... 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:
- 1931 - Ban Johnson dies in St. Louis, at age 57. Johnson had served as the founder and first president of the American League from 1901 to 1927. He was a dynamic and dictatorial leader until subdued by the advent of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who took office as the first Baseball commissioner in January 1921. Johnson will gain election to the Hall of Fame in 1937. (3)
- 1966 - Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale begin a joint holdout of the Dodgers. They seek an unprecedented three-year, $1.05 million contract to be divided evenly. (2)
- 1968 - Lena Blackburne dies in Riverside, New Jersey, at age 81. A former major league infielder and manager, Blackburne has been the source for his eponymous rubbing mud, used by umpires in both leagues to rub down new balls. He leaves the mud business to his boyhood friend, John Haas. (3)
- 1985 - Rick Reuschel signs as a free-agent with the Pirates, spending the first two months in the minors. After being called up in May, ‘Big Daddy’ will win 14 games and be named the National League’s Comeback Player of the Year by the Sporting News. (1)
- 1986 - In Major League Baseball’s sternest disciplinary move since the 1919 Black Sox were banished for life, Commissioner Peter Ueberroth gives seven players who were admitted drug users a choice of a year’s suspension without pay or heavy fines and career-long drug testing, along with 100 hours of drug-related community service. Joaquin Andújar, Dale Berra, Enos Cabell, Keith Hernandez, Jeffrey Leonard, Dave Parker, and Lonnie Smith will be fined 10 percent of their annual salaries to drug abuse programs. The commissioner also doles out lesser penalties to 14 other players for their use of drugs. (1,3)
- 2000 - Yankee outfielder/DH Darryl Strawberry is suspended for one year after testing positive for cocaine last month. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig does not make any provision for an early return to the game of the eight-time All-Star from the suspension based on good behavior. (1)
- 2000 - American League umpire John Hirschbeck is elected as the first president of the World Umpires Association, which was recognized by the National Labor Relations Board a few days ago.
- 2002 - Major League Baseball announces it has rehired five umpires who had resigned during the 1999 season as part of the ill-fated strategy concocted by Richie Phillips and the Major League Umpires Association. They are Gary Darling, Bill Hohn, Larry Poncino, Larry Vanover and Joe West. Four other umpires, Drew Coble, Greg Kosc, Terry Tata, and Frank Pulli, are allowed to retire.
- Cubs birthdays: Tom Walsh, Dolan Nichols, Jim Kremmel, Aroldis Chapman. Also notable: Lil Stoner.
- (1) — The National Pastime.
- (2) — Today in Baseball History.
- (3) — Baseball Reference.
- (4) — Society for American Baseball Research.
- (5) — Baseball Hall of Fame.
- (6) — This Day in Chicago Cubs history.
*We try to vet each item. Please let us know if an item is in error, especially if you have a source.
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