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Baseball history unpacked, December 4

A M-W-F digest, replete with #Cubs, #MLB, and #MiLB content, gathered from reputable sources. There’s a draft in here, and other stories. Happy birthday to Lee Smith!

Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via 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 various narratives to follow as they unfold over the course of time. Here’s a handy Cubs timeline, to help you follow along.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1914 - Walter Johnson accepts a $6,000 bonus from the Federal League’s Chicago Whales and signs a three-year contract for $17,500 per year. Clark Griffith threatens to take Johnson to court, claiming he has paid Johnson for the reserve option in his contract. American League President Ban Johnson asserts that Johnson was on the market and is “damaged goods,” worth getting rid of. Griffith travels to Coffeyville, KS, to persuade his franchise player that the option clause is legal and binding. Two weeks later Griffith signs Johnson for three years at $12,500 per year and returns the bonus to the Feds. (1,2)
  • 1940 - The Cubs swap SS Bobby Mattick and OF Jim Gleeson to the Reds for SS Billy Myers. Myers will split his time between Chicago and the minors next year and quit in 1942 rather than take a pay cut. (2)
  • 1964 - The major leagues restore to the commissioner’s office all powers rescinded after Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis’s death in 1944. Principally, they waive their right to take legal action in the event of disagreements with the commissioner and grant him authority to judge whether actions taken by the owners in concert are, automatically “in the best interests of baseball.” Voting for the annual All-Star teams is turned back to the fans. (2)
  • 1964 - Baseball approves a free agent draft. At their winter meetings in Houston, the minor-league and major-league organizations establish a system, basically like that of professional football, which will take effect in January 1965 and be held every four months thereafter. Choices will be exercised by clubs in inverse order of their previous year’s standing. Draftees must be included in their club’s forty-man roster or be susceptible to claim at the waiver price the following season. This will eventually be scaled back to twice yearly and then to an annual event. (1,2)
  • 1969 - The Cubs send OF Boots Day to the Cardinals for P Rich Nye. (2)
  • 2022 - Slugger Fred McGriff, who fell just short of joining the 500 Home Run Club in large part due to the 1994 strike, is elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. His election comes the first time his name is considered by the Committee, which was looking at eight candidates from the “Contemporary Era” and comes unanimously, as he is selected by all 16 committee members. Don Mattingly is next closest, with eight votes, shy of the 12 needed for election. (2)

Cubs Birthdays: Jim Moroney, Harvey Kuenn, Lee Smith* HOF, Jerome Williams. Also notable: Jesse Burkett HOF.

Today in history:

  • 1154 - Adrian IV elected Pope. The only Englishman to become pontiff, Nicholas Breakspear was a member of the family which until recent years brewed beer in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.
  • 1534 - Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent occupies Baghdad.
  • 1674 - Father Marquette builds first dwelling in what is now Chicago.
  • 1909 - Oldest still-operating NHL franchise is officially established as J. Ambrose O’Brien and Jack Laviolette create the “Club de Hockey Canadien,” known today as the Montreal Canadiens.
  • 1921 American Professional Football Association Championship at Cubs Park, Chicago: Chicago Staleys beat Buffalo All-Americans, 10-7, in the de facto championship game after teams tied in the standings.

Common sources:


Some of these items spread from site to site without being verified. That is exactly why we ask for reputable sources if you have differences with a posted factoid, so that we can address that to the originators and provide clarity if not ‘truth’. Nothing is posted here without at least one instance of corroboration.