Eiji Sawamura strikes out nine batters over five innings, including Charlie Gehringer, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmie Foxx in succession during an exhibition game played against a team of visiting All-Star major leaguers at Shizuoka's Kusanagi Stadium. While becoming a national hero, the 17-year-old right-handed reliever's appearance against the American professionals leads to his expulsion from high school and the forfeiture of an opportunity to attend Keio University next semester.
Commissioner Ford Frick believes the Pacific Coast League will eventually reach major league status. The PCL is the only minor league in history given the "Open" classification, considered a step above the AAA level, limiting the rights of big-league clubs to draft players from its teams, and is perceived as a precursor to the circuit becoming a third major league.
Carroll Hardy, the 49ers' third-round pick in this year's NFL Draft, enjoys his best day as a professional football player, catching two Y.A. Tittle touchdown passes in the team's 27-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Milwaukee County Stadium. After one season, the 22-year-old halfback will leave the gridiron, signing with the Red Sox, where he will be the only player to pinch-hit for Boston legend Ted Williams.
Jackie Jensen (.286, 35, 122), breaking New York's four-year stronghold on the award, is selected as the American League's Most Valuable Player. The outcome is unexpected as the Red Sox fleet outfielder played on a non-contender, unlike runner-up Bob Turley, who pitched for the World Champion Yankees.
Tom Seaver is named the National League's Rookie of the Year. The 22-year-old right-hander, who compiled a 16-13 record along with a 2.76 ERA for the last-place Mets, easily outdistances fellow righties Dick Hughes of St. Louis and Cincinnati's Gary Nolan for the freshman honor.
The BBWAA selects Willie McCovey (.320, 45, 126) as the National League's Most Valuable Player. The Giants' first baseman edges Tom Seaver, who posted a 2.21 ERA with 208 strikeouts and a league-leading 25 wins for the World Champion Mets.
Receiving 23 of the 28 first-place votes cast by the BBWAA, Don Mattingly cops the American League Most Valuable Player Award, easily outdistancing runners-up George Brett and Rickey Henderson. The Gold Gove first baseman batted .324 for the second-place Yankees.
Jim Leyland, who will become a mainstay in the Pirates dugout for 11 seasons, replaces Chuck Tanner, who led the Bucs to a last-place finish this year while compiling a woeful record of 57-104. Pittsburgh's new skipper will finish his stay in the Steel City with an 851-863 (.496) record, winning division titles in three consecutive seasons (1990-92).
Longtime-friend Jim Frey hires Don Zimmer, former Padres, Red Sox, and Rangers skipper, to manage the Cubs. In his last managerial stint, Popeye compiled a 265-258 (.507) record during his three-year tenure in Chicago.
Robin Yount is selected by the BBWAA as the American League's Most Valuable Player, becoming the first American Leaguer from a sub .500 team to win the prestigious prize. The Milwaukee center fielder, who also won the award in 1982 as a shortstop, joins Hank Greenberg and Stan Musial as the third person to win the MVP twice, playing different positions.
The Commissioner's Office suspends Roger Clemens for the first five games of the 1991 season and fines him $10,000 due to his unruly behavior toward the umpires in Game 4 of the ALCS. Starting the deciding game in Boston's loss in the 1990 ALCS against the A's, the right-hander ace was ejected in the second inning of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum contest by umpire Terry Cooney for his frequent and rapid use of foul language.
Ichiro Suzuki becomes the second player in major league history to win the Most Valuable Player Award in the same year as being selected Rookie of the Year. The 28-year-old Mariner outfielder joins Red Sox freshman outfielder Fred Lynn, who accomplished the feat in 1975, as one of two rookies chosen as the MVP.
U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) introduces a resolution congratulating the Red Sox on their recent World Championship, a four-game sweep of St. Louis. The team had never won the World Series during the lifetime of the 72-year-old legislator.
The Cubs and Nationals' free agent Alfonso Soriano (.277, 46, 95) agree to an eight-year deal worth $136 million, making the outfielder the highest-paid player in franchise history. The addition of the 30-year-old five-time All-Star, who became the fourth member of the 40-homer, 40-steal club last season, gives Chicago a potentially potent offense that includes Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
Jimmy Rollins becomes the fifth and second consecutive Phillies player to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award. The 5'8" Gold Glove shortstop, who narrowly edges Matt Holliday of the Rockies for the honor, joins Chuck Klein (1932), Jim Konstanty (1950), Mike Schmidt (1980, 1981, 1986), and Ryan Howard (2006) to win the MVP in the senior circuit playing in Philadelphia.
Mike Lowell and the Red Sox finalize a $37.5 million, three-year contract. The 33-year-old third baseman, the World Series MVP, sought a four-year deal but chose to stay with the World Champions despite longer and more lucrative offers.
The 35-year reign of George Steinbrenner as the Yankees boss officially ends when the MLB owners unanimously approve of his son taking control of the franchise. Hal Steinbrenner was appointed co-chairman of the team along with his brother Hank at the start of last season when it became evident their 78-year-old dad was gradually reducing his role as the owner of the storied franchise.
Mike Mussina, a twenty-game winner last season, announces his retirement, ending an 18-year career with the Orioles and the Yankees. 'Moose,' who compiled a 270-153 record with a 3.68 ERA, left Baltimore after the 2000 season, signing an $88.5 million, six-year free-agent deal to play in the Bronx.
Tim Lincecum becomes the eighth hurler in baseball history, joining Sandy Koufax, Denny McLain, Jim Palmer, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, and Randy Johnson to win back-to-back Cy Young Awards. The Giants right-hander, receiving fewer first-place votes than the third-place runner-up Adam Wainwright, outpoints the Cardinals righty and runner-up Chris Carpenter, also a Redbird starter.
The Blue Jays rehire 50-year-old John Gibbons to replace their manager John Farrell, who was released from his contract last month to become Boston's skipper. In the 605 games, he managed Toronto over parts of five seasons, compiling a 305-305 won-lost record from 2004-08.
Jeremy Guthrie and the Royals agree on a $25 million, three-year deal that will keep the right-hander in Kansas City through 2015. The former Eagle Scout, obtained in a midseason trade from the Rockies for southpaw starter Jonathan Sanchez, compiled a 5-3 record and a 3.16 ERA in 14 starts with his new team.
The Rays announce the club has re-signed Joel Peralta to a $6 million, two-year deal that includes club options for 2015-17. The 36-year-old right-handed reliever, mainly as the setup man for Fernando Rodney, posted a 2-6 record, a 3.63 ERA, and a career-high 84 strikeouts in his 76 appearances for Tampa Bay.
The Tigers trade Prince Fielder to the Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler, who will fill the void created by the departure of free agent Omar Infante to Kansas City. Texas hopes their new southpaw-swinging slugger, who has blasted at least 30 home runs in six of the past seven seasons, will provide much-needed power to the team's lineup.
"That's Mr. Cub — the man who came up through the Negro Leagues, making $7 a day, and became the first black player to suit up for the Cubs and one of the greatest hitters of all time. In the process, Ernie became known as much for his 512 home runs as for his cheer and his optimism, and his eternal faith that someday the Cubs would go all the way." - BARACK OBAMA, U.S. president, reflecting on Ernie Banks' achievements on and off the field.
Barack Obama awards Ernie Banks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an honor presented to individuals who have made meritorious contributions to the nation. The 82-year-old Cubs legend is one of 16 Americans recognized, including former President Bill Clinton, global media star Oprah Winfrey, one-time NASA astronaut Sally Ride, feminist Gloria Steinem, and Dean Smith, North Carolina's basketball coach.