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1978 in Baseball
The following are the baseball events of the year 1978 throughout the world.
April 1 - Starting off with a bang, Japanese star Sadaharu Oh hits a grand slam home run on opening day. It is his 757th home run.
April 13 - The New York Yankees defeat the Chicago White Sox 4-2 in their home opener on Reggie Candy Bar Day. Reggie Jackson slugs a 3-run home run in the first inning, and the field is showered with candy bars which were given out free to the fans at the game.
April 20 - With two out in the top of the fourth inning, the Atlanta Braves' Jeff Burroughs hits a ground ball up the middle that San Diego Padres rookie shortstopOzzie Smith dives for behind second base. As he was in the air, the ball hits the base and caroms behind Smith. As he is diving in the opposite direction, Smith reaches out with his bare hand and catches the ball. He bounces up, and throws Burroughs out at first. The Padres win the game 2-0.
May 14 - With the Chicago Cubs losing 7-5 to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dave Kingman hits a two-run home run with two outs in the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings. Kingman, who had also homered in the sixth, hits his third home run of the day in the fifteenth inning to give the Cubs a 10-7 victory over the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, and end his day with eight RBIs. Following the game, Paul Olden, a reporter for radio station KLAC in Los Angeles asks Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, "What's your opinion of Kingman's performance?" during his post-game interview. Lasorda goes off in a now-famous obscenity-laced tirade.
May 30 - In his Major League debut Silvio Martinez pitched a complete game one-hitter as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the hapless New York Mets 8-2. The only Hit Silvio gave up was a 2-run home run by Met Steve Henderson.
June 17 - The Yankees' Ron Guidry strikes out 18 batters - 15 in 6 innings - in a 4-0 shutout of the California Angels, setting an American League record for left-handers. The victory raises the New York Yankee southpaw's record to 11-0.
June 26 - In only their second season, the Toronto Blue Jays we're world beaters - for one day - as they scored 24 runs against an established Baltimore Orioles with the football like final score of 24-10 before only 16,184 at Tornto's Exhibition Stadium.
June 27 - Joe Rudi hit a pinch-hit grand slam homer in the seventh to help his California Angels knock Kansas City out of a tie for first place with the Texas Rangers with a 5-4 Angels win over the Royals.
June 29 - Don Sutton set a Los Angeles career strikeout record while pitching for the Dodgers. He struck out Gary Matthews in the first inning for his 2,284th career strikeout, passing a Dodgers record previously held by Don Drysdale in the Dodgers' 7-3 win over the Braves.
July 13 - Jerry Koosman and Tom Seaver lock up for the second time since Seaver's trade to the Cincinnati Reds. Koosman and the Mets beat Seaver and the Reds, 4-2. Only one of the three runs Seaver gives up is earned.
July 17 - The Kansas City Royals defeated the New York Yankees 9-7 in 11 innings, but the game is remembered for Reggie Jackson ignoring signs from third-base coach Dick Howser with the score tied 5-5 in the bottom of the 10th. With Thurman Munson on first, manager Billy Martin wanted Jackson to sacrifice bunt. Jackson made a half-hearted attempt with the first pitch, and Martin removed the bunt sign. Jackson, however, defied Martin and still attempted a bunt, but ended up popping out to the catcher. Jackson was suspended by Martin for five games.
As Reggie Jackson was returning from suspension, Billy Martin says in a post-game interview about Jackson and Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, "One's a born liar (referring to Jackson), and the other's convicted (referring to Steinbrenner, about an incident from the past when Steinbrenner was accused of making illegal presidential campaign contributions)." Martin later appears on live television tearfully announcing his resignation from the Yankees, although some sources believed Steinbrenner actually fired him. Bob Lemon is named Yankee manager for the remainder of the season.
August 5 - At Old-timers Day at Yankee Stadium, recently fired Billy Martin is announced as the New York Yankees' manager for the 1980 season.
August 6 - It's a record no one wants for any batter, in the 9th inning of an important key game, future Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Stargell strucked out for the 1,711th time, breaking a Major League record for batters getting struck out that was previously held by Mickey Mantle. It turned out that strikeout came in the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
August 17 - This was the second of 6 straight seasons in which the New York Mets would finish either 5th or 6th place. In this game, the Mets lost to the San Diego Padres (with rookie Ozzie Smith on the team) 9-2 that would put the Mets in last place to stay for the entire season.
September 14 - 39-year-old Atlanta Braves pitcher Jim Bouton earns his 62nd and final big league victory (his first since 1970), a 4-1 win over the San Francisco Giants. Bouton is best known as the author of the baseball diary Ball Four.
September 23 - Following a dinner party in Gary, Indiana, California Angels outfielder Lyman Bostock was killed while riding in a car with several others. The estranged husband of a woman in the car fired a single shotgun blast into the car, killing Bostock. Bostock was 27 years old.
November 28 - The Cincinnati Reds dismiss their nine-year manager, Sparky Anderson, who had led the team to five NL Division titles, four NL Championship pennants, two World Championships (1975-76), and averaged 96 wins per season. Anderson will become the manager of the Detroit Tigers in 1979, replacing Les Moss.
January 7 - George H. Burns, 84, first baseman for five AL teams who batted .307 lifetime and won 1926 MVP award with the Cleveland Indians
January 13 - Bill Clowers, 79, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in the 1920s
January 13 - Merwin Jacobson, 83, backup outfielder for the New York Giants, Chicago Cubs and Brooklyn Robins between 1915 and 1927
January 13 - Joe McCarthy, 90, Hall of Fame manager who led the New York Yankees to eight pennants and record seven World Series titles; also won 1929 NL pennant with Chicago Cubs, and was first manager to capture titles in both leagues; posted a 1,460-867 (.627) mark with the Yankees alone, from 1931 through May 23, 1946, when he resigned; as of 2021, his 2,125 career wins ranked eighth in major league history, and his winning percentages of .615 (regular season) and .698 (postseason) were both all-time records
January 27 - Monte Pearson, 69, All-Star pitcher who won 100 games, mainly with the Indians and Yankees.
January 28 - Larry Raines, 47, middle infielder and third baseman for the Cleveland Indians from 1957 to 1958, who is recognized for having been the first ballplayer to perform professionally in Minor League Baseball, Negro league baseball, Japanese Baseball and the major leagues.
February 1 - Jack Saltzgaver, 75, infielder for New York Yankees (1932 and 1934-1937) who, after almost eight full years in the minors, returned to MLB at 42 in 1945 for a final stint for the wartime Pittsburgh Pirates.
February 3 - Pete Compton, 88, outfielder who appeared in 291 games for five clubs, notably the St. Louis Browns, between 1911 and 1918.
February 3 - Mike Herrera, 80, second baseman for the Boston Red Sox from 1925 to 1926, and one of the first men to play in both the major leagues and the Negro leagues.
February 4 - Dave Keefe, 81, pitcher in 97 games for Philadelphia Athletics and Cleveland Indians between 1917 and 1922, later a longtime coach and traveling secretary for the Athletics.
February 18 - Luke Hamlin, 73, pitcher who worked in 261 games over nine seasons between 1933 and 1944 for four MLB clubs, notably the Brooklyn Dodgers, for whom he went 20-13 in 1939.
February 23 - Vic Harris, 72, outfielder and manager in the Negro leagues who guided the Homestead Grays to seven Negro National League pennants, including five in a row from 1937 to 1941; played in six East-West All-Star games between 1933 and 1947.
March 7 - Steve Bilko, 49, portly first baseman who appeared in 600 MLB games for the St. Louis Cardinals (1949-1954), Chicago Cubs (1954), Cincinnati Redlegs (1958), Los Angeles Dodgers (1958), Detroit Tigers (1960) and Los Angeles Angels (1961-1962); legendary minor-league slugger who led Pacific Coast League in home runs for three straight years (1955-1957), belting 55 and 56 homers in the latter two seasons and winning the 1956 PCL Triple Crown; three-time PCL MVP and member of its Hall of Fame.
March 12 - Gene Moore, 68, right fielder known for his accurate arm who played 1,042 games for six MLB clubs between 1931 and 1945; 1937 National League All-Star and member of 1944 St. Louis Browns, only team from that city to win an American League pennant.
March 21 - Fritz Coumbe, 88, a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Naps and Indians and the Cincinnati Reds between 1914 and 1921.
March 30 - Billy Cox, 58, third baseman, mainly with the Brooklyn Dodgers (1948-1954), well known for his spectacular defense.
April 8 - Ford Frick, 83, Hall of Fame executive who served as commissioner from 1951 to 1965 and was the National League president from 1935 to 1951, serving also as ghostwriter for Babe Ruth while a sportswriter, ruling in 1961 that home run records of Ruth and Roger Maris would be recorded separately based on season length.
April 14 - Joe Gordon, 63, nine-time All-Star second baseman in 11 seasons for the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians, who won the 1942 MVP award and set an American League record of 246 home runs at his position; later a manager (Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Athletics and Kansas City Royals between 1958 and 1969) and scout.
April 20 - Jack Graney, 91, Canadian left fielder who played his entire career with the Cleveland Naps and Indians, best known the first batter to face Babe Ruth in a major-league game (July 11, 1914); in 1932 became the Indians' play-by-play broadcaster, first former player to transition to radio booth, holding the job through 1953.
April 28 - Art Doll, 64, batteryman who played seven MLB games for Boston of the National League in 1935, 1936 and 1938--four as a pitcher and three as a catcher.
May 29 - Carl Reynolds, 75, outfielder for five teams who batted .302 lifetime.
May 1 - Claude Corbitt, 62, infield utility who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds in a span of four seasons from 1945 to 1949.
May 8 - Red Smith, 73, two-sport star at Notre Dame, then a player and coach in both professional baseball and professional football; debuted as a catcher for the New York Giants of the National League in 1927 and later played with the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League; later an assistant coach with the Packers and New York football Giants, a minor league manager, and a coach for Chicago Cubs, 1945-1949.
May 16 - Mike Wilson, 81, catcher for the 1921 Pittsburgh Pirates.
May 20 - Bob Logan, 68, pitcher who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Boston Braves in all or part of five seasons between 1935 and 1945.
May 22 - Pete Susko, 73, first baseman for the Washington Senators in its 1934 season.
May 26 - Harris McGalliard, 71, Japanese Baseball League catcher who played for Nagoya and the Korakuen Eagles from 1936 to 1938.
May 29 - Carl Reynolds, 75, fine outfielder and consistent hitter who played from 1927 through 1939 for the Chicago White Sox, Washington Senators, St. Louis Browns, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, ending his career with a.302 batting average, including 1,357 hits, 80 home runs and 699 runs batted in 1,222 games.
June 2 - Bob McGraw, 83, pitcher for the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Brooklyn Robins, St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies in a span of nine seasons from 1917 to 1929.
June 3 - Marv Rickert, 57, backup outfielder who played with five different clubs in five seasons, including the 1948 Boston Braves who won the National League pennant.
June 20 - Bill Dietrich, 68, nicknamed "Bullfrog", pitcher who played from 1933 through 1948 for the Philadelphia Athletics, Washington Senators and Chicago White Sox, whose no-hitter over the St. Louis Browns on June 1, 1937, boosted the White Sox' chances during their futile pursuit of the American League pennant.
June 28 - Johnny Schulte, 81, backup catcher for five teams in all of his five years in the Major Leagues between 1923 and 1932; member of the 1929 National League pennant-winning Chicago Cubs; later a coach during 15 full seasons for the New York Yankees from 1934 to 1948, winning seven World Series rings; trusted advisor of Hall of Fame manager Joe McCarthy.
June 30 - Danny Lynch, 52, second baseman for the 1948 Chicago Cubs.
July 1 - Joe Vance, 72, pitcher for the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees in parts of three seasons between 1935 and 1938.
July 24 - Joel Hunt, 72, Hall of Fame football player and coach, who also played in the majors as an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1932.
July 29 - Charlie Bold, 83, Swedish first baseman who played for the St. Louis Browns in its 1914 season.
August 5 - Jesse Haines, 85, Hall of Fame pitcher who won 210 games, including a no-hitter, for the St. Louis Cardinals, while compiling three 20-win seasons, and two wins in the 1926 World Series.
August 14 - Maury Newlin, 64, pitcher who played with the St. Louis Browns in the 1940 and 1941 seasons.
August 15 - Ed Chaplin, 84, catcher for the Boston Red Sox between 1920 and 1922.
August 18 - George Harper, 86, outfielder for six teams in five seasons between 1943 and 1950, who hit .300 or higher in three of these seasons.
August 30 - Ed Sicking, 81, middle infielder and third baseman who played for the Chicago Cubs, New York Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates over part of five seasons from 1916 to 1927.
September 11 - Mike Gazella, 82, utility infielder for the New York Yankees in four seasons between 1923 and 1928, being a member of three World Series champion teams and one AL pennant winner.
September 11 - Snipe Hansen, 71, pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Browns in a span of five seasons from 1930 to 1935.
September 15 - Larry Bettencourt, 72, outfielder and third baseman who played for the St. Louis Browns in three seasons from 1928 to 1932, and later served as a center for the NFL Green Bay Packers in 1933.
September 16 - Bill Foster, 74, star pitcher in the Negro leagues where he was a dominant left-hander, and later a head coach at Alcorn State University for two decades.
September 24 - Lyman Bostock, 27, fine defensive outfielder and excellent base runner for California Angels who hit .323 and .336 during his first two full big league seasons with the Minnesota Twins from 1976 to 1977; his life and career was cut short when he was the victim of a meaningless and accidental homicide; son of Negro leagues star Lyman Bostock Sr.
October 1 - Abe White, 74, pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1937.
October 8 - Jim Gilliam, 49, two-time All-Star second baseman for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers teams from 1953 to 1966, player-coach in 1965-1966, and full-time Dodgers' coach from 1967 until his death; won four World Series rings, as well as Rookie of the Year Award honors both in the Negro leagues and the National League; after his passing, his jersey #19 was retired by the Dodgers.
October 13 - George Jeffcoat, 64, pitcher in 70 career games for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Braves in four seasons between 1936 and 1943; brother of Hal Jeffcoat; after baseball, became an ordained Baptist minister.
October 16 - Eddie Stumpf, 84, Minor league player, manager, coach, scout and executive in a career that spanned more than four decades.
October 25 - Molly Craft, 82, pitcher who played from 1916 through 1919 for the Washington Senators.
October 27 - Rube Walberg, 82, pitcher who won 155 games, primarily with the Philadelphia Athletics.
October 30 - Reese Diggs, 63, pitcher who appeared in four games for the Washington Senators in the 1934 season.
November 5 - Tommy O'Brien, 59, backup outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox and Washington Senators in a span of five seasons from 1943 to 1950.
November 8 - Steve Gerkin, 75, 32-year-old rookie pitcher who played for the Philadelphia Athletics in its 1945 season, one of many ballplayers who only appeared in the major leagues during World War II.
November 11 - Bennie Borgmann, 80, minor-league infielder and manager and NBA basketball player who served the St. Louis Cardinals as a longtime scout; member of Basketball Hall of Fame.
November 12 - Buzz Boyle, 70, outfielder for the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers during five seasons spanning 1929-1935; led National League outfielders in assists in 1934 and also had a 25-game hitting streak that year; later a minor league manager and served as pilot of the 1946 Muskegon Lassies of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League; longtime scout for Cincinnati Reds and Montreal Expos.
November 12 - Roy Elsh, 87, backup outfielder for the Chicago White Sox over part of two seasons from 1923 to 1925.
November 12 - George Shears, 88, pitcher for the 1912 New York Highlanders.
November 13 - Les Powers, 69, first baseman who played with the New York Giants in 1938 and for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1939.
November 16 - Harry Matuzak, 68, pitcher who played for the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1936 and 1938 seasons.
November 23 - Buck Ross, 63, pitcher who played from 1936 through 1945 for the Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago White Sox.
November 29 - Al Williamson, 78, pitcher for the 1928 Chicago White Sox.
December 8 - Nick Cullop, 78, backup outfielder who played for the New York Yankees, Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians, Brooklyn Robins and Cincinnati Reds over part of five seasons spanning 1926-1931; fearsome slugger and longtime skipper in minor leagues.
December 9 - Dick Siebert, 66, All-Star first baseman for the Philadelphia Athletics who twice batted .300, and later coached at the University of Minnesota for 31 years, while winning three College World Series titles.
December 11 - Paul O'Dea, 78, two-way player who performed for the Cleveland from 1944 to 1945 and later scouted and managed in the Indians minor league system.
December 12 - Nick Dumovich, 76, pitcher for the 1923 Chicago Cubs.
December 21 - Joe Mathes, 87, second baseman who played for the Philadelphia Athletics, St. Louis Terriers and Boston Braves in a span of three seasons from 1912 to 1916, and later managed in the minor leagues off and on from 1919 through 1934.
December 24 - George McQuinn, 68, seven-time All-Star first baseman for the St. Louis Browns and New York Yankees, who had 34-game hitting streak in 1938.
December 24 - Bill Rodgers, 91, second baseman who played between 1915 and 1916 for the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds.
December 29 - Walt Alexander, 87, backup who played for the St. Louis Browns and New York Yankees in part of four seasons from 1912 to 1917.
December 31 - Tod Davis, 54, infielder and pinch-hitter who played for the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1949 and 1951 seasons.