Category Archives: February

FEB 22nd in baseball history-Cards sign QB

1938 | ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – The St. Louis Cardinals announced the signing of two-time All-American quarterback Sammy Baugh on this date in 1938. And, no, not the football Cardinals – they were still in Chicago –, the baseball Cardinals. Baugh had just graduated from Texas Christian University where he was an innovative quarterback who relied heavily on a seldom used offensive weapon – the forward pass. He earned the nickname Slingin Sammy.

Baugh also played third base for the Texas Christian baseball team. In fact, he was initially recruited for baseball. That was the sport he wanted to pursue. After signing with the Cardinals to play baseball Baugh was sent to the minor leagues. He didn’t excel as well in the minors as he hoped and never played a major league baseball game.

Baugh played sixteen years in the National Football League, eventually being elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.

Here are other noteworthy athletes who played more than one professional sport:

John Elway – New York Yankees/Denver Broncos
Danny Ainge – Toronto Blue Jays/Boston Celtics
Dave DeBusschere – Chicago White Sox/New York Knicks
Chuck Connors – Chicago Cubs/Boston Celtics (star of the TV show, The Rifleman)
Deion Sanders – Several NFL teams/several MLB teams
Herbert Perry – Florida Gators quarterback/MLB infielder for 7 different teams

Contributing Sources:
United Press (UP), February 23, 1938, St. Louis Missouri
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sammy_Baugh#Baseball

FEB 21st in baseball history-Ted Williams returns

1969 | WASHINGTON, D.C.Ted Williams was lured back to baseball on this date in 1969 to manage the Washington Senators . The greatest hitter of all time was going to lead a struggling expansion franchise that had yet to finish a season with a winning record.

The Senators lost at least 100 games in four of its first eight seasons. Remember this was the new Washington Senators, a 1961 expansion team after the original Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins.

Williams knew it would be a difficult task, telling the Associated Press (AP), “This may be a long, hard grind for a while.” And what about when he has to deal with a young player wound as tight as he was in his younger days? Would he tolerate a player with a temper, “If he can hit like Ted Williams, yes.”

Williams’ presence brought immediate results. The franchise had its first winning season in 1969, Williams first year as manager. They finished the season 86-76, but it was back downhill after that.

They lost 92 games in 1970, lost 96 in 1971. Attendance got so bad the team moved to Arlington, Texas in 1972 and became the Rangers.

That first year in Texas the Rangers finished with a record 54-100, the worst year of their history. Williams retired after that season and went back to fishing and hunting.

Contributing Sources:
Chicago Tribune, February 22, 1969, “Ted signs to manage Senators for 5 years”
Washington Senators 1961-1971
Year to year results
Ted Williams

FEBRUARY 20th in Baseball History-THE STRIKE ZONE

1963 | SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Baseball is often described as a never changing game of tradition. It’s a myth. On this date in 1963 the manager of the San Francisco Giants, Alvin Dark, bemoaned the fact that the strike zone had been raised from the top of the batter’s arm pits to the top of the shoulders.

Dark told the Associated Press (AP) that he was worried that his pitchers will have trouble keeping the ball down even though the bottom of the strike zone had not changed, “It’s the way they [the umpires] stand that raises or lowers the strike zone. If they’re up higher [to see the higher strike] it may pull the strike zone up.”

The strike zone has changed numerous times over the years, and many believe it changes depending on who’s calling balls and strikes. Here, according to mlb.com, are the “official” changes over the decades to the strike zone and balls and strikes:

1876  1-ft above ground to shoulders, batter calls for low or high pitch
1887 Knees to shoulders, batter can no longer call for high or low pitch
1950Top of the knees to armpits
1963Knees to the top of shoulders
1969Top of knees to armpits
1988 Top of the knees to midpoint between shoulders & the top of pants
1996Bottom of the knees to midpoint between shoulders & top of the pants

There also have been changes to:

-how many balls for a base-on-balls
-whether foul balls are counted as strikes
-the makeup of the baseball
-the height of the pitcher’s mound

Contributing sources:
Associated Press (AP), San Francisco, California, February 21, 1963
Official changes to strike zone

FEB 18th in Baseball History-Prediction Time

2017 | FLORIDA & ARIZONA – Prediction time for fans and prognosticators as spring training begins for 2017. Baseball Prospectus (BP) has among the most knowledgeable baseball people. BP’s crunching of the numbers leads their experts to believe the following teams are most likely to win their respective divisions in 2017.

American League
East – Boston Red Sox
Central – Cleveland Indians
West – Houston Astros

National League
East – New York Mets
Central – Chicago Cubs
West – Los Angeles Dodgers

It’ll be fun to see what happens. But how well have Baseball Prospectus’ predictions fared? Let’s look back. Here are BP’s 1998 predictions, and whether they were correct or not:

American League
New York Yankees – CORRECT
Cleveland Indians – CORRECT
Seattle Mariners – WRONG (Texas)

National League
East – Atlanta Braves – CORRECT
Central – Houston Astros – CORRECT
West – LA Dodgers – WRONG (San Diego)

Here’s a look at the favored teams from 1999 and how then fared.

American League
East – New York Yankees – CORRECT
Central – Cleveland Indians – CORRECT
West – Texas Rangers – CORRECT

National League
East – Atlanta Braves – CORRECT
Central – Houston Astros – CORRECT
West – LA Dodgers – WRONG (Diamondbacks)

Overall, Baseball Prospectus did very well.

February 17th in Baseball History: Prediction time

2017 | FLORIDA & ARIZONA – Prediction time for fans and prognosticators as spring training begins for 2017. Baseball Prospectus (BP) has among the most knowledgeable baseball people. BP’s crunching of the numbers leads their experts to believe the following teams are most likely to win their respective divisions in 2017.

American League
East – Boston Red Sox
Central – Cleveland Indians
West – Houston Astros

National League
East – New York Mets
Central – Chicago Cubs
West – Los Angeles Dodgers

It’ll be fun to see what happens. But how well have Baseball Prospectus’ predictions fared? Let’s look back. Here are BP’s 1998 predictions, and whether they were correct or not:

American League
New York Yankees – CORRECT
Cleveland Indians – CORRECT
Seattle Mariners – WRONG (Texas)

National League
East – Atlanta Braves – CORRECT
Central – Houston Astros – CORRECT
West – LA Dodgers – WRONG (San Diego)

Here’s a look at the favored teams from 1999 and how then fared.

American League
East – New York Yankees – CORRECT
Central – Cleveland Indians – CORRECT
West – Texas Rangers – CORRECT

National League
East – Atlanta Braves – CORRECT
Central – Houston Astros – CORRECT
West – LA Dodgers – WRONG (Diamondbacks)

Overall, Baseball Prospectus did very well.