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Baseball history unpacked, December 11

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A gigantic day, historically. Seriously — check it out.

Old Hoss Radbourn 1887

... 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 American Association votes to keep its ban on overhand pitching and to continue to allow fouls caught on one bounce to count as outs. It does abolish the tradition of team captains flipping for the honor of batting first. Now the home team will automatically bat first. (3)
  • 1906 - Harry Pulliam is reelected president of the National League at a salary of $10,000. (3)
  • 1917 - The Phils sell star pitcher Grover Alexander, twice a 30-game winner, and his personal catcher ”Reindeer” Bill Killefer to the Cubs for righthander ”Iron” Mike Prendergast, C Pickles Dillhoefer, and $55,000. Phils owner William Baker later admits he made the trade because, “I needed the money.” The 5th-place Cubs expect the addition of Alexander to greatly strengthen their staff, but Alex will be drafted in the Army. (1,3)
  • 1928 - In an effort to speed up the game and add more offense, National League president John Heydler proposes the concept of a designated batter for the pitcher. The American League opposes the idea, and the NL withdraws the proposal before asking Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to break the deadlock. (1)
  • 1930 - The BBWAA votes to continue the custom of selecting an MVP for each league. Beginning in 1931 the annual vote of the BBWAA will designate a player for this honor in each league. Previous MVP winners will be able to repeat under the new rules, something that was prohibited by the American League in the 1920s. (2,3)
  • 1934 - The National League votes to permit night baseball, authorizing a maximum of seven games by any team installing lights. The American League will not grant permission for night games until 1937. (3)
  • 1950 - A. B. ‘Happy’ Chandler’s contract as commissioner isn’t renewed for a second term when he receives only nine of the twelve owners’ votes needed for re-election. The future Hall of Famer is given credit for helping to integrate the majors, putting six umpires on the field during the World Series, and establishing the players’ pension fund in 1947, with the $475,000 made by selling the rights to broadcast the World Series on the radio. (1)
  • 1956 - A major league player association is formed with Bob Feller, a future Hall of Fame hurler with the Indians, being named its first president. The labor organization, one of many attempts by the players to form a union, will prove to be very successful a decade later with the hiring of Marvin Miller to be the MLBPA’s first executive director in 1966. (1)
  • 1957 - U.S. Congressman Emanuel Celler and Senator Kenneth Keating, both of New York, hint that there might be antitrust action against Major League Baseball if it televizes games as planned, because it jeopardizes the minor leagues. (3)
  • 1973 - After being the first player to invoke the new 10-and-5 rule to avoid being dealt to the Angels, Ron Santo agrees to be traded to the south side of Chicago to play for the rival White Sox. In return for the 33-year-old infielder, who will play just one season with the Pale Hose before retiring, the Cubs receive Jim Kremmel (the player to be named later), Ken Frailing, Steve Stone, and Steve Swisher. (1)
  • 1975 - The Chicago White Sox announce Bill Veeck, along with a group of 40+ investors, has purchased the team, saving the cash-strapped franchise from being shifted to another city. John H. Johnson, the publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines, becomes the first black to hold an ownership stake in a major league team. (1)
  • 2001 - Former USC P Mark Prior wins the Golden Spikes Award as the top amateur baseball player in the US. Prior signed a five-year contract with the Cubs after being selected in the June draft. (3)
  • 2007 - After declining offers from the Yomiuri Giants and his former team, the Chunichi Dragons, Kosuke Fukudome comes to terms with the Cubs on a four-year deal reported to be worth $48 million. The 30 year-old Japanese outfielder, also sought by the Padres, White Sox, Giants, and Rangers, compiled a .305 batting average during his 13-year tenure in Japan’s Central League. (1,3)
  • 2013 - At the Winter Meetings, owners vote to ban home plate collisions over concerns about serious injuries recently suffered by catchers such as Buster Posey or Alex Avila. The exact wording of the rule still needs to be worked out, but baserunners will now be called out if they deliberately run into the opposing catcher, and will face a fine or suspension for particularly grievous offenses. Catchers will also be banned from blocking access to the plate without the ball. (3)
  • Cubs birthdays: Art Wilson, Fred Toney, Bill Nicholson, Andy Varga, Gene Hiser. Also notable: Old Hoss Radbourn HOF.

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!