Submitted by BTGrimes on Tue, 12/10/2013 - 9:00am
Rule to be enforced
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - National League owners went on record today in baseball history (December 10, 1919) to ban the spitball and other "freak" pitches. It was considered an unfair advantage for the pitcher to put a "foreign" substance, such as saliva, petroleum jelly or mud on the ball because it changed its aerodynamics making it harder to hit.
The spitball was mastered by a number of pitchers in the early 1900's. According to Baseball-Reference the pitch was invented by George Hildebrand.
The spitball was always controversial. There had been rules against altering the baseball since the 1870's, but they weren't enforced. The National League owners' vote at their annual meeting on this date in 1919 was a big step toward finally cracking down. The Major League Baseball Rules Committee formally banned the spitball before the start of the 1920 season, and enacted tough penalties. Pitchers caught using a "foreign substance" on the ball faced a ten game suspension.
In fairness to established pitchers who relied on the now illegal pitch, those who had been using the spitter could continue using it for the rest of their careers. Burleigh Grimes was the last pitcher to legally throw a spitball in 1934.
This daily dose of baseball history is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Mon, 12/09/2013 - 9:00am
DiMaggio the autograph seeker
WASHINGTON, D.C. - New York Yankee great Joe DiMaggio gave thousands of autographs during and after his Hall of Fame career, but today in baseball history (December 9, 1987), Joltin Joe was an autograph seeker.
DiMaggio sent a baseball to the White House where President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev were meeting. DiMaggio had been one of 126 guests at a White House state dinner the night before. He met President Reagan who introduced him to the Soviet leader. DiMaggio made the autograph request, and both Reagan and Gorbachev sounded willing. All he needed was a baseball.
With the help of the President's daughter, Maureen Reagan, a baseball was in the hands of President Reagan as he and Gorbachev met the next day. She later had the ball with the two world leaders' autographs shipped to DiMaggio's San Francisco home.
This was reportedly the only time Joe DiMaggio asked for an autograph. New York Times columnist Joseph Durso quotes DiMaggio as saying, "That day became one of the nicest days of my life, and one of the most meaningful.''
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Submitted by BTGrimes on Sun, 12/08/2013 - 9:00am
Maris now an ex-Yankee
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - Today in baseball history (December 8, 1966), less than five years after breaking Babe Ruth's single season home run record, Roger Maris was traded from the New York Yankees to the St. Louis Cardinals for light-hitting infielder Charley Smith.
Yankee president Lee MacPhail had just endured a last place finish by his club.
1966 American League Standings
It was the first time the Yankees had finished last in 42 years. MacPhail was determined to shake things up. He traded starting third-baseman Clete Boyer to the Atlanta Braves ten days earlier.
Roger Maris didn't tear up the National League for the Cardinals in '67 (.261, 9 HR's, 55 RBI), but the team won the World Series with him as its regular right fielder. Maris was a part-time right fielder in '68 when the Cardinals again got to the World Series, losing to the Detroit Tigers 4 games to 3. Maris retired after the '68 season.
The Yankees didn't get to the post-season for ten more years, making the playoffs in 1976, winning the World Series in 1977.
This baseball history story about Roger Maris is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Sat, 12/07/2013 - 9:00am
Los Angeles Browns... Not!
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI - The St. Louis Browns was a struggling franchise in the standings and at the box office throughout most of the time it shared St. Louis with the Cardinals. The team drew just 193,000 fans in 1940, about 2,500 a game. It was not unusual to have fewer than 1,000 people in the stands. For example, the paid attendance on September 11, 1940 was 472. Needless to say owner Donald Barnes wanted a change of scenery.
It has been rumored for years that if the Japanese had not bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 the Browns would have moved to Los Angeles, more than a decade before the Dodgers did. Some said it was a "done deal." Researchers at the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) decided to investigate. What they found out is... maybe.
Read SABR's Business of Baseball Committee paper "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Coliseum" by Norman Macht for all the details.
In a nutshell the committee looked into a Los Angeles Examiner report in 1946 that the deal only needed formal approval from major league baseball at its winter meetings starting December 9, 1941. Pearl Harbor happened two days before that. One theory for why little was known about the almost move is that after the move fell through the Browns ownership was all hush-hush so the St. Louis faithful wouldn't be offended.
The Browns moved east instead of west in 1953 and became, and remain, the Baltimore Orioles.
This baseball history story about the St. Louis Browns is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Fri, 12/06/2013 - 9:00am
Angels Join American League
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI - Cowboy TV star Gene Autry won the approval of major league baseball owners in St. Louis today in baseball history (December 6, 1960) to put an American League team in Los Angeles. The team would be called the Angels (today's Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim). They would begin play in 1961.
It wasn't all smooth sailing. Los Angeles Dodgers' owner Walter O'Malley, who had just moved the Dodgers to LA from Brooklyn in 1958, had been adamantly opposed to having an American League team in the LA market. According to the Associated Press (AP), O'Malley made a surprise peace proposal to Gene Autry's group to allow the expansion Angels into his territory, with certain conditions. One of them was where the new team would play.
At the time, even the Dodgers didn't have a ballpark to call their own. They played in the LA Coliseum while Dodger Stadium was under construction and wouldn't be ready until 1962. O'Malley insisted that the Angels play in Wrigley Field (pictured above) - no, not the Wrigley Field in Chicago, the one in Los Angeles. A replica of the Chicago landmark existed in Los Angeles at the time, but had a seating capacity of only about 20,000. It had been home to the Pacific Coast League Angels before major league baseball moved to Los Angeles.
O'Malley also wanted the Angels to become tenants of Dodger Stadium when it was finished. The Angels knew they would probably have to take the Dodgers up on the deal for a couple years, but had plans to build their own ballpark down the road, which they did. Autry moved the team to Anaheim in 1966, and changed the name to the California Angels.
This baseball history story about the California Angels is brought to you by Today in Baseball.