Needing to choose at least one more player to reach the initial goal of having at least ten inductees prior to the dedication ceremonies this summer, members of the BBWAA elect 'Wee' Willie Keeler, George Sisler and Eddie Collins to be in the inaugural class of the Hall of Fame. The trio joins nine major leaguers who were chosen in the annual election in 1936, which included Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson, as well as Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, and
Cy Young who were honored by the writers a year later.
Cubs business manager Jim Gallagher, chairman of the nine-man rules committee, announces the two leagues will implement an existing rule during spring training that requires a hurler to throw the ball when the bases are empty within 20 seconds after taking a pitching position. The edict, which results with the umpire calling a ball when the tosses are tardy, will not be in effect during the season.
The A's trade Whitey Herzog and Russ Snyder to the Orioles for Wayne Causey, Jim Archer, Bob Boyd, and Al Pilarcik. The deal will not improve either club as both teams will finish in the second division next season.
The Southern Association, established in 1901, suspends operation due to decreasing yearly attendance. With the exception of 27 year-old outfielder Nat Peeples, who became the only black player in the league's history when he appeared in two games with the 1954 Atlanta Crackers, the circuit remained racially segregated until the end of its existence.
Warren Spahn becomes only the sixth player elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, receiving 316 of the 380 (83.2%) votes cast by the BBWAA scribes. The crafty southpaw, who recorded thirteen 20-win seasons with the Braves, retired as the winningest left-handed pitcher in big league history with 363 victories.
The controlling interest of the Mets is sold by the Payson family to book publisher Doubleday and Company, with Fred Wilpon of Sterling Equities and a group from City Investing becoming minority owners. The estimated $21.1 million price tag, twice as much of the sale of the Yankees to George Steinbrenner six years ago, is the highest amount ever paid for a baseball franchise, far surpassing the $12 million needed to purchase the Orioles and Astros last season.
Believed to be an historical first, sixty-eight major league umpires participate in a preseason session to practice calling strikes as defined by the rule book. With the help of minor leaguers wearing tapes nine inches above their belts, the men in blue get a good look at pitches, normally called balls, which now will be considered a strike as the correct interpretation of the zone will be enforced this upcoming season.
Jay Gibbons (.277, 26, 79) and the Orioles agree to a $21.1 million, four-year deal. The 28 year-old outfielder, who is getting married this weekend, could have taken his chances on the free agent market next season.
Cliff Floyd, coming off an injured Achilles tendon signs a very flexible deal with the Cubs, beginning with a one-year guaranteed contract for $3 million to one which could be worth as much as $17.5 million over two years. The Chicago native will give the North-siders left-handed power off the bench and is expected to platoon with Matt Murton.
The Braves, avoiding arbitration, sign Rafael Soriano (3-3, 3.00) to a two-year deal worth $9 million. Atlanta plans to use the 29 year-old right-handed reliever, who recorded nine saves last year, as their closer this season.