MLB Opening Day: Looking back at 100 years of baseball history

To get a sense of the historic arc Major League Baseball has taken over just the past 100 years, hop on our time machine and review some of its key news and developments at 10-year intervals, beginning in 1912.


Jeff Topping/REUTERS/File
Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants hits the 653rd home run of his career, off Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson in the fourth inning of their game in Phoenix, August 30, 2003.

Top hitter: Barry Bonds (SF Giants), .370 avg.

Top slugger: Alex Rodriguez (Texas Rangers), 57 HRs

Top pitcher: Randy Johnson (Arizona Diamondbacks),  24 wins

NL MVP: Barry Bonds (SF Giants), OF

AL MVP: Miguel Tejada (Oakland A’s), SS

World Series: Anaheim Angels defeat the San Francisco Giants, 4-3.

The Anaheim Angels, who began their existence as the Los Angeles Angels in 1961 and later became the California Angels,  played in and won the World Series for the first time in their 42nd season. To secure the title, the team had to beat the San Francisco Giants, who themselves were looking for the team’s first championship in 69 years. The series went seven games, and in Game 6 the Angels rallied from a 5-0 deficit in the seventh inning to win 6-5.

In the 16th year of his 19-year career, New York Mets pitcher Al Leiter notched a historic win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, making him the first hurler to record a win against all 30 big-league teams. In a somewhat similar feat, Fred McGriff became the first player to homer in 42 different ballparks. He did so while playing for the Chicago Cubs, one of five teams with which he collected 30 or more home runs.

The annual All-Star Game was called with the game tied, 7-7, after 11 innings because both leagues had used all their pitchers (a total of 19). Fans at Milwaukee’s Miller Park booed the decision made by Commissioner Bud Selig, who used to own the Milwaukee Brewers. It was the first time the midsummer classic did not produce a winner since 1961, when rain forced a premature ending.

Outfielder Shawn Green of the Dodgers turned in one of the greatest three-game hitting performances ever. It began with a 6-for-6 outing in which he hit four home runs and established an all-time single-game mark for total bases (19).  He followed with a homer and a pair of singles in the next game, and hit two home runs and collected six RBIs in the third game. No other player has ever hit seven homers in a three-game span.

Major league players and owners managed to avert a possible ninth play stoppage in 30 years by agreeing on Aug. 30 to a new collective bargaining agreement only minutes before a potential disruption. Two factors may have facilitated the negotiations: 1)  several weeks earlier the players accepted steroid testing, to begin in 1993, and 2) with the playoffs on the horizon neither side wanted to see a strike like that which wiped out the World Series in 1994.

While with the Atlanta Braves, Greg Maddux joined Cy Young as the only other pitcher to record 15 consecutive seasons with 15 or more wins. He eventually ran the streak to 17 seasons.

10 of 10

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About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

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