This day in baseball: Return of fan balloting

On March 28, 1970, baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn announced the re-institution of fan balloting for the MLB All-Star Game.  It would be the first time since 1957 that fans would get to vote on the eight position players, a practice that had been revoked after years of ballot stuffing.  To prevent the problem from happening again, 26 million ballots were evenly distributed to 75,000 retail outlets and 150 minor and major league stadiums.  Kuhn also announced that a special panel would determine whether ballot stuffing occurred in the voting.

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Bowie Kuhn, 1970 (Sports Illustrated)


This day in baseball: Yanks vs. Mets, round 1

The Yankees faced off against the NL expansion team Mets for the first time on March 22, 1962 for a spring training contest.  Mets manager Casey Stengel, formerly the manager of the Yankees, set out determined to beat his old team.  With the Mets leading 3-2 going into the ninth inning, Stengel sent his best pitchers to the mound.  When the Yankees nevertheless managed to tie the score at 3-3, Stengel pinch hit veteran outfielder Richie Ashburn, who pulled off a ninth-inning pinch-hit single, giving the Mets a dramatic walk-off 4-3 victory at Al Lang Field in Florida.

 

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Al Lang Field (stpeteinternationalbaseball.com)

 


This day in baseball: Commissioner Hoover?

The post of Commissioner of Baseball was offered to J. Edgar Hoover in March of 1951. However, in spite of being a fan of the game, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation turned down the job.  Several owners had been dissatisfied with the direction of Commissioner A.B. “Happy” Chandler and hoped Hoover would bring the type of leadership they were looking for.  Hoover opted, instead, to stay with the FBI until his death in 1972.  Chandler would remain baseball commissioner until July 1951, and was eventually replaced by Ford Frick.

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New York Times, March 10, 1951


This day in baseball

Marvin Miller was elected as the first full-time executive director of the Major League Players’ Association by the player representatives on March 5, 1966.  Miller, who had served as assistant to the President of United Steelworkers, led the MLBPA until 1982, and under his direction, the players’ union became one of the strongest unions in the United States.

 

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Marvin Miller, 1981 (New York Times)

 


This day in baseball: Gehrig’s new deal

On February 19, 1935, Lou Gehrig signed a one-year deal with the New York Yankees for $30,000.  The previous season, Gehrig hit .363, 49 homers, and led the American League with 165 RBIs.

lou_gehrig


This day in baseball: First catcher’s mask

On February 12, 1878, Harvard captain Fredrick Thayer received a patent for the first catcher’s mask.  Thayer invented the mask for Harvard’s catcher, James Tyng, who apparently was a bit skittish, in spite of his talent.  The mask was adapted from a fencing mask, with eyes holes that supported a series of pads made from animal skins.  The catcher’s mask caught on quickly among pros and amateurs alike and was in wide use by the 1880s.

 

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Vic Willis wearing a catcher’s mask, circa 1900 (Wikimedia Commons)

 


This day in baseball

During World War I, the Cincinnati Reds found themselves unable to get in touch with their manager, Christy Mathewson, who was in France serving in the Army.  Thus, on January 30, 1919, the Reds hired former Phillies manager Pat Moran to fill the role.  Moran led Cincinnati to a World Series Championship that season (albeit, a somewhat dubious one, given the Black Sox scandal).

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Pat Moran, 1911 (Library of Congress)