At Schorling’s Park on Chicago’s south side, the minor league White Sox played their first game in franchise history on April 21, 1900. The Sox ended up losing the contest to Milwaukee, 5-4. The small wooden ballpark, located at 39th and Princeton, was also known as South Side Park, and would continue to be the home stadium for the team when they joined the American League the following season.
President Warren G. Harding threw out the ceremonial first pitch before a Washington Senators game held on April 13, 1921, at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. Washington ended up losing to the Red Sox, 6-3, making this the first time in six Opening Days contests the Senators have lost with the President of the United States throwing out the first pitch.
On Opening Day in 1984, Tiger rookie Barbaro Garbey became the first Cuban refugee to play in Major League Baseball, having played in the Serie Nacional prior to defecting to the United States. Garbey grounded out in the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter for Dave Bergman, then would stay in the game. Garbey played first base in Detroit’s 8-1 defeat of Minnesota in the Metrodome.
Babe Ruth made his first career start on the mound on March 25, 1914 for the Boston Red Sox. The 19-year-old pitcher defeated the world champion Philadelphia Athletics, 6-2, in an exhibition game played in Wilmington, North Carolina. Prior to this game, Ruth had faced 29 batters in relief, allowing just six hits, thus earning his spot in the starting rotation.
On March 19, 1984, former MLB pitcher Denny McLain was indicted on various charges of racketeering, loan-sharking, extortion, and cocaine possession. In 1985, McLain was sentenced to 23 years in prison after refusing to admit his crimes and accept his conviction. McLain had participated in a scheme that imposed exorbitant interest rates on those who bet on sports and coerced them to pay the illegal debts. After 29 months of the sentence, McLain appealed on the grounds of an unfair judgment, and he was released. He then agreed to a five-year probation deal.
Denny McLain was the last Major League pitcher to win 30 or more games in a season, having finished the 1968 season with a record of 31-6.
On March 16, 1932, Babe Ruth signed a deal for $75,000, a five-thousand dollar pay cut from the previous season and 25 percent of the Yankees net receipts from exhibition games. The pay cut came in large part as a result of the Great Depression. Legend has it the Bambino signed a blank contract, with the amount filled in later by Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert.
The first-ever spring training game played in Arizona took place on March 8, 1946 at Tucson’s Hi Corbett Field. Bob Lemon led the Indians to victory over the Giants, 3-1, in the inaugural Cactus League contest.
In a minor league exhibition game held on February 27, 2006, 19-year-old Koby Clemens of the Lexington Legends of the South Atlantic League hit a home run off his 43-year-old father, Roger Clemens. In Koby’s next at bat, Roger threw a brushback pitch at Koby in retaliation. The father-son duo would later play another game together in 2006, as the elder Clemens was making his comeback with the Astros and pitched a game for Lexington.
On February 20, 1923, Christy Mathewson and Giants attorney Emil Fuchs put together a syndicate to buy the Boston Braves for $300,000. Mathewson would become the principal owner and team president. However, the future Hall of Famer’s deteriorating health reduced him little more than a figurehead, and the presidency would be turned over to Fuchs at the end of the season.
On February 13, 1964, Cubs second baseman Ken Hubbs died at the age of 22 when the red and white Cessna 172 plane he was piloting crashed a quarter-mile south of Bird Island in Utah Lake in the midst of a winter storm. Hubbs had taken flying lessons for the previous two off-seasons to overcome his fear of flying, obtaining his license just the previous month. Ken Hubbs had been the1962 NL Rookie of the Year.