50 years ago today was a big day in the history of the St. Louis Cardinals. The team itself didn’t do anything of note. The season hadn’t started yet so, there was no game worth mentioning. There were no big trades, signings, or prominent players cut.
The St. Louis Cardinals franchise was itself a bystander on the day, but it was still a very important day for them. For on that day, the voters of St. Louis went to the polls. Aside from the normal litany of elections and political races, there was one item of very special interest to the Cardinals. People voted on a bond issue that meant a lot to the Cardinals.
The St. Louis Cardinals wanted a new stadium, and on that day, St. Louis voters decided to support a bond that would fund the needed downtown improvements that would give the Cardinals their stadium. The new place would be Busch Stadium, and the Cardinals would play in it for over 40 years.
At the time, the Cardinals played in Sportsman’s Park, a holdover from the city’s era of Browns baseball. Sportsman’s Park was one of the oldest sites for baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals played at its original version in their first season way back in 1882. It went through a series of metamorphosis over the years, and in 1909 the Browns, who owned the site by that time, changed it into a modern concrete-and-steel place.
The Browns continued to play there for over 40 years, and in 1920 the Cardinals moved in. For decades they were just tenants, but towards the end, the perennially cash-strapped Browns sold the Cardinals the place. Shortly after, the Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. The Cardinals had the stadium and town all to themselves.
True, but a new era of stadium building was beginning. Aside from the Browns, several other teams had moved to new towns, and they were getting new stadiums. Baseball had also expanded, prompting interest in new stadiums.
Sportsman’s Park, as one of the oldest places, also seemed like one of the most out-of-date. As St. Louis voters went to the polls, the Dodgers were putting the finishing touches on their new pad, Dodger Stadium. This would serve as the model of how to build a ballpark for a generation of stadiums.
Thus St. Louis voters went to the polls and gave the Cardinals what they wanted, financing for a brand new stadium.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is an event occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones if bold if you’d prefer to just skim the list:
1,000 days since the Dodgers post their 10,000th regular season win. (This total includes their AA years in the 1880s).
3,000 days since a big day for free agent signings. The Yankees sign Gary Sheffield, the Padres get Sterling Hitchcock, the Mariners sign Scott Spiezio, the Cardinals get Reggie Sanders, and the Tigers get both Fernando Vina, and Rondell White.
3,000 days since Harry Caray’s restaurant submits the winning bid for the auction on the Bartman ball: $106,000.
4,000 days since Tim Belcher retires after a decent run as a big league starting pitcher.
6,000 days since Sparky Anderson retires as Detroit manager, ending his Hall of Fame managerial career.
8,000 days sine Angles pitchers Mark Langston and Mike Witt combine to throw a no-hitter for a 1-0 win over the Mariners. Langston pitches the first seven innings in what’s his first game with the Angels.
9,000 days since big league manager John McNamara loses his 1,000th game. His career record is currently 968-1,000.
9,000 days since Ken Caminiti makes his big league debut.
40,000 days since the Cubs purchase Johnny Evers.
1884 High winds tear the roof of the Polo Grounds grandstand.
1885 Baseball writer Ring Lardner is born.
1900 Lefty Grove, arguably the game’s greatest pitcher, is born.
1907 The owners of the Phillies are acquitted of damages resulting from a 1903 disaster at their home stadium, the Baker Bowl. In 1903, a balcony there collapsed killing 12 and injuring 232.
1914 The new Federal League offers Tris Speaker a three-year deal worth $100,000. He’ll turn it down and re-sign with the Red Sox for $11,000.
1923 The St. Louis Cardinals announce that their players will wear numbers on their uniforms. The numbers will come from their normal slot in the batting order.
1933 Ted Abernathy, relief pitcher, is born.
1938 The Phillies trade Dolf Camili to the Dodgers for $45,000 and Eddie Morgan.
1939 Cookie Rojas, infielder, is born.
1940 Willie Stargell, slugger, is born.
1943 Jimmy Collins, the best third baseman of his generation, dies.
1945 Harry O’Neill, who caught one game for the A’s, dies fighting at Iwo Jima at age 27.
1952 The New York Times reports that architect Norman Bedl Geddes is in discussions with the Dodgers about designing a new stadium for them in Brooklyn.
1965 Jimmy Austin, one of the men interviewed in The Glory of Their Times, dies.
1965 Wally Schang, catcher who is better than some backstops in the Hall of Fame, dies.
1969 While shagging flies in the outfield in spring training for the Seattle Pilots, Steve Hovley tells Jim Bouton, “To a pitcher, a base hit is the perfect example of negative feedback.” This line will make it into Bouton’s book, Ball Four.
1973 It’s the first exhibition game with a designated hitter. Larry Hisle of the Twins is the first one.
1981 Phillies owner Rudy Carpenter announces he’ll sell the team.
1990 MLB commissioner Fay Vincent gives his approval to drug-addled relief pitcher Steve Howe pitching in the minors.
1990 Joe Sewell, Hall of Fame shortstop who never struck out, dies.
1991 Houston signs free agent Mark McLemore.
2006 The White Sox sign free agent pitcher Hideo Nomo.
2006 Hall of Fame second baseman Kirby Puckett dies at age 45 after suffering a massive stroke.