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Off-field news dominates, Spring Training begins
Padres deal with death of outfielder Mike Darr
By Ken Mandel /

The Braves' George Lombard (right) talked with Chipper Jones while warming up on Saturday, Feb. 16 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Scott Audette/AP)
As with any normal baseball year, most things that occurred during February 2002 did so off the field.

The month opened with the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins -- the most widely rumored contraction targets -- being saved by an announcement to postpone the elimination of two clubs. It ended with the complete sale of one of baseball's most storied franchises -- the Boston Red Sox. Somewhere in between, players reported to Spring Training facilities in Florida and Arizona. Not all the news was happy, as the Padres dealt with the death of outfielder Mike Darr.

Feb. 5
The Expos and Twins are spared an economic fate when Commissioner Bud Selig announces that contraction won't happen for the 2002 season. Columnist Mike Bauman writes that the announcement gives Minnesota fans a well-deserved second chance, while Matthew Leach writes that it's a sigh of relief for the sport.

Feb. 5
The Anaheim Angels, speculated to have been a contraction target, sign closer Troy Percival to a two-year contract extension. Eight months later, fans and their rally monkeys go nuts as Percival pumps his fist after getting the final out of the 2002 World Series.

Feb. 12
In an unprecedented step, Major League Baseball officially acquired the Montreal Expos and named Hall of Famer Frank Robinson the manager and New York Mets executive Omar Minaya the general manager. For Minaya, this represented a chance he had been waiting a long time to get. Commissioner Bud Selig announced the moves at a press conference.

The same day, the Marlins' sale is approved

February Multimedia Highlights
February Audio
 February Photos

    Cards photo tops in 2002
A touching moment with Kannon Kile and the St. Louis Cardinals received the honors as the best baseball photo of 2002. View the complete results >
Giambi call garners honors
WCBS announcer John Sterling's description of a mammoth Jason Giambi homer was voted as the best radio call of 2002. See the complete results >

Feb. 15
The Padres family is stunned by the death of outfielder Mike Darr, who is killed in an automobile accident near San Diego's Spring Training camp in Peoria, Ariz. The players and staff had very fond memories of the 25-year-old.

Feb. 16
Shortly after giving up his team north of the border, Loria says he has big plans for the Marlins. Loria's press conference

Disgruntled Phillies third baseman Scott Rolen holds a press conference to explain why he didn't sign a contract extension with the Phillies. It turns into a diatribe in which he said that the team lacked a commitment to winning.

After 13 years in the big leagues, Kevin Tapani heads to retirement. The 37-year-old pitcher went 143-125 with a 4.35 ERA for his career, which was spent with the Mets, Twins, Dodgers, White Sox and Cubs. His best year was 1991, when he went 16-9 with a 2.99 ERA and won a World Series title with Minnesota. He was the winning pitcher in Game 2 of the World Series against the Braves.

Feb. 17
Braves left fielder Chipper Jones says he's excited about moving to the outfield. He had spent the previous seven seasons at third base, but agreed to move after the team signed Vinny Castilla.

Feb. 22
The Cleveland Indians reveal the real age of ace Bartolo Colon. He is arguably the most significant Latin player to gain years during an offseason in which birth certificates were more thoroughly checked.

Feb. 25
Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell announces he is retiring after 55 years of announcing Major League Baseball games. Forty-two of those seasons had been spent with the Tigers. Former Tiger Al Kaline and others express the sentiment that Harwell was the game's greatest announcer.

Feb. 27
In the wake of the Enron Corp. financial scandal, the Astros change the name of their ballpark.

The time-consuming, complex and lucrative sale of the Boston Red Sox ended in a subtle yet joyous way, as John Henry, the principal owner of the new ownership group, and Larry Lucchino, the incoming president and CEO took control of one of baseball's most storied franchises. The 69-year Yawkey era thus came to a close.

Feb. 28
The day after closing the sale, the Red Sox fired general manager Dan Duquette after eight seasons on the job.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.