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Baseball history unpacked, November 20

Scenes from the rich tapestry of the game.

Photo by Paul Natkin/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*.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1884 - The National League agrees to allow overhand pitching, but rules that pitchers must keep both feet on the ground throughout their pitching motion in order to reduce the velocity of their pitches. They still must throw the ball at the height requested by the batter. In addition, teams are now required to supply a separate bench for each club at their park to limit inter-team fraternization. (3)
  • 1888 - The Joint Rules Committee reduces the number of balls for a walk from five to four, establishing the four balls/three strikes count that remains in effect to this day. It also eliminates an out on a foul tip if the catcher catches it within 10 feet of home plate. (3)
  • 1934 - Facing a team of visiting All-Star major leaguers, schoolboy reliever Eiji Sawamura strikes out nine batters over five innings, including Charlie Gehringer, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmie Foxx in succession, during an exhibition game played in Shizuoka’s Kusanagi Stadium. In midst of becoming a national hero, the 17-year-old right-hander’s appearance against the American professionals leads to his expulsion from high school, and the forfeiture of an opportunity to attend Keio University next semester. (1,2,3)
  • 1952 - Commissioner Ford Frick states his belief that the Pacific Coast League will eventually reach major league status. The PCL is the only minor league in history to be given the “Open” classification, considered a step above the Triple-A level, that limited the rights of big league clubs to draft players from its teams, and is perceived as a precursor to the circuit becoming a third major league. (1,3)
  • 1967 - Tom Seaver is named the National League’s Rookie of the Year. The 22-year-old right-hander, who compiled a 16-12 record along with 170 strikeouts and 2.76 ERA for the last-place Mets, easily outdistances fellow righties Dick Hughes of St. Louis and Cincinnati’s Gary Nolan for the freshman honor. (1)
  • 1987 - Don Zimmer is hired by long-time friend Jim Frey to manage the Chicago Cubs. Zimmer will compile a 265-258 record during his three-plus-year tenure with the Cubs, including a division title in 1989. (1)
  • Cubs birthdays: Laurie Reis, Clark Griffith HOF, Andy Coakley, Jess Dobernic, Jay Johnstone, Rick Monday, Alex Arias.

Common sources:

*We vet each item as much as time allows. Please let us know if an item is in error, especially if you have a source. Thanks for reading!