This Month in Major League Baseball History: March

Introducing a new series at Just Baseball, where we will break down all of the top moments in the history of baseball every month.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 15: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies acknowledges the fans before a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park on August 15, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

For one reason or another, history has a larger focus in baseball than other sports. With so many games and so many seasons unique and bizarre stories litter the sport. In this new series I highlight a couple of significate or interesting happenings during each month.

March 1: Mickey Mantle Retires

  • 1967- Major League Baseball Commissioner William Eckert approves the Baseball Writers Association of America’s proposal to select a Cy Young winner in both leagues, AL and NL, instead of having just one for the leagues combined.
  • 1969- Mickey Mantle announces his retirement at age 37. Mantle finished his career with a .298 batting average and 536 home runs. The Hall of Famer was a 20x All-Star, 3x MVP, and 7x World Series Champion.
  • 2012: Red Sox captain Jason Varitek announces his retirement. The 2x World Series winner spent all 15 years of his career in Boston.

March 2: Bryce Harper Becomes a Phillie

  • 1874: Two major changes enter the sport. The batters box is adopted and a penalty is now enforced for a player betting on his own team.
  • 1927: Babe Ruth signs a new deal that makes him the highest paid player in history. A three-year deal paying him $70,000 per season.
  • 2005: Jackie Robinson, 32 years after his death, receives the Congressional Gold Metal if Honor.
  • 2019: Bryce Harper is introduced as the newest Phillie, signing a record 13-year, $330 million contract.

March 3: Beginning of the World Baseball Classic

  • 1983: Steve Carlton signs a four-year, $4.15 million contract with the Phillies making him the highest paid pitcher in history.
  • 1998: Larry Doby, the first African American to play in the American League, is elected into the Hall of Fame.
  • 2006: The first World Baseball Classic game is played. South Korea beats Taiwan 2-0.

March 4: Michael Jordan Takes First At-Bat

  • 1912- Ground is broken for a new ballpark called Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York. This would serve as the home to the Brooklyn Dodgers until 1957.
  • 1994: Michael Jordan, on a brief hiatus from basketball, takes his first at-bat in a White Sox uniform. His one season in baseball was spent in Double-A where he slashed .202/.290/.266 with three home runs.

March 5

  • 1973: The 70s had plenty of strange happenings, but none as strange as Yankee’s pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson announcing they had swapped their wives, children, and families. One party would regret this later, while the other lived happily with the arrangement.

March 6

  • 1923: The St. Louis Cardinals announce numbers will be placed on the uniform to indicate where they are batting in the order.
  • 1973: Twins Larry Hisle becomes the first designated hitter in major league history. Although it was an exhibition game, Hisle hit two home runs and collected seven RBI.
  • 2005: Suzyn Waldman becomes the first full-time color commentator in major league history.

March 7

  • 1893: The ‘Pitchers Box” is eliminated and replaced with a pitcher’s rubber, establishing the modern distance of 60 feet 6 inches.
  • Famous Negro League player, Hall of Famer, and 8x All-Star Cool Papa Bell passes away. Bell played 21 years in the Negro Leagues and retired at age 43.

March 8

  • 1941: Phillies Hugh Mulcahy becomes the first player drafted into the Armed Forces. The pitcher lead the league in losses the year prior to being drafted.
  • 1999: Joe DiMaggio dies of lung cancer. The Hall of Famer was a 9x World Series champion, 13x All-Star, and 3x MVP. Although he made the All-Star team every year he played, DiMaggio lost three seasons in his prime to enter the service.

March 9: D-Backs and Rays Are Born

  • 1995: Owners approve two expansion teams: The Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays.

March 10: Pete Rose Makes Spring Debut

  • 1963: A 22 year-old Pete Rose appears in a spring training game making his major league debut. Rose would go on to make the Opening Day roster and win rookie of the year.
  • 2005: Former pitcher Rick Ankiel debuts as a position player. Ankiel would go on to play 11 seasons after the switch. As a pitcher, Ankiel finished second in Rookie of the Year voting as a 20 year old in 2000.

March 11: First Game at Petco Park

  • 1970: After “the year of the pitcher” in 1968 baseball experiments with new baseballs to increase offense. The “X-5” baseball debuts in a spring training game which resulted in a final score of 19-14.
  • 2004: The first game in Petco Park is played as San Diego State beats the University of Hawaii.

March 12

  • 1921: Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis suspends eight members of the notorious “Black Sox” who had involvement with fixing the 1919 World Series.

March 13

  • 1960: Chicago White Sox announce road jerseys with the players last name on the back. This would be the first time names were displayed as the television popularity forced this move to help viewers identify players.

March 16: COVID Stops the Baseball World

  • 1961: The state of New York approves a bond for the construction of a stadium which would become Shea Stadium three years later
  • 2020: Commissioner Rob Manfred announces the halt in spring training and delay to the season due to the coronavirus. Baseball would go on to play a 60 game season with no fans.

March 17

  • 1978: On St. Patrick’s Day, the Cincinnati Reds start a new tradition by swapping out their red uniforms for green. This tradition continued on and was adopted by several other teams.
  • 2015: The Kris Bryant saga. Agent Scott Boras rips the Cubs for starting Bryant in the minors claiming it was a “cost-cutting move.” A common topic now, the Bryant situation was one of the first where the player vocalized displeasure in later years.

March 18

  • 1942: African American’s Jackie Robinson and Nate Moreland each work out for the Chicago White Sox but do not earn a contract. Robinson’s breakthrough would happen five years later.
  • 2021: The first day of spring training, which was delayed due to a lockout, kicks off with the Twins signing Carlos Correa, the Braves signing Kenley Jansen, and the Phillies signing Nick Castellanos.

March 19

  • 1998: The Los Angeles Dodgers are sold to Rupert Murdoch for $311 million, the largest sale price of a sports team in history. Forbes now values the Dodgers t $4.8 billion.
  • 2019: Mike Trout signs a 10-year, $426.5 million extension. The extension was the largest contract ever. He has one playoff appearance.

March 20

  • 1934: Female athlete Mildred Didrickson pitches the first inning for the Philadelphia Athletics surrendering no hits and one walk.
  • 1953: U.S. Senator Edwin Johnson offers a bill to ban tv and radio broadcast in local markets, essentially creating the first (as we know it) blackout. The idea was to drive more people to attend games in person.
  • 1973: Roberto Clemente becomes the first Hispanic player to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Clemente, who had passed away in a plane crash years prior, was a 15x All-Star, 4x Batting Champion, and 2x World Series Champion.

March 21: Trout vs. Ohtani Faceoff

  • 1931: The White Sox and (New York) Giants meet in the first ever night game. The exhibition game took place at Buff Stadium in Houston, Texas.
  • 1999: Garth Brooks, the county singer, plays in a spring training game and collects a hit off Mike Sirotka.
  • 2023: In the World Baseball Classic, teammates Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout faceoff with the game on the line. On a full-count, Trout strikes out and Japan wins one of the most movie like endings to the WBC.

March 22: Joe Maurer is Extended By the Twins

  • 1991: A 1909 tobacco card of Honus Wagner sells for $451,000 to who other than hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. On the same day, 1952 Topps card of Mikey Mantle goes for $49,500.
  • 2010: Twins sign St. Paul native Joe Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million extension. The Hall of Famer spent his entire 15 year career in Minnesota winning an MVP, earning five silver sluggers, three gold gloves, and six All-Star appearances.

March 24

  • 1984: The Tigers acquire Willie Hernandez from the Phillies. Hernandez would go on to win the MVP, Cy Young, and World Series in his first year with the Tigers.

March 25

  • 2001: Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson kills a bird with a 95 mph fastball.

March 27

  • 2010: The first game is played at the Twins new home, Target Field. A matchup between the University of Minnesota and Louisiana Tech.
  • 2012: NBA legend Magic Johnson (and company) purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers for a record $2 Billion.

March 28

  • 2014: Miguel Cabrera signs an 8-year, $292 million extension with the Tigers. At the time, this was the largest contact in Major League history.

March 30

  • 1992: The Chicago Cubs trade George Bell across town to the White Sox for Sammy Sosa. Sosa would go on to play 13 seasons for the Cubs slashing .284/.358/.569 with 545 home runs.
  • 2008: Nationals Park opens in Washington, D.C. as the Nationals beat the Braves 3-2. Nationals legend Ryan Zimmerman hit the walk-off home run off Peter Moylan.

March 31

  • 1969: The “Seattle Pilots” have their lone season in Seattle before moving to Milwaukee where they become the Brewers. The Pilots finished the season 64-98
  • 1998: The Tampa Bay Devil Rays play their first game, losing 11-6 to the Tigers. Hall of Famer, and 40 year old veteran, Wade Boggs hits the franchises first home run.