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1980 in Baseball
The following are the baseball events of the year 1980 throughout the world.
Major League Baseball
World Series: Philadelphia Phillies over Kansas City Royals (4-2); Mike Schmidt, MVP
Awards and honors
MLB statistical leaders
Major league baseball final standings
- January 4 - David Clyde, who'd made his MLB debut as a promising prospect as a teenager, returns to the Texas Rangers as he and outfielder Jim Norris are sent to Texas by the Cleveland Indians in exchange for outfielder Gary Gray, pitcher Larry McCall, and minor league infielder Mike Bucci.
- January 5 - The Kansas City Royals sign pitcher Tom Candiotti.
- January 9 - Al Kaline and Duke Snider are elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Kaline is the 10th player to be elected in his first year of eligibility, while Snider is making his 11th appearance on the ballot.
- January 24 - The New York Mets are sold to a group headed by Nelson Doubleday, Jr. and Fred Wilpon for an estimated $21.1 million. It was, at the time, the highest amount ever paid for an American professional sports franchise.
- January 31 - Joe Morgan leaves the Cincinnati Reds and signs with the Houston Astros as a free agent, returning to the city his major league career began.
- February 12 - The Board of the Oakland Coliseum and the Oakland City Council both reject an attempt to buy out the remainder of the Oakland Athletics' lease to the stadium. This blocks an attempt to sell the team and a possible move to Denver.
- February 15 - The San Diego Padres acquire First baseman Willie Montanez from the Texas Rangers in exchange for infielder Tucker Ashford, minor leaguer Joe Carroll, and future hall of fame pitcher Gaylord Perry.
- March 8 - Rookie Joe Charboneau of the Cleveland Indians is attacked outside a Mexico City hotel. A fan seeking his autograph stabs him in the chest with a pen. Charboneau misses the start of the year, but goes on to bat .289, hitting 23 home runs, while driving in 87 RBI in 131 games. He will be elected American League Rookie of the Year.
- March 10 - The New York Yankees sign pitcher Jose Cano. The 18 year old Cano plays only one season in the Yankees farm system before he is released and spends the next two seasons out of baseball. However, his son Robinson Cano would later go on to have an all-star career with the Yankees.
- March 12 - Slugger Chuck Klein and former Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey are elected to the Hall of Fame by the Special Veterans Committee. Yawkey is the first club owner selected who never served as a player, manager or general manager.
- March 27 - The Los Angeles Dodgers give pitcher Ken Brett and catcher Johnny Oates their outright release.
- March 31 - Less than two months after he was traded back to Texas in hopes of reviving his career, David Clyde is released by the Rangers after he was continued to be plagued by arm troubles. This brings an end to Clyde's baseball career.
- April 1 - The New York Yankees sign pitcher Jim Kaat
- April 3 - The San Francisco Giants release pitcher Pedro Borbon.
- April 4 - Bud Harrelson is released by the Philadelphia Phillies.
- April 9 - Two days before the start of the season, the uniforms belonging to the Durham Bulls are stolen. Hank Aaron, who was the minor league director for the Bulls parent club, the Atlanta Braves, sends the bulls some used Braves road jerseys to tide them over until their uniforms can be replaced.
- Starting opening day for the Seattle Mariners, Mike Parrott gets the win in Seattle's 8-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. It would be Parrott's only win of the year as he finished the season 1-16
- April 10 - Right Fielder Sixto Lezcano blasts a grand slam home run for the Milwaukee Brewers against the Boston Red Sox on Opening Day in the bottom of the 9th Inning to win the game, making him the first player to accomplish this feat in two straight years. Lezcano also hit a grand slam two years prior on Opening Day.
- After Texas Rangers starter Jon Matlack and New York Yankees starter Ron Guidry each pitch nine inning out shut out baseball, the Rangers win 1-0 in the 12th inning after Goose Gossage, in his only pitch of the game, throws a wild pitch with Richie Zisk at the plate. The wild pitch allows Ranger base runner (and former Yankee) Mickey Rivers to score from third.
- April 12 - Newly acquired Nolan Ryan makes his first National League start since 1971 for the Houston Astros and belts his first career home run, a three-run shot, in the fourth inning off Don Sutton of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ryan, however, only lasts six innings and the Dodgers win the game 6-5 in 17 innings at the Astrodome.
- April 22 - In a classic slugfest at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 16-12, on a two-out grand slam by Barry Foote off reliever Mark Littell in the bottom of the ninth inning. Foote drove in eight runs overall with four hits and two homers, while teammate Iván de Jesús went 5-for-6 and hit for the cycle to help Chicago rally from an early 12-5 deficit.
- April 26 - Steve Carlton throws a one-hitter to lead the Philadelphia Phillies over the St. Louis Cardinals. This is the sixth one hit game Carlton, who never threw a no hitter in his 24-year career, had thrown.
- April 30 - The St. Louis Cardinals purchase the contract of Jim Kaat from the New York Yankees.
May 1 - New York Mets starting pitcher Pete Falcone strikes out the first six batters he faces in a game versus the Philadelphia Phillies. Falcone strikes out Lonnie Smith, Pete Rose. Garry Maddox, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, and Bob Boone. The seventh batter, shortstop Larry Bowa grounded out. Despite the success early, the Mets fall to Philadelphia 2-1.
- May 3 - Willie McCovey of the San Francisco Giants hits what will be the last of his 521 career home runs, off Scott Sanderson of the Montreal Expos, in the fourth inning of the Giants' 3-2 victory over the Expos at Olympic Stadium. McCovey becomes the second player, after Ted Williams (who also retired with 521 career home runs), to hit a home run in four different decades.
- May 5 - Bill Madlock of the Pittsburgh Pirates is fined $5,000 and suspended for 15 days by NL president Chub Fenney. Madlock had shoved his glove in the face of umpire Gerry Crawford over a call in a game against the Montreal Expos four days earlier.
- May 7 - The Texas Rangers signed Bud Harrelson.
- May 11 - Pete Rose of the Philadelphia Phillies steals Second base, third base, and home plate in the Phillies 7-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds. Rose was the first player since Harvey Hendrick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1928 to pull off the stolen base cycle in one inning.
- May 23 - Texas Rangers pitcher Ferguson Jenkins wins his 250th game against the Oakland Athletics. Jenkins pitched a complete game for the Rangers, striking out eight batters in the victory.
- In the early hours of the morning, the MLBPA and the owners reach a preliminary agreement, preventing a walk out by the players. However, the topic of free agency is tabled, an act that would lead to the players 50 day strike the following season.
- May 27 - The St. Louis Cardinals release pitcher Pedro Borbon and outfielder Bernie Carbo.
- May 28 - Isao Harimoto of the Lotte Orions collects his 3,000 career hit. Harimoto will finish his career with 3,085 hits.
- May 29 - At San Diego Stadium, Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds breaks Yogi Berra's all-time record for home runs by a catcher. He hits two home runs off Randy Jones in the Reds' 5-3 victory over the San Diego Padres; the first comes in the second inning and gives him 336 on his career and 306 as a catcher, breaking a tie he had shared with Berra.
- June 3 - The June MLB player draft is held. Notable selections in the first round are Kelly Gruber, who'd go on to win a gold glove with the Toronto Blue Jays, who is drafted by the Cleveland Indians, the Montreal Expos take first baseman Terry Francona with the 22nd pick, and Darryl Strawberry by the New York Mets.
- June 4 - Jim Kaat, recently acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals from the New York Yankees, pitches 10 shut out innings against the New York Mets. The Cardinals win, despite a strong showing from Mets pitchers Pat Zachry and Neil Allen. The Cardinals get the 1-0 win thanks in part to an extra innings home run by infielder Ken Reitz.
- June 5 - At Shea Stadium, Mike Jorgensen's bases-loaded single in the ninth inning drove in Steve Henderson to give Craig Swan and the New York Mets a 2-1 victory over The St Louis Cardinals.
- June 6 - Houston's J.R. Richard struck out 13 batters to highlight a three-hitter and Art Howe and Terry Puhl each got three hits to lead the Astros to a 2-0 victory over The San Francisco Giants.
- June 7 - Ron Hodges' pinch single capped a two-run 11th Inning rally that carried the New York Mets to a 6-5 victory, their second straight over the reigning world champions Pittsburgh Pirates.
- June 8 - A Sunday doubleheader saw the Mets and the Pirates split both games. Game 1 saw the Mets beat the Pirates 6-4 and Game 2 saw the Pirates beat the Mets 3-0, but the real story was that 29,329 fans showed up for the doubleheader, the largest Shea Stadium crowd since August 20,1978.
- June 16 - Tim Foli drove in three runs and struggling Bert Blyleven earned the 150th pitching victory of his career to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 5-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds that was seen on ABC's Monday Night Baseball.
- June 17 - The Cleveland Indians are forced to close off a portion of the stadium due to rowdy fans pelting Brewers outfielders Gorman Thomas and Sixto Lezcano in a loss to the Brewers =the previous day. The portion of the stadium would not re-open until more security had been hired later that month.
- June 20 - California Angels shortstop Freddie Patek hits three home runs and collects seven RBIs in the Angels' 20-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
- In a bizarre moment, Detroit Tigers Al Cowens hits a slow roller off White Sox pitcher Ed Farmer. Instead of running towards first, Cowens runs and attacks Farmer as revenge for being hit by a pitcher from Farmer the previous season, which broke Cowens jaw and cost him to miss 21 games as a member of the Kansas City Royals. An arrest warrant is issued for Cowens, which forces him to miss the rest of the series. Cowens is later suspended for a week by the AL.
- June 25 - The San Francisco Giants' Mike Ivie abruptly announces his retirement from baseball, citing depression. Ivie would return to the Giants three weeks later, convinced by a phone call from teammate Willie McCovey.
- June 27 - At Candlestick Park, Jerry Reuss of the Los Angeles Dodgers no-hits the San Francisco Giants 8-0. A Bill Russell error on Jack Clark's first-inning ground ball is the only baserunner Reuss allows.
- July 1 - The New York Yankees release outfielder Paul Blair.
- July 3 - Minnesota Twins outfielder Ken Landreaux ties an American League record in hitting three triples during a win over the Texas Rangers. Earlier this season, Landreaux set the Twins club record with a 31-game hitting streak, a record that still stands thirty-five years later.
- July 4
- July 6 - Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton becomes the major leagues' left-handed strikeout king, fanning seven Cardinals in an 8-3 Phillies win to bring his career total to 2,836. Mickey Lolich had held the record with 2,832.
- July 8 - At Dodger Stadium, the National League battles back to win its ninth consecutive All-Star Game over the American League, 4-2. Ken Griffey goes 2-for-3 with a solo home run to win the MVP honors.
- July 11 - The Los Angeles Dodgers sell the contract of pitcher Charlie Hough to the Texas Rangers.
- July 18 - The New York Mets play their 3,000 game, falling 8-3 in the second game of a double header against the Cincinnati Reds.
- July 19 - Roy Lee Jackson of the New York Mets retires the last 19 hitters he faced in the Mets 13-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
- July 25 - Mike Schmidt passes Del Ennis to become the franchise leader in home runs.
- July 27 - Three days after he is released by the Atlanta Braves, pitcher Terry Leach is signed by the New York Mets. Leach would go on to be a key player in the Mets World Series win over the Boston Red Sox in 1986.
- July 30 - Houston Astros pitcher J. R. Richard suffers a stroke during his first attempt to pitch since being hospitalized for tests weeks earlier. He would not play again.
- August 1 - The New York Yankees sign 15 year old pitching prospect José Rijo as an undrafted amateur free agent.
- August 4 - The Seattle Mariners fired manager Darrell Johnson, and replace him with Maury Wills. This is the first managerial change in franchise history for the Mariners
- August 5 - Chicago Cubs rookie shortstop Steve Macko suffers a bad bruise in a collision with the Pittsburgh Pirates' Bill Madlock in the first game of a doubleheader. A hurting Macko drives in a run with a double, is pinch-run for by Rick Reuschel, and never plays another game in the majors. Doctors examining Macko diagnose him with testicular cancer, and Macko would pass away in November 1981.
- August 11 - Reggie Jackson of the New York Yankees hits his 400th career home run of Britt Burns of the Chicago White Sox.
- August 12 - Nearly 50,000 fans cram into Tiger Stadium to watch former Tigers ace Mark Fidrych attempt a comeback. Boston won the game 5-2, and Fidrych's days in the majors begin to come to an end.
- August 17 - The Detroit Tigers hold a ceremony in which they retire the number 6 in honor of former star Al Kaline. Kaline becomes the first player in Tigers history to have his uniform number retired.
- August 20 - Chicago White Sox outfielder Leo Sutherland gets a single off Indians pitcher Dan Spillner. The hit breaks up Spilner's no-hit bid. He then retires the next two batters as Cleveland gets the 3-0 victory.
- August 21 - Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley announces the sale of the team to Walter Haas, Jr, a move that assures the team will stay in Oakland. Oil tycoon Marvin Davis had wanted to purchase the team and move then to Denver Colorado.
- August 24 - Gene Mauch resigns as manager of the Minnesota Twins and third base coach John Goryl takes over. The Twins, who were 26 games out of first place, win 23 of the remaining 36 games of the season.
- August 26 - George Brett of the Kansas City Royals goes 5-5 as the Royals defeat the Milwaukee Brewers. Brett's day raises his batting average to .407.
- August 27 - The Philadelphia Phillies' Steve Carlton becomes the first National League pitcher to win twenty games this season, combining with Tug McGraw to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-3. Carlton will win a National League-high 24 games, while pitching 304 innings, the last MLB pitcher to throw more than 300 innings in a season.
- September 1 - Wade Boggs, playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox, loses the batting title on the last day of the season. Pawtucket is playing the Toledo Mud Hens, who force Boggs' last at-bat by walking the light hitting Ray Boyer. The Mud Hens, who led the game 6-0, allow Boyer to take bases at will. Boggs ends up grounding out to first to end the game, thus lowering his average. He finished the season .0007 points behind Dave Engle, who just happened to play for the Toledo Mud Hens.
- Ed Farmer, who'd been assaulted during a game by Al Cowens earlier in the season, agrees to drop the charges. Before the game, both men brought the line-up cards to the home plate umpire, and later shook hands. The fans weren't as forgiving, as they booed Cowens every time he came to bat.
- September 4 - Hubie Brooks makes his MLB debut, going hitless in three at bats in the Mets 3-2 loss to the San Diego Padres.
- September 8 - Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspends pitcher Ferguson Jenkins following Jenkins' drug arrest. An Arbiter later re-instates Jenkins.
- September 10 - Bill Gullickson strikes out 18, the most by a major league rookie pitcher, as the Montréal Expos beat the Chicago Cubs 4-2.
- September 13 - The Texas Rangers trade pitcher Sparky Lyle to the Philadelphia Phillies for a player named later. The player named later is pitcher Kevin Saucier.
- September 18 - Gary Ward hit for the cycle in a 9-8 Minnesota Twins loss to Milwaukee. He did it in only the 14th game of his career, which still stands as the major league record for fewest games played before first hitting for the cycle.
- September 19 - The Kansas City Royals rout the visiting Oakland A's, 13-3. George Brett gets two hits to keep his average above .400, marking the latest in a season that a player was hitting at or above .400 since Ted Williams in 1941.
- September 20 - George Brett goes 0-for-4 dropping his batting average below .400. It will not climb above .400 again, and he finishes the season with a .390 batting average, the closest any player had come to a .400 batting average since Ted Williams in 1941. Only Tony Gwynn will come closer than that before the 20th century ends.
- A bronze plaque dedicated to Thurman Munson, who died unexpectedly the previous season in a plane crash, is unveiled in the team's monument park.
- September 24 - The Atlanta Braves reach the 1,000,000 mark in attendance. It marks the first time that every National League team has drawn at least 1,000,000 fans for a season.
- September 25 - In an extra innings loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Ozzie Smith and Jerry Mumphrey each steal a base, making the Padres the first team ever with three players who stole more than 5 bases. Gene Richard, who lead the team with 61 swipes, was the other.
- Brian Kingman of the Oakland A's loses his 20th game of the season. The loss made Kingman the first 20-game loser in the majors since Dolf Luque of the Cincinnati reds in 1922.
- September 28 - Before an ABC National television audience, the Montreal Expos beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-3 to take a half-game lead in the National League East. Steve Rogers picked up his 16th win of the season while Gary Carter was the offensive hero for the Expos as he went 3-for-4 including 2 home runs. His great day would put him on the cover of Sports Illustrated the following week.
- September 30 - The New York Mets defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 at Shea Stadium. Only 1,754 fans showed up, making it the smallest crowd to ever attend a game at Shea.
- October 1 - The Boston Red Sox fire manager Don Zimmer due to pressure from fans, who never forgave Zimmer for the late season collapse in 1978, who led to the one game play off in which Bucky Dent hit the game-winning home run for the Yankees over the green monster.
- October 4 - In a 17-1 rout of the Minnesota Twins, Willie Wilson of the Kansas City Royals becomes the first major league player ever to be credited with 700 at-bats in a single season, and ends the year with 705 at bats. He also sets the AL record for singles in a season with 184, eclipsing the mark Sam Rice set in 1925. Wilson also becomes only the second player in major league history to collect 100 hits from each side of the plate, matching the feat accomplished by Garry Templeton in 1979.
- October 4 - Philadelphia's Mike Schmidt hits a 2-run home run in the top of the 11th inning to give the Phillies a 6-4 win over the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium, clinching the National League East title. The home run is Schmidt's 48th of the season, breaking Eddie Mathews' single-season record for third basemen set in 1953.
- October 5 - On October 3, the Los Angeles Dodgers had been down three games to the Houston Astros to tie for the National League West Division title. Needing a sweep of the Astros, the Dodgers complete just such a sweep today; each of the wins by a single run. They will play a one-game playoff tomorrow.
- Ben Oglivie, who was born in Panama, of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a home run off the A's Rick Langford, tying him with Reggie Jackson, and making Oglivie the first player not born in America to lead the AL in hom runs.
- October 6 - After suffering through the three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers the last three days, Joe Niekro wins his twentieth game of the season to earn a win for the Houston Astros, 7-1, in a one-game playoff. It is the Astros' first Division Title.
- October 9 - The Kansas City Royals win Game 2 of the 1980 ALCS 3-2, but the game is remembered for the top of the eighth inning. With Willie Randolph on first with two outs, Bob Watson lines a double to left. Yankee third base coach Mike Ferraro waves Randolph home, and the Royals gun him down at the plate. With a national television audience looking on, Yankee owner George Steinbrenner is shown in the stands on ABC game cameras shouting Ferraro's name at general manager Gene Michael. Steinbrenner ordered Yankee manager Dick Howser to fire Ferraro on the spot right after the game, but Howser refused.
- October 10 - In Game 3 of the 1980 ALCS, and with the New York Yankees leading 2-1, Kansas City Royals' George Brett delivered a three-run home run off Yankees' reliever Rich Gossage, and with it total revenge for the Royals, who won the pennant after being second best to the Yankees in the ALCS in 1976, 1977 and 1978. Kansas City won the pennant in, of all places, Yankee Stadium. After the game, Dick Howser resigns as Yankee manager over the events in Game 2 involving Mike Ferraro as described above.
- October 12 - The Philadelphia Phillies capture their first pennant since 1950 with a 10-inning, 8-7 win over the Houston Astros at the Astrodome, in the fifth and final game of the NL Championship Series. Each of the last four games was decided in extra innings. The Phillies, down by three runs to Nolan Ryan in the 8th inning, rally and go ahead on Garry Maddox's double in the 10th inning.
- October 21 - The Philadelphia Phillies win the World Series, the first WS Championship in their 98-year history, by beating the Kansas City Royals, 4-1, in Game Six. Steve Carlton earns the win, though the most memorable moment may be Tug McGraw on the mound jumping for joy as he earns the save after loading the bases with no outs. Another equally memorable moment comes with one out in the bottom of the ninth when Frank White's pop-up is bobbled by Bob Boone, only to be tipped into the glove of Pete Rose. Philadelphia's Mike Schmidt is named MVP, hitting .381 with two home runs and seven RBI, while KC's Willie Wilson is the "goat", striking out a WS-record 12 times, including the final out of the Series with the bases loaded, and hitting only .154. Of the original 16 Major League franchises from 1901, the Phillies are the last to win their first World Series.
- October 22 - Dave Winfield of the San Diego Padres is officially declared a free agent.
- October 26 - Ralph Houk comes out of retirement to become manager of the Boston Red Sox.
- November 3
- An era ends for the Oakland Athletics as the sale of the team is finalized. The flamboyant Charlie O. Finley sells the team to Walter A. Haas, ending his relationship with the team.
- George Brett was named the Sporting News American League Player of the Year. Steve Stone was named the Sporting News American League Pitcher of the Year. Steve Carlton was named the Sporting News National League Pitcher of the year and his teammate Mike Schmidt was named National League Player of the Year by the Sporting News..
- November 4 - Sadaharu Oh announces his retirement as a player from Japanese baseball. His 868 documented career home runs remain an unapproached world record among professional baseball players.
- November 12:
- November 18 - Brad Gulden is traded for himself. The New York Yankees trade Gulden to the Seattle Mariners for veteran infielder Larry Milbourne and a player named later. In May 1981, Gulden is sent back to the Yankees as the player to be named later, officially making Gulden the first player since Harry Chiti to be traded for himself.
- November 25 - Gene Michael becomes the 25th manager in New York Yankees history, replacing a fired Dick Howser, who led the team to the American League East title with a 103-59 mark.
- November 26 - Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt, who hit .286 with career highs of 48 home runs and 121 RBI, is a unanimous choice as National League Most Valuable Player.
- December 1 - Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Steve Howe wins the National League Rookie of the Year Award, edging Montréal Expos starting pitcher Bill Gullickson and outfielder Lonnie Smith of the Philadelphia Phillies. Howe posted a 7-9 record with a 2.65 ERA and 17 saves.
- December 8 - In one of the largest trades ever at the annual winter meetings, the San Diego Padres sent catcher Bob Geren, pitchers Rollie Fingers, Bob Shirley and first baseman Gene Tenace to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for catchers Terry Kennedy and Steve Swisher, pitchers John Littlefield, Al Olmsted, John Urrea, Kim Seaman, and infielder Mike Phillips. Fingers never appears in a Cardinals uniform as he is traded again days later to the Milwaukee Brewers.
- December 9 - The Chicago Cubs send relief pitcher Bruce Sutter to their arch-rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, in exchange for first baseman Leon Durham. Sutter will go on to save many more games for the Cardinals, while Durham's critical error in Game 5 of the 1984 NLCS will doom the Cubs.
- December 10 - The Detroit Tigers acquire pitcher Kevin Saucier from the Texas Rangers in exchange for shortstop Mark Wagner. Saucier would later become infamous for developing the "Yips" an informal term for players, typically pitchers and catcher, who cannot control the direction of the ball they are throwing.
- December 12 - The St. Louis Cardinals trade future Hall of Fame closer Rollie Fingers, All star catcher Ted Simmons and pitcher Pete Vuckovich to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitchers Dave LaPoint and Lary Sorensen and outfielders David Green and Sixto Lezcano.
- December 15 - Dave Winfield signs a 10-year 16 million dollar contract with the New York Yankees. This makes Winfield the richest athlete in pro sports at the time and signals the end of Reggie Jackson's days in pinstripes as George Steinbrenner informs Jackson his free agent option will not be picked up once his current contract ends.
- December 16 - The New York Mets sign Rusty Staub as a free agent.
- December 17 - The San Diego Padres sign infielder Ozzie Guillen as an undrafted free agent.
- December 20 - The Boston Red Sox missed the deadline to tender contracts to pending free agents. The blunder officially makes catcher Carlton Fisk and outfielder Fred Lynn free agents. This blunder cost Boston both players as Fisk signs with the Chicago White Sox and Lynn signs with the California Angels.
- December 22 - The Yomiura Giants purchase the contract of outfielder Gary Thomasson from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
- The St. Louis Cardinals release outfielder Bobby Bonds.
- January 4 - Foster Edwards, 76, pitcher who appeared in 56 games for the 1925-1928 Boston Braves and 1930 New York Yankees.
- January 6 - June Gilmore, 57, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player.
- January 10 - Hughie Critz, 79, second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds and New York Giants who led NL in fielding four times and double plays three times.
- January 21 - Gene Rye, 73, outfielder for the 1931 Boston Red Sox.
- February 1 - Greg Mulleavy, 74, shortstop who played in 78 games for the Chicago White Sox (1930 and 1932) and in one contest for the Red Sox (1933); later, coached for Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers between 1957 and 1964 and served as a longtime Dodger scout.
- February 1 - Fred Walters, 67, catcher for the 1945 Boston Red Sox, and one of many players who only appeared in the majors during World War II.
- February 2 - Jack Rothrock, 74, center fielder for four different teams from 1925 to 1937, who led the victorious St. Louis Cardinals with six RBI in the 1934 World Series.
- February 4 - Dud Branom, 82, first baseman who played in 30 games for the 1927 Philadelphia Athletics.
- March 1 - Emmett Ashford, 65, the major leagues' first black umpire, who worked in the American League from 1966 to 1970 and in the 1970 World Series.
- March 1 - Art Jorgens, 74, Norwegian-born backup catcher for the New York Yankees who played 11 seasons (1929-1939) behind Hall of Famer Bill Dickey; member of five World Series championship teams but never once appeared in a Fall Classic.
- March 1 - Johnny Watwood, 74, center fielder and first baseman who played in 469 games between 1929 and 1939 for the Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies.
- March 3 - Jerry Priddy, 60, second baseman who played from 1941 to 1953 for the New York Yankees, Washington Senators, St. Louis Browns and Detroit Tigers.
- March 5 - Les Fleming, 64, first baseman and outfielder who appeared in 434 games for the Cleveland Indians (1939, 1941-1942 and 1945-1947) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1949).
- March 22 - Ray Foley, 73, pitch hitter in two games for the 1928 New York Giants.
- April 7 - Buck Canel, 74, Spanish-language broadcaster of 42 World Series, as well as many years of New York Yankees games.
- April 21 - Ray Dobens, 73, pitcher for the 1929 Boston Red Sox.
- April 21 - Joe Page, 62, All-Star relief pitcher for the New York Yankees who set single-season record with 27 saves in 1949, led AL in saves and appearances twice each.
- April 28 - Bob Porterfield, 56, All-Star pitcher who was named The Sporting News AL Pitcher of the Year in 1953 after a 22-10 season with the Senators.
- May 16 - Cap Peterson, 37, outfielder who played from 1962 to 1969 for the San Francisco Giants, Washington Senators and Cleveland Indians.
- May 21 - Frank Croucher, 65, Infielder for the Detroit Tigers and Washington Senators in the 1930's and 1940's.
- June 1 - Rube Marquard, 93, Hall of Fame pitcher who retired with 201 wins and the NL record for career strikeouts by a left-hander (1593); had 19 consecutive wins for the Giants in 1912 for a modern major league record.
- June 3 - Fred Lieb, 92, sportswriter who covered every World Series from 1911 to 1958.
- June 9 - Odell Hale, 71, infielder for the Cleveland Indians in the 1930s, who hit .300 three times and collected two 100-RBI seasons.
- June 12 - Dan Thomas, 29, outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1976 to 1977.
- July 4 - Jack Martin, 93, shortstop who played from 1912 to 1914 for the New York Highlanders, Boston Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.
- July 23 - Wally Snell, 91, catcher for the 1913 Boston Red Sox, who later went on to a distinguished career as a college botany professor and athletic coach at Brown University for four decades.
- July 30 - Joe Lucey, 83, infielder/pitcher for the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox between 1920 and 1925.
- August 4 - Lefty Jamerson, 80, pitcher for the 1924 Boston Red Sox.
- August 27 - John Wilson, 77, pitched briefly for the Red Sox from 1927 to 1928.
- August 28 - Harry Smythe, 75, left-handed pitcher who worked in 60 total games for the Philadelphia Phillies (1929-1930), New York Yankees (1934) and Brooklyn Dodgers (1934); pitched in pro baseball for 22 seasons.
- September 6 - Gus Ketchum, 83, pitched in six games for the 1922 Philadelphia Athletics.
- September 18 - Fredda Acker, 54, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player, who was named Mrs. America in 1947.
- September 22 - Tommy Neill, 60, outfielder and pinch hitter who played 20 games for 1946-1947 Boston Braves.
- September 24 - Ernie Shore, 89, pitcher for New York Giants (1912), Boston Red Sox (1914-1917) and New York Yankees (1919-1920) whose career was curtailed by World War I military service; on June 23, 1917, he relieved Babe Ruth, ejected by the umpires, with a man on first and none out in the first inning, and proceeded to retire the runner and all 26 remaining batters.
- October 1 - Pat Veltman, 74, utility player best known for his 1928 season, where his only hit was a triple.
- November 29 - Bill Dunlap, 71, outfielder for the Boston Braves from 1929 to 1930.
- December 2 - Don Padgett, 68, catcher/outfielder who appeared in 699 career games for the St. Louis Cardinals, Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves and Philadelphia Phillies between 1937 and 1948, missing four full years while serving in World War II; batted .399 in 233 at bats for 1939 Cardinals.
- December 4 - Georgette Vincent, 52. who pitched for two All-American Girls Professional Baseball League champion teams spanning 1951-1952.
- December 10 - Rosy Ryan, 82, key pitcher on pennant-winning New York Giants teams of early 1920s; led National League in ERA in 1922 and games pitched in 1923, and won World Series rings in 1921-1922; later, a longtime minor league executive.
- December 14 - Elston Howard, 51, nine-time All-Star catcher for the New York Yankees from 1955 to August 3, 1967, who was that team's first black player and the AL's 1963 MVP; coached for Yankees from 1969 to 1979; won six World Series rings between 1956 and 1978.
- December 31 - Jim Britt, 70, play-by-announcer for the Boston Braves (1940-1952) and Red Sox (1940-1950), Cleveland Indians (1954-1957), and the Mutual Radio Network.
- December 31 - Bob Shawkey, 90, pitcher who had four 20-win seasons for the New York Yankees between 1916 and 1922 and won 195 MLB games overall; led AL in ERA (2.45) in 1920; managed Yankees for 1930 season, essentially between Hall of Fame pilots Miller Huggins and Joe McCarthy; later, head baseball coach at Dartmouth College (1952-1956).