1961 April

3rd  Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia is sold to J. Schleifer Properties. The park is to be torn down after the 1963 season and replaced by bowling alleys.

4th  The Yankees reacquire P Duke Maas, trading INF Fritz Brickell to the Angels in exchange. The Angels had paid the Yanks $75,000 for Maas in the 1960 expansion draft.

6th  Vedie Himsl is designated as head coach of the Cubs for the first 2 weeks of the season.

10th  After President John F. Kennedy throws out the first ball, the new Washington team loses its first regular-season game, 4–3, to the White Sox. Former Sox pitcher Dick Donovan, picked up in the expansion draft, is the loser, though he will end the season with a league-leading 2.40 ERA.

11th  Robin Roberts ties Grover Cleveland Alexander’s NL record with a 12th-straight Opening Day start, but Philadelphia loses 6–2 to Don Drysdale and the Dodgers.  Roberts is 5–6 on Opening Day.

      Ted Kluszewski’s two HRs highlight the AL Los Angeles Angels first win, as Eli Grba beats Baltimore 7–2.

      At Crosley Field, the Reds score all their runs in 4+ innings against Cubs starter Glen Hobbie as they beat the Cubs, 7-1. Andre Rodgers hits a homer off Jim O’Toole to account for the only Bruin run, while Wally Post and Frank Robinson homer for the Reds. Second baseman Jim Baumer for Cincinnati goes 0-for-4 in his first ML game since 1949.  He is the only ML player to play in the 40’s and 60’s but not the 50’s.

      At Yankee Stadium, the Yankees, led by new manager Ralph Houk, are shut out by Minnesota’s Pedro Ramos, 6–0. Ramos has a two-run single and allows just three singles in beating Whitey Ford.  Ford, however, will finish the season at 25–4.

      The wine of victory turns sour for the Giants in their home opener when Bill Virdon clouts a 2-out 3-run HR off reliever Mike McCormick to give the Pirates an 8–7 win.

      At Fenway, Kansas City’s Ray Herbert surrenders Carl Yastrzemski’s first ML hit, but beats Bill Monbouquette, 5–2.

13th  Alvin Dark pulls all the right strings to give the Giants a 6–5 win over the Pirates. Joey Amalfitano, hitting for cleanup man McCovey in the 8th, singles in Mays for a 4-4 tie; new catcher Hobie Landrith homers in the 11th to tie at 5 apiece, and Kuenn’s single in the 12th wins it.

14th  Joe McClain earns the new Senators’ first win, defeating Cleveland 3–2. He also collects his first ML hit and manager Mickey Vernon records his first ML win. It won’t happen again this century.

      At Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the Reds Wally Post lines a tape measure shot off the Budweiser sign atop the scoreboard in the Reds, 7–3 win. If the ball had not hit the sign, some estimate the shot could have traveled close to 600 feet.

      At Briggs, Frank Lary pitches a one-hitter as the Tigers down the White Sox, 7-0. Jim Landis’s 5th inning infield single is the Sox lone safety. Lary has 2 hits, an RBI and a run as the Tigers score 7 runs in the first 3 innings.

15th  The Dodgers and Pirates tie a ML record by turning 9 DPs (Los Angeles 5, Pittsburgh 4) in a 9-inning 4–1 Buc home win. It is the only the 2nd time (July 3, 1929) that 9 DPs have been turned in a NL game.

      At Wrigley, the Cubs heist a game from the Braves when Al Heist hits a 2-out walkoff grand slam in the 9th off reliever Don Nottebart to give the Cubs a 9-5 win. Ron Santo also has 4 RBIs on 3 hits, including a homer.

      Clint Courtney, part of the large trade in January between Kansas City and Baltimore, is returned to the Orioles, his third tour of duty with the team.  Courtney will be scrapped in July.

16th  Orioles starter Chuck Estrada exits in the 1st inning after he gives up 3 walks, a homer and double to the Twins, as Minnesota downs Baltimore, 10-5.  Bob Allison belts a grand slam and adds a 3-run homer for 7 RBIs.

17th  The Cards Darryl Spencer drives in a run in the Birds 3-run 8th, then bangs a grand slam in the 9th as St Louis wins in Los Angeles, 9–5. Joe Cunningham has 4 hits, including a homer. The Dodgers Duke Snider hits his 370th HR over the LF screen, taking 7th place on the all-time list. But in his next at bat, the Duke suffers the consequences, sustaining a broken elbow when hit by Bob Gibson pitch. He’ll miss a month.

      At Yankee Stadium, 1,947 fans braves the freezing rain to watch Whitey Ford shut out Kansas City, 3–0.  Mantle drives in all 3 Yankee runs, connecting a solo shot off Jerry Walker in the first inning.

19th  Washington’s Marty Kutyna pitches brilliantly in relief, yielding 4 hits in 6 1/3 scoreless innings to ruin Chicago’s home opener, 7–2. As in Washington’s opener, JFK throws out first ball—but this JFK is from Oak Lawn, near Chicago. Eddie Gaedel and 7 other midgets act as vendors in the box seat sections. This is Veeck’s response to complaints that vendors were blocking the view of fans.

22nd  The Red Sox snap a 13-game losing streak in Comiskey Park by edging the White Sox, 7–6, on Pumpsie Green’s 11th-inning homer. Jim Rivera, pinch-running for Chicago, fractures his thumb at third base. It will be his last appearance for the White Sox; when he recovers he’ll be handed his release.

      Ryne Duran serves up a 2-run homer to Gus Triandos in the 8th inning and the Orioles down the Yankees, 5-3, in the first of two. Bill Skowron hits a grand slam in game 2 and Jackie Brandt clubs two homers for Baltimore as the Yanks and Orioles play to a 7-inning 5-5 tie.

23rd  Art Mahaffey fans a batter in each inning and 17 in all, a Phillies’ record, while beating the Cubs, 6–0.  The Phils win the first game 1-0 behind Frank Sullivan’s pitching and a game-ending homer by Bobby Smith off Dick Ellsworth.

24th  The Indians clip the Orioles, 5-1, behind Jim Perry (2-0). Bubba Phillips hits a grand slam, off Milt Pappas, for all the runs that Perry needs.

25th  Two weeks after the Celtics win the NBA Championship, Celtics reserve center Gene Conley tosses his first AL victory for the Red Sox, a 6–1 win over the visiting Senators. Conley, obtained from the Phils over the winter, beats Pete Burnside. Conley is of course, the only man to play for the Boston Braves, Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics.

       Norm Bass, in his first ML start, picks up the CG  win for the Kansas City Athletics in a 20–2 rout of the visiting Twins. Norm’s brother Dick will pick up 1,000 yards this year for the Los Angeles Rams. Haywood Sullivan is 4-for-4 with a pair of triples and 5 RBIs.  Bill Tuttle has a triple and 4 RBIs.  Twins rookie Fred Bruckbauer gives up 3 runs without retiring a batter to start and finish his ML career with a ERA of infinity.

26th  Roger Maris hits his first HR of 1961 off Paul Foytack of Detroit, and Mickey Mantle adds HRs from both sides of the plate (for the 8th time), as New York wins 13–10 at Tiger Stadium.  Mantle’s 2nd homer, a 2-run shot off Hank Aguirre, snaps a 10–10 tie in the 10th.

      Cincinnati’s Jerry Lynch becomes the 6th player in NL history to hit 2 consecutive pinch-hit HRs. This one today is not enough as Chicago wins 3–2.

27th  The Angels draw a disappointing crowd of 11,931 for their home opener against the Twins at LA Wrigley Field. The Twins Camilo Pascual spoils the opener by winning 4–2, sending the Angels to their 8th loss in 9 games. A very ill Ty Cobb attends the game to fulfill a promise he had made to his friend Fred Haney, the Angels GM who had played for Cobb as a utility infielder. Cobb throws out the first ball.  He stays for two innings before he left on his cane with assistance from the a park attendant.  This was the last game Cobb sees as he dies in less than three months.

Following a dispute with management, Gabe Paul resigns as GM of the Houston Colt 45s for the same job at Cleveland. He replaces Frank Lane.

      The Reds trade C Ed Bailey to the Giants for Don Blasingame, C Bob Schmidt, and P Sherman Jones. Bailey immediately replaces Haller behind the plate.

28th  Five days past his 40th birthday, Warren Spahn becomes the 2nd-oldest ML pitcher (after Cy Young) to hurl a no-hitter, blanking San Francisco 1–0. Hank Aaron drives in the only run off loser Sam Jones, who strikes out 10. It is Spahn’s 290th win and 52nd shutout. Spahn faces just 27 men, following each walk by starting a DP.

29th  At Wrigley, Frank Howard crushes two homers off Dick Ellsworth, the 2nd a grand slam in the 5th. Howard drives in 6 runs as the Dodgers belt the Cubs, 9-4. Johnny Podres (3-0) goes the distance for the win.

      In Kansas City, the White Sox battle back with 4 in the 8th to tie the Athletics, 9-9, but Haywood Sullivan hits a 3-run double in the bottom of the frame and the A’s win, 13-9.  Marv Throneberry has 5 RBIs for KC, four coming on a 3rd-inning grand slam off Herb Score.

      The Tigers use the pitching of Frank Lary (4-0) and the long ball to drive over the visiting Red Sox, 9-4.  Dick Brown, with a grand slam, Jake Wood with a 3-run homer, and a solo from Rocky Colavito, are the power sources.

30th  Frustrated by a poor start, Jackie Jensen jumps the Red Sox for 8 days.

      Using Joey Amalfitano’s bat, Willie Mays becomes the 9th player in ML history to enjoy a 4-HR game, and his 8 RBI pace the Giants to a 14–4 win at Milwaukee’s County Stadium. Led by Willie’s 4, the Giants total a record tying 8 homers (and 13 in 2 games) as Orlando Cepeda (2), Felipe Alou, and Jose Pagan also homer. Willie’s 6th inning homer clears the LF bleachers at County Stadium. Hank Aaron collects a pair for the Braves for all the scoring.  Billy Loes is the winning pitcher, and it marks the 4th time he has been in uniform at a game where a player has hit 4 homers: Loes was with the Dodgers in ’50 and ’54 when Gil Hodges and the Braves Joe Adcock connected, and with the Orioles in ’59 when Rocky Colavito collected four.

      Jim Gentile, Gus Triandos, and Ron Hansen hit consecutive HRs in the 7th inning for the Orioles, as they beat Detroit 4–2 to split a twin bill. The O’s had 1 hit in the first 6 innings off Foytack. The Tigers win the opener, 8–2, after going scoreless in 6 innings against young Steve Barber.

      Philadelphia and St. Louis tie a ML record, and set a NL mark, by using 8 pinch hitters in the 8th inning. The Phils finally win in 10 innings, 11–7.