1961 in baseball

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The following are the baseball events of the year 1961 throughout the world.  

Headline event of the year

Champions

Major League Baseball

Other champions

Awards and honors

MLB statistical leaders

Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax
  American League National League
Type Name Stat Name Stat
AVG Norm Cash DET .361 Roberto Clemente PIT .351
HR Roger Maris NYY 61 Orlando Cepeda SFG 46
RBI Roger Maris NYY 142 Orlando Cepeda SFG 142
Wins Whitey Ford NYY 25 Warren Spahn MLN
Joey Jay CIN
21
ERA Dick Donovan WSH 2.40 Warren Spahn MLN 3.02
SO Camilo Pascual MIN 221 Sandy Koufax LAD 269
SV Luis Arroyo NYY 29 Roy Face PIT
Stu Miller SFG
17
SB Luis Aparicio CHW 53 Maury Wills LAD 35

Major league baseball final standings

American League final standings

Rank Club Wins Losses Win %   GB
1st New York Yankees 109   53 .673     –
2nd Detroit Tigers 101   61 .623   8.0
3rd Baltimore Orioles 95   67 .586   14.0
4th Chicago White Sox 86   76 .531   23.0
5th Cleveland Indians 78   83 .484   30.5
6th Boston Red Sox 76   86 .469   33.0
7th Minnesota Twins 70   90 .438   38.0
8th Los Angeles Angels 70   91 .435   38.5
9th Washington Senators 61   100 .379   47.5
10th Kansas City Athletics 61   100 .379   47.5

National League final standings

Rank Club Wins Losses Win %   GB
1st Cincinnati Reds 93   61 .604     –
2nd Los Angeles Dodgers 89   65 .578   4.0
3rd San Francisco Giants 85   69 .552   8.0
4th Milwaukee Braves 83   71 .539   10.0
5th St. Louis Cardinals 80   74 .519   13.0
6th Pittsburgh Pirates 75   79 .487   18.0
7th Chicago Cubs 64   90 .416   29.0
8th Philadelphia Phillies 47   107 .305   46.0

Events

January–April

President John F. Kennedy throws out first ball in Washington, D.C. at Griffith Stadium on April 10, 1961
  • February 7 – Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Jensen makes a return to the major leagues by signing a $40,000 contract. Jensen had retired in 1960 due to a fear of flying. The layoff will prove detrimental to Jensen, who will hit only .263 with 13 home runs in 1961.
  • March – The Cuban government, led by Fidel Castro, abolishes professional baseball and ends the Cuban League, which was started in 1878.
  • April 27 – The Los Angeles Angels drew a disappointing crowd of 11,931 for their home opener against the Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles' Wrigley Field. Ty Cobb, in his last appearance at a ball park, throws out the ceremonial first pitch. Minnesota starter Camilo Pascual spoils the opener by winning, 4–2, sending the Angels to their eighth loss in nine games.

May–August

  • May 8 – New York's expansion National League club announces that the team nickname will be "Mets," a natural shortening of the corporate name ("New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, Inc.")
  • May 31 – Boston Red Sox outfielder Carroll Hardy pinch-hits for rookie Carl Yastrzemski. On September 20, 1960, Hardy pinch hit for Ted Williams, making him the only player to go in for both future Hall of Famers. Hardy also hit his first major league home run pinch-hitting for Roger Maris when both were at Cleveland (May 18, 1958).
  • June 29 – Willie Mays hits 3 home runs helping San Francisco Giants beat Philadelphia Phillies 8-7.
  • July 4 – Willie Mays hits 300th career home run.
  • July 11 – Strong winds at Candlestick Park dominate the first All-Star Game of the season. A capacity crowd sees pitcher Stu Miller blown off the mound in the ninth inning resulting in balk being called, and it enables the American League to forge a 3–3 tie before losing 5–4 in 10 innings.
  • July 17 – Commissioner Ford Frick decrees that Babe Ruth's record of 60 home runs in a 154-game schedule in 1927 "cannot be broken unless some batter hits 61 or more within his club's first 154 games." Two days later, Frick, an old friend of Ruth, announces that should Ruth's record be beaten after 154 games, the record will carry an asterisk. When asked about the ruling, Roger Maris replies, "A season is a season."
  • July 31 – At Fenway Park, the second All-Star Game of the year ends in a 1–1 tie as heavy rain halted play. It is the first tie in All-Star history.
  • August 11 – Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves records his 300th career win.
  • August 20 – The Philadelphia Phillies snap a modern-day record 23-game losing streak, defeating the Milwaukee Braves 7-4 in the second game of a doubleheader at Milwaukee County Stadium. Phillie pitcher John Buzhardt goes the distance for the victory; he had also been the winning pitcher in the Phillies' last victory prior to the start of the losing streak, on July 28 against the San Francisco Giants.
  • August 22 – Roger Maris becomes the first player to hit his 50th home run of the season in the month of August as the Yankees lose to the Los Angeles Angels 4-3. Angels' pitcher Ken McBride tees up the gopher ball in the 6th inning with one on.
  • August 23 – At Cincinnati's Crosley Field, the Giants hit five home runs in a 12-run ninth inning, beat the Cincinnati reds 14-0.
  • August 24 – Ageless Satchel Paige signs with Portland of the Pacific Coast League. in 25 innings for the Beavers, he will have a 2.88 ERA.

September–December

  • November 22 – Frank Robinson becomes the first Cincinnati Reds player in 21 years to win the National League MVP Award, taking 219 of 224 possible votes.
  • November 26 – The Professional Baseball Rules Committee votes 8–1 against legalizing the spitball. Only National League supervisor of umpires Cal Hubbard votes in favor.
  • December 2 – MLB clubs vote to curb bonuses. All first-year players not on major rosters, except one minor leaguer, can be drafted by any other club for $8,000. Clubs are expected to be unwilling to pay large bonuses for players who will be subject to a draft for just $8,000.

Births

January–March

April–June

July–September

October–December

Deaths

  • January 5 – Fred Luderus, 75, Phillies first baseman of the 1910s, captain of the 1915 NL champions
  • January 8 – Schoolboy Rowe, 50, 3-time All-Star pitcher who won 158 games, mainly with the Tigers and Phillies
  • January 28 – Red Oldham, 67, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates
  • January 30 – Aaron Ward, 64, second baseman on the Yankees' first championship team in 1923
  • February 16 – Dazzy Vance, 69, Hall of Fame pitcher who led the NL in strikeouts seven years in a row and won the 1924 MVP award
  • February 19 – Red Smith, 61, shortstop for the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1920s
  • March 13 – Joe Berry, 88, catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies for one game in 1902
  • April 15 – Nick Cullop, 73, pitcher for the Cleveland Naps, New York Yankees and St. Louis Browns, who also won 22 games for the 1915 Kansas City Packers in the outlaw Federal League
  • April 23 – Jack Barry, 73, shortstop in the Athletics' "$100,000 infield", coach since 1921 at Holy Cross, where he won the 1952 College World Series and posted the highest career winning percentage (.806) in collegiate history
  • April 28 – Tommy Connolly, 90, Hall of Fame umpire from 1898 to 1931 who worked the first American League game ever, as well as the first contests at Comiskey Park, Shibe Park, Fenway Park, and Yankee Stadium
  • May 17 – Otto Knabe, 76, Second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies for many years, and was the player-manager for the Baltimore Terrapins of the Federal League.
  • June 18 – Eddie Gaedel, 36, 3'7" player who made one appearance for the 1951 Browns in a stunt promotion
  • July 17 – Ty Cobb, 74, Hall of Fame center fielder widely recognized during his lifetime as the greatest player in the sport's history, and holder of more records than any other player including highest lifetime batting average (.367) and most career hits (4,191), runs (2,245), steals (892), games (3,033) and at bats (11,429)
  • July 17 – Ed Reulbach, 78, pitcher who starred for the Cubs from 1905 to 1913, winning 182 career games
  • July 18 – Hod Eller, 67, pitcher for the Reds from 1917–1921, including a 1919 World Series game which saw him strike out 6 in a row
  • August 3 – Thomas Edward Downey, 77, played from 1909 to 1915 for the Reds, Phillies, Cubs, and Bisons.
  • September 9 – Jesse Barnes, 69, pitcher who won 152 games for the Braves, Giants and Dodgers, including a no-hitter
  • September 9 – Rube Oldring, 77, outfielder who played mainly for the Athletics, including 4 pennant winners
  • October 21 – Harry Gleason, 86, infielder/outfielder who played from 1901 through 1905 for the Boston Americans and St. Louis Browns
  • December 15 – Dummy Hoy, 99, center fielder who scored over 100 runs nine times, and the game's most accomplished deaf player; he threw out the first ball of the 1961 World Series' third game on October 7









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