... 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:
- 1874 - At the fourth meeting of the National Association of Professional Baseball Players in Boston, the batter’s box is officially adopted. It is also decided that expulsion will be the penalty for any player betting on his own team and any player betting on any other team will forfeit his pay. (2,3)
- 1927 - Babe Ruth becomes the highest-paid player in major league history when the Yankees announce he will earn $70,000 per season for the next three years. Ruth will sign the historic contract on March 4th. The ‘Sultan of Swat,’ who had asked for $100,000, meets Colonel Jacob Ruppert at the owner’s brewery in the Yorkville section of Manhattan to finalize the historic deal. (1,3)
- 1966 - Commissioner William Eckert voids the contract recently signed by collegiate star Tom Seaver. The Atlanta Braves had signed Seaver to a $50,000 bonus a week earlier, but Eckert cites a rule prohibiting teams from signing players while their college seasons are ongoing. A special draft will be held after the collegiate season to reassign Seaver’s rights. The Mets will be awarded the future Hall of Famer’s signing rights in a lottery that includes the Phillies and Indians, who also were willing to match the Braves’ terms. (1)
- 1992 - The highest-paid player tag now belongs to Ryne Sandberg, when the All-Star infielder signs a four-year contract extension worth 7.1 million dollars per season. The future Hall-of-Famer will unexpectedly retire during the season in 1994, walking away from nearly $15.8 million from the record deal he inked today. (1)
- 2011 - A fight breaks out in the Cubs dugout between P Carlos Silva and 3B Aramis Ramirez after a dreadful performance in the 1st inning of a Cactus League game against the Brewers, when the Cubs commit a slew of mistakes and fall behind 6 - 0. The fight reminds everyone of a similar occurrence in June of last season, when P Carlos Zambrano and 1B Derrek Lee came to blows in the dugout. (3)
- 2012 - In the first change to the MLB playoff structure since the introduction of wild-card teams in 1995, a new one-game, a wild-card game between the teams with the best records in each league, who are not division winners, will become the initial round of the postseason. The new postseason system, which would have allowed the Red Sox and the Braves to avoid their historical collapses last season, increases the reward of winning a division title but opens the door of the possibility of a third-place team winning the World Series. (1)
- Cubs birthdays: Charlie Bastian, William Fischer, Rip Wheeler, George Stueland, Butch Weis, Moe Berg**, Woody English, Mort Cooper, Pete Broberg, Leo Gomez. Also notable: Mel Ott (HoF).
- (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.
**More about Moe Berg, from SABR. One of my favorite players of all time.
Casey Stengel, an eccentric man himself, called Moe Berg “the strangest man ever to play baseball.”
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