1950 April

st  No joke. The Hollywood Stars (PCL) open their season against Portland clad in shorts, rayon shirts, and knee socks. “These suits will give us more speed,” predicts manager Fred Haney. But the outfits are used only occasionally during the season.

4th When the train carrying the Indians pulls out of the El Paso station, a 22-caliber bullet shatters the compartment window of Al Simmons and Oscar Melillo. Neither coach is hurt.

10th  Based on his 22 wins for Baltimore (IL) in 1949, St. Louis Browns P Al Widmar quits the team. He threatens a suit against baseball unless the team grants him a pay raise. He will sign within the week.

11th  The Texas League Opener between Dallas and Tulsa is staged in the Cotton Bowl. The Dallas starters taking the field include Ty Cobb, Mickey Cochrane, Tris Speaker, Dizzy Dean, Travis Jackson, Frank Baker, Charlie Gehringer as well as Duffy Lewis and Dallas manager, Charlie Grimm, the two non-Hall of Famers. After Dean throws one pitch, the squad is replaced by the regular Dallas Eagles team. 53,578 fans, the largest paid crowd (since surpassed) in minor-league history, cheer.

12th  New York State governor Thomas Dewey vetoes a bill that would have prohibited separate-admission doubleheaders.

16th  In Los Angeles, Steve Souchock of Sacramento (PCL) homers in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings in a 19–6 win. The last homer is a grand slam as Souchock drives in 9 runs. With a chance to homer in his second at bat in the 9th, he hits a single. The veteran will bang 30 homers this year and be back in the majors in 1951.

18th  The first night Opening-Day game in history is played in St. Louis with the Cardinals defeating the Pirates, 4–2, behind the 6-hit pitching of Gerry Staley. Musial and Schoendienst contribute home runs.

President Harry Truman throws out 2 balls at the Washington opener—one left-handed and the other right-handed—then watches the Senators beat the A’s, 8–7. When rain starts falling in the 6th, he puts on a raincoat and remains to the end.

At the Polo Grounds, Sam Jethroe becomes the first African-American to play for the Boston Braves. In his ML debut, he goes 2-for-4, including a HR to lead the Braves to an 11–4 beating of the Giants. Spahn is the winner. Jethroe will go on to become NL Rookie of the Year.

The Indians open their season in front of 65,744, but lose to the Tigers, 7-6, in 10 innings, quickly ending Cleveland’s ML record streak of 17 straight wins in extra-inning games. Detroit knocks Bob Lemon out with 4 runs in the 7th to take a 6-4 lead. Reliever Jesse Flores arrives on the mound in a red jeep, the first to use a bull pen car. The Tribe tie Al Rosen belts a 2-run homer off Fred Hutchinson in the 8th. Doby also homers, and Dale Mitchell collects 5 hits. Aaron Robinson homers for Detroit. The Indians also announce the release of veteran Ken Keltner. He signs with the Red Sox the same day but is released on June 6th.

At Fenway, Happy Chandler gives Ted Williams his MVP Award, and then Governor Paul Dever tosses out the first ball. To the delight of 31,822 fans, Boston rips starter Allie Reynolds with a five-run 4th inning to drive the Chief from the game and take a 9–0 lead over the Yankees. But the Yanks score 4 in the 6th off Mel Parnell and then, down 10–4, New York unloads for nine runs in the 8th against 5 pitchers. Second baseman Billy Martin (2-for-2) becomes the first player in history to get two base hits in one inning in his first ML game. He doubles against Mel Parnell on his first at bat in the 8th inning, and singles off Al Papai. Walt Masterson gives up Tommy Henrich’s second triple of the game before giving way to four more Sox hurlers: he’s the third and last MLer this century to hit 2 triples in an Opener. Boo Ferriss, pitching in his last game, allows the last two runs in the 9th inning as the Yanks chalk up a 15–10 win, the biggest blown lead the Sox have ever had at Fenway (June 4, 1989, they’ll blow a 10-run lead at home). DiMaggio, Berra, Vern Stephens, and Doerr each have three hits. Don Johnson is the winner, his last one for New York, with Joe Page pitching a perfect 8th and 9th in relief. Henrich’s two triples are the 4th and last time this century that a player has done it on Opening Day.

19th  Sid Gordon of the Braves hits the first NL grand slam of the season, as Boston beats the Giants, 10-6, at the Polo Grounds. Gordon drives in 5 runs against his old team. There will be 35 grand slams in the league this year, a NL single-season record, later topped. Giants first sacker Jack Harshman hits his first homer, off Johnny Sain, but it’s not enough. Harshman, who hit 40 homers last year in the American Association, will hit 47 homers and collected 144 RBIs in the Southern Association next year, but the Giants will let him go. He will remake himself into a pitcher and return with the White Sox.

At Wichita, Pueblo beats Wichita (Western L), 13–5. Winning pitcher Daniel Stupur of Pueblo sets a league record by issuing 15 walks.

21st  Boston’s Vern Stephens slugs a 9th-inning grand slam off the A’s Harry Byrd to lead the Red Sox to an 8–2 romp. Stephens will go to plate 45 times this year with the bases loaded, the highest number of bases-loaded PAs in Retrosheet’s database. The second highest number is 41, set by Stephens last season. The slam is the first of 33 AL grand slams in 1950. The ML season total of 68 is a record up to this point. In 1995, the number will exceed 100 slams for the first time. For the Sox (2-2), this is their fourth straight game with 6 runs or more scored, the most prolific start in team history. They will match it again this century in 1985.

In Boston, Sam Jethroe makes his home debut, the first black man to play for the Braves. He goes 1-for-3 in a 2–2 tie with the Phillies. The game is called when a thunderstorm hits.

At Ebbets Field, Roy Campanella hits a 3rd inning grand slam as the Dodgers roll to an 8-1 victory over the Giants.

In Cleveland, before 79,570 fans, the 4th largest paid attendance to date, the Yankees take two from the Indians, winners of 9 out of their last 11. In the opener, DiMaggio drives in 6 runs on 2 homers, one a grand slam, and the Yankees roll 14–5. New York collects 19 hits in the nightcap to win easily, 12–4. Eddie Lopat and Allie Reynolds each win their 4th of the year, as the Yankees now pace the AL by 2 1/2 games.

22nd In a 9-2 win over the visiting Reds, Pittsburgh’s Ralph Kiner belts the longest left field homerun in Forbes Field history, a 520-foot blast. The distance will be matched by Dick Stuart in 1959 and Frank Howard the next year. Ruth’s 1935 homer to CF was 540-feet, the longest hit there (according to homerun historian Dan Jenkinson).

23rd In the second of two games, the Braves and the host Phillies start the match in daylight and finish under the lights, a first in the majors. The National League voted this year to let teams to turn on lights to allow a day game to continue. The AL will follow suit and the first instance of it occurring will come on August 29. The Phils win the lighted game, 6–5. Johnny Sain hurls the Braves to a 4–3 win in the opener.

In St. Louis, the Indians overcome leads in both games to beat the Browns twice, 9-6 and 7-5 in 7 innings. Dick Kokos has a grand slam in the second game for the Browns.

In the first of two at Shibe, Bobby Shantz wins his first of the year as the A’s beat the Red Sox, 9-4. Johnny Pesky is 2-for-2 for the Sox, and is hit twice by Shantz. The second game goes 6 innings before possibly a mercy rule is put into effect, but that’s all Boston needs as they win, 12-2, behind Mel Parnell, who chips in with 3 RBIs. Hank Wyse gives up 8 runs and Les McCrabb allows 7 singles and 4 runs in his first inning in the majors since 1942. That last outing, also against the Red Sox, resulted in 14 runs in 4 innings. McCrabb will have one more appearance next month before hanging it up, having pitched in the majors in three decades.

24th In a pitching duel with vet Ken Raffensberger, Max Lanier drives in the only run to give the Cards a 1–0 win over the Reds.

25th Joe Hatten gives the Dodgers (51) their fifth straight win, stopping the Braves 3–0 on two hits. Vern Bickford loses to Brooklyn for the first time after 3 wins. Jackie Robinson is 3-for-3 with a walk, to pace an 8-hit attack.

27th  At Ebbets Field, Willie Jones belts a 1st-inning grand slam, off Preacher Roe, as the Phillies top the Dodgers, 8-1. Robin Roberts is the winning pitcher.

28th  Before 18,862 at Griffith Stadium, the Senators edge the Yankees, 5-4, behind Steve Nagy. The former Pirate is helped in the 3rd inning by a 9-3-2 triple play. Nagy then wins his own game with an 8th inning inside-the-park homerun off reliever Joe Page. Berra bobbles a relay throw from Rizzuto that allows Nagy safe passage. Nagy is now 2-0, with both decisions complete-game victories this week over the Yankees. But after five straight losses, the Nats will trade him in late June to San Francisco (PCL) for Elmer Singleton.

The Yankees sell OF Dick Wakefield to the White Sox for OF John Ostrowski and cash. Wakefield, a hot hitter in 1943 who has since lost his sparkle, refuses to report unless the Sox restore a $5,500 salary cut inflicted by the Yankees. Wakefield says the Yankees talked him into signing for $17,500 with the “guarantee” that he’d earn $5,000 as a World Series share. New York refuses to return Ostrowski and the Sox refuse Wakefield’s request. Happy Chandler rules in favor of the Sox and Ostrowski and Wakefield return to their teams.

Catcher Jim Martin of Pampa (West Texas-NM League) is struck by lightning in the second inning of a game at Abilene. The blast knocks both the field lights and Martin out and hurls his mask 85 feet. But he is back in the game the next day.

The Red Sox option P Boo Ferriss to Birmingham. The former ace pitched one inning, allowing 2 runs in his last ML appearance.

30th  The A’s are pummeled by the Red Sox in a doubleheader, 19–0 and 6–5. First-game highlights are an 11-run 4th inning and a 17-hit barrage, which includes HRs by Ted Williams (2), Vern Stephens, and Bobby Doerr. Dom DiMaggio scores 5 runs. A’s pitcher Bobby Shantz ends the slaughter with 4-plus innings of relief, as Joe Dobson is the winner for Boston.

At St. Louis, the Cards Del Rice hits a HR in the bottom of the 13th to break up a pitching duel between the starters Johnny Schmitz and Harry Brecheen. The Cards win over the Cubs, 1–0. Rice also has a double as Schmitz gives up just 4 hits and retires 20 batters in a row.