On February 25, 1951, Negro Leagues pitching star and future Hall of Famer "Smokey" Joe Williams dies at the age of 69. According to some sources, Williams won 41 games in 1914. Williams will win election to the Hall of Fame in 1999.
On March 13, 1995, newly elected Hall of Famer Leon Day dies at the age of 78. The former Negro Leagues star-a star pitcher and hitter-had been elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee just one week earlier.
On January 6, 1967, former major league manager Johnny Keane dies from a heart attack at the age of 55. Keane guided the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Championship in 1964, but left to become the manager of the New York Yankees, whom the Cardinals had beaten in the World Series. After an unsuccessful stint in the Bronx, Keane became a scout with the California Angels.
On January 8, 1994, former major league pitcher Harvey Haddix dies at the age of 68 from emphysema. Haddix, who won 136 games over a 14-year career, was best known for pitching 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves in a game in 1959, only to lose in the 13th inning.
On January 1, 1977, Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Danny Frisella is killed in a dune buggy accident near Phoenix, Arizona. Nicknamed "Bear," the 30-year-old Frisella had pitched three games for the New York Mets in 1969, when they won the World Series. The right-handed reliever saved 57 games over his 10-year career.
On January 2, 1986, legendary major league owner Bill Veeck dies at the age of 71. The victim of a heart attack after several years of poor health, Veeck had owned the St. Louis Browns, Cleveland Indians, and Chicago White Sox at various times during his career. Known as one of the most colorful and creative owners in the history of the game, Veeck was best known for signing a midget, Eddie Gaedel, to a playing contract. In 1947, Veeck also signed Negro Leagues star Larry Doby, the first black player in the history of the American League. Under Veeck’s direction, the White Sox installed an exploding scoreboard at Comiskey Park and became the first team to feature their players’ names on the backs of the uniforms. Veeck also introduced short pants as part of the White Sox’ uniform in 1976.
On January 3, 1991, Hall of Fame shortstop Luke Appling dies at the age of 83. One of the few Hall of Famers never to play in a World Series, Appling batted .310 during a 20-year career with the Chicago White Sox. In 1964, the Baseball Writers’ Association elected Appling to the Hall of Fame.
On January 4, 2000, former major leaguer John Milner dies from lung cancer at the age of 50. Nicknamed "The Hammer," Milner slugged 131 home runs over a 12-year career with the New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Montreal Expos. A member of the 1979 world champion Pirates, he batted .306 in 10 World Series games with New York and Pittsburgh.
On December 27, 1995, Hall of Fame umpire Al Barlick dies at the age of 80 in Springfield, Illinois. Known for his decisiveness and hustle, Barlick worked National League games from 1940 to 1972, and gained election to Cooperstown in 1989.
On January 5, 2004, former reliever Tug McGraw dies at the age of 59. One of the most popular players in Phillies' history, McGraw recorded the final out in Philadelphia'sonly World Series title in 1980. He also served as the cheerleader and reliever for the 1973 "You Gotta Believe" New York Mets.
On May 22, 1933, Joe Sewell of the New York Yankees strikes out for the first time on the season. The future Hall of Famer and contact hitter extraordinaire will strike out only four times all season long.