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Baseball history unpacked, March 20

Cubs and MLB news — Roberto Clemente in Hall, for Pete’s sake, Sorry, no, and other stories

Texas Rangers vs Tampa Bay Devil Rays - August 19, 2005
Photo by J. Meric/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:

  • 1888 - Albert Spalding announces a baseball tour to Australia next winter with his Chicago team and a squad of National League All-Stars. (3)
  • 1889 - A New York sporting goods house receives an order for bats, balls, and other baseball equipment from Mr. Hiroka of Tokyo, Japan. In his letter he says that baseball “has been played there for several months” and that a baseball association would soon be organized. (3)
  • 1934 - Babe Didrikson, a renowned female athlete, gives up no hits and walks only one Dodger when she pitches the first inning of the Philadelphia A’s spring training game at McCurdy Field in Frederick, Maryland. The founder of the LPGA and Olympic track and field Gold Medalist will also participate in exhibition contests with the Indians and Cardinals. (1)
  • 1953 - Although the Department of Justice outlawed this practice in 1949, U.S. Senator Edwin C. Johnson proposes a bill, banning the broadcast of major league games in minor league territories. The lawmaker, who was baseball executive Bob Howsam’s father-in-law, served as the President of the Class A Western League and played a significant role in the construction of Mile High Stadium, formerly known as Bears Stadium. (1)
  • 1955 - While the Chicago Cubs are in Arizona beating their Los Angeles farm team, 7-0, major league baseball is played at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. In a rematch of last year’s World Series, the New York Giants beat the Cleveland Indians again, 7-3. Willie Mays and Dusty Rhodes hit home runs for New York, while Ralph Kiner’s 9th-inning homer is the first score for Cleveland. A crowd of 24,434 is on hand. (3)
  • 1973 - Roberto Clemente becomes the first Hispanic American to gain election to the Hall of Fame. The Baseball Writers Association of America announces the results of a special ballot, with Clemente receiving 393 of 424 votes. Clemente died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve. In light of his tragic death, the Hall’s Board of Directors waived the five-year waiting period that is normally required before a player is eligible for election. A twelve-time All-Star, Clemente batted .317 and won a dozen Gold Gloves over an 18-year career, and batted .362 in World Series play. Named National League MVP in 1966, he was voted the outstanding player in the 1971 World Series, when the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the heavily-favored Baltimore Orioles in seven games. (1,3)
  • 1976 - Leo Durocher, hired to manage the Taiyo Whales of the Japanese Central League, is sick with hepatitis and asks for a five-week delay in reporting. Durocher receives a telegram from the Taiyo Whales stating: “Since the championship starts in twenty days, it’s better if you stay home and take care of yourself for the remainder of the season.” (2,3)
  • 1989 - Commissioner Peter Ueberroth announces that he has begun an investigation into the behavior of Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose. Ueberroth doesn’t identify the allegations against Rose, but the Reds’ skipper will eventually be banished for his alleged involvement with gambling. (1,3)
  • 2006 - In his first appearance in a Nationals uniform, Alfonso Soriano refuses to play the outfield in an exhibition game against the Dodgers. The one-time All-Star second baseman, who was listed on Frank Robinson’s lineup to start in left field, could be placed on the disqualified list for his insubordination, preventing him from getting paid his $10 million salary and accruing service time, which is used to determine a player’s free agent status. (1)
  • 2014 - In a trade of minor leaguers with excellent bloodlines, the Angels send 1B Matt Scioscia, son of manager Mike Scioscia, to the Cubs in return for OF Trevor Gretzky, son of all-time hockey great Wayne Gretzky. In spite of their athletic lineage, neither player is considered to be much of a prospect, however. (3)
  • Cubs birthdays: Emil Geiss, Johnny Butler, Clyde Shoun, George Altman, Manny Alexander. Also notable: Joe McGinnity (HoF).


*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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