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Baseball history unpacked, April 3

A thrice-weekly digest, replete with #Cubs, #MLB, and #MiLB content, gathered from reputable sources. The spaghetti incident and other stories.

Bobby Hill — Happy Birthday!
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/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:

  • 1901 - Connie Mack accuses Christy Mathewson of reneging on a Philadelphia Athletics contract signed in January. Mathewson had accepted advance money from Mack, but jumped back to the New York Giants in March. Mack considers going to court, but eventually accepts the loss of the young pitcher. (2)
  • 1919 - One of the most bizarre off-the-field incidents in history takes place in Jacksonville, Florida. New York Yankees outfielder Ping Bodie competes against an ostrich named “Percy” in a spaghetti-eating contest! Bodie wins the competition when Percy passes out after its 11th plate of pasta. (2)

More about Ping Bodie from SABR. “There was larceny in his heart but his feet were honest.”

  • 1961 - It is announced that Connie Mack Stadium (formerly known as “Shibe Park”) has been sold and will be torn down after the 1963 season to make room for bowling alleys. In fact, the venerable Philadelphia ballpark will be kept in use until the end of the 1970 season. (2)
  • 1985 - A major league owners’ proposal is agreed to by the Players Association. The American and National leagues playoff formats are changed to best-of-sevens. The League Championship Series had been played as a best-of-five since its inception in 1969. (1,2)
  • 1987 - The Cubs trade veteran pitcher Dennis Eckersley and minor leaguer Dan Rohn to the A’s for three minor leaguers (Dave Wilder, Brian Guinn and Mark Leonette). (1,2)
  • 1991 - The Chicago White Sox sign injured free agent outfielder Bo Jackson to a one-year contract worth $700,000. The Kansas City Royals had released Jackson on March 15th, citing his inability to play baseball due to a football-related hip injury. (2)
  • 2006 - The Chicago Cubs roll to their fourth straight opening day victory, 16-7, over the Cincinnati Reds. (2)
  • 2020 - U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff dismisses a lawsuit by fantasy sports contestants who claim they were damaged by the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal at the end of the 2017 season. “A sport that celebrates ‘stealing,’ even if only of a base, may not provide the perfect encouragement to scrupulous play,” writes the judge, as he rules more seriously that: “The connection between the alleged harm plaintiffs suffered and defendants’ conduct is simply too attenuated to support any of plaintiffs’ claims for relief.” (2)

Cubs birthdays: Alex Grammas, Koji Uehara, Bobby Hill, Jason Kipnis.

Today in history:

  • 1043 - Edward the Confessor crowned King of England.
  • 1657 - English Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell refuses crown.
  • 1860 - Pony Express began between St Joseph, Missouri & Sacramento, California.
  • 1882 - American outlaw Jesse James is shot in the back of the head and killed by fellow gang member Robert Ford at home in St. Joseph, Missouri.
  • 1922 - Joseph Stalin is appointed General Secretary of the Russian Communist Party by an ailing Vladimir Lenin.
  • 1979 - Jane M Byrne (D), elected 1st woman mayor of Chicago, Illinois.

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.