There’s always something exciting about moving into the month of March. I guess it’s the annual anticipation of spring and the realization that the winter months are almost behind us — if only theoretically.
Lord knows, by now we should be used to the occasional March weather set-back, when lingering cold and snow dash our hopes for an early spring. I’m sure we can all recall when a March warm-up would be underway and then Mother Nature slapped us with an early April spring blizzard.
It makes no difference, though, when March arrives, we still get the spring optimism flowing. It’s an irrepressible urge. And amazingly, there have been years of little snow, when the spring lawn-raking ritual actually began in the month of March and golf courses came to life in late March or early April. It certainly doesn't happen often, but you never know.
So as spring slowly approaches, let’s have a look at this new month:
March 2, 1927 — Babe Ruth signed a baseball contract for the then unheard of amount of $70,000.
Seems like loose change by today’s baseball contracts.
March 4, 1869 — Officials at the University of Kansas, objecting to “bloomer suits,” cancelled women’s fencing drills on the basis of unseemly garb. Tsk, tsk.
March 6, 1836 — The siege of the Alamo ended in tragedy as more than 180 Americans were massacred. They had held off Santa Anna’s Mexican forces for 10 days.
One historically suspect account of the battle alleges that there were five survivors, including Davy Crockett, who were executed after the battle. But first-hand Mexican testimony claims Crockett died during the battle and the only survivors were a woman and a black slave.
I remember as a kid wearing my coonskin cap and thinking that Davy probably didn’t die because the Walt Disney version was rather ambiguous about the Alamo ending. And we certainly didn't want Fess Parker to die, did we? Ah, Hollywood.
March 15, 44 BC — It was a very bad day for Julius Caesar and gave rise to that bad-omen schtick about, “Beware the ides of March.”
March 15 — On the other hand, it's a good day in Hinckley, Ohio, because the buzzards return, supposedly heralding imminent coming of spring. Our version is flocks of geese honking above us as we savour any mild March days that come our way.
Also suggesting spring: in a couple of days it will be swallow time at San Juan Capistrano in California. Every March 19, the swallows return from their winter condo in Argentina.
March 15, 1913 — Just 11 days after his inauguration, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson held history's very first open presidential news conference. And there's been plenty of political stick-handling in front of the media since then, hasn’t there?
March 16, 1830 — Only 31 shares were traded on the New York Stock Exchange, setting a record as the slowest day ever in the history of that organization.
March 17 — A day for the Irish. It brings to mind the old St. Patrick’s Day toast: “May the enemies of Ireland neither eat bread nor drink whisky, but be tormented with itching, without benefit of scratching.”
March 20 — The first day of official spring. My thanks to old friend Vernal Equinox for sharing that valuable piece of weather trivia. Thanks, Vern!
March 21, 1923 — In Toronto, Foster Hewitt made the first radio broadcast of Hockey Night In Canada.
March 28, 1913 — How’s this for clever baseball negotiating. The St. Louis Browns used their infielder, Buzzy Wares, as payment for the stadium facility they used for spring training. He couldn’t get traded for another player, but he got traded for a building rental. Buzzy was left behind to play for the local minor league team in Montgomery, Alabama. Sorry, Buzz. It’s just business.