This Day In Baseball January 1
On January 1 in baseball history features, Hall of Famers Tim Keefe and Hank Greenberg are both born. Cool Papa Bell the speed merchant homers 3 times in one game. Josh Gibson suffers a nervous breakdown. Babe Ruth in support of WWII buys a $50,000 defense bond.
Turn of the century star, also known as the Brooklyn Millionaire, Wee Willie Keller passes away at the age of 50. Briggs Stadium is renamed Tiger Stadium. The Dodgers celebrate their 50th year in LA and Hockey is played in Fenway, Wrigley, Citi Field and Washington.
Debuts, Milestones, No Hitters, Rule Changes, Events, Birthdays, Deaths, and more on This Day In Baseball.
Events for January 1
Having promised his fans and former teammates he’d live to see 1923, Wee Willie Keeler dies on New Year’s Day of that year as a result of heart failure. The diminutive fine-hitting Hall of Fame outfielder, who played for the National League’s Superbas (Dodgers), Orioles, and Giants and the Highlanders (Yankees) of the American League, is credited with the baseball axiom, “Keep your eyes clear, and hit ’em where they ain’t.”
1927 – The press is informed that outfielder Zack Wheat, after 18 consecutive seasons with the Brooklyn Robins teams, has been released. Wheat, who led the National League in hitting in 1918 with a .335 batting average, will hit .324 in 88 games for the Philadelphia Athletics in his final major league season in 1927, completing a distinguished Hall of Fame career with a lifetime mark of .318.
The Robins announce outfielder Zack Wheat, after 18 consecutive seasons with the club, has been released. The future Hall of Famer, who led the National League in hitting in 1918 with a .335 batting average, will hit .324 in 88 games for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s this season, finishing his career with a lifetime mark of .311.
1929 – Cool Papa Bell, playing for Cienfuegos, becomes the first slugger to connect for three home runs in a single game during Cuban professional play. A Negro Leaguer and future Hall of Fame member, Bell accomplishes his feat at Aida Park during the 15 – 11 slugfest victory over Habana. All three are inside-the-park efforts. Oscar Levis, Cliff Bell and Martin Dihigo surrender the homers.
In a decision which foreshadows a significant blow to Detroit’s farm system, Kenesaw Mountain Landis voids the last month’s trade which would have sent Tiger hurler George Coffman and second baseman Benny McCoy to the A’s for outfielder Wally Moses. The commissioner declares McCoy a free agent because the team hid the infielder from other clubs, and in two weeks baseball’s first czar will also grant free agency to another 87 of the club’s farm hands due to their concealment in the minor leagues.
Tiger Stadium is the official new name for the Detroit ballpark at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull Avenues. The facility, which opened in 1912, was originally known as Navin Field, named for team owner Frank Navin, before becoming Briggs Stadium in 1938, reflecting the expansion efforts of Walter Briggs, who increased the yard’s capacity to 53,000 under his ownership by double-decking the stands in left field.
Major League Baseball launches MLB Network, a cable and satellite television channel based out of Secaucus, NJ. The channel debuts in nearly 50 million cable and satellite homes – the largest debut in cable television history, exceeding any other cable television launch by approximately 20 million homes.
The friendly confines of Wrigley Field see a different type of action as the ballpark is fitted with an outdoor hockey rink to welcome an afternoon NHL game between the Chicago Black Hawks and Detroit Red Wings. The event is a huge success with 40,818 in attendance and a huge television audience in place to watch the Wings beat the Hawks, 6-4. Other ballparks are lining up to host future editions of what will become an annual New Year’s Day event.
World Series hero Sergio Romo is detained by authorities in Las Vegas, NV after failing to produce appropriate identification to clear security at the city’s airport. The incident degenerates, forcing police to intervene and issue Romo a citation for violating airport rules. He will issue a public apology two days later.
It’s the Nation’s Capital’s turn to host the annual National Hockey League Winter Classic, with Nationals Park transformed into an outdoor hockey rink for the occasion. The Washington capitals defeat the Chicago Black Hawks, 3-2, thanks to a goal with under 13 seconds left to play. The game draws a crowd of 42,832.
2018 – The annual NHL Winter Classic is held at Citi Field in Queens, NY as the New York Rangers defeat the Buffalo Sabres, 3-2, in overtime. 41,821 fans brave freezing temperatures to witness the game in person, as yellow taxi cabs and billboards are scattered in empty spaces around the rink to give the venue a true New York City feel.