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A STORY FROM JAN 16TH IN BASEBALL HISTORY – TWEAKING THE ALL-STAR GAME

We go back to 2003 for our story. Major League Baseball owners met Scottsdale, Arizona on this date in 2003 to rectify a public relations embarrassment. The 2002 all-star game did not end well.

Commissioner Bud Selig stopped a tied game in the 11th inning because both teams ran out of pitchers. Fans felt cheated. The game was played in Milwaukee, Selig’s home town.
 
The owners decided to tweak the summer classic to make it more than an exhibition. Starting in 2003 the league that wins the all-star game will have home-field-advantage in the World Series. Fifteen of the previous 17 World Series champions had home-field advantage. The two leagues had been alternating home-field-advantage since the World Series began in 1903.
 
Teams will be urged to save pitchers and other position players for the eventuality of the game going into extra innings.
 
The January 16, 2003 rule change lasted about a dozen years. As of December 2016, the owners changed the home-field-advantage rule again. Starting with the 2017 post-season, home-field-advantage for the World Series goes to the team with the best regular season record.

Contributing sources:
MLB All-Star game
SBNation home-field-advantage
World Series recaps

JAN 15TH IN BASEBALL HISTORY – FEARED AND FEARLESS BOB GIBSON ELECTED TO THE HALL

JANUARY 15, 1981 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK – A feared and fearless Bob Gibson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on this date in 1981. St. Louis Cardinal righty Bob Gibson became, at the time, just the 11th player voted into the Hall in his first year of eligibility. Gibson said, “That didn’t affect me until I saw the guys who made it in their first year.”

They were Al Kaline, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Bob Feller, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Warren Spahn and Mickey Mantle (players like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb aren’t among the 11 because they were already voted into the Hall in its inaugural year of 1939).

Bob Gibson won 20 or more games 5 times. His best won-loss year was 1970 when he went 23-7. But his most dominant year, as far as he and most observers are concerned, was 1968. He went 22-9 with a 1.13 ERA and 13 shutouts. Let me repeat – 13 SHUTOUTS. An entire pitching staff is lucky to have that many shutouts in a season.

Oh, by the way, 2 of Gibson’s 9 losses were by scores of 1-0.

His ERA was the 3rd lowest in the modern era (since 1900). He won the Cy Young award and was National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1968.

The Omaha native pitched in 3 World Series. The Cardinals won two of them – 1964 against the Yankees and 1967 against the Boston Red Sox. He was MVP in both. His World Series record was 7-2.

Some little-known facts about Bob Gibson; He went to Creighton University on a basketball scholarship, averaging 22 point per game his junior year. Before he joined the Cardinals, the feared and fearless Bob Gibson played one year for the Harlem GlobeTrotters basketball team.

Contributing source:
Chicago Tribune Wire Services, January 16, 1981, “Gibson in Hall, no one else comes close.”
More on Bob Gibson

JAN 14 IN BASEBALL HISTORY-WHY WAS FUTURE HALL OF FAMER APARICIO TRADED SO OFTEN

JANUARY 14, 1963 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS  Luis Aparicio was a Hall of Fame shortstop, a 13-time All-Star, a 9-time Gold Glove winner, a fan favorite everywhere he went, so why was he traded so often? “Little Louie” as he was called, was traded on this day in 1963 along with Al Smith, from the Chicago White Sox to the Baltimore Orioles for Hoyt Wilhelm, Dave Nicholson, Pete Ward, and Ron Hansen.

Aparicio was traded three times, but one of those was back to the White Sox, the team he started his career with. There was never a hint of Aparicio being anything but a team player.

When he retired in 1973 Aparicio was the all-time leader in games played, assists and putouts by a shortstop. He was the American League stolen base leader nine years in a row. He helped the White Sox get to the World Series in 1959 and helped the Baltimore Orioles win the World Series in 1966.

In an 18-year big league career the Venezuelan born Aparicio never played any position other than shortstop?

Luis Aparicio was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984. So, why was he traded so often?

Contributing source:
Baseball-Reference

JAN 13th IN BASEBALL HISTORY – BUCK WEAVER PLEADS WITH COMMISSIONER LANDIS

JANUARY 13, 1958 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS The New York Times reported on this date in 1958 that disgraced Chicago White Sox third baseman Buck Weaver pleaded with the Commissioner who banned him to reconsider. Weaver and Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis met informally a week earlier, but it was not publicly disclosed.

Weaver had been kicked out of major league baseball for life for being part of a conspiracy to throw the 1919 World Series. Despite he and seven other players being acquitted of taking bribes from gamblers (mainly because their confessions were mysteriously lost), baseball banned them anyway for associating with gamblers. The evidence was that Weaver refused to take part in the plan but never spoke up about it either.

Weaver hit .324 in the series and played errorless third base, which lent credence to his declaration that he wasn’t involved, but Commissioner Landis wouldn’t budge.

This was the first of several pleas by George “Buck” Weaver during his lifetime to get his named cleared. He died in 1956 at age 65, his pleas going unanswered.

Contributing sources:
The New York Times, January 14, 1922
1919 World Series stats, box scores

JAN 12TH IN BASEBALL HISTORY – CUBS COLLEGE OF COACHES

JANUARY 12, 1961 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS • Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley dropped a bombshell on the baseball world on this date in 1961. He would not have a manager for the upcoming season. Instead he would institute a Cubs College of Coaches

The franchise had been struggling. The Cubs were 60-94 in 1960, the eighth year in a row the team lost more games than it won. The status quo wasn’t working. Wrigley wanted to change it.

Wrigley considered the manager a “dictator,” and instead would rotate eight coaches through the major and minor leagues. Each would take turns running the major league club. Length of stay would depend on how well the “coach” was doing. This brain trust became known as the College of Coaches.

Wrigley wanted help from another unlikely source, “Everyone has always said baseball is a game of percentages, but I have yet to find anyone in baseball who can figure the percentages.” He wanted an IBM machine in the dugout so whoever was running the team could access statistical information about opposing, as well as Cub players. This information would in turn help dictate game strategy. Mind you, this is decades before the personal computer.

The Ivy League approach didn’t work. The Cubs finished the 1961 season 64-90, just four games better than the year before. The situation got worse in 1962 when the Cubs lost 103 games on a 154-game schedule, the worst season the Cubs ever had. And that was the end of the Cubs College of Coaches.

Contributing sources:
Chicago Daily Tribune, 
January 13, 1961, by E. Prell, 
MLB stats
Philip K. Wrigley