This day in baseball: Robinson awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

On March 26, 1984, President Ronald Reagan awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to Jackie Robinson. Rachel Robinson accepted the award on behalf of her husband.   The Presidential Medal of Freedom is considered the highest civilian honor given in the United States.

You can watch President Reagan’s remarks from that Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony in the video below.  If you’d like to go straight to his remarks about Robinson, you can find them at the 16:03 timestamp.


This day in baseball: Ty Cobb re-signs with the Tigers

On March 21, 1908, 21-year-old Ty Cobb re-signed with the Tigers for $4000, with an $800 bonus if he hit over .300 for the year.  Cobb finished the season with a league-leading .324 batting average with the Tigers.

ty cobb


This day in baseball: Weiss becomes Mets president

On March 14, 1961, former Yankees president George Weiss agreed to become the first president of the expansion New York Mets. It is believed that the Mets offered Weiss a five-year deal at $100,000 annually, more than he ever earned during his 14 seasons with the Yankees.

George Weiss

George Weiss (National Baseball Hall of Fame)


This day in baseball: Babe’s first professional homer

Babe Ruth hit his first home run in professional baseball on March 7, 1914 in the last inning of a spring training exhibition game for the International League’s Baltimore Orioles. The homer was a 400-foot shot at the Cape Fear Fairgrounds in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

babe Ruth Orioles 1914

Ruth in 1914 (untoldentertainment.com)


“Nine Men Out,” by Michael Ceraolo

Here’s a piece by Michael Ceraolo based on the Jun 24, 1946 crash involving a bus carrying the Spokane Indians of Minor League Baseball.  The bus crashed on Snoqualmie Pass in Washington State in what is considered one of the worst accidents in the history of American professional sports.  Nine players were killed in the accident, and six were injured.  Eight of those who died had served in World War II.

*

Since I was the player-manager
(though only 25),
I will take the responsibility to speak for the rest
Frederick “Marty” Martinez
Bob Kinnaman
George Risk
Bob Patterson
Bob James
George Lyden
Chris Hartje
Vic Pacetti
and me, Mel Cole,
were members of the Spokane Indians team
On June 24, 1946,
enroute to Bremerton for the next day’s game,
our bus swerved to avoid an oncoming car,
falling three hundred feet down and bursting into flames
Marty, George Risk, the three Bobs, and I
were dead at the scene
Vic died on the way to the hospital,
George Lyden died the next day,
and Chris died two days later
Vic, not yet 19, was the best prospect among us;
the rest of us were older and had served during the war,
probably ending any major-league dreams for us
The driver of the oncoming car was never found


This day in baseball: Sandberg becomes baseball’s highest paid player

Ryne Sandberg became the highest paid player in baseball when he signed a four-year contract extension worth $28.4 million with the Chicago Cubs on March 2, 1992.  The contract eclipsed Bobby Bonilla’s five-year, $29 million contract with the Mets, signed just three months previous.  Sandberg never got to enjoy the full sum promised by this contract, however, as he unexpectedly retired during the 1994 season, walking away from nearly $15.8 million of the record deal.

Ryne Sandberg Sports Illustrated


This day in baseball: John McGraw passes

Less than two years after retiring, John McGraw died on February 25, 1934 at his home in New Rochelle, New York.   McGraw passed away due to prostate cancer and uremic poisoning at the age of 60 and is interred in New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.  In 1937, he became a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s second induction class.

John-McGraw-1910

John McGraw in 1910 (Wikimedia Commons)