigley Field. Chicago had delayed the start of his season to extend the club’s control on the highly-touted freshman, who will go on to be named the National League’s Rookie of the Year.
- Cubs birthdays: Cap Anson (HoF), Mike Jacobs, Tom Needham, Morrie Schick, Bob Osborn, Roberto Pena.
- (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.