Baseball History on April 1

<— MARCH 31     APRIL 02 —>


1849 John McMullin

A Philadelphia native, McMullin’s fame rests in the fact that he was the first left-handed pitcher in a professional league.  In 1871 McMullin was the primary pitcher for the Troy Haymakers, winning 12 of his 27 decisions.  He wasn’t the only southpaw – Charlie Pabor and Ed Pinkham served as alternate pitchers that season for other teams – but he was the first one, and the first to earn a win.  In fact, few left-handed pitchers earned decisions in the 1870s and it wasn’t until Lee Richmond’s first full season for Worcester in 1880 that McMullin’s marks, either seasonal or career records, were topped.

After 1871, McMullin moved to the New York Mutuals, who had an established pitcher, and became a very good outfielder.  In 1873, he began playing regularly for the two Philadelphia teams.  When the National Association disbanded and was replaced by the National League, McMullin’s brief professional career (he had played semi-pro baseball) was over.

He stayed in Philadelphia, got married (her name was Emma, but I hadn’t seen a marriage record, just an 1880 census record and an application for a passport in 1874), and operated a hat and cape store there until his premature death on 11 April 1881 of pneumonia.

1856 Ed Kennedy
1857 Dan Cronin
1858 Fred Mann
1858 John Russ
1860 Wes Curry
1876 Bill Friel
1883 Hugo Bezdek

Bezdek was a bruising college football and baseball player, a Hall of Fame college football coach, once was the head coach of the Cleveland Rams in the NFL.  And, he was a surprise pick by Barney Dreyfuss to take over the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1917.  As such, Bezdek is the only man to have been in charge of both an NFL and an MLB team.

1889 Tom Phillips
1890 George Young
1892 Claude Cooper
1894 Hal Reilly
1904 Jack Cummings
1911 Bob Brown
1912 Jake Wade
1913 Buster Bray
1914 Moe Franklin
1914 George Bradley
1915 Jeff Heath

Teammate of Bob Feller, a good hitter in his own right, but not one of the friendlier guys in baseball at the time.

1916 George Staller
1917 Chet Ross
1921 Red Murff
1926 Jake Thies
1934 Rod Kanehl
1935 Tom Qualters
1936 Ron Perranoski

Fairly good relief pitcher in the days of Koufax and Drysdale, but a much better pitching coach.

1936 Ted Sadowski
1939 Phil Niekro

He’s only 79?  Not only messed with you the day he faced you, but his knuckleball ruined your swing for a week after that, too.

1941 Dick Kenworthy
1942 Jake Jaeckel
1943 Mike Degerick
1944 Rusty Staub

I admit it – I loved this guy, even when he was a Met.  And I generally don’t like Mets.  When he faced the Cubs in the 1970s, Rick Monday used to make the most amazing catches to rob Rusty of extra base hits.  It just always seemed to happen…

1948 Willie Montanez

One of my favorite hot dogs.  Had a couple of good years with the bat, but between him, Oscar Gamble, Tito Fuentes, and Jose Cardenal – that was some fun baseball.

1952 Mike Bacsik

Father to the guy who served up Barry’s record breaking homer.

1953 Larry Murray
1956 Mark Esser
1957 Manny Castillo
1958 Mike Kinnunen
1962 Rich Amaral

Came up with Seattle, was a pretty productive guy but couldn’t make it work for long stretches at a time.

1968 Masumi Kuwata
1969 Frank Castillo

One time Cub – threw strikes, had a great curveball, and then he had elbow problems.

1970 Matt Herges
1971 Jose Martinez
1983 Will Rhymes
1983 John Axford

Former Brewers closer…

1985 Daniel Murphy

Turned a World Series into a big paycheck.

1988 Alex Hassan
1989 Chris Withrow
1991 Cesar Puello
1994 David Dahl
1995 Keegan Akin
1996 Ryan Castellani


1914 Rube Waddell

Today’s society couldn’t handle him because he would be over-handled.  The school district would have segregated him out of the mainstream, he likely starts taking some medications, and he spends the rest of his days under the watchful eye of a team of family members and some well-intentioned therapy group.  He sure as heck isn’t pitching for the Pirates – and probably wouldn’t have pitched for his high school team.

In the 1880s and 1890s, those things didn’t exist and people just had to make things work.  Rube Waddell was allowed to live a near-normal life.  He finished school and went to a couple of finishing academies, mostly to play baseball (he attended three of them).  Yes – he couldn’t reliably pay his bills and Connie Mack (and other owners before and after him) basically set him up with room and board and a weekly stipend rather than a salary.  And he drank because, well, everyone drank then and he just kept having fun more than anyone else (and sometimes at someone else’s expense).  But every day he lived as normal a life as one could lead – or as amazing a life as one could lead.  He had jobs, he made friends, he traveled the country from coast to coast, he got married a few times, he pitched baseball games.

He had the best arm that God gave a pitcher back then, and then God took him away from us after the one guy least able to make daily responsible decisions made the most selfless decision of all.

1922 Leech Maskrey
1922 Harry Smith
1926 Al Martin
1927 Henry Stein
1928 Marr Phillips
1934 Barney Gilligan
1943 Pat Deasley
1946 George Strief
1947 Mike Lynch
1948 Heinie Jantzen
1964 Casey Hageman
1965 Ernie Walker
1966 John Sullivan
1968 Tom Cantwell
1975 Ivan Bigler
1983 Calvin Chapman
1991 Frankie Gustine
1996 John McSherry

Seven pitches into an opening day game between Montreal and Cincinnati – McSherry realized something was horribly wrong and tried to walk off the field from his position behind home plate, but didn’t make it.  An hour or so later he was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.  He was 51.

1998 Dave Smith
2001 Jo-Jo Moore
2006 Bill Pierro
2007 Lou Limmer
2012 Jerry Lynch
2013 Bob Smith
2013 Norm Gigon
2020 Ed Farmer


2011 How’s this for an opening day game?  The White Sox beat the Indians 15 – 10 in a game featuring 35 hits and four homers.

2013 Clayton Kershaw homers in a shutout win over the Giants.


1928 Pittsburgh sells Joe Cronin to Kansas City in the American Association.

1935 Brooklyn signs free agent pitcher Dazzy Vance.

1950 The Cubs sign amateur free agent Gene Baker.

1959 Cincinnati signs amateur free agent pitcher Jim Maloney.

1962 The White Sox sign amateur free agent pitcher Dave DeBusschere.

1963 Los Angeles sells Duke Snider to the Mets.

1969 Kansas City sends Steve Whitaker and John Gelnar to Seattle for Lou Piniella.

1982 Texas sends Ron Darling and Walt Terrell to the Mets for Lee Mazzilli.

1984 Seattle signs non-drafted free agent Omar Vizquel.

1987 St. Louis trades Andy Van Slyke, Mike LaValliere, and Mike Dunne to Pittsburgh for Tony Pena.

1991 Atlanta trades Jimmy Kremers and a player to be named later (Keith Morrison) for Otis Nixon and Boi Rodriguez.


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