After being released by the Indians four days ago, Alabama native Joe Sewell, who spent the first 11 years of his career with Cleveland, signs as a free agent with the Yankees for $10,000. The 33-year-old future Hall of Fame infielder, the record holder for consecutive games without recording a strikeout at 115, will hit .282 during his three seasons with New York.
Needing an additional player to reach the initial goal of having at least ten inductees before the dedication ceremonies this summer, members of the BBWAA elect 'Wee' Willie Keeler, George Sisler, and Eddie Collins to be in the inaugural class of the Hall of Fame. The three players chosen are joining the 1936 selection of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson, along with Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, and Cy Young, selected by the writers a year later.
Cubs business manager Jim Gallagher, chairman of the nine-man rules committee, announces the two leagues will implement an existing rule during spring training that requires a hurler to throw the ball when the bases are empty within 20 seconds after taking a pitching position. The mandate, which results in the umpire calling a ball when the tosses are tardy, will not be in effect during the season.
The A's trade Whitey Herzog and Russ Snyder to the Orioles for Wayne Causey, Jim Archer, Bob Boyd, and Al Pilarcik. The deal will not improve either club when both teams finish in the second division next season.
The Southern Association, established in 1901, suspends operation due to decreasing yearly attendance. Except for 27-year-old outfielder Nat Peeples, who became the only black player in the league's history when he appeared in two games with the 1954 Atlanta Crackers, the circuit remained racially segregated until the end of its existence.
Warren Spahn becomes only the sixth player elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, receiving 316 of the 380 (83.2%) votes cast by the BBWAA scribes. The Buffalo (NY) native, who recorded thirteen 20-win seasons with the Braves, retired as the winningest left-handed pitcher in big-league history with 363 victories, a remarkable feat given he recorded his first victory as a 26-year-old.
The Payson family sells the controlling interest of the Mets to book publisher Doubleday and Company, with Fred Wilpon of Sterling Equities and a group from City Investing becoming minority owners. The estimated $21.1 million price tag, twice as much as the sale of the Yankees to George Steinbrenner seven years ago, is the highest amount ever paid for a baseball franchise, far surpassing the $12 million needed to purchase the Orioles and Astros last season.
Sixty-eight major league umpires participate in a preseason session, believed to be a historical first, to practice calling strikes as defined by the rule book. With the help of minor leaguers wearing tapes nine inches above their belts, the men in blue get a good look at pitches, commonly called balls, but are strikes when the proper enforcement of the zone is put into place this upcoming season.
Jay Gibbons (.277, 26, 79) and the Orioles agree to a $21.1 million, four-year deal. The 28-year-old outfielder, who is getting married this weekend, could have taken his chances on the free-agent market next season.
Coming off an injured Achilles tendon, Cliff Floyd signs a flexible deal with the Cubs, beginning with a one-year guaranteed contract for $3 million, increasing to as much as $17.5 million over two years. The Chicago native will platoon with Matt Murton, giving the Northsiders left-handed power off the bench.
The Braves, avoiding arbitration, sign Rafael Soriano (3-3, 3.00) to a two-year deal worth $9 million. Atlanta plans to use the 29-year-old right-handed reliever, who recorded nine saves last year, as the team's closer this season.
Receiving votes on 297 of 389 ballots (76.3%), the BBWAA narrowly elects Scott Rolen to the Hall of Fame in his sixth year of eligibility. The 17-year veteran, only the 18th third baseman to become a Hall of Famer, never appeared as a designated hitter, playing for the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and the Reds.