1972 in baseball
- 1 Labor strife and more moving
- 2 Champions
- 3 Awards and honors
- 4 Statistical leaders
- 5 Major league baseball final standings
- 6 Events
- 7 Births
- 8 Deaths
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
|League Championship Series||World Series|
- World Series MVP: Gene Tenace
- All-Star Game, July 25 at Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium: National League, 4–3 (10 innings); Joe Morgan, MVP
- Amateur World Series: Cuba
- College World Series: USC
- Japan Series: Yomiuri Giants over Hankyu Braves (4–1)
- Big League World Series: Orlando, Florida
- Little League World Series: Taipei, Taiwan
- Senior League World Series: Pingtung, Taiwan
- 1972 Caribbean Series: Leones de Ponce
- Dominican Republic League: Águilas Cibaeñas
- Mexican Pacific League: Algodoneros de Guasave
- Puerto Rican League: Leones de Ponce
- Venezuelan League: Tigres de Aragua
Awards and honors
- Baseball Hall of Fame
- Most Valuable Player
- Cy Young Award
- Rookie of the Year
- Gold Glove Award
|American League||National League|
|AVG||Rod Carew MIN||.318||Billy Williams CHC||.333|
|HR||Dick Allen CHW||37||Johnny Bench CIN||40|
|RBI||Dick Allen CHW||113||Johnny Bench CIN||125|
|Wins||Wilbur Wood CHW
Gaylord Perry CLE
|24||Steve Carlton PHI||27|
|ERA||Luis Tiant BOS||1.91||Steve Carlton PHI||1.97|
|SO||Nolan Ryan CAL||329||Steve Carlton PHI||310|
|SV||Sparky Lyle NYY||35||Clay Carroll CIN||37|
|SB||Bert Campaneris OAK||52||Lou Brock STL||63|
Major league baseball final standings
American League final standings
National League final standings
- January 13 – Bernice Gera wins a discrimination suit against organized baseball, opening the door for her to become the first female umpire in professional baseball.
- January 19 – The Baseball Writers' Association of America elects Sandy Koufax, Yogi Berra and Early Wynn to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Koufax makes it in his first try and, at age of 36, is the youngest honoree in history.
- January 20 – The Chicago Cubs trade Johnny Callison to the New York Yankees for Jack Aker.
- February 8 – Commissioner Bowie Kuhn announces that the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues has selected Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard for the Hall of Fame.
- March 16 – Reigning Cy Young and MVP award winner Vida Blue announces his retirement. It will be a short one as he will join the Oakland Athletics in May.
- 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.
- 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 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. To date, no Padre pitcher has hurled a no-hitter; this is the closest any has come to one.
- 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 6–0 win 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.
- January 1 – Rafael Roque
- January 2 – Garrett Stephenson
- January 9 – Jay Powell
- January 11 – Jermaine Allensworth
- January 12 – Rich Loiselle
- January 13 – Akinori Otsuka
- January 17 – Walt McKeel
- January 18 – Keith Glauber
- January 18 – Mike Lieberthal
- January 20 – Matt Beech
- January 20 – Tim Kubinski
- January 21 – Alan Benes
- January 25 – José Macías
- January 27 – Greg Martinez
- January 28 – Steve Falteisek
- January 28 – Chris Peters
- January 28 – Tsuyoshi Shinjo
- January 28 – Bryan Ward
- January 29 – Morgan Burkhart
- January 29 – Julio Mosquera
- February 1 – Rich Becker
- February 2 – Jared Fernandez
- February 2 – Melvin Mora
- February 11 – Brian Daubach
- February 20 – Shane Spencer
- February 22 – John Halama
- February 23 – Rondell White
- March 1 – Omar Daal
- March 1 – Jimmy Hurst
- March 3 – Mike Romano
- March 4 – Bruce Aven
- March 4 – Mark Wegner
- March 10 – Rob Stanifer
- March 11 – Salomón Torres
- March 12 – George Arias
- March 20 – Jason McDonald
- March 22 – Cory Lidle
- March 24 – José Cabrera
- March 24 – Steve Karsay
- March 25 – Howard Battle
- March 26 – Jason Maxwell
- March 27 – Creighton Gubanich
- March 27 – Adam Melhuse
- March 29 – Alex Ochoa
- March 30 – Wilson Heredia
- April 3 – Steve Soderstrom
- April 4 – Guillermo Garcia
- April 4 – Jeff Sparks
- April 4 – Matt Wagner
- April 6 – Marty Malloy
- April 10 – Shayne Bennett
- April 11 – Robin Jennings
- April 11 – Bobby M. Jones
- April 11 – Jason Varitek
- April 12 – Paul Lo Duca
- April 12 – Alfonso Márquez
- April 14 – Roberto Mejía
- April 15 – Ricky Otero
- April 16 – Antonio Alfonseca
- April 17 – Gary Bennett
- April 21 – Keith Williams
- April 24 – Chipper Jones
- April 25 – Micah Franklin
- April 26 – Brian Anderson
- April 26 – Francisco Córdova
- April 26 – Felipe Lira
- April 27 – Chad Zerbe
- May 1 – Bobby Chouinard
- May 1 – Fausto Cruz
- May 3 – Darren Dreifort
- May 4 – Manny Aybar
- May 10 – Marino Santana
- May 11 – Cam Cairncross
- May 18 – Jaime Bluma
- May 18 – Mike Jerzembeck
- May 19 – Scott McClain
- May 24 – Danny Bautista
- May 24 – Gabe González
- May 28 – Tilson Brito
- May 28 – Joe Rosselli
- May 30 – Scott Eyre
- May 30 – Manny Ramírez
- May 31 – Dave Roberts
- June 2 – Raúl Ibañez
- June 2 – Chance Sanford
- June 3 – Bryan Rekar
- June 5 – Mike Coolbaugh
- June 6 – Tony Graffanino
- June 6 – Brooks Kieschnick
- June 6 – Jeff Williams
- June 13 – Darrell May
- June 15 – Tony Clark
- June 15 – Ramiro Mendoza
- June 15 – Andy Pettitte
- June 20 – Paul Bako
- June 20 – Juan Castro
- June 22 – Miguel del Toro
- June 25 – Carlos Delgado
- June 30 – Garret Anderson
- June 30 – Jim Stoops
- July 5 – Bo Porter
- July 6 – Greg Norton
- July 11 – Mark Little
- July 12 – Kelly Wunsch
- July 13 – Clint Sodowsky
- July 15 – Wilson Delgado
- July 16 – Robbie Beckett
- July 19 – Brian Smith
- July 21 – Kimera Bartee
- July 24 – Shawn Wooten
- August 1 – Freddy García
- August 3 – Wendell Magee
- August 4 – Steve Bourgeois
- August 5 – John Wasdin
- August 6 – Duane Singleton
- August 7 – Kerry Lacy
- August 9 – Dusty Allen
- August 9 – Jeff Zimmerman
- August 11 – Andrew Lorraine
- August 14 – David Manning
- August 15 – Chris Singleton
- August 17 – Jeff Abbott
- August 19 – Jed Hansen
- August 20 – Mike Porzio
- August 21 – Dean Crow
- August 22 – Steve Kline
- August 23 – Raul Casanova
- August 24 – Mike Grzanich
- August 24 – Kurt Miller
- August 24 – Chris Prieto
- August 25 – Andy Abad
- August 25 – Mike Welch
- August 28 – Jay Witasick
- August 30 – José Herrera
- September 1 – Kevin Orie
- September 2 – Pat Watkins
- September 4 – Darrell Einertson
- September 5 – Jimmy Haynes
- September 7 – Jason Isringhausen
- September 7 – Willie Morales
- September 9 – Mike Hampton
- September 9 – Félix Rodríguez
- September 13 – Nelson Cruz
- September 13 – Chan Perry
- September 14 – David Bell
- September 16 – Brian Tollberg
- September 17 – Brady Raggio
- September 21 – Scott Spiezio
- September 21 – Shannon Withem
- September 23 – Pep Harris
- September 30 – Curtis Goodwin
- September 30 – José Lima
- October 2 – Rafael Carmona
- October 2 – Trey Moore
- October 4 – Adam Riggs
- October 5 – Yamil Benítez
- October 5 – Aaron Guiel
- October 6 – Valerio de los Santos
- October 6 – Benji Gil
- October 8 – Willie Adams
- October 9 – Steve Gibralter
- October 10 – Mike Holtz
- October 10 – Ramón Martínez
- October 19 – Keith Foulke
- October 19 – Joe McEwing
- October 19 – Marc Newfield
- October 23 – Giomar Guevara
- October 26 – Armando Almanza
- October 27 – Brad Radke
- October 29 – Richie Barker
- October 31 – Chris Clemons
- November 2 – Travis Miller
- November 3 – Armando Benítez
- November 6 – Deivi Cruz
- November 6 – Matt Skrmetta
- November 7 – Travis Smith
- November 10 – Shawn Green
- November 10 – Greg LaRocca
- November 11 – Danny Rios
- November 12 – Homer Bush
- November 15 – Darwin Cubillán
- November 22 – Luis Andújar
- November 22 – Jay Payton
- November 25 – Ramón Fermín
- November 28 – Geraldo Guzmán
- November 28 – José Parra
- December 5 – Cliff Floyd
- December 5 – Mike Mahoney
- December 6 – Rick Short
- December 6 – Neil Weber
- December 7 – Chris Dale
- December 8 – Jolbert Cabrera
- December 11 – Frank Rodriguez
- December 14 – Marcus Jensen
- December 16 – Charles Gipson
- December 18 – Chris Seelbach
- December 21 – LaTroy Hawkins
- December 21 – Dustin Hermanson
- December 25 – Erik Hiljus
- December 27 – Mike Busby
- December 28 – Einar Díaz
- December 29 – Jim Brower
- January 2 – Glenn Crawford, 58, outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies in the 1940s
- January 21 – Dick Loftus, 70, outfielder for the Brooklyn Robins from 1924–25
- February 9 – Chico Ruiz, 33, infielder 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 28 – Donie Bush, 84, shortstop of the Detroit Tigers for 14 seasons who led AL in walks five times and was a superlative bunter; later managed Pittsburgh to the 1927 NL pennant
- 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, 8-time All-Star first baseman for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers who drove in more runs than any other player during the 1950s and managed the "Miracle Mets" to the 1969 World Series title
- April 3 – Alvin Crowder, 73, pitcher who had three 20-win seasons with the Browns and Senators, known for his mastery against the Yankees
- May 15 – John Milligan, 68, pitcher who played from 1928 through 1934 for the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Senators
- 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 29 – Moe Berg, 70, catcher who served as a spy for the U.S. government both during and after his playing career
- June 9 – Del Bissonette, 72, first baseman who twice batted .300 for the Brooklyn Dodgers
- July 31 – Rollie Hemsley, 65, All-Star catcher for seven teams, later a coach and minor league manager
- August 13 – George Weiss, 77, executive who solidified the New York Yankees dynasty as the club's farm director and general manager from 1932 to 1960, then became the Mets' first team president
- August 24 – J. Roy Stockton, 79, St. Louis sportswriter from the 1910s to the 1950s, also a sportscaster and author of books on baseball
- 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
- August 29 – Clem Hausmann, 53, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Athletics between 1944 and 1949
- September 6 – Charlie Berry, 69, American League catcher for eleven seasons, 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, All-Star first baseman who was shot in 1949 by a teenaged female admirer who lured him to her hotel room
- 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 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 baseball's color line in 1947 after starring in the Negro Leagues; he became the NL's 1949 MVP and batted .311 in a 10-year major league career
- 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 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
- 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 4-time batting champion and the NL's 1966 MVP, he collected his 3000th base hit in September