San Francisco Giants star and all-time great Willie Mays signs the largest contract in MLB, reportedly $90,000 for the 1962 season. Mays will earn it all in 1962, when he hits .304 with 49 home runs and 141 RBI, helping the Giants win the National League pennant.
The BBWAA elects Sandy Koufax, Yogi Berra, and Early Wynn to the Hall of Fame. One year earlier, the writers had failed to elect anyone to the Hall. Koufax makes it in his first try and, at 36 years of age, is the youngest honoree in history.
Ted Lyons wins his 250th career game, 6 – 5, over the Red Sox. A week later, he will beat the Yankees Red Ruffing to match that hurler’s 251 career wins. The White Sox veteran will finish the season with 20 complete games in 20 starts, lead the AL with a 2.10 ERA—then enter the Marines at age 42.
1925 Eddie Collins of the Chicago White Sox becomes the sixth major leaguer to collect 3,000 hits after hitting a double against Washington Senators pitcher Walter Johnson. Collins will end his career with 3,315 hits.
Johnny “The Big Cat” Mize of the New York Giants becomes the first major leaguer to hit three home runs in a game on five different occasions. Mize hits his trio off Johnny Sain of the Boston Braves, but in spite of his barrage, the Giants lose to the Braves, 14 – 5.
Future Hall of Famer Joe Cronin of the Boston Red Sox breaks his leg running the bases. The injury will influence him to retire as a major league player. Cronin will continue to serve the Red Sox as their manager. He will also later serve as AL President.
Philadelphia Athletics manager Connie Mack, who is 84 years old, challenges Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith, who is 78, to a foot race from home plate to first base. The contest ends in a photo finish tie!
1973 George Sisler dies in Richmond Heights, Missouri, at the age of 80. Sisler batted .340 with 2,812 hits over a 15-year MLB career, spent mostly with the St. Louis Browns. In 1920, he set a MLB record by collecting 257 hits, which will last into the next century. Sisler gained election to the Hall of Fame in 1939.
Kirby Puckett is born. Puckett will make his MLB debut in 1984, hitting .296 for the Minnesota Twins. Over a 12-year career, Puckett will bat .318 with 207 home runs and 1,085 RBI, helping the Twins to two World Championships. He will be elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001.
Jim Rice is born. He will be a slugger with the Boston Red Sox, starting with an outstanding rookie campaign in 1975, when he finished second to teammate Fred Lynn for the Rookie of the Year Award. He will be the American League MVP in 1978 and retire in 1989 with 382 homers and 1451 RBI.