1961 October

1st  Roger Maris’ torturous, season-long race against Babe Ruth ends in a dramatic at bat against Boston’s Tracy Stallard. Maris’ classic lefthanded swing sends home run number 61 into the RF stands in “The House That Ruth Built.” (Sal Durante, one of 23,154 fans in attendance, grabs the historic HR ball which he sells for $5,000). New York’s 1–0 win gives the Yanks 109 wins, one short of the club’s 1927 record. It is New York’s ML record 240th homer of the year.

      Setting another ML record, the Cubs and Dodgers use 11 pinch hitters in one 9-inning game, seven of which are sent up by the Cubs. Stan Williams continues his Wrigley dominance, winning 8–2, with 9 strikeouts. Williams has 207 K’s, 2nd to Koufax in the NL. He also has 3 of the Dodgers’ 15 hits.

      In Los Angeles, Cleveland wins the final major league game played at Wrigley Field, 8-5, before 9,868. Appropriately, it is Steve Bilko who hits the last home in Wrigley, a pinch-hit smash over the left field wall with two out in the ninth inning. Walter Bond has 2 singles, a triple and a grand slam for the Tribe.  It is the 48th grand slam hit in the AL this season, a league record that won’t be topped this century even with more teams.

4th  Whitey Ford’s 3rd straight WS shutout, with HRs by Elston Howard and Bill Skowron, gives New York a 2–0 win in the opener against Cincinnati at Yankee Stadium.

5th  Joey Jay’s 4-hitter, Gordy Coleman’s 2-run HR, and 2 RBI hits by Johnny Edwards lead Cincinnati to a 6–2 win and even the WS.

      The Indians trade CF Jim Piersall to Washington for P Dick Donovan, OF Gene Green, and IF Jim Mahoney. Donovan will respond will 20 wins and lead the AL in shutouts with 5.

6th  In a Mexico-Northern Autumn League at Reynosa, Reynosa’s Luis Tiant strikes out 20 Montemorelos Blues batters in a 6-3 win.

7th  John Blanchard’s pinch-hit HR ties the game in the 8th, and Roger Maris’ 9th-inning HR off Bob Purkey is the difference in a 3–2 New York win for Luis Arroyo in game 3 of the WS.

8th  Five more scoreless innings by Whitey Ford and 4 by Jim Coates silence the Reds. Hector Lopez and Clete Boyer each drive in 2 runs for a 7–0 win. Ford breaks Babe Ruth’s WS record of 2923consecutive scoreless innings, running his streak to 32.

9th  Super-subs Johnny Blanchard and Hector Lopez spark a 5-run first inning and 13–5 win for New York. Both hit HRs, and Lopez drives in 5 runs. Bud Daley’s long relief effort wraps up the Series, as Ralph Houk becomes the 3rd rookie pilot to guide a WS winner.

10th  An expansion draft to stock the new NL clubs takes place in Cincinnati. Selecting 1st, Houston takes Giants SS Eddie Bressoud; the Mets take 31-year-old Giant C Hobie Landrith. Second choices are Bob Aspromonte (45s) and Elio Chacon. Other Houston selections include Bobby Shantz, Ken Johnson, Dick Farrell, and Bob Lillis. New York takes Roger Craig, Gil Hodges, Don Zimmer, Gus Bell, Jay Hook, among others. Also, Cards C Chris Cannizzaro, out much of this year due to an appendectomy.

      Billy Hitchcock takes the place of Lum Harris (17-10) as manager of the Orioles.

11th  Kazuhisa “Iron Man” Inao of the Nishitetsu Lions lives up to his nickname and notches his 42nd win of the season, tying the all-time world record since 1893 set by Victor Starfin of the Yomiuri Giants in 1939. He also sets a season strikeout record by fanning 353.

12th  Ralph Houk is given a 2-year contract extension to manage the Yankees.

      The Texas League makes two franchise shifts, moving the Ardmore, OK team to Albuquerque, NM and the Victoria, TX team to El Paso.

14th  The Mets purchase 31-year-old P Johnny Antonelli, 1–0 with the Braves this season. Anty elects to retire rather than report. New York also purchases another lefty, Ken Mackenzie (6–4 with Louisville) from the Braves. In 2 days, the Mets sell Jim Marshall to the Cubs.

16th Veteran pitchers Robin Roberts and Billy Loes are purchased by the Yankees and Mets respectively. Roberts will be released in April without ever pitching an inning for the Yanks.

18th  The Houston Colt 45s purchase P Hal Woodeshick from the Tigers.

28th  Ground is broken for the Flushing Meadows stadium, the future home of the New York Mets.

31st  A federal judge rules that Birmingham, AL, laws against integrated playing fields are illegal, eliminating the last barrier against integration in the Southern Association.