On April 18, 1923, Columbia University pitcher Lou Gehrig struck out 17 Williams College batters to set a school record. Columbia lost the game 5-1, however, as Gehrig’s pitching also proved to be a bit on the wild side.
Lou Gehrig was named team captain of the New York Yankees on April 12, 1935. The date on which this honor was bestowed upon Gehrig is commonly mistaken for April 21st, however, this article in the April 13th New York Times demonstrates otherwise. Gehrig retained the title of Yankees captain until his death on June 2, 1941.
On April 5, 1934, Cincinnati Reds president Larry MacPhail hired Red Barber to broadcast the team games on WLW radio. Nicknamed “Ol’ Redhead,” due to the color of his hair, Barber spent the first five years of his Hall of Fame career in Cincinnati before moving to the Dodgers alongside MacPhail in 1939.
An exhibition game held on March 30, 1991 at Joe Robbie Stadium (now known as Hard Rock Stadium) featured the New York Yankees versus the Baltimore Orioles. The contest drew a crowd of 67,654 fans, which, at that time, set a spring training attendance record. South Florida fans came out due in part to their eagerness to draw an expansion team to the area. You can find the Baltimore Sun‘s coverage of the event here.
The Florida Marlins would begin playing at Joe Robbie Stadium in 1993.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.