... 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:
- 1923 - Hall of Fame outfielder Willie Keeler dies in Brooklyn, NY, at the age of 50. In 19 major league seasons, Keller hit .341, amassed 2,932 hits, and won consecutive batting titles in 1897 and 1898. (3)
- 1927 - The press is informed that outfielder Zack Wheat, after 18 consecutive seasons with the Brooklyn Robins teams, has been released. Wheat, who led the National League in hitting in 1918 with a .335 batting average, will hit .324 in 88 games for the Philadelphia Athletics in his final major league season in 1927, completing a distinguished Hall of Fame career with a lifetime mark of .318. (3)
- 1929 - Cool Papa Bell, playing for Cienfuegos, becomes the first slugger to connect for three home runs in a single game during Cuban professional play. A Negro Leaguer and future Hall of Fame member, Bell accomplishes his feat at Aida Park during the 15 - 11 slugfest victory over Habana. All three are inside-the-park efforts. Oscar Levis, Cliff Bell and Martin Dihigo surrender the homers. (3)
- 1943 - Negro League star Josh Gibson suffers a nervous breakdown and is admitted to St. Francis hospital for rest and treatment. He will be released in time to go to Hot Springs, AR, to get in shape for the baseball season. The power-hitting catcher is diagnosed with a brain tumor but elects not to have it removed, and as a consequence, suffers from headaches until his death in 1947 at the age of 35 years-old. (1,3)
- 1940 - In a decision which foreshadows a significant blow to Detroit’s farm system, Kenesaw Mountain Landis voids the last month’s trade which would have sent Tiger hurler George Coffman and second baseman Benny McCoy to the A’s for outfielder Wally Moses. The commissioner declares McCoy a free agent because the team hid the infielder from other clubs, and baseball’s first czar will also grant free agency to another 87 of the club’s farmhands due to their concealment in the minor leagues. (1)
- 1970 - Chub Feeney begins his 16-year presidency of the National League taking over for Warren Giles, who held the position for 18 years. The Dartmouth College graduate, the grandson of Charles Stoneham, the late owner of the Giants, once served as the team’s batboy. (1)
- 1974 - Lee MacPhail takes over as American League president, succeeding Joe Cronin, who retires. MacPhail will serve in this role until 1984. He will join his father, Larry MacPhail, as a member of the Hall of Fame in 1998. (1,3)
- 2020 - Don Larsen, who threw the only perfect game in World Series history in Game 5 in 1956, dies at age 90. (3)
- Cubs birthdays: Hugh Nicol, Ned Garvin, Tom Downey, Hack Miller, Teddy Kearns, Ethan Allen, Randy Bobb, Roberto Rivera, Also notable: Tim Keefe HOF, Hank Greenberg 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 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, and happy holidays!