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 January 3, 1923, the New York Yankees steal another standout player from the Boston Red Sox, acquiring pitcher Herb Pennock for three marginal players and $50,000 in cash. Known as “The Knight of Kenneth Square,” Pennock will win 19 games in 1923, 21 games in 1924, 23 games in 1926, and 19 games in 1927.
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 December 23, 1958, the Philadelphia Phillies acquire infielder Sparky Anderson from the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Rip Repulski and two other players. Anderson won’t do much as a player, but will win three World Championships as a manager.
On September 19, 1973, Frank Robinson of the California Angels becomes the first major leaguer to hit a home run in 32 different ballparks. Robinson connects against the Texas Rangers at Arlington Stadium, which first opened in 1972...