History Headlines

The Pawtucket-Rochester matchup on April 18, 1981 remains the longest game in professional baseball history. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame)

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – When Luis Aponte, pitcher for the Pawtucket Paw Sox, didn't come home until around 2 a.m. after a night game on April 19, 1981, his wife was suspicious.

"I told her I'd just finished pitching at the ballpark, but she didn't believe me," said Aponte.

His wife had no way of knowing that Aponte actually went home while the game was still being played. That night he was a part of the longest game in the history of professional baseball, lasting 32 innings, more than eight hours and wasn't over yet.

This ball served as a trophy for a game played by two baseball clubs in 1863. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

As the Baseball Hall of Fame's chief curator for 28 years, Ted Spencer experienced history every day. But one day in the early 1990s, he was amazed to discover just how strong the tie is between baseball and America's history.

Spencer had seen a Currier & Ives lithograph– an original of which resides in the Hall's collection – several times before, but it wasn't until that day that it piqued his curiosity.

Joe DiMaggio slides in to home safely in game action during his career. (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

Even for the greatest players baseball has ever known, Opening Day is something special.

And though this year features an unusual Thursday opener, the butterflies will be floating for every player – even those on their way to Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame.

"You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through," said Yankees legend and Hall of Fame center fielder Joe DiMaggio. "You look forward to it like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen."

Peter Gammons was the 2004 J.G. Taylor Spink Award honoree by the BBWAA. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

There are condominiums where the Ramada Inn once stood in Winter Haven, Fla. There are a couple of new fast food restaurants, and a strip mall with a Chili's is across the street where orange trees once stood back in 1974.

In the back of that Ramada Inn was a single tennis court, and in March 1974, a good three dozen fans watched an unusual match. On one doubles team was Ted Williams; on the other, Carl Yastrzemski.

This prize was given to the Boston players for winning the 1903 World Series. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – As history is made at the 2010 World Series, the Hall of Fame will be there to document every moment. It's a tradition that dates back to the beginning of the Fall Classic at the turn of the 20th Century.

During the winter of 1902-03, the National Commission was formed in agreement with the upstart American League and the established National League to preside over organized baseball.

Florrie O'Rourke (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

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“East Side, West Side, all around the town
The tots sang "ring-around-rosie," "London Bridge is falling down"
Boys and girls together, me and Mamie O'Rourke
Tripped the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York”

-- From “The Sidewalks of New York,” by lyricist James W. Blake and vaudeville actor and composer Charles B. Lawlor, 1894

Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg served in the US Army Air Corps. (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – After four war-torn years, the citizens of the United States could finally envision peace. A return to pre-World War II life, however, was much less certain – even for the best athletes of the era.

Enter Hank Greenberg, 65 years ago today.

Lee Richmond threw the first perfect game on June 12, 1880. (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

The Paul Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 3d ed., defines a perfect game as “a no-hitter in which all 27 opposing batters fail to reach first base, either by a base hit, base on balls, hit batter, fielding error, or by any other means.” The entry also stipulates that the first use of the term ‘perfect game’ occurred on Jan. 10, 1909 when the Washington Post reported that “[Ed] Walsh congratulated Addie Joss on the latter’s feat of pitching a perfect game [on October 2, 1908].”

Seven Hall of Famers attended the opening of the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum. (Chip English/Mobile BayBears)

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – When Hank Aaron Stadium opened in Mobile, Ala., in 1997, the staff never could have imagined seven Hall of Famers gracing the field before a Mobile BayBears Double-A minor league baseball game.

But that is exactly what happened at the BayBears home opener on April 14 when the team opened the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum at the stadium – honoring the legacy of legendary Hall of Famer Henry Aaron.

Cincinnati Reds general manager and future Hall of Famer Larry MacPhail presides over the lighting of Crosley Field on May 24, 1935. (Baseball Hall of Fame)

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – It was an idea born almost the moment the incandescent light bulb became a reality. Its execution, however, required more than five decades of perseverance – as technological advances, economic necessity and a few brilliant men finally wore down the opposition.

Today, baseball fans born after 1935 have grown up knowing almost nothing but night baseball. But until 75 years ago, big league baseball was played exclusively during the day.

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