TODAY IN BASEBALL courtesy of National Pastime
1948 – Prior to an exhibition game in Orlando, A’s manager Connie Mack, who is 84 years old, challenges Clark Griffith, the 78 year-old owner of the Senators, to a foot race from third base to home plate. The participants enter the Florida field in an ambulance before starting their contest, which ends in a photo-finish tie.
1968 – Due to today’s assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, most of the Major League teams will decide to postpone their Opening Day games until the reverend’s funeral takes place in five days. Surprisingly, the Dodgers, at first, are the notable exception, even though the Phillies, their opponents on April 9th, say they will forfeit rather than play on the national day of mourning.
1974 – In front a crowd of 52,000 at Riverfront Stadium on Opening Day in Cincinnati, Hank Aaron ties Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record of 714 by hitting a first-inning two-run homer off Jack Billingham. The Atlanta front office had considered keeping ‘Hammerin’ Hank’ on the bench during road games so the slugger could try to equal the mark in front of the hometown fans, but commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered the Braves to put the outfielder into the lineup for at least two of the three games against the Reds.
And finally…in 1994, on Opening Day at Wrigley Field in the Cubs’ 12-8 loss to New York, Tuffy Rhodes, who has hit only five round-trippers in his first 280 Major League at-bats, becomes the first player to homer in his first three at-bats of the season. The three solo home runs, all off Mets right-hander Dwight ‘Doc’ Gooden, will account for nearly half of the outfielder’s total for the year when he finishes the campaign with only eight round-trippers. In 2007, Rhodes becomes the first non-Japanese player in Nippon Pro Baseball history to drive in a thousand runs. Only two players of the 28 players who have reached the milestone have accomplished the feat in fewer games.
PLAYERS BORN TODAY
Tris Speaker (1888), Gil Hodges (1924), Jim Fregosi (1942), Tom Herr (1956) and Scott Rolen (1975)