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Baseball history unpacked, May 27

A thrice-weekly digest, replete with #Cubs, #MLB, and #MiLB factoids gathered from allegedly reputable sources. The anniversary of when Javy stole first base...

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Bleed Cubbie Blue is pleased to present a light-hearted, Cubs-centric look at baseball’s colorful past, with plenty of the lore and deep dives into various narratives that we can observe as they expand and change over the course of time. Here’s a handy Cubs timeline, to help you follow along. We also include Cubs’ player birthdays and a bit of world history, for context.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1904 - Dan McGann of the New York Giants collects five stolen bases in one game against the Brooklyn Superbas to set a major league record, a feat not duplicated until August 24, 1974, by Davey Lopes. Otis Nixon eventually will set a new mark with six stolen bases on June 16, 1991. (2)
  • 1960 - Baltimore Orioles catcher Clint Courtney uses an oversized mitt in an effort to handle the pitches of knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm. The mitt, designed by Baltimore manager Paul Richards, is 50 percent larger than the standard. Courtney handles Wilhelm’s pitches flawlessly in a 3 - 2 win over the Yankees. The oversized mitt will later be banned. (2)
  • 1968 - Major League Baseball expands outside the confines of the United States as the National League announces expansion for the first time in seven years, awarding franchises to Montreal as well as San Diego, to begin play next season. (2)
  • 1993 - Former Atlanta Braves All-Star Dale Murphy announces his retirement from baseball. The two-time National League MVP retires with a .265 batting average, 398 home runs and 1,266 runs batted in. (2)
  • 2003 - In Atlanta, Georgia, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a decision preventing the Florida attorney general from investigating Major League Baseball’s 2001 attempt to eliminate two teams. The 11th circuit decision, by Judges Gerald B. Tjoflat, Susan H. Black and Richard W. Goldberg, is based on the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and state law rather than the sport’s antitrust exemption and is considered to be a major victory by the commissioner’s office. (2)
  • 2008 - Cleveland completes a triple steal during a 8-2 win over the ChiSox. It is the first in the majors in 21 years. With a 5-2 score in the sixth and the bases loaded, Ehren Wassermann tries to pick Jamey Carroll off first base. While Carroll is in a rundown, David Dellucci dashes for home and beats Paul Konerko’s throw to Toby Hall. Grady Sizemore swipes third on the play while Carroll successfully makes it to second. (2)
  • 2015 - Cubs pitcher Jon Lester sets a new record for most hitless at bats from the start of a career by going 0 for 2 in a game against the Nationals. Coming into the game, he had been tied with Joey Hamilton with 57 fruitless at-bats. (2)
  • 2021 - The Cubs’ Javier Baez is at the center of one of the wildest baserunning plays anyone has ever seen. With two outs in the third inning and Willson Contreras on second base, he hits what looks like a routine inning-ending grounder to third base. However, Pirates 3B Erik Gonzalez throws wildly to first base, pulling 1B Will Craig off the bag, towards home. Baez abruptly stops running, and retreats towards home, and Craig, instead of simply touching the nearby bag to end the inning, begins to chase him. Meanwhile, Contreras has never stopped running and is about to cross home plate. Craig sees him and relays to C Michael Perez, but his throw is high and Contreras slides safely under the tag. Seeing this, Baez, who has practically returned to home plate by that point, turns around again and dashes back towards first base. Had 2B Adam Frazier thought to cover the bag, Baez would have been put out easily and Contreras’ run would have been erased, but Frazier is still dashing to reach the base as well, and Perez’s throw ends up in right field. Not only is Baez not put out, he makes it all the way to second base on a play that brings back fond memories of Little League baseball mayhem to everyone who witnesses it. (2)*

Cubs birthdays: Jimmy Hallinan, Jerry Kindall, Todd Hundley. Also notable: Jeff Bagwell HOF, Frank Thomas HOF.

Today in world history:

  • 1679 - Habeas Corpus Act passes in England, strengthening a person’s right to challenge unlawful arrest and imprisonment.
  • 1873 - Heinrich Schliemann discovers “Priam’s Treasure” a cache of gold and other objects in Hisarlik (Troy) in Anatolia.
  • 1895 - British inventor Birt Acres patents film camera/projector.
  • 1933 - Century of Progress Exposition opens in Chicago.
  • 1968 - George Halas retires from coaching, finishing with 318 regular-season wins and 6 NFL titles.
  • 2017 - In Bangalore, India, white puffy toxic foam begins spilling out of Varthur Lake onto city streets.

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!