The public becomes aware of the secret deal made on December 26 to sell Babe Ruth to New York for $125,000, equaling twice the previously paid for a player. Harry Frazee, the Red Sox's cash-strapped owner, also secures a $300,000 loan from the Yankees as part of the deal.
In a surprising move, Uncle Sam decides to draft 37-year-old Yankee right-hander Red Ruffing into the Army, where he will be assigned to non-combative duty, tossing baseballs and leading the soldiers' physical fitness training. The future Hall of Famer lost four toes on his left foot in a mining accident in Coalton, Illinois, as a 15-year-old.
The Tigers trade first baseman Rudy York to the Red Sox for infielder Eddie Lake, who will replace current shortstop Skeeter Webb with two solid defensive years before a broken finger relegates him to a utility role on the team. Boston's new first baseman's offensive output, which includes 119 RBIs, propels the club to an American League pennant this season.
Frank 'Trader' Lane becomes the A's general manager and executive vice president. The former Cleveland GM, best remembered by Indians fans for last season's controversial trade of Rocky Colavito to the Tigers in exchange for Harvey Kuenn, a swap that gave rise to the Colavito Curse, believed to bring a series of unfortunate events to the Tribe over many decades.
Adjacent to Colt Stadium, where the Colt .45s will play the first three seasons of their existence, construction begins on the 18-story Harris County Domed Stadium dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World." The first enclosed 'outdoor sport' becomes known as the Astrodome, when artificial turf, known as AstroTurf, replaces the dying grass playing surface.
"There is nothing in life quite so limited as being a limited partner of George Steinbrenner." - Yankees minority owner John McMullen
Tampa shipbuilder George Steinbrenner, heading a limited partnership with Lester Crown, John DeLorean, and Nelson Bunker Hunt, purchases the Yankees from CBS. 'The Boss' will become a well-known owner due to his pursuit of expensive talent, well-publicized feuds with players and baseball's brass, and the frequent firing of GMs and managers.
The Yankees hire Bill Virdon as the team's manager after American League president Joe Cronin voids the contract signed by A's skipper Dick Williams. The former Pirates skipper will manage New York for two years, never winning a game at Yankee Stadium because the club will play their home games at Shea Stadium while renovations occur at the Bronx ballpark.
Joining Harry Caray, Jimmy Piersall, and Lorn Brown in the White Sox broadcast booth, Mary Shane becomes the first female play-by-play announcer for a major league team regularly. The contract of the hard-working pioneer, but inexperienced broadcaster, will not be renewed by owner Bill Veeck at the end of the season.
University of Arizona standout Terry Francona wins the Golden Spikes Award, an honor given to the nation's most outstanding amateur player by the U.S. Baseball Federation. The 21-year-old southpaw-swinging collegiate outfielder/first baseman, signed by the Expos, was selected by the NCAA as the College World Series MVP last season after helping the Wildcats capture the National Championship.
The Astros sign free-agent hurler Kent Bottenfield to a one-year contract. The 32-year-old right-hander, who started last season with the Angels after being traded by the Cardinals with Adam Kennedy for Jim Edmonds, will post a 2-5 record for Houston in his previous season in the big leagues.
Bud Selig okays the trade, which will send Shawn Green to the Diamondbacks, dependent on the team and the outfielder coming to terms on a contract extension within 72 hours. The commissioner's approval is necessary because the Dodgers will pay $8 million to help offset Green's current contract in the finalized deal.
Commissioner Bud Selig approves the potential trade of Diamondback southpaw Randy Johnson to the Yankees in exchange for Javier Vazquez, Dioner Navarro, Brad Halsey, and $9 million. Arizona will likely include Navarro and much of the cash to the Dodgers to obtain Shawn Green, another deal approved today by the commissioner's office.
(Ed. Note: On January 11, 2005, the trade, as anticipated, becomes a done deal. - LP)
Hoping to make the team appeal to a broader marketplace, the Angels announce the franchise will now be known as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Officials from Anaheim likely will file a lawsuit to block the change, believing the new name violates the terms of the team's 33-year lease with the city.
The A's, continuing to deal established players, trading outfielder Nick Swisher, a fan favorite, to the White Sox for minor league hurlers Gio Gonzalez and Faustino De Los Santos, and fly chaser Ryan Sweeney. Two weeks ago, the club dealt front-line pitcher Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks for another threesome of promising prospects.
The Indians formally announce the team has signed free-agent Nick Swisher to a four-year deal, reported to be worth $56 million that also includes an additional $14 million option for a fifth season. The switch-hitting right fielder, who spent the past four seasons with the Yankees, will fill the void created in December when Cleveland traded Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati as part of a three-team trade.