March 18th in baseball history-A CHANGE IN THE AIR


1953 | ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – The Boston Braves got official permission from the other Major League Baseball (MLB) owners on this date in 1953 to relocate to Milwaukee. It was the first franchise move since 1903 when the Baltimore Orioles moved to New York City to eventually become the Yankees.

The Braves’ move opened the flood gates.

Expansion and relocation were in the air. As Braves owner Lou Pernini put it, “The country has changed in the last 75 years. You can’t deny Los Angeles and San Francisco are major league in every respect, and so are Montreal, Baltimore and some other cities.”

The next season the St. Louis Browns packed up and moved to Baltimore to become a reincarnation of the Orioles. By 1958 the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants had moved to Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively. The Milwaukee Braves moved again in 1966 to Atanta, where they remain. Montreal and several other cities, such as Seattle, Anaheim and San Diego eventually got new teams. By 1972 there were 30 major league teams in two leagues, more than double the number the two leagues started with.
Pernini also thought back in 1953, “A third major league is the only answer for the future.” That has not come about. In fact, in 2001 there was discussion among the owners about contraction – eliminating teams. That has not occurred either.
Contributing sources:
The Associated Press, St. Petersburg, FL, March 19, 1953, by Jack Hand
MLB team histories

Dec 21, 2005 – LESS IS MORE

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA • ‘If you take away seats, they will come,’ seemed to be the intention when the Oakland A’s announced on this date in 2005 that they will no longer sell seats to the upper deck in McAfee Coliseum (now called Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum).

At a time when ballparks like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are squeezing more seats into their venues, the A’s are trying to pretend an upper deck of empty seats doesn’t exist. The move reduced the A’s ballpark’s capacity, at the time, to the lowest in the major leagues.

It was another act in the drama playing out in the East Bay over a new place for the A’s to play. Team president Michael Crowley told reporters back in 2005, “Our goal is to create a more intimate ballpark atmosphere and bring our seating capacity in line to what we have proposed for our new venue.”

While the team seems to annually over-achieve on the field the A’s have struck out on a new ballpark deal. But as of December 2016 the A’s have restructured their leadership with the goal of making it happen this time.

Stay tuned.

Contributing sources:
Comcast SportsNet, “Futuristic, Transforming Stadiums offer Intriguing Solutions For Oakland,” by Andy Dolich, December 19, 2016
San Jose Mercury News, December 16, 2013

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Dec 19, 2003 – BLOW IT UP!

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS • A die-hard Chicago Cubs fan and restaurateur paid in excess of $106,000 on this date in 2003 for a baseball so he could have the pleasure of destroying it.

With all due respect to Cub fans who want to blame Bartman, none of the “fans” around him appeared to have the foresight to clear the way so Alou could catch the ball.

Grant Deporter got custody of the ball Chicago Cubs’ left fielder Moises Alou was trying to catch before Steve Bartman got in the way. Deporter, a managing partner of Harry Caray’s restaurant, had the ball blown to smithereens on the former Cubs announcer’s birthday in February ‘04 as an act of exorcism.

With all due respect to Cub fans who want to blame Bartman, none of the “fans” around him appeared to have the foresight to clear the way so Alou could catch the ball, and help the Cubs get to their first World Series in almost 60 years. Everyone was focused on the souvenir. Bartman just happened to be the closest to it.

Had Alou caught the ball, the Cubs would have been four outs from the World Series. The Florida Marlins would have had two outs in the eighth with a man on second and the Cubs ahead 3-0. Instead, the Marlins had one out and Luis Castillo had new life. He ended up walking, and then the flood gates opened, aided by a botched double play ball to the Cubs’ shortstop.

The Marlins ended up scoring 8 runs beating the Cubs 8-3. The Marlins won again the next night and took the series. For Cub fans, wait till next year, again.

The exorcising of the ball may have worked. It took another 13 years, but, as we all know, the Cubs not only made it to the World Series in 2016, they won it.

Contributing sources:
The Chicago Tribune, October 20, 2003
“Price surpasses even Buckner’s ball,” by Darren Rovell, ESPN, Dec 19, 2003

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