Category Archives: February


TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US BACK TO FORT MYERS, FLORIDA ON FEBRUARY 23, 1987Kansas City Royals manager Dick Howser gave it all he could, but on this date in 1987 was forced to tell his players they would have to go on without him. Howser had been diagnosed with brain cancer the previous summer. He underwent two unsuccessful operations to remove a malignant tumor.

Dick Howser guided the Royals to their only, up till that point, World Series championship in 1985.

Howser hadn’t filled out a lineup card since the 1986 all-star game. Observers noticed during that game that he didn’t seem as sharp as he normally was. It would be the last game Dick Howser ever managed.

Jump forward to this date in 1987. He put the uniform on for the first time since that all-star game just two days earlier. It was the first day of spring training. The uniform didn’t fit. He looked tired and weak. Two days later, according to the Associated Press (AP) he said, “It’s just that I need more time to rest. I can’t do it like this.” He didn’t get better. Howser died three months later, June 17, 1987.

Dick Howser guided the Royals to their only, up till that point, World Series championship in 1985. In five full seasons as a manager, and parts of three others, his teams never finished lower than second place.

Besides the Royals, he managed the New York Yankees for one full season and part of another. The Florida State University graduate had an eight-year playing career, winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1961. He played for the Royals, Cleveland Indians and Yankees. Dick Howser gave it all he could. He was 51 when he died.

Contributing sources:
The Associated Press (AP)
, Fort Myers, Florida, February 24, 1987
Dick Howser as manager: Baseball-Reference
Dick Howser as player: Baseball-Reference


TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US TO ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI on FEBRUARY 22, 1938. The St. Louis Cardinals signed a gun-slinging quarterback on this date in 1938. Yes, it was the St. Louis baseball Cardinals (the football Cardinals still called Chicago home in those days) who signed two-time All-American quarterback Sammy Baugh.

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. 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


TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US TO WASHINGTON, D.C. ON FEBRUARY 21, 1969Ted Williams returns. The Hall-of-Fame slugger was lured back to baseball on this date in 1969 to manage the Washington Senators . This will be a challenge. The greatest hitter of all-time leading 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.

The Senators lost 92 games in 1970 and 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. The headline again could be, “Ted Williams Returns,”  but this time he returned to fishing and hunting. His baseball managing days were over.

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


TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US BACK TO  FEBRUARY 20, 1963 IN  SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA. Baseball is often described as a traditional game that never changes. It’s a myth. Baseball is a traditional games that changes often. For example, the strike-zone has changed several times.

On this date in 1963, Alvin Dark, the manager of the San Francisco Giants, bemoaned the fact that the strike-zone will be raised. It will go from the top of the batter’s arm pits to the top of the shoulders.

Dark is worried his pitchers will have trouble keeping the ball down even though the bottom of the strike zone is not changing, “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, are the “official” changes to the strike zone and balls and strikes:

1876 - 1-foot above ground to shoulders, batter calls for low or high pitch
1887 - Knees to shoulders, batter no longer calls for high or low pitch
1950 - Top of the knees to armpits 
1963 - Knees to the top of shoulders
1969 - Top of knees to armpits
1988 - Top of the knees to midpoint between shoulders & the top of pants
1996 - Bottom of 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 become strikes
-the makeup of the baseball
-the height of the pitcher’s mound

Yes, baseball is a traditional game that changes often.

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


TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US TO SEOUL, KOREA FEBRUARY 19, 1953. Ted Williams told the Associated Press (AP) on this date that trying to find a target with a Marine Panther jet “is harder than trying to hit that ball.” It was difficult even for Ted Williams.

The Boston Red Sox slugger had just returned from his sixth combat mission into North Korea. He was on the second military tour of his major league career. He served three years during World War II, and two more in Korea.

Williams was not alone among major league stars to interrupt some of their most productive years to get involved when the country was at war. Detroit Tiger slugger Hank Greenberg and Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller were some of the first to enlist after Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941 ushering the United States into World War II.

Baseball Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor if major league baseball should cease operations for the duration of the war and FDR said no, it would be good for morale.

While baseball continued during World War II, quality of play diminished significantly. If you were able-bodied enough to play baseball you were able-bodied enough to be drafted. Most players who hadn’t enlisted here.

By 1945, the last year of World War II, teenagers such as Joe Nuxhall of the Cincinnati Red-Legs and men with conditions which kept them out of the service, such as one-armed Pete Gray of the St. Louis Browns were filling up MLB rosters. After June, 1945 many of the players began to return from military duty, which was difficult even Ted Williams, and get back to what they knew best – baseball.

Contributing sources:
David Whitley, on Ted Williams
David Hornestay, Baseball Survives World War II, January 7, 2008