March 2013

Ken Landreaux Trade

March 30, 1981 – During the final week of spring training, the Dodgers acquired center fielder Ken Landreaux from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for infielder Mickey Hatcher and two minor leaguers. Landreaux was coming off an All-Star season with Minnesota in 1980, which included a 31-game hitting streak. Landreaux, who batted .263 in 868 games with Los Angeles through 1987, caught the final out of the 1981 World Series against the Yankees, a flyout by Bob Watson to clinch the Dodgers’ 9-2 victory in Game 6.

Martin Luther King Game

March 28, 1970 – An exhibition game with stars from various Major League teams is staged at Dodger Stadium in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The “East-West Classic” features former Yankees great Joe DiMaggio as manager of the East, and former catcher Roy Campanella pilots the West squad. Jim “Mudcat” Grant performed the National Anthem. The game drew 31,694 fans and proceeds went to Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a memorial center planned in Atlanta.

Number, Please …

March 27, 1917 – For an upcoming exhibition game with the Boston Red Sox in Memphis, TN, Brooklyn owner Charlies Ebbets suggests both teams wear numbers on their uniform sleeves because fans in the non-Major League city might not be familiar with the players, even though Brooklyn and Boston met in the 1916 World Series. Brooklyn will add numbers to its uniforms in 1932.

Koufax Ready for ’63

March 26, 1963 – In an exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Sandy Koufax allows six runs, including home runs by Roberto Clemente and Donn Clendenon, and strikes out nine batters in seven innings. Koufax missed most of the second half of the 1962 season due to circulatory problems in his left index finger. But Koufax will return to full strength and embark on a 25-win campaign during the 1963 season en route to the first of his three Cy Young Awards.

Ruth Returns

March 25, 1917 – In a rematch of the 1916 World Series, Brooklyn beats the Boston Red Sox, 11-2, in an exhibiton game. Boston’s Babe Ruth allows just one hit in four innings against the Robins. Ruth was the pitching star of the 1916 Fall Classic with a complete-game 2-1 victory in 14 innings in Game 2 at Braves Field in Boston.

Spring Surprise

March 20, 1934 – Mildred “Babe” Didrickson, the famous all-around female athlete who won two gold medals in track at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles and later became a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, pitched the first inning for the Philadelphia Athletics in a spring exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. She walked one batter, but gave up no hits.

Spring Snow?

March 18, 1943 – The Brooklyn Dodgers begin training camp in Bear Mountain, NY. The athletic facilities at West Point are utilized because of travel restrictions during World War II. Some of the most famous spring training photos in Dodger history include players throwing snowballs or skiing in their Dodger uniform. Other 1943 “spring cities” include training camps in French Lick Springs, IN (Cubs and White Sox); Asbury Park, NJ (Yankees); Medford, MA (Red Sox) and Wallingford, CT (Boston Braves).

Spring Trade

March 14, 1932 – The Reds acquired catcher Ernie Lombardi, infielder Wally Gilbert and outfielder Babe Herman from the Brooklyn Dodgers​ in exchange for catcher Clyde Sukeforth and infielders Tony Cuccinello and Joe Stripp. Lombardi will later win the batting title and MVP award in 1938. As a Dodger scout in 1945, Sukeforth assisted Branch Rickey with the scouting of Jackie Robinson with the Kansas City Monarchs. Cuccinello was the Dodgers’ first All-Star Game representative when the Mid-Summer Classic began in 1933.

Falling Grapefruit …

March 13, 1917 – Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robinson plans to catch a baseball dropped from an airplane during spring training. Instead, someone substitutes a grapefruit and when it explodes on impact with the glove, Robinson thinks he’s bleeding and screams he is dying – until he tastes the grapefruit juice. Robinson tried the stunt after hearing that Washington Senators Gabby Street had caught a baseball dropped off the Washington Monument in 1908.

Happy Chandler

March 12, 1951 – Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler loses his bid to remain in office, losing, 9-7, in a vote of Major League owners. Ford Frick will replace Chandler, who started his term in 1945 after the death of the sport’s first commissioner, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis. Chandler was best known for being in office during Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Chandler will be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982.