New York Giants president Harry Hempstead rejects the International League's request to put a team in the Bronx. The proposed shift of the Jersey City team to the nearby borough, the future home of the Yankees starting in 1923, was conceived to prop up the failing minor league franchise and perhaps as an opportunity to thwart the invasion of the Federal League into the Big Apple.
Harry Hempstead, President of New York Giants (1913)
Library of Congress - George Grantham Bain Collection
Before spring training, Don Zimmer and right-hander Bob Miller, residents in the St. Pete area, become the first players to don a Mets jersey when they model the club's away uniform tops for a photo shoot at Huggins Field. The expansion team's inaugural third baseman traded to the Reds in May for southpaw Bob Miller, poses with his nine-year-old son Tommy on his shoulders.
In the first arbitration ruling in baseball history, Detroit lawyer Harry H. Platt, a labor arbitrator for thirty years, decides in favor of Dick Woodson, who posted a 10-8 record and a 3.95 ERA for the Twins last season. The 27-year-old right-hander, the first player to invoke the new free agency clause, is awarded the $29,000 he requested rather than having to take Minnesota's offer, which was six thousand dollars less.
The Cubs trade two-time NL batting champ Bill Madlock and Rod Sperring to the Giants for Bobby Murcer, Steve Ontiveros, and a minor leaguer. During the 1979 season, San Francisco trades the fiercely competitive 'Mad Dog' to the Pirates, where he will play a major role in the team's world championship that season and win two more batting crowns during his seven-year tenure in Pittsburgh.
Ozzie Smith agrees to go to the Cardinals to complete the December deal, which finally sends Gary Templeton to the Padres. An outside arbitrator, Tom Roberts, will determine the Wizard of Oz's Cardinal salary before the season starts, awarding the light-hitting Gold Glove shortstop $450,000 rather than the $750,000 he requested.
Kent Hrbek signs a five-year, $6 million contract with the Twins, making him the team's first million-dollar player. The 24-year-old Minnesota first baseman, paid $375,000 last season, was the runner-up for the American League Most Valuable Player, finishing second to Tiger closer Willie Hernandez, batted .311 with 27 homers and 107 RBIs for the second-place club.
After turning down the Mets' $800,000 one-year offer and being granted free agency by the team, World Series MVP Ray Knight signs a two-year deal with the Orioles for $600,000. The 34-year-old third baseman, who won the 1986 NL Comeback Player of the Year Award, will play one season in Baltimore before being traded to the Tigers for Mark Thurmond.
General Mills, the makers of Wheaties, unveils three new Jackie Robinson cereal boxes to be sold in stores nationwide. The Dodgers' Hall of Fame infielder will be the first athlete to be honored on all three varieties of Wheaties: Original, Honey Frosted, and Crispy Wheaties 'n' Raisins.
As thousands cheer, Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh's 30-year-old sports venue, is imploded when electricity surges through a detonating cord connected to more than 4,800 pounds of dynamite in 2,500 spots in the former home of the Pirates and NFL's Steelers. Roberto Clemente's 3,000th hit and Mike Schmidt's 500th career home run are part of the historic park's legacy.
Jose Canseco's controversial book, Juiced, is made available in selected markets in anticipation of his appearance on CBS's Sixty Minutes. The self-proclaimed godfather of steroids in baseball alleges Mark McGwire, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, and Ivan Rodriguez used illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
The Mets announce their former slugging All-Star Darryl Strawberry will rejoin the team as an outfield instructor during spring training. The often-troubled Rookie of the Year will join former 1986 World Champion teammates Gary Carter, Lenny Dykstra, Howard Johnson, and Tim Teufel at Shea Stadium on February 27, when single-game tickets go on sale.
Avoiding an arbitration hearing, starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano (14-6, 3.26) and the Cubs agree to a one-year deal worth $6.5 million. After earning $3.76 million last season, the emotional right-hander had asked for $7.2 million, with Chicago offering $6 million.
Avoiding salary arbitration, AL's reigning batting champ Joe Mauer (.347, 13, 84) and the Twins come to terms on a $33 million, four-year contract. The hometown 23-year-old All-Star backstop is the first catcher to lead the majors in batting average, becoming the first to win the American League batting crown.
Craig Biggio, following in the footsteps of fan favorites Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, and Jeff Bagwell, agrees to a three-year personal services contract with the Astros. The 42-year-old retired ballplayer spent his 20-year career with Houston, leading the franchise in games, at-bats, hits, doubles, and total bases.
The Nationals sign slugger Adam Dunn to a two-year, $20 million deal. The 29-year-old southpaw swing free-agent, who played for Arizona last season, will bat cleanup for Washington, replacing Nick Johnson at first base.
During WFUV Radio's Spring Gala at Fordham University, Ernie Harwell, the Tigers' long-time voice, will receive the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting. The 92-year-old Hall of Fame broadcaster is the third recipient of the VSLA, named for the former alum and Dodger broadcast icon, joining inaugural honoree Vin Scully (2008) and Dick Enberg (2009).
Logan Morrison becomes the first player in the Marlins' 19-year history to don the No. 5 after the team received permission from the National League to 'unretire' the digit once reserved to honor the late Carl Barger, the club's first president and chief operating officer. The Miami first baseman/outfielder had asked owner Jeffrey Loria to allow him to switch from No. 20 to No. 5 in memory of his father, who encouraged his son to model his game after Hall of Famer George Brett, who wore the number.
(Ed. Note: The team chose the number 5 for Carl Barger because Joe DiMaggio, his favorite player, wore it playing for the Yankees. -LP)