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Today in Baseball History
April 17th

37 Fact(s) Found
1820 Alexander Cartwright, considered by many the 'father' of the national pastime, is born in New York City. The banker, who is given credit for establishing three strikes for an out and three outs for each half inning, will be elected into the Hall of Fame in 1938 after a review of his journals reveals the many contributions he made in developing and promoting the sport of baseball. (This entry was inspired Mr. Cartwight's great great grandson, Alex Cartwright.)
1869 The Cincinnati Red Stockings defeat the rival Amateurs, 24-15, in baseball's first professional game. Team captain Harry Wright had put all of his players under contract making the club, that will later be known as the Reds, the first pro team in sports history.
1892 The first Sunday game is played in National League history at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. The Reds defeat the Browns in the first professional contest held on the Sabbath, 5-1.
1904 By not charging admission but requiring fans to buy a scorecard, the Brooklyn Superbas are able to play their first Sunday game. The strategy is an attempt to circumvent the existing blue laws, legislation designed to enforce religious edicts, including the observance of Sunday as a day of worship.
1912 In front of a larger than usual crowd at the Polo Grounds of over 14,000 patrons that includes Broadway legend George M. Cohan, the Giants beat the new-look Yankees, now sporting pinstripes, in an unscheduled exhibition game, 11-2, to raise money for the survivors of the HMS Titanic. The charity contest, the first Sunday game ever played between major league teams at the Coogan's Bluff ballpark, raises over $9,000 when each individual fan donates the price of an admission ticket to purchase a special program for the event.
1925 Babe Ruth undergoes an operation for an intestinal abscess at St. Vincent's Hospital. The 30-year old Yankees outfielder will miss the first forty games of the season for the seventh-place team.
1929 In a ceremony that takes place on Opening Day at five a.m. to avoid crowds, Claire Hodgson becomes the second Mrs. Babe Ruth. The Yankees' outfielder's first wife, Julia Woodford, died in a house fire in January.
1929 On a cold and dreary day at Griffith Stadium, President Herbert Hoover throws out the first ball and then stays for the entire game watching the A's beat the hometown Senators, 13-4. The loss spoils the managerial debut of Washington legend Walter Johnson.
1934 On Opening Day at the newly-named Crosley Field, Reds' announcer Red Barber calls his first play-by-play for a major league team. The 26-year old future Hall of Famer broadcaster had never attended a major league game before today's 6-0 loss to Chicago.
1939 On the morning of Opening Day in Washington, D.C., President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Yankees visit Abner Doubleday's grave at Arlington National Cemetery. FDR is also scheduled to throw out the first pitch at Griffith Stadium, but the game is rained out and Veep Garner will do the honors four days later.
1945 Browns outfielder Pete Gray, playing with one arm, makes his major league debut with one hit in four at-bats in a 7-1 victory over Detroit at Sportsman's Park. The 30-year old St. Louis outfielder, who lost his right arm in a childhood accident, batted .333 last season as a minor leaguer last season.
1951 Prior to the Cubs' home opener, Sam Snead tees off from home plate and hits the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field. 'Slammin' Sammy' won three Masters, three PGA Championships, and one British Open during his nearly 40 years as a professional golfer.
1951 Mickey Mantle, batting third, grounds out to second base in his first major league at-bat. The 19-year old right fielder will go 1-for-4, a sixth-inning run-scoring single, in the Yankees' Opening Day 5-0 victory over Boston in the Bronx.
1951 For the first time, in a career that will span more than half of a century, Bob Sheppard announces the Yankees' lineup. The legendary public address announcer's introduction of the Bronx Bombers will include the memorable names of Mickey Mantle (playing his first game in pinstripes), Phil Rizzuto and Yogi Berra, but the first player's name off the lips of the 'Voice of God' will be DiMaggio – Dom DiMaggio, the leadoff batter for the visiting Red Sox.
1953 Mickey Mantle blasts a 'reported' 565-foot homer off southpaw Chuck Stobb in the Yankees' 7-3 victory over Washington at a windy Griffith Stadium. The distance of the historic round-tripper hit by the 21-year old Yankee outfielder will become the subject of much debate, with later research debunking its original tape measure status.
1954 At Milwaukee's County Stadium, utility man Nino Escalera becomes the first black player to appear in a Reds' game. The Puerto Rican native, who will bat .159 and collect 11 hits in his only major league season, will eventually become a scout for the Oakland A's.
1955 Roberto Clemente singles off Dodger pitcher Johnny Podres in his first major league at-bat. The Pirates' rookie, who will die in a plane crash attempting to bring relief aid to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua in 1972, will collect 3,000 hits during his 18-year major league career, all with Pittsburgh.
1956 Luis Aparicio, Don Drysdale and Frank Robinson play in their first major league games, respectively, for the White Sox, Dodgers and Reds. It marks the first time that three future Hall of Famers have debuted on the same day.
1960 In a trade of fan favorites, the Tigers swap Harvey Kuenn for Indians slugger Rocky Colavito. Detroit gets the better of the deal as their new outfielder will put together four consecutive outstanding seasons in the Motor City as their former fly chaser will last only one season in Cleveland.
1964 After spending the first two years of their existence at the Polo Grounds, the Mets play their first game at Shea Stadium in front of 50,312 fans in Queens. The Amazins' drop the stadium opener to Pittsburgh, 4-3, with Willie Stargell hitting the first homer in the Flushing facility.
1968 In their first game at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, the newly arrived A’s lose to the Orioles, 4-1. The team, which played in Kansas City last season, is shut down by Baltimore southpaw Dave McNally on two-hits.
1969 In only the ninth game of the franchise's history, Expos hurler Bill Stoneman,who had never thrown a complete game in the major leagues, tosses a no-hitter defeating the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium, 7-0. The 25 year-old right-hander, the future GM of the Angels, will throw another no-hit game in 1972 against the Mets.
1976 At Wrigley Field, Mike Schmidt hits four home runs in one game, including the game winner, when the Phillies come back from an 11-run deficit to beat the Cubs in ten innings, 18-16. The Phillies' slugging third baseman is the first National Leaguer, third overall, to hit the homers consecutively.
1976 At George Steinbrenner’s insistence, Thurman Munson is named Yankee captain. The reluctant backstop is the first player to assume the role since Lou Gehrig was honored with the position in 1935.
1988 After breaking National League record with ten losses to start the the season, the Braves beat the Dodgers, 3-1. The team will drop the 27 of its first 39 decisions costing Chuck Tanner his job as Atlanta's manager.
1995 The Devil Rays and the City of St. Petersburg come to terms on a 30-year lease for the new American League expansion team to play their home games at the ThunderDome. The domed stadium, now known as Tropicana Field, was built originally as the Florida Suncoast Dome in an attempt to coax the White Sox to leave their aging ballpark in Chicago and relocate to the Tampa Bay/St. Pete area.
2001 Barry Bonds becomes the 17th major leaguer, as well as the fourth Giant, to join the 500 home run club as he hits a Terry Adams' 2-0 heater into McCovey Cove at Pac Bell Park. The San Francisco left-fielder is joined at home plate by two other members of the elite fraternity, Willie Mays (660) and Willie McCovey (521) for a brief ceremony.
2006 In front of 36,867 Shea Stadium patrons, Pedro Martinez becomes the 103rd pitcher in major league history to win 200 games when the Mets beat the Braves, 4-3. The Dominican ace has lost only 84 contests at the time of reaching the milestone putting him behind only Bob Caruthers (74), Whitey Ford (79) and Lefty Grove (83).
2007 After the second inning of an eventual 6-4 loss to the Braves at RFK Stadium, the Nationals take the field take wearing Virginia Tech baseball caps as a tribute to the 32 victims of the shooting rampage which took place yesterday morning. Nearly a dozen of the burgundy caps signed by the players who wore them will be sent to the nearby college while the hat worn by the Nationals' last batter of the game, Chris Snelling, will reside in the Hall of Fame.
2009 At Citi Field, Gary Sheffield becomes the 25th player to hit 500 career home runs. Joining Ty Cobb and Rusty Staub as the only major leaguers to homer as a teen-ager and a 40-year old, the recently released Tiger DH becomes the first to reach the milestone as a pinch hitter and the first to accomplish the feat in a Mets uniform.
2009 Washington's right fielder Adam Dunn and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman start the game against Florida with the word "Nationals" misspelled on the front of their uniforms. Majestic Athletic, the manufacturer of the jerseys, takes full responsibility for the missing "O" and apologizes for the mistake to the organization, players and their fans.
2009 Jason Kubel blasts a grand slam to become the ninth Twins player to hit for the cycle, the first to do it at the Metrodome since 1986 when Kirby Puckett accomplished the feat in front of the home crowd. The left fielder's bases-full homer caps a seven-run eighth inning in Minnesota's 11-9 comeback victory over the Angels.
2010 Rockies' right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez pitches the first no-hitter in the 18-year history of the franchise. The 4-0 historic victory over Atlanta at Turner Field is saved in the seventh inning with a spectacular catch by center fielder Dexter Fowler.
2012 Throwing seven strong innings in the Rockies' 5-3 victory over San Diego, Jamie Moyer becomes the oldest pitcher to win a major league contest. The 49-year, 150 day old southpaw surpasses Brooklyn's Jack Quinn, who was almost three months younger when he got the victory pitching five frames in relief against St. Louis in 1932.
2012 After agreeing on a $1.25 million deal last week, Johnny Damon signs a minor league contract en route to joining the Indians to possibly become the their regular left fielder. The 38-year-old career .286 hitter, who needs 277 knocks to reach the 3,000-hit plateau, will bring intangibles to the club by providing veteran leadership for the struggling Tribe in addition to serving as a mentor to team's younger stars.
2012 Mark Melancon allows six earned runs without recording an out in the eighth inning, a frame which features three home runs to the six Rangers he faces in the 18-3 rout of the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Boston reliever yields a double to Ian Kinsler, a base-on-balls to Elvis Andrus which is followed by a monstrous three-run blast to Josh Hamilton, then Adrian Beltre adds another round-tripper before David Murphy walks and Nelson Cruz homers to end his short-lived historic outing.
2013 Clayton Kershaw becomes the second fastest Dodger to strike out 1,000 batters when he throws a second-inning 93-mph fastball pass San Diego first baseman Yonder Alonso. The 25 year-old southpaw reaches the milestone in 970 career innings, 15.2 more than needed by Hideo Nomo, who had established the previous team mark in 2003.

37 Fact(s) Found