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Jan 15, 1981-GIBSON INVITED

NEW YORK, NEW YORK A feared and fearless pitcher was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on this date in 1981. St. Louis Cardinal righty Bob Gibson became, at the time, just the 11th player voted into the Hall in his first year of eligibility. Gibson said, “That didn’t affect me until I saw the guys who made it in their first year.”

They were Al Kaline, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Bob Feller, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Warren Spahn and Mickey Mantle (players like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb aren’t among the 11 because they were already voted into the Hall in its inaugural year of 1939).

Bob Gibson won 20 or more games 5 times. His best won-loss year was 1970 when he went 23-7. But his most dominant year, as far as he and most observers are concerned, was 1968. He went 22-9 with a 1.13 ERA and 13 shutouts. Two of his 9 losses were by scores of 1-0.

His ERA was the 3rd lowest in the modern era (since 1900). He won the Cy Young award and was National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1968.

The Omaha native pitched in 3 World Series. The Cardinals won two of them – 1964 against the Yankees and 1967 against the Boston Red Sox. He was MVP in both. His World Series record was 7-2.

Some little-known facts about Bob Gibson; He went to Creighton University on a basketball scholarship, averaging 22 point per game his junior year. Before he joined the Cardinals he played one year for the Harlem GlobeTrotters basketball team.

Contributing source:
Chicago Tribune Wire Services, January 16, 1981, “Gibson in Hall, no one else comes close.”
More on Bob Gibson

Jan 14, 1963-APARICIO: MAGICIAN

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS  Luis Aparicio was a Hall of Fame shortstop, a 13-time All-Star, a 9-time Gold Glove winner, a fan favorite everywhere he went, so why was he traded so often? “Little Louie” as he was called, was traded on this day in 1963 along with Al Smith, from the Chicago White Sox to the Baltimore Orioles for Hoyt Wilhelm, Dave Nicholson, Pete Ward, and Ron Hansen.

Aparicio was traded three times, but one of those was back to the White Sox, the team he started his career with. There was never a hint of Aparicio being anything but a team player.

When he retired in 1973 Aparicio was the all-time leader in games played, assists and putouts by a shortstop. He was the American League stolen base leader nine years in a row. He helped the White Sox get to the World Series in 1959 and helped the Baltimore Orioles win the World Series in 1966.IN AN

In an 18-year big league career the Venezuelan born Aparicio never played any position other than shortstop?

Luis Aparicio was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.

Contributing source:
Baseball-Reference

Jan 13, 1958-SILENT PARTNER

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – On this day in 1958 it became known that former Chicago White Sox third baseman Buck Weaver personally appealed to the Commissioner who banned him from the game to get reinstated. The New York Times reported that Weaver met with Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis the previous week, but since it was not a formal appeal, it was not publicly disclosed.

Weaver had been kicked out of major league baseball for life for being part of a conspiracy to throw the 1919 World Series. Despite he and seven other players being acquitted of taking bribes from gamblers (mainly because their confessions were mysteriously lost), baseball banned them anyway for associating with gamblers. The evidence was that Weaver refused to take part in the plan but never spoke up about it either.

Weaver hit .324 in the series and played errorless third base, which lent credence to his declaration that he wasn’t involved, but Commissioner Landis wouldn’t budge. This was the first of several unsuccessful attempts by George “Buck” Weaver during his lifetime to get his named cleared. He died in 1956 at age 65.

Contributing sources:
The New York Times, January 14, 1922
1919 World Series stats, box scores

Jan 12, 1961 – GENIUS OR FOOL?

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS • Chewing gum magnate and Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley dropped a bombshell on the baseball world on this date in 1961 – he announced that the Cubs would not have a manager for the upcoming season.

The franchise had been struggling. The Cubs were 60-94 in 1960, the eighth year in a row the team lost more games than it won. Wrigley wanted a revolving door – a revolving door of coaches. Wrigley considered the manager a “dictator,” and instead would rotate eight coaches through the major and minor leagues. Each would take turns running the major league club. Length of stay would depend on how well the “coach” was doing. This brain trust became known as the College of Coaches.

Wrigley wanted help from another unlikely source, “Everyone has always said baseball is a game of percentages, but I have yet to find anyone in baseball who can figure the percentages.” He wanted an IBM machine in the dugout so whoever was running the team could access statistical information about opposing, as well as Cub players. This information would in turn help dictate game strategy. Mind you, this is decades before the personal computer.

The Ivy League approach didn’t work. The Cubs finished the 1961 season 64-90, just four games better than the year before. The situation got worse in 1962 when the Cubs lost 103 games on a 154 game schedule, the worst season the Cubs ever had. And that was the end of the College of Coaches.

Contributing sources:
Chicago Daily Tribune, 
January 13, 1961, by E. Prell, P. C1 
MLB stats
Philip K. Wrigley 

Jan 11, 1971-TIGER STRICKEN

DULUTH, MINNESOTA – Detroit Tiger pitcher John Hiller suffered a heart attack at his home in Duluth, Minnesota on this day in baseball history. He was just 27-years old. According to Bruce Markusen of Detroit Sports History, Hiller was not out of shape or overweight, but he was a heavy smoker.

Hiller recovered, and amazingly, despite missing the entire 1971 season, had better years after the heart attack than before.

The Canadian native broke in with the Tigers in 1965. The most games he won before his heart attack was nine, the most saves he had (Hiller was mostly a reliever) was four. After returning to baseball Hiller won ten games and had thirty-eight saves in 1973. He won seventeen games in ’74 – all in relief, an American League record – and had twelve wins in ’76.

Hiller’s entire 15-year career was with Detroit. He finished with 87 wins and 76 losses and a sparkling earned run average of 2.83.

Contributing sources:
Detroit Sports History
John Hiller, Wikipedia