Jan 17, 1970-OWNER’S DEFENSE

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Baseball great Willie Mays spoke out in favor of major league (MLB) owners on this date in baseball history, and he was still playing at the time.

The San Francisco Giant outfielder told Joe Garagiola in an interview, “If players control the game it is going to be bad. Owners must make some money, too.”

Mays comments were in reference to Curt Flood‘s refusal to report to the Philadelphia Phillies, the team he was traded to by the St. Louis Cardinals. Mays didn’t criticize Flood’s refusal to report, only saying, “That’s a personal thing. For myself I want to stay in San Francisco, but if the Giants traded me I would go.”

Curt flood refused to report to the Phillies in protest of baseball’s reserve clause which put the player’s future totally in the hands of the team that held his contract. Flood sued and the case went all the way to the United State Supreme Court. While he lost, it paved the way for free agency.

By the way, Willie Mays didn’t finish his career with the Giants. He was traded to the New York Mets in 1972.

Contributing source:
 Jack Hanley, The Daily Review, Hayward, California, January 18, 1970

Jan 16, 2003-HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA • MLB team owners voted unanimously on this day in baseball history to have the annual all-star game be more than an exhibition. Starting with the 2003 contest, the league that wins the all-star game will have home field advantage for the World Series.

Fifteen of the previous seventeen World Series champions (before the 2003 rule change) had home-field advantage. The two leagues had been alternating home field advantage since it began in 1903.

The move was precipitated by an embarrassing situation at the previous year’s all-star classic in 2002. Commissioner Bud Selig was forced to call the game, being played in his hometown of Milwaukee, in the 11th inning with it tied 7-7 because both teams ran out of pitchers.

The thinking now is that won’t happen again because the teams will be playing to win not just to get everyone in the game. Teams will be urged to save pitchers and other position players for the eventuality of the game going into extra innings.

*As a postscript, since 2003 the American League has had home field advantage 11 times to the National League’s 3. But the National League has been on the winning side of the World Series 8 times to the American League’s 6.

** Postscript #2, As of December 2016, the owners changed the home-field-advantage rule again. Starting with the 2017 post-season, home field advantage for the World Series will not go to the league that wins the All-star game. It will go to the World Series team with the best regular season record.

Contributing sources:
MLB All-Star game

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

a STORY from today in baseball history