The following are the baseball events of the year 1972 throughout the world.
Labor strife and more moving
1972 was tainted by a players' strike over pension and salary arbitration. The strike erased the first week and a half of the season, and the Leagues decided to just excise the lost portion of the season with no makeups. As a result, an uneven number of games were cancelled for each team; some as few as six, some as many as nine. The lack of makeups of those games, even when they affected playoffs, led to the Boston Red Sox losing the American League East by half a game to the Detroit Tigers.
1972 marked the first year for the Texas Rangers, who had moved to Arlington from Washington, D.C. (where they played as the Washington Senators), after the 1971 season. There would be no baseball in D.C. until 2005. The team was one of the worst ever fielded by the franchise, losing 100 games for the first time since 1964. Manager Ted Williams hated living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and resigned at the end of the season.
1972 would mark the Kansas City Royals' final year at Kansas City Municipal Stadium, as the next year they would move to Royals Stadium (later named Kauffman Stadium) at the Truman Sports Complex in suburban Kansas City.
The World Series was won by the Oakland Athletics, the first of three straight behind the bats of Reggie Jackson and Bert Campaneris, and the pitching cadre of Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers and Vida Blue. The year ended on a sad note when Roberto Clemente died in an airplane crash off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on New Year's Eve, while participating in aid efforts after the 1972 Nicaragua earthquake.
Major League Baseball
Awards and honors
Major league baseball final standings
American League final standings
National League final standings
- April 1 - 13 - The first players' strike in baseball history wipes 6-8 games off the schedule of each MLB team. It is agreed that those games will be canceled (i.e., not even played to resolve pennant races). This results in teams not being scheduled for the same number of games in the 1972 season; the schedule imbalance would lead to the Detroit Tigers edging the Boston Red Sox by only one-half game to win the American League East Division championship. The strike results in the team owners adding salary arbitration to the collective bargaining agreement, and increasing pension fund payments.
- April 2 - With the sudden death of Gil Hodges, Yogi Berra is named manager of the New York Mets.
- April 16 - At Wrigley Field, Burt Hooton of the Chicago Cubs no-hits the Philadelphia Phillies 4-0.
- April 21 - At Arlington Stadium, Frank Howard hits the first home run in Texas Rangers history, a solo shot against Clyde Wright of the California Angels.
- May 11 - The San Francisco Giants trade Willie Mays to the New York Mets for minor league pitcher Charlie Williams and cash.
- May 14 - In front of a Mother's Day crowd of 35,000 in New York's Shea Stadium, Willie Mays makes a triumphant return to New York with the Mets, hitting a game-winning home run against his old teammates (the Giants). He scores in the 1st inning on Rusty Staub's grand slam and his solo homer in the 5th inning snaps a 4-4 tie. The final score: Mets 5, Giants 4.
- May 16 - Philadelphia Phillies rookie outfielder Greg Luzinski blasts a 500-foot home run off the Liberty Bell at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium.
- May 28 - The Milwaukee Brewers fire manager Dave Bristol, replacing him with Del Crandall. Coach Roy McMillan takes over until Crandall arrives and guides the team to a 4-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox.
- June 18 - The U.S. Supreme Court rules 5-3 in favor of Major League Baseball in the lawsuit brought by Curt Flood, upholding the reserve clause.
- June 24 - In the first game of a doubleheader between the visiting Auburn Phillies and Geneva Senators of the Class A New York-Pennsylvania League, Bernice Gera becomes the first woman to umpire a professional baseball game. She resigns between games after being verbally abused by some spectators and by some involved in the game.
- July 2 - San Francisco's Willie McCovey hits his 14th career grand slam home run to pace the Giants 9-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Pitcher Randy Moffitt wins his first major league game and receives a congratulatory telegram from his sister Billie Jean King, who is playing at Wimbledon.
- July 4 - For the second time in his career, Tom Seaver of the New York Mets has a no-hitter broken up in the ninth. The bid is foiled in the first game of a doubleheader against the San Diego Padres at Shea Stadium by a Leron Lee single with one out, the only hit Seaver will allow in a 2-0 Met victory. Seaver had a bid for a perfect game broken up in the ninth against the Chicago Cubs in 1969.
- July 9 - Rich Reese of the Minnesota Twins ties a major league record in hitting his third pinch-hit grand slam home run.
- July 11 - At Oakland, Boston's Marty Pattin has his no-hit bid foiled when Reggie Jackson hits a 1-out single in the 9th inning. Boston wins 4-0.
- July 11- Billy Williams of the Chicago Cubs goes 8-for-8 in a doubleheader against the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field, hitting home runs in both games and driving in 4 runs. The Cubs lose the first game 6-5 but win the nightcap 9-5.
- July 14 - In a game between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals in Kansas City, the Tigers' catcher, Tom Haller, has his older brother Bill Haller right over his shoulder; the first time brothers have served as catcher and home plate umpire in the same Major League game. The Royals win 1-0.
- July 18 - Against the Philadelphia Phillies at San Diego Stadium, San Diego Padre pitcher Steve Arlin has a no-hitter broken up with two out in the ninth by a Denny Doyle single. With two strikes on him, Doyle takes advantage of Padre manager Don Zimmer's decision to play third baseman Dave Roberts in by slapping a ground ball that bounces over Roberts' head--a ball that Roberts could have fielded at normal depth. Doyle later advances to second on a balk, then scores on a Tommy Hutton single. Arlin then retires Greg Luzinski on a fly ball to come away with a two-hitter (one of three he pitches on the season; he also hurls two one-hitters during a season in which he finishes 10-21) in a 5-1 Padre victory. This will be the closest any Padre comes to a no-hitter until Joe Musgrove finally pitches the franchise's first, doing so on April 3, 2021.
- July 24 - Leo Durocher steps down as manager of the Chicago Cubs and is replaced by Whitey Lockman.
- July 25 - At Atlanta Stadium, the National League wins the All-Star Game over the American League 4-3, behind hometown hero Hank Aaron's two-run home run and Joe Morgan's 10th-inning RBI single. Morgan is named MVP. It is the seventh time the classic has gone into extra innings.
- July 31 - Minnesota Twins hurler Bert Blyleven gives up two inside-the-park home runs to Dick Allen of the Chicago White Sox. The next time this feat occurs in the major leagues, Blyleven is again on the mound--watching teammate Greg Gagne circling the bases twice on October 4, 1986.
- August 1 - At Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Nate Colbert of the San Diego Padres ties Stan Musial's 18-year record by hitting five home runs in a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves. He hits two in the first game, won by the Padres 9-0, and three more in the nightcap, which San Diego also wins, 11-7. Musial had hit five home runs in a May 2, 1954 doubleheader--with Colbert, then eight years old, in attendance.
- August 29 - Jim Barr of the San Francisco Giants retires the first twenty batters in today's game. Added to the last twenty one batters he retired in his previous game, it establishes a record for consecutive batters retired. It will be tied in 2007 by relief pitcher Bobby Jenks.
- September 2 - At Wrigley Field, Chicago Cub pitcher Milt Pappas no-hits the San Diego Padres 8-0. Pappas retires the first 26 batters and comes to within one strike of a perfect game with a 2-2 count to pinch-hitter Larry Stahl, but home-plate umpire Bruce Froemming calls the next two pitches, both of which are close, balls. Undeterred, Pappas ends the game by retiring the next batter, ex-Cub Garry Jestadt. Not until Carlos Zambrano in 2008 would the Cubs be involved in a no-hitter (either in pitching it or having it pitched against them), and the next no-hitter at Wrigley won't come until Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies no-hits the Cubs in 2015. The perfect game bid is also the only one, to date, to be broken up on a walk to the 27th batter.
- September 8 - Ferguson Jenkins wins his 20th game for the 6th straight year in a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia.
- September 15 - Steve Carlton beats the Montreal Expos 5-3, raising his record to 24-9. The rest of the Philadelphia Phillies pitchers have a combined record of 26-80.
- September 20 - Milt Pappas wins his 200th game as a major leaguer, defeating the Montreal Expos 6-2 at Wrigley Field.
- September 21 - The Pittsburgh Pirates clinch the National League East title with a 6-2 victory over the Mets.
- September 22 - The Cincinnati Reds clinch the National League West crown with a 4-3 road victory over the Houston Astros.
- September 30 - During the Pirates' 5-0 win over the Mets at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium, Roberto Clemente hits a double off New York's Jon Matlack in the 4th inning to get his 3,000th and final regular season hit in the major leagues.
- October 2 - In the first game of a doubleheader at Jarry Park, Bill Stoneman of the Montreal Expos no-hits the New York Mets 7-0. The no-hitter is 1) the second of Stoneman's career (the first having come on April 17, 1969--only nine games into the Expos' existence), 2) the first no-hitter ever pitched in a regular season game in Canada, and 3) the latest, calendar-wise, that a regular-season no-hitter has been pitched, tied with Addie Joss' perfect game in 1908.
- October 3 - The Detroit Tigers clinch the American League East as Woodie Fryman beats Luis Tiant of the Boston Red Sox 3-1 for his 10th win. Detroit's Chuck Seelbach picks up his 14th save and Al Kaline singles in the winning run for Detroit.
- October 8 - The Oakland Athletics won Game 2 of the 1972 American League Championship Series 5-0 over the Detroit Tigers. A key moment from that game occurred when Oakland's Bert Campaneris who was having a great series hurled his bat at Detroit Tiger pitcher Lerrin LaGrow. Campaneris was fined and suspended for the rest of the series.
- October 11 - The Pittsburgh Pirates carry a lead into the bottom of the ninth of the final game of the NLCS. The Reds' Johnny Bench homers to tie the game. After some runners reach base, the Pirates' pitcher, Bob Moose, unleashes a wild pitch, permitting the pennant clinching run to score.
- October 22 - The Oakland Athletics win the World Series with a 3-2 victory in Game Seven over the Cincinnati Reds. Gene Tenace, who had only five home runs in the regular season, hit four in the Series and is named MVP.
- November 8 - The St. Louis Cardinals bring Tim McCarver back to St. Louis, sending Jorge Roque to the Montreal Expos in exchange.
- November 22 - Future Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds wins his second National League MVP Award in three years. Bench beats out Chicago Cubs outfielder Billy Williams, who also ran second to Bench in the 1970 MVP balloting.
- November 25 - Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente wins his 12th consecutive Gold Glove Award and Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Wes Parker his sixth in a row. Neither will play in 1973.
- November 27 - In a great trade for New York, the Cleveland Indians swap third baseman Graig Nettles and catcher Jerry Moses to the New York Yankees for catcher John Ellis, infielder Jerry Kenney, and outfielders Charlie Spikes and Rusty Torres.
- November 28 - In a blockbuster intrastate trade satisfactory for both teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers send Frank Robinson, Bill Singer, Mike Strahler, Bobby Valentine and Billy Grabarkewitz to the California Angels in exchange for Andy Messersmith and Ken McMullen. In 1973, Robinson will hit .266 with 30 home runs with 97 RBI in 147 games, and Singer will combine with Nolan Ryan to strike out 674 batters, to set a 20th-century major league record for two pitching teammates. Messersmith will win 39 games in the next two seasons for the Dodgers and finish second in the 1974 Cy Young Award voting.
- December 10 - The American League votes unanimously to adopt the designated hitter rule on a three-year experimental basis. The DH will replace the pitcher in the lineup unless otherwise noted before the start of the game. In the December 1975 meeting, the AL will vote to permanently adopt the DH. The National League declines to follow suit.
- December 31 - Roberto Clemente and 4 other people die in a plane crash off the coast of Puerto Rico en route to delivering relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
- January 2 - Glenn Crawford, 58, outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies in the 1940s
- January 15 - William Benswanger, 79, executive; son-in-law of Barney Dreyfuss who served as president and chief executive of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1932 until the Dreyfuss family sold the team in August 1946
- January 21 - Dick Loftus, 70, outfielder for the Brooklyn Robins from 1924-25
- February 2 - Joe Green, 74, pinch hitter who had a single at bat for the 1924 Philadelphia Athletics
- February 6 - Frankie Zak, 49, shortstop and second baseman who played only 123 MLB games for wartime Pittsburgh Pirates (1944-1946), yet was selected to 1944 National League All-Star team
- February 9 - Chico Ruiz, 33, utility infielder who played in 565 games between 1964 and 1971 for the Cincinnati Reds and California Angels
- February 28 - Dizzy Trout, 56, All-Star pitcher for the Detroit Tigers who led the AL in wins in 1943 and was MVP runnerup the following year
- March 11 - Zack Wheat, 83, Hall of Fame left fielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers who held team career records for games, hits, doubles and triples, a lifetime .317 hitter who retired with the 10th-most hits in history
- March 16 - Pie Traynor, 72, Hall of Fame third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates who batted .320 lifetime and established a record for career games at third base; was named the best ever at his position in 1969
- March 19 - Gordie Hinkle, 66, catcher for the 1934 Boston Red Sox
- March 24 - Dick Coffman, 65, pitcher who toiled in 472 games over 15 seasons between 1927 and 1945 for the Washington Senators, St. Louis Browns, New York Giants, Boston Bees and Philadelphia Phillies; with Giants, he became a relief pitcher who led the National League in games pitched (51) and saves (12) in 1938.
- March 28 - Donie Bush, 84, shortstop of the Detroit Tigers for 14 seasons who led the American League in walks five times and was a superlative bunter; later managed Pittsburgh to the 1927 National League pennant; also skippered three other MLB clubs between 1923 and 1933, and became prominent as a minor league manager and executive
- March 30 - Davy Jones, 91, outfielder with the Detroit Tigers who organized a 1912 walkout to protest Ty Cobb's suspension for attacking a heckler
- April 2 - Gil Hodges, 47, eight-time All-Star first baseman for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers (1943 and 1947-1961); drove in more runs than any other player during the 1950s; finished playing career with expansion New York Mets (1962-1963) and served as third full-time manager in the team's annals from 1968 until his death, leading the "Miracle Mets" to the 1969 World Series title; also managed the Washington Senators from May 23, 1963 through 1967
- April 3 - Alvin Crowder, 73, pitcher who had three 20-win seasons with the Senators, winning 26 and 24 games (in 1932-1933) and St. Louis Browns; led American League hurlers in winning percentage in 1928; known for his mastery against the Yankees
- April 16 - Lou Perini, 68, construction magnate and club owner (1945-1962) who moved the struggling Braves from his home city of Boston in March 1953 to Milwaukee, finding instant success on the field and at the turnstiles and kicking off a two-decade spasm of franchise relocations and expansion in MLB; his Boston and Milwaukee Braves won three NL pennants and the 1957 World Series
- May 4 - Vic Sorrell, 71, pitcher who spent his entire 280-game career with the Detroit Tigers between 1928 and 1937; member of Tigers' 1935 World Series champs and 1934 AL pennant-winners
- May 15 - John Milligan, 68, pitcher who played from 1928 through 1934 for the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Senators
- May 18 - Babe Barna, 57, outfielder who appeared in 207 career games for the Philadelphia Athletics, New York Giants and Boston Red Sox between 1937 and 1943
- May 20 - Hoge Workman, 72, pitcher for the 1924 Boston Red Sox, who also played and coached for Cleveland teams of the National Football League
- May 22 - Dick Fowler, 51, Canadian pitcher who won 66 games with the Philadelphia Athletics, including a no-hitter
- May 24 - Bill Moore, 68, catcher for the 1927 Boston Red Sox
- May 28 - Al Gerheauser, 54, left-handed pitcher who worked in 149 career games for 1943-1944 Philadelphia Phillies, 1945-1946 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1948 St. Louis Browns
- May 29 - Moe Berg, 70, catcher who served as a spy for the U.S. government during and after his playing career; played in 663 games for five MLB teams between 1923 and 1939, batting .243 lifetime
- June 9 - Del Bissonette, 72, first baseman who twice batted .300 for the Brooklyn Robins and hit .305 lifetime in 604 games (1928-1931 and 1933); managed 1945 Boston Braves from July 31 through the end of the season
- June 12 - Lefty Phillips, 53, manager of the California Angels from May 27, 1969, through 1971; previously pitching coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers (1965 to 1968) and a longtime scout
- July 17 - Al Spohrer, 68, catcher who played in 756 National League games--two for the 1928 New York Giants and 754 for the 1928-1935 Boston Braves
- July 21 - Harry McCurdy, 72, left-swinging backup catcher who appeared in 543 over ten seasons between 1922 and 1934 for four MLB clubs, batting .282 lifetime
- July 31 - Rollie Hemsley, 65, catcher who played in 1,593 games for seven MLB teams between 1928 and 1947; five-time American League All-Star; later a coach and minor league manager
- August 13 - George Weiss, 78, executive and cornerstone of the New York Yankees dynasty as farm director (1932-1947), then general manager (1947-1960), with the team winning 15 World Series titles over Weiss' 29 years; first team president of expansion New York Mets (1961-1966); named to Baseball Hall of Fame by Veterans Committee in 1971
- August 24 - J. Roy Stockton, 79, St. Louis sportswriter from the 1910s to the 1950s, also a sportscaster and author of books on baseball
- August 25 - Jack Crouch, 68, aptly-named catcher who appeared in 43 big-league games for the St. Louis Browns and Cincinnati Reds between 1930 and 1933
- August 26 - "Deacon Danny" MacFayden, 67, pitcher who worked in 465 games over 17 MLB seasons for the Boston Red Sox (1926-1932), New York Yankees (1932-1934), Boston Braves and Bees (1935-1939 and 1943), Pittsburgh Pirates (1940) and Washington Senators (1941); member of 1932 World Series champions
- August 29 - Clem Hausmann, 53, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Athletics between 1944 and 1949
- September 2 - Jim Brillheart, 68, who pitched for the Senators, Cubs and Red Sox, and one of the few pitchers in baseball history to appear in over 1,000 games
- September 6 - Charlie Berry, 69, American League catcher who played in 709 games over 11 seasons between 1925 and 1938; later an AL umpire from 1942 to 1962 who worked in five World Series and five All-Star Games; also played in the NFL and officiated numerous NFL Championship Games
- September 16 - Eddie Waitkus, 53, first baseman for the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles who was shot in 1949 by a teenaged female admirer who lured him to her hotel room; after his recovery, was a key member of Phils' 1950 "Whiz Kids" pennant-winner; twice named to NL All-Star team
- September 25 - Jerry Lynn, 56, second baseman for the 1937 Washington Senators
- October 9 - Dave Bancroft, 81, Hall of Fame shortstop for four NL teams, known for his defensive skill and also batting over .300 five times; captain of the New York Giants' pennant winners from 1921-1923
- October 11 - Danny Taylor, 71, outfielder who appeared in 674 career games for three MLB clubs, notably Brooklyn, over nine seasons between 1926 and 1936
- October 17 - Johnny Rawlings, 80, shortstop for the 1921 New York Giants World Champions and later a manager in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
- October 19 - Butch Glass, 74, pitcher in the Negro leagues from 1923 to 1930
- October 24 - Jackie Robinson, 53, Hall of Fame second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers who broke Major League Baseball's color line in 1947 after beginning his professional career in the Negro leagues; batted .311 in his ten-year National League career, leading the NL in batting average (.342) in 1949; also led his league in stolen bases in 1947 and 1949; 1947 Major League Rookie of the Year; 1949 NL Most Valuable Player; 1955 World Series champion; seven-time All-Star
- November 2 - Freddy Parent, 96, shortstop in the Red Sox' first seven seasons, and the last surviving participant of the inaugural 1903 World Series
- November 8 - Harry Child, 67, relief pitcher who worked in five games for the 1930 Washington Senators
- November 26 - Wendell Smith, 58, sportswriter for Pittsburgh and Chicago newspapers since 1937 who became the BBWAA's first black member and helped ease Jackie Robinson's entry into the major leagues; also a Chicago sportscaster since 1964
- December 20 - Gabby Hartnett, 72, Hall of Fame catcher for the Chicago Cubs who virtually clinched the 1938 pennant with a home run, he established career records for games and home runs as a catcher and was the NL's 1935 MVP; player-manager of Cubs from July 21, 1938 through 1940
- December 28 - Eddie Leishman, 62, longtime minor-league executive who served as first general manager of expansion San Diego Padres of the National League from 1968 until his death
- December 31 - Roberto Clemente, 38, right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates since 1955; a lifetime .317 hitter, 12-time All-Star and winner of 12 Gold Gloves who was a four-time batting champion and the NL's 1966 MVP, he collected his 3,000th base hit in September; two-time (1960, 1971) World Series champion and 1971 World Series MVP; elected to Baseball Hall of Fame within weeks of his death