This Day In Baseball January 14
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1919 – John McGraw, Charles A. Stoneham, and Tammany Hall politician Judge Francis X. McQuade buy controlling interest in the New York Giants from the John Brush estate. Having drawn just 265,000 fans in 1918, the club is sold at a bargain price. The three will spend many days in courtrooms fighting among themselves, and fending off government charges about Stoneham’s business practices.
The Senators name Clyde Milan to replace George McBride, who guided Washington to a fourth-place finish with an 80-73 record in his only season as a big league skipper. The team’s new player-manager, an outfielder with the club since 1907, will see his sixth-place club finish 16 games under .500 during his final year in baseball.
1940 – Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis gives free agency to 91 Detroit Tigers players and farm hands. Citing cover-ups of the movement of players within its organization, Landis hands freedom to Roy Cullenbine, Benny McCoy, Dutch Dietz, and Steve Rachunok from the parent roster and orders $47,250 paid as compensation to 14 players. Johnny Sain is one of 23 players who will later make it to the major leagues. Landis’s edict also nullifies a deal that would have brought the Philadelphia Athletics’ Wally Moses to the Tigers.
1963 – In a blockbuster seven-player trade, the Chicago White Sox send shortstop Luis Aparicio and outfielder Al Smith to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, outfielder Dave Nicholson, third baseman Pete Ward and shortstop Ron Hansen. In the upcoming season, Wilhelm will save 21 games while Aparicio will lead the American League in stolen bases with 40.
After seeing his upstart team win the World Series three months ago, Mets general manager Johnny Murphy dies after suffering a massive heart attack. The 61 year-old baseball executive, who was a talented reliever for the Yankees in the 1930s and early ’40s, will be succeeded by Bob Scheffing, the team’s special assignment scout.
WTCG-TV owner Ted Turner obtains 100% of the Atlanta Braves for $12 million. ‘Captain Ted’ purchases the club to provide sports programming for his local channel 17, but when the FCC permits the station to use a satellite in December to broadcast shows on cable networks, the franchise, now available to be viewed by millions of subscribers, will become known as America’s Team.
1986 – Picking first in the January draft, Cleveland selects pitcher Jeff Shaw. The Pirates, selecting second, take outfielder Moises Alou. It will be the last time the January draft is held: from now on all draft-eligible players will be part of a single pool for selection in the June Amateur Draft.
1987 – Catfish Hunter and Billy Williams are elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA. Hunter made his name as the ace of the Oakland Athletics pitching staff in their World Championship years in the mid-1970s and made his fortune as one of the first rated free agents. Williams set a National League record by playing in 1,117 consecutive games and accumulating 426 home runs and a batting title.
The BBWAA elects hurler Catfish Hunter and outfielder Billy Williams (Cubs, A’s) to the Hall of Fame. The right-hander, an ace with the A’s and Yankees, became one of the game’s first big money free agents, and the Chicago flychaser established a National League record by playing in 1,117 consecutive games.
1988 – Slugger Bob Horner makes a return to the major leagues by signing a one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. Horner played the 1987 season with the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League, as collusion reduced demand for his services in Major League Baseball to nothing. With St. Louis, Horner will replace Jack Clark at first base.
2001 – The Chicago White Sox obtain pitchers David Wells and Matt DeWitt from the Toronto Blue Jays for pitcher Mike Sirotka, Kevin Beirne and Mike Williams, and outfielder Brian Simmons. Sirotka, the key player obtained by the Jays, will turn out to be injured and will never pitch in the majors again.
Dontrelle Willis, Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano are among the 100 players who file for salary arbitration, the often acrimonious negotiating process that rankles baseball management every winter. Mark Prior, Josh Beckett, Brad Lidge, Adam Dunn, Morgan Ensberg, Brian Roberts, Travis Lee and Scot Shields are some of the other players who file before the deadline. Last year, players in arbitration averaged a 123 percent salary increase.
The Dodgers, in an attempt to buy time as closer Eric Gagne recovers from elbow surgery, trade right-hander Edwin Jackson and prospect lefty Chuck Tiffany to the Devil Rays to obtain All-Star penmen Danys Baez and Lance Carter, as well as a minor league player to be named. Baez, who saved 41 games for Tampa Bay last season, will be the team’s closer until Gagne is ready to return.
In an effort to replace Andruw Jones, their former Glove Glover in centerfield, the Braves acquire Mark Kotsay from the rebuilding A’s in exchange for reliever Joey Devine and a minor league pitching prospect. Additionally, Atlanta will pick up approximately $5 million of their new outfielder’s $7.35 million salary.
The Angels avoid arbitration when the team agrees to a $5,775,000, one-year deal with Chone Figgins, the club’s versatile switch-hitter. The 30 year-old, who led the team with 34 stolen bases last season, has employed mostly third base, but he has also played second, shortstop, and in the outfield by Halos’ skipper Mike Scioscia.
The Tigers agree to terms with free agent reliever Jose Valverde, who played for the Houston Astros last season. As a result of the signing, the Tigers will give up their first pick in the 2010 amateur draft, the first time the team has surrendered its top pick since signing Rob Deer as a free agent in 1991.
The Blue Jays trade starting shortstop Alex Gonzalez along with minor leaguers Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky to the Braves in exchange for infielder Yunel Escobar and southpaw Jo-Jo Reyes. The Braves’ new infielder is probably best known for his role in Florida’s improbable World Series victory over New York, that includes a walk-off home run in the 12th inning of Game Four, giving the Marlins a 4-3 victory and a 2-2 tie in the Fall Classic.
Hiromitsu Ochiai and Mutsuo Minagawa are elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. Ochiai was the only three-time Triple Crown winner in Nippon Pro Baseball and later guided the Chunichi Dragons to the 2007 Japan Series title. Minagawa was a six-time All-Star who had a career record of 221-139.
2014 – Four pitchers combine on a no-hitter as Escogido clinches a spot in the finals of the Dominican League championship tournament with a 6 – 0 win over Licey. Jon Leicester pitches the first five innings, and three relievers follow suit, with Fernando Ramsey completing the no-no by striking out Lonnie Chisenhall for the final out; Ramon Garcia and Armando Rodriguez are the other two pitchers involved.
2016 – The St. Petersburg, FL city council votes to allow the Tampa Bay Rays to explore potential ballpark sites outside the city, including in Tampa, FL across the Bay. The team has played in St. Pete since its creation in the expansion of 1998, but has been unable to find an appropriate site for new digs there, while being held prisoner by a long-term lease in outdated Tropicana Field.
At the home of the Japanese consul general in Atlanta, Hank Aaron is presented with the Gold Rays with Rosette, the fourth class of Order of the Rising Sun, one of Japan’s highest honors. The 81 year-old American home run king is commended, along with Sadaharu Oh, for his efforts towards the World Children’s Baseball Fair, an organization which fosters an environment of world understanding and cultural exchange through the celebration of the sport.
“I think it is a plan that is in the best interest of the entire bay area and I have to give him [St. Pete’s mayor Rick Kriseman] an awful lot of credit for perseverance and for crafting a plan that has the best interests of the citizens of St. Petersburg, protects their investment in that stadium and at the same time recognizes the fiscal reality of the situation.” – BOB BUCKHORN, mayor of Tampa, Florida The St. Petersburg’s City Council votes 5-3, supporting a measure which allows the Rays to explore new stadium sites in Hillsborough County, which had, up to now, not been up for discussion due to the team’s agreement to stay at Tropicana Field until 2027. The heralded deal looks out for taxpayers while securing the franchise’s commitment to remain in the environs of the Tampa Bay area.
2018 – For anyone who likes high-scoring games, the Sydney Blue Sox and Perth Heat of the Australian Baseball League lock up in a 22- 19 slugfest that features 12 homers. As a point of comparison, the highest scoring game of the most recent major league season featured just 32 runs, and the most homers hit in a game was 10.
Mel Stottlemyre Sr., the Astros’ pitching coach from 1994-95, passes away from cancer at age 77. In an 11-year career with the Yankees, the righthander won 164 games and was a five-time All-Star. He owned another footnote in Houston history as the opposing starting pitcher for the first game in the Astrodome.
2019 – Kyler Murray, Oakland’s top pick in the 2018 amateur draft and winner of the Heisman Trophy as a star quarterback for the University of Oklahoma, announces that he has declared for the upcoming NFL draft hours before the midnight ET limit for doing so. He is expected to be selected early in the first round, but the A’s could still convince him to forgo a football career by sweetening the contract they reached with him last summer.