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Baseball history unpacked, August 16

A thrice-weekly look at #Cubs and #MLB history. Plenty of the lore and deep dives into various narratives.

Ray Chapman
Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Bleed Cubbie Blue brings a you a light-hearted, Cubs-centric look at baseball’s colorful past, with plenty of the lore and deep dives into various narratives that expand over the course of time. Here’s a handy Cubs timeline, to help you follow along. Don’t be afraid to click the links for ‘inside baseball’ on the entries, which change from year to year as we re-examine the subjects.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1870 - Young pitcher Fred Goldsmith demonstrates at a public exhibition at the Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn, NY that the curve ball is a real pitch and not simply an optical illusion, as he manages to make a ball bend around three parallel stakes placed in the ground. Henry Chadwick is among those in attendance and reports on the event in the next day’s paper. Goldsmith’s claim to have invented the pitch will be disputed by Candy Cummings, however. (3)
  • 1920 - Cleveland SS Ray Chapman, 29, is beaned by a Carl Mays pitch. A righthanded batter who crowds the plate, Chapman freezes and fails to get out of the way of the submarine delivery. He is carried from the field and dies the next day from a fractured skull. Mays, a surly, unpopular pitcher, is the target of fans’ and players’ outrage. Chapman, a Cleveland favorite since breaking in in 1912, had been married the previous year. In October his wife will receive a full World Series share, $3,986.34. The incident has no effect on Mays’s pitching. One week later he will blank Detroit, 10-0, and go on to win 26 and lose 11. Joe Sewell will be called up to take Chapman’s place, and for 14 years he will be the hardest man to strike out in the Major Leagues. (1,3)
  • 1948 - At the age of 53, with his wife Claire and his two adopted daughters at his side, Babe Ruth dies of throat cancer at Memorial Hospital in New York City. The Bambino made his final public appearance at the premiere of The Babe Ruth Story three weeks ago in New York. (1,4)
  • 1954 - In a throwing contest between Jimmy Piersall and Willie Mays before a Red Sox-Giants charity game in Boston, Piersall hurts his arm. He starts the game but leaves midway. He wakes up the following morning with a sore arm that stays with him a year, and he will never throw quite as well again. (3)
  • 1954 - The first issue of Sports Illustrated is available at the newsstands. The inaugural cover of the innovative new magazine features a Mark Kauffman photo of Braves slugger Eddie Mathews at-bat, Giants catcher Wes Westrum behind the plate, and umpire Augie Donatelli calling balls and strikes in Milwaukee County Stadium. (1,4)
  • 1973 - At the major league’s annual summer meetings in Milwaukee, all of the American League owners vote “yes,” and all of the National League owners vote “no” on a proposal introducing interleague play for next season. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, favoring a limited number of interleague contests, does not cast a vote that could have broken the impasse, citing the possibility of doing so when the legality of his ballot, presently challenged by the Senior Circuit, is resolved. (1,4)
  • 2002 - After four days of delaying the decision, the executive board of the Major League Players’ Association votes 57-0 to set an August 30 strike date. All eight previous negotiations since 1972 have resulted in work stoppages in the national pastime. (1)
  • 2013 - The Phillies fire manager Charlie Manuel and replace him with Hall of Fame 2B Ryne Sandberg. The Phillies have lost 19 of their last 24 games, and lose again in Sandberg’s debut, being blanked, 4-0, by Zack Greinke and the Dodgers. (3)

Cubs birthdays: Terry Shumpert, Bret Barberie, Yu Darvish, Justin Grimm. Also notable: Buck Rodgers.

Common sources:

There is a very active baseball history community and there are many facets to their views. We strive for clarity. Please let us know (nicely) if you feel that an item is in error and we will address that issue to the originator(s), if at all possible.

Thanks for reading!