2nd The Red Sox trade OF Tommy Harper to the Angels for IF Bob Heise.
At the Major League winter meetings in New Orleans, the Rules Committee institutes several changes: among the changes is one permitting the use of cowhide, rather than just horsehide, in the manufacture of baseballs.
After several rounds of bourbon are consumed by Phillies GM Paul Owens and Detroit GM Jim Campbell at the winter meetings, Owens agrees to trade promising catcher Bob Boone and P Larry Christensen to Detroit for veterans Bill Freehan and Jim Northrup. Tomorrow morning, Owens won’t recall the trade and the deal is never made. “How do you unshake a handshake?” says the disappointed Campbell.
3rd The Mets trade ace reliever and Shea Stadium favorite Tug McGraw to the Phillies in a 6-player swap. Don Hahn and Dave Schneck go to the Phils while New York receives OF Del Unser, C John Stearns, and P Mac Scarce.
The Astros trade 1B Lee May and Jay Schlueter to the Orioles for Enos Cabell and Rob Andrews.
The frustrated White Sox unload controversial Dick Allen to the Braves for a reported $5,000. Allen never reports and again retires instead. The Braves will trade the slugger to the Phillies for two warm bodies. Richie Ashburn will help coax Allen out of retirement and he’ll play 2 disappointing seasons back in Philadelphia before going to Oakland as a free agent.
4th In a dismal trade for Montreal, the Expos trade OF Ken Singleton and P Mike Torrez to the Orioles for P Dave McNally, OF Rich Coggins, and a minor league pitcher. Torrez was 15-8 this year for the Expos.
9th Bobby Tolan, traded by Cincinnati for P Clay Kirby on November 9, 1973, finally signs a 1974 contract with the Padres, leading to a withdrawal of the grievance initiated by the Players’ Association on his behalf.
13th In a major ruling, Catfish Hunter wins his claim against owner Charlie Finley and is declared a free agent by arbitrator Peter Seitz.
19th The race to sign Hunter begins in the law offices of Cherry, Cherry & Flythe in Ahoskie, North Carolina. Yankee and Red Sox representatives are the first arrivals.
26th The Little League is officially open to girls as President Gerald Ford signs legislation amending the charter of the organization. Little League had sought changes in their charter after a series of lawsuits challenged its boys-only rule.
31st Happy New Year. The Yankees sign Catfish Hunter to a 5-year contract worth a reported $3.75 million. This is triple the salary of any other ML player. Catfish will win 40 games over the next two seasons before suffering arm trouble