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 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, 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 23, 1981, the New York Yankees sign outfielder-first baseman Dave Collins to a free agent contract. Collins, who stole 79 bases for the Cincinnati Reds in 1979, will end up a bust in New York and will be traded after one season.
On December 23, 1995, the St. Louis Cardinals sign a pair of free agents: outfielder Ron Gant and pitcher Andy Benes. Gant hit 29 home runs and stole 23 bases for the Cincinnati Reds, and Benes won 11 games while splitting his season between San Diego and Seattle. Benes will join younger brother Alan in St. Louis’ rotation.
On December 24, 1969, star outfielder Curt Flood refuses to accept a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies, less than two months after being dealt by the St. Louis Cardinals. The trade had sent Flood, catcher Tim McCarver, outfielder Byron Browne, and pitcheFlood writes a letter to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, explaining that he should be free to sign with any team he chooses. “I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes,” writes Flood. Flood will file suit against Major League Baseball, challenging the game’s reserve clause, which binds a player perpetually to his team. After losing the suit, Flood will attempt a comeback with the Washington Senators.
On December 26, 1919, Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee makes a secret agreement to sell Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $400,000 in cash plus other considerations. The sale will be announced publicly one week later…
On December 27, 1984, the New York Yankees sign free agent Ed Whitson to a five-year contract worth nearly $4.5 million. Whitson, who went 14-8 for the San Diego Padres, will regret his decision to play in the Bronx. In 1986, Whitson will struggle so badly at Yankee Stadium that manager Lou Piniella will refuse to use him in home games.
On December 28, 1957, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds exchange well-known first basemen. The Pirates acquire slugger Ted Kluszewski, known for wearing cut-off sleeves to accommodate his bulging biceps. In exchange, the Bucs surrender Dee Fondy, who batted .313 in 1957 while splitting the season between the Pirates and the Chicago Cubs.
On April 24, 1976, Bert Campaneris of the Oakland A’s steals five bases in an 8-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians. The Oakland shortstop will steal 54 bases in 1976. As a team, the A’s will pile up a record 341 stolen bases on the year.