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This Day in Baseball History
March 31st

34 Fact(s) Found
1948 At Ebbets Field No. 2, the Dodgers play their first exhibition game at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, which will remain the team's home for 61 years. Amidst much fanfare, including Governor Millard Caldwell throwing the ceremonial first pitch, Jackie Robinson homers in the first inning when Brooklyn beats its top farm club, the Montreal Royals, 5-4.
1958 Larry Doby returns to the Indians when the Orioles trade him to Cleveland, along with Don Ferrarese, in exchange for Gene Woodling, Dick Williams, and Bud Daley. The 34-year-old veteran outfielder, who broke in with the Tribe in 1947 as the American League's first black player, will have a solid season, hitting .284 in a part-time role with the fourth-place team.
1961 The Professional Baseball Rules Committee rejects the Pacific Coast League's proposal to use a designated hitter for the pitcher by a vote of 8-1. The first use of the DH will occur in the American League in 1973.
1968 The American League's new franchise in Seattle chooses Pilots as the team's nickname. The name originated from the coastal seaport city's association with the airplane industry and co-owner Dewey Soriano's part-time job as a harbor pilot.
1982 The Rangers trade outfielder/first baseman Al Oliver to the Expos for outfielder/third baseman Larry Parrish and minor league first baseman Dave Hostetler. Hitting .335 this season, Oliver will capture the National League batting crown, compiling a .315 batting average during his two seasons north of the border.
1984 On a televised episode of ABC's Sports Beat, Howard Cosell informs interviewee Roger Maris of the Yankees' plan to retire the slugger's number 9 in July at the Old Timers' Game ceremonies. At first, the former Bronx Bombers' reaction is disbelief, followed by his genuine pleasure at being recognized for his achievements during his seven years with the team.
1993 Bill White, the first black to serve as a league president, resigns from his National League post. The former Cardinal first baseman will remain at the job until next March, replaced by Leonard S. Coleman, MLB's director of market development.
1994 The Mets trade hard-luck right-hander Anthony Young to the Cubs for shortstop Jose Vizcaino. While with New York, A-Yo dropped 27 consecutive decisions, 14 as a starter and 13 as a reliever, establishing the major league record for the most consecutive losses by a pitcher.
1994 The White Sox assign NBA superstar Michael Jordan to the Birmingham Barons of the Class AA Southern League. Before returning to the NBA, the 31-year-old outfielder will play just one season of professional baseball, hitting .202 in 134 games for the minor league team.
1995 A crowd of 47,536 attend the first game ever played at Coors Field, an exhibition game played with replacement players due to the strike. The contest ends with the Rockies beating the Yankees 4-1.
1996 At the Kingdome, the Mariners beat the White Sox in 12 innings, 3-2, marking the first time a season begins with a game played in March. In 2018, except for international openers, Opening Day for all 30 teams will be March 29, becoming the earliest start in major league history.
1998 On Opening Day at Cinergy Field, Pokey Reese, filling in for shortstop Barry Larkin, who is on the DL, makes four errors on his first three chances in the Reds' 10-2 loss to San Diego. In 1999 and 2000, the 25-year-old infielder will win the Gold Glove as a second baseman.
1998 In the longest scoreless opener in National League history, pinch-hitter Alberto Castillo's 14th-inning single with two outs and the bases loaded give the Mets a 1-0 victory over the Phillies. The most extended Opening Day game in major league history occurred in 1926 when the Senators blanked the Philadelphia A's in 15 innings, 1-0.
1998 In front of a sellout crowd of 47,484 at Bank One Ballpark, the Arizona Diamondbacks lose to the Rockies, 9-2. The seven-run difference matches the '62 Mets and the '77 Mariners for the most-lopsided loss by an expansion team in its first game.
1998 The Tigers spoil the Devil Rays' major league debut, beating the American League's newest team, 6-2 at Tampa's Tropicana Field. After Hall-of-Famers Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Al Lopez, and Monte Irvin throw out ceremonial first pitches, Wilson Alvarez, the losing pitcher, hurls the first pitch in franchise history - a ball to Detroit's center fielder Brian Hunter.

1998 With a rare on-the-field appearance, Hank Aaron helps to mark Milwaukee's historic return to the Senior Circuit as the Brewers play their inaugural game as a National League team, losing to the Braves at Turner Field, 2-1. Milwaukee is the first team to switch leagues since the inception of the American League in 1901.
1998 Mark McGwire hits the first of his seventy home runs, going deep off Ramon Martinez in the fifth inning of the Cardinals' 6-0 victory over L.A. at Busch Stadium. The Redbirds' first baseman became the first player in franchise history to hit a grand slam on Opening Day.

2003 On Opening Day, MLB.com, the Major League Baseball website, has more than 10 million hits, setting a new record. The previous mark, set last season on the final day of online voting for All-Star Game starters, attracted 3.6 million visitors to the site.
2003 Substituting for his son, a former Yale left-handed first baseman named George Bush throws the ceremonial first pitch when the Reds play the first game in their new home, Great American Ball Park. The former president and the sellout crowd of 42,263 flag-waving fans enjoy the patriotic pregame ceremonies and then watch the Pirates rout Cincinnati, 10-1.
2003 🇵🇷 At Shea Stadium, the Mets' Opening Day lineup includes the first regular starting double-play combination in major league history featuring Puerto Rican natives. Second baseman Roberto Alomar and shortstop Rey Sanchez combine to make two twin killings as the Cubs drub New York, 15-2.
2004 With a 12-1 defeat of the Devil Rays in Tokyo, Kevin Brown becomes the second pitcher in history to have defeated all thirty major league teams. The 39-year-old right-hander joins Al Leiter, who accomplished the feat with the Mets last season.
2005 The Orioles and MLB agree on a deal that allows the televising Nationals games. A joint venture backed by MLB will let fans in the Baltimore-Washington area enjoy both franchises' telecasts, ensuring the Orioles fans in the nation's capital will still have an opportunity to watch their 'Birds.'

In the MLB's inaugural Civil Rights Game, the Cardinals beat the Indians at AutoZone Park in Memphis, 5-1. The preseason exhibition, becoming a regular season game in 2009, is designed to celebrate and honor baseball's historical role in the nation's civil rights movement.

2008 On Opening Day, the Reds pay tribute to Joe Nuxhall by wearing 41 on their uniforms. The team's beloved broadcaster, who spent over 60 years with the organization, including his major debut as a 15-year-old hurler, died during the off-season at 79.

2008 Outside of Wrigley Field, the Cubs unveil the seven-foot bronze sculpture of Ernie Banks by 46-year-old Lou Cella, a passionate fan who idolized Mr. Cub as a kid. The typographical error on the statue's granite base, "Lets play two," is quickly corrected when the sculptor comes down to the ballpark two days later and carves the needed apostrophe.

Ernie Banks Statue

2009 The Tigers unexpectedly release Gary Sheffield despite having $14 million left on the $28 million, two-year contract extension given to the DH/outfielder after being acquired from the Yankees in a trade for prospects. The 40-year-old nine-time All-Star, needing one more dinger to become the 25th major league player to hit 500 career home runs, reaches the milestone as a pinch-hitter in a Mets uniform on April 17 at Citi Field.
2010 In the first inning of an exhibition game in Tampa, Denard Span hits a hard foul line drive that strikes his mother while watching him play. The Twins' stunned leadoff batter runs into the crowded stands, staying with his mom while paramedics treat her until she returns to her seat, slightly shaken but intact.
2011 Down to their final out on Opening Day, Cameron Maybin, acquired by the Padres in the offseason from the Marlins for Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb, hits a game-tying homer off Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin. San Diego wins the game two innings later on three successive two-out hits, including their new centerfielder's knock for the go-ahead run in the team's eventual 5-3 victory at Busch Stadium.
2013 Shintaro Fujinami, a first-round draft selection, sets a record for players drafted out of high school when he makes his first professional start, a game sooner than Daisuke Matsuzaka (1999) and Hideaki Wakui (2005), pitching for the Hanshin Tigers just three games into the season. The 18-year-old Japanese rookie right-hander will allow two runs in six innings, taking the loss in the team's 2-0 loss against Tokyo Yakult Swallows at Jingu Stadium.
2013 In their American League debut, the Astros beat the Rangers, 8-3, victory in a nationally televised game at Minute Maid Park. After 51 years of playing in the National League, Houston agreed to move from the NL Central to the AL West to give each league 15 teams with an equal number of teams in each division as a condition for the approval of the sale of the team to Jim Crane.
2014 Pittsburgh native Neil Walker sends the largest regular-season crowd in the 14-year history of PNC Park home happy when he hits a Carlos Villanueva change-up over the fence, giving the Pirates a 1-0 walk-off victory over the Cubs. The tenth-inning homer marks the first time since 1965, when Bob Bailey went deep off Giants' right-hander Juan Marichal, that a Buc player ended a scoreless Opening Day contest with a solo round-trip.
2014 A video review, which takes 58 seconds, overturns an umpire's decision using MLB's expanded replay system for the first time. Brewers' outfielder Ryan Braun, initially called safe by first base by ump Greg Gibson, on a sixth-inning leadoff infield single, is ruled out after the Braves manager Freddi Gonzalez challenges the play.
2014 On Opening Day, Anaheim's hitting coach, Don Baylor, suffers a freak accident, fracturing his right femur while backhanding the low and away ceremonial first pitch from Vladimir Guerrero, the team's former outfielder who had just signed a one-day contract on the field much to crowd's delight. Guerrero spent six seasons of his 16 major league tenure with the Halos and was named the AL MVP in 2004, his first year with the team, joining Baylor (1979) as the only other player to win the award in franchise history.
2018 Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who goes 3-for-4 in the team's 3-2 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field, becomes the first American Leaguer to have multiple extra-base hits in the season's first three games. Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez also accomplished the feat, collecting at least two safeties in LA's first three contests when he compiled ten hits in his first 14 at-bats, starting the 2015 campaign.

34 Fact(s) Found