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This Day in Baseball History
January 21st

27 Fact(s) Found

"The legend has been spread that the owners hired the Judge off the federal bench. Don't you believe it. They got him right out of Dickens." - LEO DUROCHER, speaking about encounters with the commissioner during his playing days.

In a move widely supported by the press, 55-year-old Kenesaw Mountain Landis becomes baseball's first commissioner, replacing the three-man National Commission, formerly governed by league presidents Ban Johnson, John Heydler, and Reds owner Garry Herrmann. In November, the jurist agreed to take the position for seven years at a salary of $50,000 (minus a $7,500 reduction to reflect his current pay as a judge) on the condition if he can continue to serve on the federal bench, an arrangement that ends in thirteen months, when he resigns from his judicial responsibilities.

1941 The Indians sign Bob Feller (27-11, 2.61) to a deal worth a reported $30,000, making the 22-year-old farm boy from Van Meter, Iowa, the highest-paid hurler in baseball history. Dazzy Vance and Lefty Grove previously held the distinction when they were paid $27,500 for one season of work. Now Pitching, Bob Feller

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1947 The BBWAA elects southpaws Carl Hubbell and Lefty Grove, infielder Frank Frisch, and catcher Mickey Cochrane for induction into the Hall of Fame in July, along with 11 additional individuals the Old-Timers Committee selected that led to revisions in the selection process. The extensive list of new HOFers included Tommy McCarthy, Jesse Burkett, Clark Griffith, Joe McGinnity, Jack Chesbro, Eddie Plank, Rube Waddell, Frank Chance, Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Ed Walsh.
1953 Cardinal legend Dizzy Dean and outfielder Al Simmons, best known for his years with the A's, are elected to the Hall of Fame, but Joe DiMaggio, in his first year of eligibility, is not. The Yankee Clipper will have to wait until 1955, when 88.8% of the BBWAA scribes put his name on their ballot.
1958 To fill the void of National League baseball in New York City, the Phillies agree to televise 78 games in the metropolitan area, not hosting a Senior Circuit team for the first time since the league's inception in 1876. The Pirates and Cardinals will also beam games into the Big Apple, but their contests will only feature the departed Dodgers and Giants as opponents.
1960 Stan Musial insists the Cardinals cut his salary from $100,000 to $80,000, believing the team overpaid him in 1958 and 1959, and the reduced wage should reflect his poor performance for the team last season. The Redbird's 39-year-old All-Star first baseman batted .255 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs in the 115 games played last season.
1965 Teams, Inc. meet with National League president Warren Giles to plead their case of keeping the Braves in Milwaukee through the upcoming season. The community non-profit organization, headed by future baseball commissioner Bud Selig, successfully prevents the club from marching to Atlanta at the All-Star break when the league rules the team must honor the final year of their stadium lease.
1969 Cardinal legend Stan Musial is elected into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, receiving 93% of the writers' votes. The BBWAA also selects Roy Campanella, the former Dodger catcher, the winner of three National League MVPs before being permanently disabled in a car accident just before spring training in 1958.
1971 No player receives three-fourths of the necessary votes for election into the Hall of Fame, with Yogi Berra (67.2%) and Early Wynn (66.7%) coming the closest, both being inducted into Cooperstown next season. The writers will eventually select the top eight vote-getters for enshrinement, except for Gil Hodges, who will get the Veterans Committee's nod in 2022.

1981 The office of the Baseball Commissioner announces lifetime passes to any major or minor league regular-season game to the returning 52 Iranian hostages and the 14 others released earlier during the ordeal. In 1973, MLB made a similar gesture to the hundreds of prisoners of war returning from Vietnam.
1981 The Reds trade Cesar Geronimo to the Royals for minor league infielder German Barranca. After a three-year stint in Kansas City, the four-time Gold Glover will retire, compiling a lifetime average of .258 during his 15 seasons in the major leagues.

"My physical condition is good; so while I am still in good health, I have decided to retire. I am going to miss my fans, the players and all the people associated with baseball..." - VIDA BLUE, announcing his retirement from baseball.

Free agent Vida Blue comes to terms with the A's, signing an estimated $300,000 deal to pitch for Oakland this season but surprises the team the day before spring training begins by announcing his retirement. The 37-year-old southpaw, who posted a 10-10 mark with San Francisco last season, compiled a 209-161 (.565) record along with an ERA of 3.27 during his 17-year tenure in the major leagues.

2001 The Angels turn off Edison International Field's Big A and the Little A signs to conserve electricity during California's energy crisis. The landmark beacons, formerly illuminated 24 hours a day, will be turned on only for stadium events.

Big A Sign at Edison Field
Library of Congress - Carol M. Highsmith's America Project

2005 After asking for $22 million in salary arbitration, Roger Clemens agrees to a one-year, $18 million deal with the Astros. The pact makes the Rocket the most expensive hurler in major league history.
2008 Yadier Molina (.275, 6, 40) agrees to a $15.5 million, four-year deal to remain with the Cardinals. The Redbirds catcher, best known for his defensive prowess, nailed 23 of 46 baserunners trying to steal a base last season.

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2008 Brett Tomko and the Royals agree to a $3 million, one-year deal. Kansas City, who had hoped the 34-year-old starter would overcome the problems that plagued him with LA and San Diego (4-12, 5.55) last season, will release the right-hander in June after he compiles a 2-7 record along with an ERA of 6.30.
2009 The Orioles and Nick Markakis finalize a significant $66.1 million six-year deal, covering the span the right fielder would have been eligible for arbitration and the first three after being available to file for free agency. The 25-year-old fly chaser, who had his best offensive season with the team and led the American League in outfield assists last season, was named the team's most valuable player by the local media last season.
2009 To increase the team's attendance, Washington reduces individual ticket fees on 14,000 seats without raising the price of any 41,888 seats at Nationals Park. The club ranked a disappointing 13th place in attendance in the 16-team National League circuit despite playing in a brand-new stadium in the nation's capital.

"​Nine years ago you welcomed me into your community. You greeted me as a name and embraced me as a person, and I leave you now as a friend." - ROCCO BALDELLI, thanking Tampa Bay fans in an open letter for their support during his time with the Rays.

Rocco Baldelli, traded to the Red Sox in the offseason, takes out an ad in the St. Petersburg Times to show his appreciation for the support given to him by the Rays fans during his five years with the franchise. In an open letter, the outfielder writes, "I will always think of the Tampa Bay area as my second home, and I would like to thank everyone for accepting me and for making my time here as enjoyable as it was."

Text of Rocco's Open Letter in the St. Petersburg Times

2009 Erik Bedard, avoiding salary arbitration, signs a $7.75 million, one-year contract with the Mariners. The deal gives the left-hander, the team's Opening Day starter, obtained last season from Baltimore, a raise of $750,000 from last season.
2009 Jon Lester becomes the 48th recipient of the Hutch Award and the first to be treated by a doctor from the renowned institution named for Seattle baseball legend Fred Hutchinson. The Red Sox hurler, a survivor of anaplastic large cell lymphoma, is honored with the annual award for best exemplifying the spirit and competitive drive of the former major leaguer and skipper, who died of cancer in 1964 at the age of 45.
2010 Joe Blanton (2-8, 4.05) and the Phillies, avoiding an arbitration hearing, agree on a $24 million, three-year deal. The 29-year-old right-hander is slotted to be the National League champion's number-three starter in a rotation that includes Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and J.A. Happ.
2010 Octavio Dotel (3-3, 3.32 ERA), hoping to be the Pirates closer, agrees to a $3.5 million, one-year deal with the Bucs, the only team that offered the right-hander the opportunity to save games. The 36-year-old reliever, who hasn't been a closer since 2007 with Kansas City, struck out 75 batters in 62.1 innings in a setup role for the White Sox last season but didn't record a save.
2011 The Blue Jays send Vernon Wells to the Angels for catcher Mike Napoli and fly-chaser Juan Rivera in a cost-cutting move. Toronto still owed the 32-year-old three-time All-Star outfielder $86 million through 2014 but will only have to spend $5 million to Los Angeles to complete the trade, giving the team a better opportunity to compete in the AL East.
2012 After picking up his $6 million option in October, the Red Sox trade Marco Scutaro (.299, 7, 54) to the Rockies for right-hander Clayton Mortensen (2-4, 3.86). The unexpected move of the 36-year-old infielder to Colorado may signal that Boston is counting on prospect Jose Iglesias to start Opening Day.
2015 The Nationals introduce Max Scherzer, the newest member of the team's solid pitching staff. The 29-year-old right-hander, who inked a seven-year, $210 million contract to hurl for Washington, joins Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, and Gio Gonzalez, a fivesome many consider to be the best starting rotation in baseball history.

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2016 At a Camden Yards news conference, the Orioles announce first baseman Chris Davis will be returning to the team, having signed the richest deal in franchise history. The reigning major league home run king, who went yard 47 times last season, agreed to a $161 million, seven-year contract that includes $42 million in deferred money to stay with Baltimore.

27 Fact(s) Found