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Baseball history unpacked, January 17

A thrice-weekly look at #Cubs, #MLB, and #MiLB history. Thanks for the gumballs!

Photo by Mitchell Layton/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.

We apologize in advance for any attempts at humor in these articles.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1885 - The New York Clipper reports that Paul Hines has canceled his Washington Monument ball-drop exhibition. “The experiment of trying to catch a ball thrown from the top of the Washington Monument has proved to be a failure. The ball reaches the ground with such great speed that it indents the ground almost as much as a heavy cannon ball would dropped from a proportionate height. The fact is that, independently of the difficulty of judging the ball falling from such a height, the speed is too great to allow of any one holding it when it nears the ground.” (2)
  • 1915 - According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the American League hometown franchise will now be known as the Indians replacing the nickname the Naps - a change due to Napoleon Lajoie, the player-manager for whom the team is presently named, leaving for the Philadelphia Athletics. Team owner Charles W. Somers asked the city’s baseball writers, who in turn asked their readers for suggestions. A false rumor claims that the origin of the name was former Cleveland Spiders outfielder, Chief Sockalexis. (2)
  • 1922 - Benny Kauff’s suit for an injunction to restrain the decision to keep him out of baseball is rejected by the appellate court. Kauff was acquitted of auto theft in 1921, but Commissioner Landis still barred him from baseball, stating, “That acquittal was one of the worst miscarriages of justice that ever came under my observation.” (2)
  • 1952 - Detroit Tigers owner Walter Briggs dies at the age of 74. His son will succeed him in the presidency. (1,2)
  • 2008 - Major League Baseball owners unanimously vote to extend commissioner Bud Selig’s contract through the 2012 season. The contract extension will make Selig baseball’s second-longest-serving commissioner, behind only Kenesaw Mountain Landis. The vote comes in a week when Selig has been criticized by the U.S. Congress for not cracking down hard enough on steroids. (2)
  • 2011 - The Nationals acquire P Tom Gorzelanny from the Cubs in return for three minor leaguers, OF Michael Burgess and Ps A.J. Morris and Graham Hicks. (2)

Cubs birthdays: Milt Scott, Bob Glenalvin, Hank Leiber, Don Zimmer*, Pete LaCock, Tyler Houston, Jeff Beliveau, Michael Hermosillo. Also notable: Louis Santop HOF.

Today in world history:

  • 1524 - Beginning of Giovanni da Verrazzano’s voyage to find a passage to China.
  • 1595 - King Henry IV of France declares war on Spain.
  • 1773 - Captain James Cook becomes 1st to cross Antarctic Circle (66° 33’ S).
  • 1871 - First cable car patented, by Andrew Smith Hallidie in the US (begins service in 1873).
  • 1899 - US takes possession of Wake Island in the Pacific.
  • 1920 - First day of prohibition of alcohol comes into effect in the US as a result of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.
  • 1929 - Popeye makes first appearance, in comic strip “Thimble Theater.”
  • 1984 - Supreme Court rules (5-4) that private use of home VCRs to tape TV programs for later viewing does not violate federal copyright laws.

Common sources:


There is a very active baseball history community and there are many facets to their views. We strive for clarity. Please be aware that we are trying to make the historical record as represented by our main sources coherent and as accurate as is possible. No item is posted here without corroboration. Some of these items spread from site to site without being verified. That is exactly why we ask for reputable sources, so that we can address them to the originators. BBRef is very cooperative in this regard, as are SABR and the Baseball Almanac. We have removed thenationalpastime from our sourcing list, as there have been multiple complaints about their content and they do not respond to attempts to communicate.

Also please remember that this is supposed to be fun.

Thank you for your cooperation. And thanks for reading!