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. We also add a bit of world history, for perspective’s sake.
Today was a rather somber day in baseball history, with a passel of famous people passing away on this date. But no day would be complete without some laughter... see below for details.
Today in baseball history:
- 1884 - During an exhibition game between the National League Philadelphia Quakers and American Association Philadelphia Athletics, umpire William McLean, reacting to fans’ taunts, hurls a bat into the stands, hitting but not injuring a spectator. McLean is arrested after the game, but the charges are soon dropped. (2)
- 1901 - Philadelphia Phillies owner John Rogers files for an injunction prohibiting Nap Lajoie, Bill Bernhard, and Chick Fraser from playing for any other team - the most serious legal test of the reserve clause to date.
- 1907 - Popular outfielder Chick Stahl, who replaced Jimmy Collins as manager of the Boston Americans at the end of last season, commits suicide while travelling with the team in West Baden Springs, Indiana. After breakfast he returns to his room and drinks four ounces of carbolic acid. He leaves a note: “Boys, I just couldn’t help it. It drove me to it.” Cy Young reluctantly agrees to start the season as Boston’s manager, but there will be three others during the year. (2)
- 1913 - The St. Louis Browns make an unusual “trade,” sending infielder Buzzy Wares to a minor league team in exchange for the rental of a stadium. The Montgomery Black Sox will allow the Browns to use their stadium during spring training, rent-free. Wares will return to the Browns later in the season. (2)
- 1931 - Ban Johnson dies in St. Louis, Missouri, at the age of 67. Johnson served as the first president of the American League, guiding the “junior circuit” until 1927. He will be elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1937. (2)
- 1947 - Second baseman Johnny Evers dies in Albany, New York, at the age of 65. Known as “the Crab,” Evers won the National League MVP Award in 1914 and stole 324 bases over an 18-year career. In 1946, Evers was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. (2)
- 1958 - Slugger Chuck Klein dies in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the age of 53. Klein batted .320 with 300 home runs and 1201 RBI over a 17-year career. His most productive season came in 1933, when he won the National League Triple Crown. Klein will be elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1980. (2)
- 1969 - The Chicago Cubs purchase Charley Smith from the San Francisco Giants, who had acquired the well-traveled third baseman last December 6th. Smith will reinjure his knee and retire after a few at bats. (2)
- 1970 - In this first (and last?) “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial All-Star Baseball Classic”, solo home runs by Ron Fairly of Montreal and Ron Santo of the Chicago Cubs, plus a three-run eighth-inning brings the East a 5-1 victory over the West. A crowd of 31,694 watches the charity game in Dodger Stadium. Proceeds go to the late Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a memorial center planned for Atlanta. For this initial charity game, former New York Yankees great Joe DiMaggio manages the East, and ex-Dodger Roy Campanella, confined to a wheelchair since a 1958 auto accident, directs the fortunes of the West. Jim “Mudcat” Grant of Oakland sings the National Anthem in the pre-game program, and then becomes the victim of a four-hit uprising in the eighth inning that insures the outcome. Al Kaline of Detroit beats out an infield hit to open the frame and moves to second as Tommie Agee drives Hank Aaron to the left field wall. Kaline races home on Lou Brock’s double to left. Brock scores on Roberto Clemente’s double and Clemente comes home on Ken McMullen’s single. (2)
- 1985 - The April 1 issue of Sports Illustrated contains a fictitious article about a Mets pitching prospect named Sidd Finch, whose fastball has been timed at 168 miles per hour. Author George Plimpton offers bogus quotes from real-life members of the Mets, as well as several staged photos, and fools readers nationwide. (1)
(Plimpton ended up writing a whole novel: The Curious Case of Sidd Finch based on his original 13-page article. I’ve read it — it’s great. Plimpton also wrote Paper Lion, Open Net, The Bogey Man, and Out of My League, which are chronicles of his attempts to play pro sports. They were probably better at the time but are still readable. Plimpton was an excellent journalist with an ear for dialogue. Sadly he passed in 2003.
I was twice rejected from the Paris Review, the literary magazine he edited. Yet I bear him no ill will. Well, not much.)
Today in world history:
- 37 - Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known as Caligula (which means “little soldier’s boots”), accepts the titles of the Principate, entitled to him by the Senate.
- 364 - Roman Emperor Valentinian I appoints his brother Flavius Valens co-emperor.
- 1794 - Louvre opens to the public.
- 1866 - 1st ambulance goes into service.
- 1881 - ”Greatest Show On Earth” formed by P. T. Barnum and James Anthony Bailey.
- 1924 - WGN-AM in Chicago IL begins radio transmissions.
- 1935 - Robert Goddard uses gyroscopes to control a rocket.
- 1971 - Last original edition of “The Ed Sullivan Show” broadcasts on CBS-TV.
- 1979 - A partial meltdown at Three Mile Island nuclear plant in the US results in the release of radioactive gas and iodine into the atmosphere but no deaths.
- (1) — Today in Baseball History.
- (2) — Baseball Reference.
- (3) — Society for American Baseball Research.
- (4) — Baseball Hall of Fame.
- (5) — This Day in Chicago Cubs history.
- For world history.
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.
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