Happy Opening Day, 2014!

Jimmy Rollins hit a grand slam for his 200th career homer to give Philadelphia a win over Texas.  And, the first two umpire challenges occur…  The Cubs, naturally, lost theirs while Atlanta was able to overturn a Ryan Braun infield single into an out.

Baseball has started as early as March now since 1996…  Here’s a small slice of March 31 history.

Arrivals:

(1868) “Happy” Jack Stivetts – a pitcher of some skill, winning more than 200 games mostly with the Boston Beaneaters when Boston and Baltimore ruled the National League.  Stivetts had three straight years with more than 400 innings on the hill – and then the pitcher’s mound was moved back to 60′ 6″.  At that point, Stivetts was just good, but he supplemented good pitching with equally good hitting.  In four different seasons, Stivetts cleared .300 including a .367 mark in 1897 and hitting .328 with 64 RBI in 68 games in 1894.  He finished his career hitting nearly .300 with 35 homers.

(1901) George “Mule” Suttles – Hall of Fame Negro Leagues star who hit for high averages with prodigious power in the 1920s and 1930s.

More recent players celebrating with cards, cake, or remembrances include Chien-Ming Wang (1980) and new Cardinals CF Peter Bourjos (1987).

Departures:

(1957) Billy Meyer – The answer to a great Pittsburgh Pirates trivia question – when the Pirates retired #1, what player or manager was honored by that award?  Meyer was a near legendary minor league manager in the Yankees chain, who by unfortunate situations was never able to take over the big league club – usually because the job was owned (Joe McCarthy), or he was ill when the job was offered (eventually going to Casey Stengel).  Instead, he wound up in Pittsburgh…  Meyer had really only one good year at a time the Pirates had Ralph Kiner and nothing else, and suffered a stroke shortly after being fired from the Pirates in the early 1950s.

Transactions:

1980 – The Montreal Expos trade Rusty Staub to Texas for two minor players.

1982 – Texas sends Al Oliver to Montreal for Larry Parrish and a minor league 1B, Dave Hostetler.

Events:

1998 – Tampa Bay begins life by losing to Detroit, 11 – 6.  Wade Boggs hits the first Devil Rays homer.  Across the country, Arizona loses its opener as Diamondbacks Travis Lee and Karim Garcia homer in the 9 – 2 loss to Colorado.

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