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Baseball history unpacked, February 20

A thrice-weekly digest, replete with #Cubs, #MLB, and #MiLB factoids, gathered from reputable sources. The end of the College of Coaches and other feel-good stories.

Happy birthday, Bob Kennedy
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:

  • 1920 - The Chicago Cubs give his unconditional release to Lee Magee after having learned from him a week ago that he has been betting against his team. Magee will sue the Cubs for his salary of $4,500, charging that his livelihood as a ballplayer was destroyed through the sudden canceling of his contract. The Cubs will ask for a dismissal of the suit, saying that “previous to the making of the contract the plaintiff was guilty of betting against the team of which he was a member, and sought to win bets by intentional bad playing to defeat said team.” (2)
  • 1929 - The Boston Red Sox announce they will play Sunday games (allowed for the first time in Boston) at Braves Field, because Fenway Park is located too close to a church. (1,2)
  • 1943 - Chicago Cubs owner Philip Wrigley and Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey draw up charter for the “All-American Girls Softball League”, which will eventually become the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). The league, originally conceived in the belief that the major leagues would suspend play because of World War II, will operate from 1943 to 1954 around the Chicago area. When the league changes its name and switches to hardball, the pitching distance is 40 feet and bases 68 feet apart. After struggling through poor attendance in its early seasons, the league will draw over one million fans in 1948. (1,2)
  • 1953 - August A. Busch buys the St. Louis Cardinals from Fred Saigh for $3.75 million and pledges not to move the team from St. Louis, Missouri. (1,2)
  • 1953 - The U.S. Court of Appeals rules that organized baseball is a sport and not a business, affirming the 25-year-old Supreme Court ruling. This effectively dismisses the antitrust suits of Jack Corbett and former Brooklyn Dodgers minor leaguer Walter Kowalski. The $300,000 suit of Corbett, the owner of the El Paso Texans, is based on his belief that he lost money when Major League Baseball prohibited him from signing several players suspended for participation in the Mexican League. Kowalski’s $150,000 suit is based on the general principles of the antitrust and restraint-of-trade laws. Their lawyer in these cases is Frederic Johnson, who also represents player Danny Gardella in his suit against Major League Baseball. (2)
  • 1963 - The Chicago Cubs put an end to their radical “College of Coaches” system and hire Bob Kennedy* as manager. Under Kennedy, the Cubs will sport a respectable record of 82-80. (2)
  • 1992 - The episode of the animated series The Simpsons entitled “Homer at the Bat” gets its first broadcast on FOX. In the episode, Springfield Nuclear Plant owner C. Montgomery Burns hires a team of major league ringers in order to win a bet he placed on a softball game against a rival businessman. In the end, though, it’s the hapless Homer Simpson who saves the day with a walk-off hit-by-pitch. A number of contemporary major league stars, many of them future Hall of Famers lend their voices and likeness to the show, which is considered one of the classic episodes of the series. (2)
  • 2015 - Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announces a series of measures to quicken the pace of the game. Chief among them are that a batter will need to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box at all times during an at-bat, and that the intermission between half innings will be strictly timed. Pitchers will be required to complete their warm-up pitches before there are only 30 seconds left before resumption of play, or risk forfeiting any unmade pitches. More dramatic changes, such as adding a pitch clock, are not introduced at this time. Violation of the new guidelines will result in fines, and not in game-related penalties. (2)

Cubs birthdays: Frankie Gustine, Jesus Figueroa, Ryan Sweeney, Julio Borbon, Spencer Patton. Also notable: Sam Rice HOF.

Today in history:

  • 1472 - Orkney and Shetland are left by Norway to Scotland, due to a dowry payment.
  • 1792 - US postal service created, postage 6-12 cents depending on distance.
  • 1933 - US House of Representatives completes congressional action to repeal Prohibition.
  • 1942 - Lt E.H. “Butch” O’Hare single-handedly shoots down five Japanese heavy bombers, becomes America’s first World War II flying ace.
  • 1952 - Emmett Ashford is certified to be first black umpire in organized baseball; has to wait until 1966 for MLB debut.
  • 1959 - Jimi Hendrix (age 16), rock and roll guitarist, plays his first gig in the Temple De Hirsch synagogue basement, Seattle; fired from the band after the first set due to “wild” playing.
  • 1962 - John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth, aboard Friendship 7.

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 (this also includes the history bullets). Thanks for reading, and thanks also for your cooperation.