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 in baseball history:
- 1880 - In Albany’s Riverside Park, Lip Pike hits a ball over the wall and into the river. RF Lon Knight begins to go after the ball in a boat but gives up. Few parks have ground rules about giving the batter an automatic home run on a hit over the fence. (1)
- 1914 - Rube Waddell dies from tuberculosis in San Antonio, TX, at the age of 37. One of the top lefthanded pitchers in major league history, Waddell led the American League in strikeouts for six years in a row, collected four consecutive 20-win seasons from 1902 to 1906, including the Triple Crown in 1905 with 27 wins, 287 strikeouts and a 1.48 ERA, leading the league in all pitching categories. Waddell, who dies in a sanitarium, had seen his condition weakened by his efforts to contain a winter flood in Kentucky. He will be selected to the Hall of Fame by the Special Veterans Committee in 1946. (1,2)
- 1969 - The Seattle Pilots trade little-known minor league outfielder Lou Piniella to the Kansas City Royals for two prospects. Piniella will hit .282 with 11 home runs and 68 RBI, good enough to win American League Rookie of the Year honors. (1,2)
- 1970 - An ownership group headed by automobile dealer Bud Selig buys the Seattle Pilots for $10.8 million. Selig will immediately move the Pilots to Milwaukee, WI and rename the team the “Brewers.” The Pilots lost $1 million during their lone season in Seattle, WA. (1,2)
- 1972 - The Major League Players Association, led by Executive Director Marvin Miller, stages the first strike in major league history. The strike will last 13 days and lead to salary arbitration being added to the Collective Bargaining Agreement and to owners increasing their contribution to the pension fund. The 86 games that are eventually cancelled as a result of the labor action will not be replayed. (2)
- 1980 - After failing to come up with a new collective bargaining agreement with the owners, the Executive Board of the Players’ Association votes unanimously to cancel the 92 remaining exhibition games and to strike on May 22 if a deal has not been reached by then. During spring training, the players had voted 971-1 in favor of a strike. The lone dissenter was Kansas City’s Jerry Terrell, who voted no for religious reasons. (1)
- 1985 - Today’s issue of Sports Illustrated contains a fictitious article about a New York 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. (2) (The magazine of course was on the stands prior to the cover date, as we covered in the last edition.)
- 1996 - Longtime umpire John McSherry collapses and dies from a heart attack on Opening Day at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium, in the 1st inning of a game between the Reds and Expos, which is cancelled. The 51-year-old McSherry had umpired in the National League for 26 seasons. Reds owner Marge Schott hits a low point with her insensitive remarks, blaming the late umpire for spoiling the team’s opening day celebrations. (1,2)
- 2011 - Neil Walker hits the second Opening Day grand slam in Pittsburgh Pirates history, powering a shot out of Wrigley Field. It had been 49 years since Roberto Clemente had delivered a grand slam in an opener for the Bucs. Pittsburgh wins, 6 - 3, over the Cubs. (2)
- 2021 - In a partial return to normalcy, Opening Day takes place as scheduled in Major League Baseball, with thirteen of the fifteen games being played. The exceptions are a rainout at Fenway Park, and the game between the Nationals and Mets which is postponed because of a positive COVID-19 test by a Nats player, which in turns places four other members of the team in preventive quarantine, a sign that the pandemic that completely upended the previous season has not yet been defeated. (2)
Today in world history:
- 374 - Comet 1P/374 E1 (Halley) approaches within 0.0884 AUs of Earth.
- 1693 - Cotton Mather’s four-day-old son dies, and witchcraft is blamed.
- 1826 - Samuel Morey is issued the first U.S. patent for an internal-combustion engine, which he calls a “Gas or Vapour Engine.”
- 1866 - US Congress rejects presidential veto giving all equal rights in US.
- 1891 - The Wrigley Company is founded in Chicago, Illinois.
- 1930 - Chicago Cubs catcher Gabby Hartnett breaks the altitude record for a catch by gloving a baseball dropped from the Goodyear blimp 800 feet over Los Angeles, California.
- 1978 ”The Bob Newhart Show” last airs on CBS-TV.
- 1989 - A. Bartlett Giamatti replaces Peter Ueberroth as the seventh commissioner of Major League Baseball.
- 1997 - Comet Hale-Bopp Perihelion (0.914 AU).
- (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.
And thanks to JohnW53 and our other reader for additional wisdom.
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!