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Baseball history unpacked, January 1

Cubs and MLB news — MLB Network debuts, Wrigley on ice, and other stories

Here come the Hawks
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

... on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Bleed Cubbie Blue brings a you a lighthearted 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*. Beware of rabbit holes.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1923 - Having promised his fans and former teammates he’d live to see 1923, Wee Willie Keeler dies on New Year’s Day of that year as a result of heart failure, aged 50. The diminutive fine-hitting Hall-of-Fame outfielder, who played for the National League’s Superbas (Dodgers), Orioles, and Giants and the Highlanders (Yankees) of the American League, is credited with the baseball axiom, “Keep your eyes clear, and hit ‘em where they ain’t.” In 19 major league seasons, Keller hit .341, amassed 2,932 hits, and won consecutive batting titles in 1897 and 1898. (1,3)
  • 1961 - Briggs Stadium is renamed Tiger Stadium. (2,3)
  • 1970 - Chub Feeney begins his 16-year presidency of the National League taking over for Warren Giles, who held the position for 18 years. (3)
  • 1974 - Lee MacPhail takes over as American League president, succeeding Joe Cronin, who retires. MacPhail will serve in this role until 1984. He will join his father, Larry MacPhail, as a member of the Hall of Fame in 1998. (3)
  • 2009 - Major League Baseball launches MLB Network, a cable and satellite television channel based out of Secaucus, NJ. The channel debuts in nearly 50 million cable and satellite homes - the largest debut in cable television history, exceeding any other cable television launch by approximately 20 million homes.

The friendly confines of Wrigley Field see a different type of action as the ballpark is fitted with an outdoor hockey rink to welcome an afternoon NHL game between the Chicago Black Hawks and Detroit Red Wings. The event is a huge success with 40,818 in attendance and a huge television audience in place to watch the Wings beat the Hawks, 6-4. Other ballparks are lining up to host future editions of what will become an annual New Year’s Day event. (3)


*We try to vet each item. Please let us know if an item is in error, especially if you have a source.

Thanks for reading.