Today in Baseball History: March 31st
On March 31, 1996, the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox play the earliest Opening Day game in history. Playing at the Kingdome, the Mariners win, 3-2, on Alex Rodriguez’ RBI single in the 12th inning. Randy Johnson strikes out 12 White Sox batters in going the distance.
On March 31, 1982, the Montreal Expos acquire first baseman-outfielder Al Oliver from the Texas Rangers for third baseman Larry Parrish and minor league first baseman Dave Hostetler. Oliver will enjoy a banner season in Montreal, capturing both the National League batting and RBI crowns.
On March 31, 1980, the Montreal Expos trade outfielder-first baseman Rusty Staub to the Texas Rangers for outfielder LaRue Washington and infielder Chris Smith. Staub will bat an even .300 for the Rangers in 1980.
On March 31, 1968, the Seattle expansion franchise announces that it will be called the “Pilots.” The Pilots will last only one season in Seattle before becoming the Milwaukee Brewers.
On March 31, 1961, the Pacific Coast League is turned down in its bid to use the designated hitter rule. The Professional Baseball Rules Committee votes 8-1 against the proposal. The DH will not come into major league use until 1973, when it is adopted by the American League.
On March 31, 1958, the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles pull off a major five-player deal. In the trade, the Indians acquire Hall of Famer Larry Doby and another player in exchange for outfielder Gene Woodling, pitcher Bud Daley, and utility man Dick Williams. In 1947, Doby had become the first black player in the history of the American League.
On March 31, 1900, George “Mule” Suttles is born in Blocton, Alabama. A hard-hitting first baseman and outfielder whose career spanned both World War I and II, Suttles was one of the most feared sluggers in Negro league history, and earned election to the Hall of Fame in 2006.