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This Day in Baseball History
March 17th

21 Fact(s) Found
1899 In Charlotte (NC), the Phillies take the field wearing new sweaters trimmed with green to commemorate St Patrick's Day. The look is a preview of the team's uniform colors this season, featuring white suits trimmed in green, a white cap with a green peak, and stockings of two-inch stripes of white and green.

(Ed. Note: Philadelphia abandons the new style next season before returning the color green for the 1910 season. -LP)

1907 After yesterday's alleged vicious attack on the groundskeeper's wife by his troubled outfielder, Tigers owner Frank Navin makes an all-out effort to trade Ty Cobb. Indian skipper Nap Lajoie turns down a straight swap for former league batting champ Elmer Flick, calling the 'Georgia Peach' a problem player, and Connie Mack of the A's, given his already strong outfield, shows only a passing interest.
1936 Twenty-one-year-old Joe DiMaggio makes his Yankee debut in a big way, collecting four hits, including a triple, in an 8-7 exhibition loss to the Cardinals at Miller Huggins Field in St. Petersburg (FL). The two-time American League MVP and future Hall of Fame outfielder will play 13 seasons with the Bronx Bombers, appearing in ten Fall Classics, in which the team wins nine World Championships.

(Ed. Note: Jolting' Joe did not play in the major leagues from 1943 through 1945 due to military service. -LP)

1940 🇫🇮 At Plant Field in Tampa, a capacity crowd sees the National League beat the AL in an interleague exhibition all-star game. The charity contest, which is heard nationally on the Mutual Broadcasting System, raises over $20,000 to help feed, clothe, and house the non-combatant citizens of Finland, whose country was recently attacked in November by the Soviet Union.
1946 In Dayton Beach, the only city that allows him to play, Triple-A Montreal Royals' infielder Jackie Robinson makes his preseason debut at City Island Ball Park, which the municipality renamed after him in 1990. In the first-ever integrated spring training game, the former Negro League standout goes 0-for-3 against the Dodgers but is encouraged by the crowd's reception.

1953 The Braves' spring training game against the Yankees in Bradenton (FL) will prove to be the team's last full one representing the city of Boston. During the sixth inning of tomorrow's exhibition contest, the club learns of the National League's approval of its shift to Milwaukee, unlike the Junior Circuit's decision two days ago denying Bill Veeck permission to move his Browns to Baltimore due to the short amount of time left before Opening Day.
1953 The Milwaukee County Board, which oversees the County Stadium, tears up its three-year deal with the American Association's Milwaukee Brewers and offers the newly-built venue to their parent team, the Boston Braves, at the reduced rate of $1,000 for the first two years. The city would receive five percent of the gate receipts and the majority of the ballpark's concession sales for the first three seasons.
1965 Continuing to break barriers, Jackie Robinson becomes the first black to join a national network broadcasting team when he signs on to announce games with ABC. The Hall of Fame infielder will debut at Fenway Park, teaming with Merle Harmon, the radio voice of the Milwaukee Braves, doing color analysis for the Game of the Week telecast.

1966 Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale play hardball when negotiating with the Dodgers. The duo signs movie contracts, showing they are serious about retiring from baseball if Los Angeles doesn't agree to their salary demands.
1969 The Braves trade Joe Torre, a spring training holdout publicly feuding with team GM Paul Richards, to the Cardinals for 1967 National League Most Valuable Player Orlando Cepeda. The All-Star catcher/infielder will play six years in St. Louis, compiling a .308 batting average for the Redbirds, including a major league-leading .363 in his 1971 MVP season.

(Ed. Note: The Mets actively sought to obtain the 28-year-old Brooklyn-born backstop but declined the trade when Atlanta GM Paul Richard asked for Amos Otis and Nolan Ryan. -LP)

1976 All clubs will comply within forty-eight hours with Commissioner Kuhn's orders to open spring training camps as soon as possible, ending the 17-day work stoppage. The lockout, initiated by the owners over their concerns about free agency and the free-entry draft, will not impact the start of the regular season.
1977 In a decision seen as one of the most influential and precedent-setting cases in American jurisprudence regarding professional sports, a federal court rules in favor of Bowie Kuhn's decision to void the 1976 sale of A's players by Charlie Finley. The Oakland owner sued the commissioner for illegal restraint of trade when his deals to send Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers to the Red Sox for $2 million and Vida Blue to the Yankees for $1.5 million were invalidated "in the best interests of baseball."
1978 On St. Patrick's Day, the Reds wear green uniforms, becoming the first team to start a tradition many other clubs will copy. After taking batting practice in their usual garb, Cincinnati, not promoting their green surprise, stun the Yankees and the spring training crowd taking the field sporting their iconic Irish look.

1986 During a Cactus League contest, an official scorer credits Carney Lansford with an unusual two-run inside-the-park homer in the fourth inning of the A's 5-3 victory over the Indians in Phoenix. The infielder circles the bases when Mel Hall's shirt gets stuck on the fence, preventing the outfielder from playing the ball, which is barely out of reach, with shortstop Julio Franco, closest to the play, unable to help because he is so incapacitated with laughter.
1999 In a rare dismissal of a manager in spring training, the Blue Jays fire Tim Johnson after deciding he has lost all his credibility, replacing him with Jim Fregosi. After claiming he had seen combat in Vietnam in the offseason, the former Toronto skipper reveals he lied about his military service, causing many players on his team to lose all respect for him as their field boss.
2001 Joe Randa agrees to a two-year contract extension keeping him in Kansas City until the 2003 season. The Royals' third baseman batted .304 and knocked in 106 runs for the Royals in 155 games last season.
2005 During 11+ hours of the Committee on Government Reform hearing concerning the use of steroids in major leagues, Mark McGwire refuses to talk about the past and does not deny taking performance-enhancing drugs. Other players testifying included Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and former big leaguer Jose Canseco, whose recent book prompted the congressional hearing.

2008 The Dodgers lose to the Astros, 12-10, in their last contest at Dodgertown, the team's spring training home since 1948. Eighty-one-year-old Carl Erskine, who pitched the first game at Holman Stadium 55 years ago, plays the national anthem on his harmonica before the contest.
2010 In a rare spring training ruling, major league baseball suspends a player due to an incident in an exhibition game. Cliff Lee, the Mariners' much-hyped acquisition, is fined and suspended for the first five games of the regular season after throwing a pitch over the head of Chris Snyder in a Cactus League contest against Arizona.
2020 An Oakland fan named Justin, who tweeted a picture of himself wearing an A's hat while in a hospital bed after testing positive for the Coronavirus, receives an invitation from team president Dave Kaval to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day at the Coliseum. In his Twitter post, the 39-year-old COVID-19 patient issued a plea to take the pandemic seriously, saying, "don't be a moron, stay home!

2023 Appearing as a pinch-hitter with one out in the ninth inning, Brown University's Olivia Pichardo becomes the first woman to play NCAA Division I baseball. The southpaw-swinging first-year utility player from the Queens (New York) grounds out to first base on the first pitch she sees in the team's 10-1 loss to Bryant University at Murray Stadium in Providence (RI).

21 Fact(s) Found