On December 31, 1914, Colonel Jacob Ruppert and Captain Tillinghast L’Hommedieu buy the New York Yankees for nearly $500,000 from Bill Devery and Frank Farrell. Under the new regime, the Yankees will make the most important trade in franchise history when they purchase Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox.
On December 31, 1974, the New York Yankees announce the signing of free agent pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter. The former Oakland A’s ace signs a five-year contract worth an estimated $3.75 million. Hunter had been declared a free agent only 18 days earlier, after Oakland owner Charlie Finley had failed to make an insurance payment. n independent arbitrator ruled that Finley had violated the contract, making Hunter a free agent. In 1974, Hunter won 25 games, forged a league-leading 2.49 era and won the Cy Young Award in helping the A’s to their third consecutive World Series title. In 1975, Hunter will win 23 games for the Yankees and will help New York to a pair of World Championships in 1977 and ’78. He will win election to the Hall of Fame in 1987.
On January 10, 1918, the Philadelphia A’s trade first baseman Stuffy McInnis, the last remaining player from their famed $100,000 infield, to the Boston Red Sox for three players to be named later. The A’s will later receive third baseman Larry Gardner, outfielder Clarence Walker, and catcher Hick Cady in return for McInnis.
On January 10, 1913, the Cincinnati Reds purchase pitcher Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown from the Chicago Cubs. The future Hall of Famer, who pitched in only 15 games in 1912, will log a record of 11-12 with a 2.91 ERA for the Reds in 1913.
On January 2, 1918, the Pittsburgh Pirates acquire outfielder Casey Stengel and infielder George Cutshaw from the Brooklyn Robins for future Hall of Fame pitcher Burleigh Grimes and two other players. Stengel will play only two seasons with the Pirates before moving on to Philadelphia, but will eventually enjoy a Hall of Fame career as a manager. Grimes will win 158 games during a nine-year stint with Brooklyn.
On January 11, 1932, Bill Terry rejects a contract offer from the New York Giants. Giants management, in a classic “sign of the times” move, had offered to cut his salary by $9,000 even though he batted .349 and scored a league-leading 121 runs in 1931. Terry sends the $13,500 contract back to the Giants and informs reporters that he is disgusted by the offer.
On January 2, 1915, the St. Louis Cardinals file suit against star outfielder Lee Magee in an effort to prevent him from signing with the Brooklyn Tip-Tops of the Federal League. The suit will fail, clearing the way for Magee to play and manage in the rival league.
On January 2, 1888, star second baseman Fred “Sure Shot” Dunlap signs with Pittsburgh of the National League, becoming the highest paid player in the major leagues. Dunlap, who batted .327 with 10 triples for Detroit in 1887, receives a salary of $5,000 and a bonus of $2,000.
On January 3, 1977, the Kansas City Royals release veteran reliever Lindy McDaniel, ending his 21-year career. McDaniel won 141 games and posted 172 saves in stints with the Royals, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, and St. Louis Cardinals.
On December 7, 1941, longtime star Robert “Lefty” Grove announces his retirement. Over a 17-year career with the Philadelphia A’s and the Boston Red Sox, Grove won 300 games. Grove will win election to the Hall of Fame in 1947…