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Baseball history unpacked, January 5

A thrice-weekly look at #Cubs, #MLB, and #MiLB history. Charles Weeghman* buys the boys of blue, a bevy of birthdays, and a buffet of other bullets.

Charles Weeghman
Charles Weeghman
Photo by Chicago History Museum/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:

  • 1915 - Thirteen years after a U.S. District Court decision for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia effectively banned him from playing for the Philadelphia Athletics, Nap Lajoie rejoins the team. With Lajoie leaving the Cleveland Naps. Cleveland’s owner will ask several newspapermen for nickname suggestions to replace the “Naps”. He’ll pick the name “Indians”. A popular myth will be that a newspaper contest resulted in the winning nickname, after the late Lou Sockalexis, a Penobscot Native American who was a popular Cleveland player in the late 1890s. The team doesn’t correct the myth until 2000. (2)
  • 1916 - The National League, happy to be rid of fractious Chicago Cubs owner Charles W. Murphy, allows Charles H. Weeghman*, owner of a restaurant chain and president of the Federal League’s Chicago Whales, to buy the Cubs for $500,000. By putting up $50,000, William Wrigley, Jr. becomes a minority stock holder. Whales manager Joe Tinker succeeds Roger Bresnahan, and the Cubs will play in the Federal League’s newly built ballpark on the North Side, soon to become known as Wrigley Field. (2)
  • 1920 - The Yankees announce the purchase of Babe Ruth. The deal had been delayed until Ruth agreed to terms believed to be $40,000 total for two years. Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee defends selling Ruth to the Yankees for cash by calling his former player “one of the most selfish and inconsiderate men ever to put on a baseball uniform”. (1,2)
  • 1927 - 1927 - Judge Landis begins a three-day public hearing to investigate the allegation the Detroit Tigers threw a four-game series to the Chicago White Sox in 1917. The White Sox, Swede Risberg contends, returned the favor for two games in 1919. Near the end of the 1917 season, some Chicago players contributed about $45 each to reward Detroit pitchers for winning their last series against the Boston Red Sox, helping Chicago clinch the pennant. No witnesses confirm any part of the story, although Tigers pitcher Bill James denies ever receiving any money, and the others named deny all charges. A week after the hearing opens, Landis clears all the accused, ruling lack of evidence of anything except the practice of players paying another team for winning. (1,2)
  • 1931 - Lucille Thomas becomes the first woman to buy a professional baseball team, purchasing the Class-A Topeka Senators of the Western League.
  • 1957 - Jackie Robinson retires rather than move across New York City from the Brooklyn Dodgers to the New York Giants, voiding last December’s deal between the two teams. (1,2)
  • 1963 - Hall of Fame member Rogers Hornsby dies at age 66 of a heart ailment. His .358 career batting average is the second highest in major league history. (1,2)
  • 1995 - According to players’ union chief Donald Fehr, all 835 unsigned major league players are free agents since the owners unilaterally changed the uniform contract. (2)
  • 2012 - The Cubs trade P Carlos Zambrano to Miami in return for P Chris Volstad. Zambrano, who walked out on his team after a rough outing on August 12th, is considered a chronic malcontent in spite of his success over the years and the new regime in Chicago did not want to have to put up with his periodic tantrums. The Marlins are glad to take him, however, as new manager Ozzie Guillen is one of the Big Z’s closest friends and is convinced he can keep him focused on playing the game. (2)
  • 2014 - Veteran player, manager, broadcaster and World War II and Korean War hero Jerry Coleman passes away at age 89. An infielder for the New York Yankees from 1949 to 1957, he spent 71 years in the game, acting as a broadcaster for the San Diego Padres since 1972 - except for one-year hiatus in 1980 when he managed the Friars. (2)

Cubs birthdays: Bob Caruthers, Bill Dahlen, Zaza Harvey, Chuck Wortman, Riggs Stephenson, Daryl Robertson, Bob Dernier, Henry Cotto, Danny Jackson, Jeff Fassero, Chris Nabholz, Ramon Tatis, Ruben Quevedo.

Today in world history:

  • 1463 - French poet Francois Villon banished from Paris. He was later pardoned.
  • 1709 - The Great Frost begins during the night, a sudden cold snap that remains Europe’s coldest ever winter. Thousands are killed across the continent and crops fail in France.
  • 1781 - British naval expedition led by Benedict Arnold burns Richmond, Virginia.
  • 1834 - Kiowa Indians record this as the night the stars fell.
  • 1896 - ”Die Presse” newspaper (Germany) publicly announces Wilhelm Röntgen’s discovery of X-rays and their potential for new methods of medical diagnoses in a front-page article.
  • 1914 - Industrialist Henry Ford announces his $5 minimum per-day wage, doubled most workers pay from $2.40/9-hr day to $5.00/8-hr day.
  • 1934 - National & American baseball leagues select a uniform ball.
  • 1959 - ”Bozo the Clown” live children’s show premieres on TV.
  • 1971 - Globetrotters lose 100-99 to NJ Reds, ending 2,495-game winning streak.

Common sources:

*Pictured.

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!