... on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Bleed Cubbie Blue brings a you a 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:
- 1903 - Baseball Rules Committee chairman Tom Loftus of the Washington Senators proclaims that the pitcher’s mound must not be more than 15 inches higher than the baselines or home plate. In 1969, the maximum height will drop to ten inches as the result of the previous season’s dominating pitching, which saw batting averages plummet to all-time lows. (1,3)
- 1909 - The Pittsburgh Pirates begin construction of their new stadium near Schenley Park near the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. The state-of-the-art stadium will be named Forbes Field in honor of John Forbes, a pre-Revolutionary British general. (3)
- 1947 - In anticipation of the signing of the team’s first black players, Bill Veeck, a resident of Phoenix, Arizona, sets up a spring training camp there for the Cleveland Indians. Arizona is chosen because of its relatively tolerant racial climate. During the season, Veeck will sign the American League’s first black player, Larry Doby, who will train at the camp. The New York Giants also set up camp in Arizona, while the Brooklyn Dodgers move their training camp from Florida to Havana, Cuba. (2,3)
- 1949 - The St. Louis Browns, owners of Sportsman’s Park, move to evict the St. Louis Cardinals in order to gain a rent increase. The Redbirds accuse the owners of breaking the lease, and as the season approaches, it is uncertain where the National League team will play its home games. (1,3)
- 1967 - Commissioner William Eckert approves the Baseball Writers Association of America’s plan to select a Cy Young Award recipient from both the National and American Leagues. The honor, which was initiated in 1956, had been given to just one pitcher in the major leagues each season, a position strongly supported by former commissioner Ford Frick. (3)
- 1969 - New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle announces his retirement. Mantle, who slumped to a .237 batting average in 1968, finishes his 18-season career with 536 home runs and a .298 average, numbers that would have certainly been higher if not for persistent knee injuries. The Yankees offer Mantle a coaching position on manager Ralph Houk’s staff. (2,3)
- 1993 - Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, two and half years after accepting a life-long ban from being involved in the day-to-day operation of the team, is reinstated by major league baseball. ‘The Boss’ had been exiled from baseball by commissioner Fay Vincent in 1990 for hiring Howie Spira, a known gambler, to snoop into the life of star outfielder Dave Winfield. (1)
- 2005 - Construction for an additional 1,790 bleacher seats at Wrigley Field will begin after the season and will be completed in time for Opening Day 2006. A deal is reached for expansion as the Chicago Cubs agree to pay the city $3.1 million prior to the start of work and by contributing funds for a local school park and a $400,000 traffic signal system near the ballpark. (3)
- 2011 - Major League Baseball appoints John Thorn as its official historian. He succeeds Jerome Holtzman, who occupied the office from 1999 until his death in 2008. (3)
- (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.