1961 in baseball

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

List of years in baseball

Headline event of the year

Champions

Major League Baseball

Other champions

Awards and honors

MLB statistical leaders

Sandy Koufax
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
21
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
17
SB Luis Aparicio CHW 53 Maury Wills LAD 35

Major league baseball final standings

American League final standings

Rank Club Wins Losses Win %   GB
1st New York Yankees 109   53 .673     –
2nd Detroit Tigers 101   61 .623   8.0
3rd Baltimore Orioles 95   67 .586   14.0
4th Chicago White Sox 86   76 .531   23.0
5th Cleveland Indians 78   83 .484   30.5
6th Boston Red Sox 76   86 .469   33.0
7th Minnesota Twins 70   90 .438   38.0
8th Los Angeles Angels 70   91 .435   38.5
9th Washington Senators 61   100 .379   47.5
10th Kansas City Athletics 61   100 .379   47.5

National League final standings

Rank Club Wins Losses Win %   GB
1st Cincinnati Reds 93   61 .604     –
2nd Los Angeles Dodgers 89   65 .578   4.0
3rd San Francisco Giants 85   69 .552   8.0
4th Milwaukee Braves 83   71 .539   10.0
5th St. Louis Cardinals 80   74 .519   13.0
6th Pittsburgh Pirates 75   79 .487   18.0
7th Chicago Cubs 64   90 .416   29.0
8th Philadelphia Phillies 47   107 .305   46.0

Events

January

John F. Kennedy throws the opening pitch of the 1961 Major League Baseball season
President John F. Kennedy throws out first ball in Washington, D.C. at Griffith Stadium on April 10, 1961

February

  • 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.

March

April

May

  • 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).

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

  • 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.

Births

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Deaths

  • 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
1961 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1961 followed a system established after the 1956 election. The baseball writers would vote on recent players only in even-number years (until 1967).

The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions to consider executives, managers, umpires, and earlier major league players. It selected two center fielders and talented baserunners, Max Carey and Billy Hamilton.

1961 Claxton Shield

The 1961 Claxton Shield was the 22nd annual Claxton Shield, it was held at Norwood Oval in Adelaide, South Australia. The participants were South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland. The series was won by the home team South Australia, claiming their seventh and third consecutive Shield title.

1961 Little League World Series

The 1961 Little League World Series took place between August 22 and August 26 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Northern Little League of El Cajon, California, defeated El Campo Little League of El Campo, Texas, in the championship game of the 15th Little League World Series.

1961 Major League Baseball expansion draft

The 1961 MLB Expansion Draft was held by Major League Baseball on October 10, 1961, to fill the rosters of the New York Mets and the Houston Colt .45s. The Mets and the Colt .45s (later renamed the Astros) were the new franchises which would enter the league in the 1962 season. The pool of players out of which they could select was limited to the existing National League ballclubs.Due to the poor performance of the Mets and Colt .45s after two seasons, another draft was held for the teams. The other existing National League clubs made four players from their 40-man roster available at $30,000 apiece. Only eight players could be selected between the two clubs.

1961 Senior League World Series

The 1961 Senior League World Series (then known as the "Senior Division Tournament") took place from August 22–25 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, United States at Bowman Field. Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania defeated Sylva, North Carolina in the championship game.

This was the inaugural SLWS.

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