1961 in baseball

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The following are the baseball events of the year 1961 throughout the world.

List of years in baseball

Headline event of the year[edit]


Major League Baseball[edit]

Other champions[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]

MLB statistical leaders[edit]

Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax
  American League National League
Type Name Stat Name Stat
AVG Norm Cash DET .361 Roberto Clemente PIT .351
HR Roger Maris NY 61 Orlando Cepeda SF 46
RBI Roger Maris NY 142 Orlando Cepeda SF 142
Wins Whitey Ford NY 25 Warren Spahn MIL
Joey Jay CIN
ERA Dick Donovan WSH 2.40 Warren Spahn MIL 3.02
SO Camilo Pascual MIN 221 Sandy Koufax LAD 269
SV Luis Arroyo NY 29 Roy Face PIT
Stu Miller SF
SB Luis Aparicio CHW 53 Maury Wills LAD 35

Major league baseball final standings[edit]



President John F. Kennedy throws out first ball in Washington, D.C. at Griffith Stadium on April 10, 1961


  • February 7 – Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Jensen makes a return to the major leagues by signing a $40,000 contract. Jensen had retired in 1960 due to a fear of flying. Jensen will hit .263 with 13 home runs in 1961.




  • May 8 – New York's expansion National League club announces that the team nickname will be "Mets," a natural shortening of the corporate name ("New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, Inc.")
  • May 9 – The Baltimore Orioles' Jim Gentile hits a grand slam in both the first and second innings in a game against the Minnesota Twins, and finishes with nine RBI in the game.
  • May 31 – Boston Red Sox outfielder Carroll Hardy pinch-hits for rookie Carl Yastrzemski. On September 20, 1960, Hardy pinch hit for Ted Williams, making him the only player to go in for both future Hall of Famers. Hardy also hit his first major league home run pinch-hitting for Roger Maris when both were at Cleveland (May 18, 1958).








  • December 2 – MLB clubs vote to curb bonuses. All first-year players not on major rosters, except one minor leaguer, can be drafted by any other club for $8,000. Clubs are expected to be unwilling to pay large bonuses for players who will be subject to a draft for just $8,000.







  • January 5 – Fred Luderus, 75, Phillies first baseman of the 1910s, captain of the 1915 NL champions
  • January 8 – Schoolboy Rowe, 50, 3-time All-Star pitcher who won 158 games, mainly with the Tigers and Phillies
  • January 28 – Red Oldham, 67, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates
  • January 30 – Aaron Ward, 64, second baseman on the Yankees' first championship team in 1923
  • February 16 – Dazzy Vance, 69, Hall of Fame pitcher who led the NL in strikeouts seven years in a row and won the 1924 MVP award
  • February 19 – Red Smith, 61, shortstop for the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1920s
  • March 13 – Joe Berry, 88, catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies for one game in 1902
  • April 15 – Nick Cullop, 73, pitcher for the Cleveland Naps, New York Yankees and St. Louis Browns, who also won 22 games for the 1915 Kansas City Packers in the outlaw Federal League
  • April 23 – Jack Barry, 73, shortstop in the Athletics' "$100,000 infield", coach since 1921 at Holy Cross, where he won the 1952 College World Series and posted the highest career winning percentage (.806) in collegiate history
  • April 28 – Tommy Connolly, 90, Hall of Fame umpire from 1898 to 1931 who worked the first American League game ever, as well as the first contests at Comiskey Park, Shibe Park, Fenway Park, and Yankee Stadium
  • May 17 – Otto Knabe, 76, Second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies for many years, and was the player-manager for the Baltimore Terrapins of the Federal League.
  • June 18 – Eddie Gaedel, 36, 3'7" player who made one appearance for the 1951 Browns in a stunt promotion
  • July 17 – Ty Cobb, 74, Hall of Fame center fielder widely recognized during his lifetime as the greatest player in the sport's history, and holder of more records than any other player including highest lifetime batting average (.367) and most career hits (4,191), runs (2,245), steals (892), games (3,033) and at bats (11,429)
  • July 17 – Ed Reulbach, 78, pitcher who starred for the Cubs from 1905 to 1913, winning 182 career games
  • July 18 – Hod Eller, 67, pitcher for the Reds from 1917–1921, including a 1919 World Series game which saw him strike out 6 in a row
  • August 3 – Tom Downey, 77, played from 1909 to 1915 for the Reds, Phillies, Cubs, and Bisons.
  • September 9 – Jesse Barnes, 69, pitcher who won 152 games for the Braves, Giants and Dodgers, including a no-hitter
  • September 9 – Rube Oldring, 77, outfielder who played mainly for the Athletics, including 4 pennant winners
  • October 21 – Harry Gleason, 86, infielder/outfielder who played from 1901 through 1905 for the Boston Americans and St. Louis Browns
  • November 27 - Bob Harmon, 74, pitcher for the Cardinals and Pirates from 1909 to 1918
  • December 15 – Dummy Hoy, 99, center fielder who scored over 100 runs nine times, and the game's most accomplished deaf player; he threw out the first ball of the 1961 World Series' third game on October 7