This day in baseball: The Pirates’ last game at Exposition Park

The Pittsburgh Pirates played their final game at Exposition Park against the Chicago Cubs on June 29, 1909. The Pirates won the game 8–1 in front of 5,545 spectators, with George Gibson collecting the final National League hit in the ballpark. The very next day, the Pirates once again played the Cubs, this time with the team opening up Forbes Field.

Exposition Park in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
Exposition Park in 1915 (public domain)

Mike Schmidt’s Hall of Fame induction speech

Mike Schmidt played 18 seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies, and in that time, Schmidt was a 12-time All-Star and a three-time National League MVP. Over the course of his career, Schmidt hit 548 home runs, including 40 or more home runs in three separate seasons and 30 or more home runs in ten other seasons. He also won ten Gold Glove Awards and was named The Sporting News Player of the Decade for the 1980s.

Mike Schmidt was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995. In his induction speech below, I particularly like Schmidt’s discussions on positive encouragement for kids and on the need for baseball to reconnect with its fans.


This day in baseball: The National League is formed

The National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs formed on February 2, 1876 with eight charter teams located in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Hartford, Louisville, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. After playing the 1876 season in Hartford, Connecticut, the Hartford Dark Blues played the 1877 season in Brooklyn as the Brooklyn Hartfords before disbanding at the end of the season.

The National League’s formation meant the end of the old National Association, which lasted only five seasons. The remaining clubs in the NA shut down or reverted to amateur or minor league status. 

Hartford_Dark_Blues, 1875

1875 Hartford Dark Blues (Wikipedia)


This day in baseball: Charles Ebbets becomes president of the Dodgers

In the wake of the death of Charles H. Byrne, team secretary Charles Ebbets became president of the Bridegrooms (Dodgers) on January 4, 1898. The team’s future owner also managed the Brooklyn team for the last 110 games of the season, finishing tenth among the twelve teams of the National League.

Charles Ebbets, c. 1915 - Wikipedia

Charles Ebbets, c. 1915 (Wikipedia)


This day in baseball: A DH proposal

In an effort to speed up the game and add more offense, on December 11, 1928, National League president John Heydler proposed instituting a designated batter for the pitcher. The American League oppose the idea, however, and the NL withdrew the proposal before it could get to Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to break the deadlock.

John Heydler 1918 - The Sporting News

John Heydler, 1918 (The Sporting News)


This day in baseball: Billy Williams is Rookie of the Year

On November 30, 1961, Billy Williams of the Chicago Cubs was selected as the National League Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The outfielder hit 25 home runs and drove in 86 runs that year, and was selected on 10 of the 16 ballots cast by the writers. The runner-up in the voting, Braves catcher Joe Torre, received five votes from the writers.

Billy_Williams_1969 - Wikipedia

Billy Williams in 1969 (Wikipedia)


This day in baseball: The Alleghenys jump to the National League

The Pittsburgh Alleghenys left the American Association on November 18, 1886 to join the National League as an expansion team. In 1891, the Pittsburgh team would become known as the Pirates, a name derived from an incident involving the franchise accused of being “piratical” for taking players from rival teams in other leagues.

mlb.com

“Vida Blue,” Albert Jones

Vida Blue was a left-handed pitcher who is primarily known as a vital member of the Oakland Athletics dynasty that won three consecutive World Series championships from 1972 to 1974. Blue won the American League Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player Award in 1971, and he was the first pitcher ever to  start the All-Star Game for both the American League (1971) and the National League (1978).

This tribute by Albert Jones was released in 1971.


This day in baseball: Ken Hubbs passes

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.

Ken_Hubbs_1964

Ken Hubbs in 1964 (Wikipedia)


This day in baseball: Frick is NL’s public relations director

On Feburary 6, 1934, New York news reporter and broadcaster Ford Frick was named the National League’s public relations director. In November of that same year, Frick would be elected as the president of the Senior Circuit, replacing John A. Heydler, who resigned due to poor health.

Ford_Frick_at_1937_All-Star_Game - Library of Congress

Ford Frick at the 1937 All-Star Game (Library of Congress)