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Baseball history unpacked, April 14

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Snapshots from the big picture of Cubs and MLB history.

Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

... 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 snapshots from the big picture of Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball history.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1910 - William Howard Taft becomes the first U.S. President to throw out a ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day. Attending the game in Washington, D.C., President Taft tosses the first ball to future Hall of Famer Walter Johnson, who pitches the first of his 14 Opening Day Washington games, striking out nine, en route to a 3-0 one-hit shutout against Eddie Plank and the Philadelphia Athletics. A double by Home Run Baker - caused by right fielder Doc Gessler tripping over a fan who had spilled out of overflow seating - spoils Johnson’s chance at an opening day no-hitter. Gabby Street is the Senators’ catcher, the only opener in which he catches for Johnson. (1,3)
  • 1911 - Shortly after midnight, a tremendous fire breaks out, destroying much of the Polo Grounds, leaving the Giants without a place to play. The Highlanders invite the McGraw men to share Hilltop Park, an offer the displaced National League team accepts for six weeks until the completion of the temporary stands at their damaged ballpark. (1)
  • 1911 - Cleveland Naps star pitcher Addie Joss dies unexpectedly in Toledo, Ohio, from meningitis at the age of 31. (3)
  • 1917 - Ed Cicotte of the Chicago White Sox pitches an 11 - 0 no-hitter against the St. Louis Browns. (2,3)
  • 1925 - WGN broadcasts the first fully-live regular season baseball game, detailing Grover Alexander and the Cubs’ defeat of the Pirates on a chilly Opening Day, 8-2. Alexander adds a single, double, and home run to help insure victory. Quin Ryan is behind the microphone doing play-by-play from a perch on the Wrigley Field roof. (1,2)
  • 1976 - In the sixth inning of today’s 6-5 loss to Chicago, the Mets’ Dave Kingman hits what will become widely regarded as the longest home run ever hit in Wrigley Field, estimated at 600 feet in many of the next day’s press accounts, with the putative ”paper of record” going as high as 630. Some cold water is applied to these claims by longtime Cubs’ broadcaster Jack Brickhouse, speaking in 1982 with Paul Susman of Baseball Digest: “Brickhouse revealed that the ball was greatly helped by a strong wind of about 35 miles per hour. Brickhouse estimated Kingman’s blast in reality went about 500 feet.” To be fair to Kingman, the Cubs’ own scoresheet for this game estimates “530 to 550 feet,” which in conjunction with researcher Bill Jenkinson’s assertion of 530 feet as the distance between home plate and the point of obstruction, would suggest a typo or simple misreading as the culprit in the inflated Times estimate. (1,3)
  • 1978 - The biggest Wrigley Field Opening Day crowd ever, 45,777, attends the opener against Pittsburgh. Although the team gives up an early 3-0 lead, the hometown fans will not go home disappointed when Larry Biittner, leading off in the bottom of the ninth inning, homers giving the Cubs a 5-4 walk-off victory. Box score. (1)
  • 1982 - At Watt Powell Park, the home of the International League’s Charleston Charlies, Toledo’ Mud Hens’ pinch-hitter Randy Bush hits an eighth-inning home run in the team’s 4-3 victory over Charleston that travels over 200 miles. The Twins’ farmhand, not known for his power, hits a ball over the right-field wall that lands on a moving coal train. (1)
  • 2013 -The Chicago Cubs and the City of Chicago, IL agree on renovations to Wrigley Field that will cost $500 million. An electronic video scoreboard will be installed in left field, and the number of night games allowed at the historic facility will be increased. No public funds will go towards the renovations, although owner Tom Ricketts will be allowed to develop property near the ballpark to create additional revenue streams. (3)
  • 2018 - The Braves experience a bullpen meltdown for the ages against the Cubs as they blow a 10-5 lead in the eighth, after being ahead 9-1 and 10-2 earlier in the game. Chicago manages to score nine runs on just three hits to win the game, 14-10; worse, all nine runs score after two outs. Temperatures at the start of the game at Wrigley Field are at 38 degrees with a 24 mph wind, but it gets steadily colder and the wind grows stronger as the game progresses, making for very uncomfortable playing conditions. Jason Heyward leads off the fateful inning by being hit with a Luke Jackson pitch and pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella adds a single after one out; Jose Ramirez strikes out Efren Navarro for the second out, but then the roof caves in as he plunks Kris Bryant to load the bases and an infield hit and a walk push across a couple of runs. Javier Baez then clears the bases with a double that ties the game, but after an intentional walk to Addison Russell, Sam Freeman walks Heyward to load the bases again, and walks the next two batters to bring in two more scores. Peter Moylan comes in next, but he uncorks a wild pitch scoring run number eight, and a final runner crosses the plate on a throwing error by C Kurt Suzuki. (3)

Cubs birthdays: Ben Tincup, Marty Keough, Greg Maddux HOF, Kyle Farnsworth.

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