1997 in baseball
The following are the baseball events of the year 1997 throughout the world.
Major League Baseball
Awards and honors
MLB statistical leaders
Major league baseball final standings
- The asterisk denotes the club that won the wild card for its respective league.
- January 5 – Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield escapes serious injury when he is hit by a car while out jogging. He is released from the hospital after being treated for bruises.
- January 6 – Pitcher Phil Niekro is elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Niekro receives 80.34% of the vote. Pitcher Don Sutton falls nine votes short of election.
- February 20 – The Philadelphia Phillies sign free agent outfielder Danny Tartabull. Tartabull will break his foot on Opening Day and sit out the year before retiring.
- March 5 – Nellie Fox, Tommy Lasorda and Negro Leaguer Willie Wells are elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.
- April 5 – Larry Walker hits 3 home runs helping the Colorado Rockies beat Montreal Expos 15–3.
- April 10 – At Wrigley Field, Alex Fernandez of the Florida Marlins has a no-hitter broken up in the ninth inning of a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. With one out in the inning, Dave Hansen hits a ground ball that goes under Fernandez's glove and off his right leg. Brian McRae and Brant Brown then reach on errors, but José Hernández, pinch-running for Hansen, is thrown out on the latter play. Hernández then strikes out Ryne Sandberg for the final out. The no-hitter would have been the first against the Cubs since Sandy Koufax's perfect game in 1965. The loss also extends the Cubs' season-opening losing streak to eight games, the most to start a season in the franchise's 122-year history; they will extend the losing streak to 14 games before finally winning their first game on April 20 against the New York Mets.
- April 11 – To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the baseball color line, Sharon Robinson, Jackie Robinson's daughter, and Pumpsie Green each throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park. In 1959, Green became the first African American baseball player to appear in a Boston Red Sox uniform, making the Red Sox the last team to integrate in the major leagues.
- April 15 – On the fiftieth anniversary of Jackie Robinson's first game, all Major League baseball games are stopped so that fans across the country may witness a special presentation at Shea Stadium. With then U.S. President Bill Clinton alongside, acting Commissioner Bud Selig announces that Robinson's uniform #42 will be retired from all Major League teams in perpetuity, with exceptions made for players currently wearing #42 in honor of Robinson.
- April 25 – Ken Griffey, Jr. hits three home runs helping the Seattle Mariners beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 13–8.
- April 29 – Chili Davis' 300th home run, leading off the 10th inning, snaps a 5–5 tie and gives the Kansas City Royals a 6–5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
- May 7 – The Montreal Expos score a National League-record 13 runs in the sixth inning of their game against the San Francisco Giants on the way to a 19–3 win. The Expos send 17 batters to the plate. Mike Lansing homers twice in the inning to drive in five runs, becoming the third Expos player to perform the feat, and the first NL second baseman to do so since Bobby Lowe in 1894.
- May 8 – At home, the Baltimore Orioles stop Randy Johnson's 16-game win streak with a decisive 13–3 pasting of the Seattle Mariners. Baltimore is led by catcher Chris Hoiles, who collects six RBI on two homers and a double. Johnson strikes out 10 in six innings, but gives up five runs on six hits and two walks in his attempt to become the first AL pitcher since Dave McNally (1968–69) to win 17 straight.
- May 13 – Eddie Murray gets two hits in Anaheim's 8–7 win over the Chicago White Sox. The game is the 3,000th of Murray's career, making him only the sixth player in history to reach that mark, joining Pete Rose, Carl Yastrzemski, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and Stan Musial.
- May 21 – Roger Clemens fires the Toronto Blue Jays past the New York Yankees 4–1, for his 8th win of the year against no losses. The Rocket wins his 200th game, the 94th pitcher to reach the 200 victories mark.
- May 25 – The Minnesota Twins retire Kirby Puckett's uniform number 34 in a 90-minute pregame ceremony.
- May 26 – In the Chicago Cubs' 2–1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cub Sammy Sosa and Pirate Tony Womack both hit inside-the-park home runs in the sixth inning. It is the first time two inside-the-park homers are hit in the same National League game since Lou Brock and Héctor Cruz of the St. Louis Cardinals did it against the San Diego Padres on June 18, 1976. Greg Gagne of the Twins had two for Minnesota on October 4, 1986.
- May 26 – In Toronto, Roger Clemens allows one run and four hits in seven innings and strikes out seven to beat the Texas Rangers 8–1. The Rocket is now 9–0, his best start since beginning 1986 at 14-0.
- May 26 – Andrés Galarraga hits a 469-foot two-run homer and Vinny Castilla adds a solo shot as the Colorado Rockies overcome a six-run deficit to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 9–7. Galarraga has four RBI, and his moon shot off Mark Petkovsek is the third-longest homer in the three-season history of Coors Field.
- May 27 – Barry Larkin's streak of consecutively reaching base 13 times is stopped by Curt Schilling, who goes all the way to beat Cincinnati 2–1. Larkin singles in the first inning, but flies out in the 3rd to end his streak one shy of Pedro Guerrero's NL record, set in 1985.
- May 30 – Baltimore Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina retires the first 25 Cleveland Indians batters before Sandy Alomar, Jr. ruins his no-hit bid with a one-out single in the ninth inning. Mussina then strikes out the final two batters for a 3–0 victory.
- May 31 – Cal Ripken, Jr. snaps a seventh-inning tie with a record-breaking home run as the Baltimore Orioles rally from a four-run deficit to beat the Cleveland Indians, 8–5. Ripken's homer gives him 4,274 total bases with Baltimore, breaking the franchise mark for total bases in a career. Baltimore also places Eric Davis on the disabled list. Davis is suffering from colon cancer and will be operated on in early June.
- May 31 – In Miami, Andrés Galarraga golfs a 529-foot grand slam, the longest home run ever at Pro Player Stadium. His homer gives the Colorado Rockies a 7–0 lead over the Florida Marlins, and they eventually win 8–4. Galarraga has three home runs in the past three games against Florida that traveled 1,435 feet, an average of 478 feet. He hit a 455-foot homer two days before and a 451-foot homer on May 30. The longest previous homer at the stadium was 482 feet by Philadelphia Phillies' Pete Incaviglia off Al Leiter on May 1, 1996.
- May 31 – Unbeaten Roger Clemens is the first 10-game winner in the majors, as the Toronto Blue Jays romp 13–3 over the Oakland Athletics.
- June 7 – Switch-hitter Chili Davis strokes home runs from both sides of the plate for the eleventh time in his career, to become the leader in this category. He passes Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray, who each accomplished the feat ten times in their careers. Nick Swisher, Mark Texeira and Carlos Beltrán will subsequently pass Davis on the list.
- June 10 – At 3Com Park at Candlestick Point, Kevin Brown of the Florida Marlins no-hits the San Francisco Giants 9-0. He retires 23 consecutive batters before a hit-by-pitch to Marvin Benard costs him a perfect game, the only baserunner Brown will allow.
- June 12 – The first interleague game took place as the Texas Rangers hosted the San Francisco Giants at The Ballpark in Arlington (now Rangers Ballpark in Arlington).
- June 24 – At the Kingdome, Randy Johnson of the Seattle Mariners strikes out 19 Oakland Athletics to tie Steve Carlton's 28-year record for most in one game by a left-handed pitcher, but loses 4-1. One of the Athletics runs comes on a towering home run by Mark McGwire, Johnson's ex-University of Southern California teammate.
- June 28 – New York Yankees pitcher David Wells takes the mound wearing an authentic 1934 Babe Ruth cap he'd purchased for $35,000. Following a scoreless first, Manager Joe Torre makes Wells take it off because it didn't conform to uniform standards. Wells then blew a 3–0 lead, and leaves the game after three innings, having given up five earned runs. He gets a no-decision in the Cleveland Indians' 12–8 victory at Yankee Stadium.
- June 30- The Toronto Blue Jays host the Montreal Expos in the first game in major league baseball history between Canadian teams. The Expos won 2-1.
- July 8 – The American League defeats the National League by a score of 3-1 in the annual All-Star Game, played at Jacobs Field. Cleveland Indians catcher Sandy Alomar, Jr. hits a 2-run home run and is named the game's MVP. Alomar is the first hometown player to homer since Hank Aaron did it in Atlanta Fulton County Stadium in 1972.
- July 12 – At a sold out Three Rivers Stadium, Francisco Córdova pitched nine innings of a combined 10-inning no-hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ricardo Rincón pitched the 10th inning. The Pirates won the game on a dramatic three run, pinch hit home run in the bottom of the 10th by Mark Smith.
- July 31 – Mark McGwire is traded by the Oakland Athletics to the St. Louis Cardinals for Eric Ludwick, T.J. Mathews, and Blake Stein.
- August 8 – For the second time this season, Randy Johnson of the Seattle Mariners records a 19-strikeout performance at the Kingdome, this time against the Chicago White Sox. Unlike his 19-K performance on June 24, Johnson comes out on top, shutting out the White Sox 5-0.
- August 24 – Sammy Sosa hits his 200th career home run helping the Chicago Cubs beat the Montreal Expos 12-3.
- August 31 – Don Mattingly has his number 23 retired by the New York Yankees.
- September 5 – At 3Com Park, Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants becomes a five-time member of the 30–30 club. Batting in the sixth inning of the Giants' 4-1 victory over the Houston Astros, Bonds, who has 32 home runs to this point, reaches first base on pitcher Shane Reynolds' error, then steals second, his 30th stolen base of the season, on a Jeff Kent strikeout. With this steal, Bonds ties his father Bobby for most seasons with both 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases.
- September 10 – Mark McGwire joins Babe Ruth as the only players in major league history with 50 home runs in consecutive seasons by hitting a 446-foot shot off Shawn Estes in the third inning of the St. Louis Cardinals' road game against the San Francisco Giants. McGwire, who hit a major league-leading 52 homers for the Oakland Athletics last season, becomes the first player with back-to-back 50-homer seasons since Ruth did it in 1927 and 1928.
- September 19 – Mark McGwire records his 20th home run of the season with the St. Louis Cardinals. Paired with the 34 home runs he had hit with the Oakland Athletics earlier in the year, he becomes the first player in Major League history to record twenty or more home runs for two different teams in the same season.
- September 21 – Mike Piazza becomes the first Dodger in history to hit a home run completely out of Dodger Stadium. Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates was the only previous player to accomplish this feat.
- September 21 – After going 2-for-3, Ryne Sandberg is lifted for a pinch runner in the fifth inning of an 11-3 win by the Chicago Cubs over Curt Schilling and his Philadelphia Phillies. It is Sandberg's final Major League game.
- September 22 – At Cinergy Field, Jeff Bagwell of the Houston Astros becomes the first full-time first baseman to join the 30–30 club. After doubling off the Cincinnati Reds' Mike Remlinger to score Craig Biggio in the first inning, Bagwell, who has 42 home runs at this point, steals third base for his 30th steal of the season. He will steal another base in the game, which the Astros win 6-3. Bagwell will also join the 30–30 club in 1999.
- September 23 – The Florida Marlins clinch the National League wild card. It is the franchise's first-ever post-season appearance.
- September 25 – Pedro Martínez records his 300th strikeout of the season, becoming the first player since 1972 (Steve Carlton) to record 300 or more strikeouts while maintaining a sub-2.00 ERA.
- September 28 – Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres ties Honus Wagner's record by winning his eighth National League batting title. Gwynn finishes at .372, becoming the first player to win four consecutive NL batting titles since Rogers Hornsby won six straight between 1920 and 1925.
- September 30 – Tim Raines, Derek Jeter, and Paul O'Neill become the first trio to hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in a single postseason game as their New York Yankees defeat the Cleveland Indians, 8-6, in the first game of the 1997 American League Division Series.
- October 11 – Mike Mussina sets record for most strikeouts in a post-season game for the losing team (15) as the Baltimore Orioles lose to the Cleveland Indians 2-1.
- October 26 – The Florida Marlins win the World Series.
- October 27 – The Detroit Tigers break ground on their new ballpark.
- November 6 – The Milwaukee Brewers switch leagues, joining the National League Central Division, after the Kansas City Royals reject the invitation. With the 1998 addition of the Arizona Diamondbacks (NL) and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (AL), the move will maintain an even number of teams in each league.
- November 12 – Ken Griffey, Jr. of the Seattle Mariners becomes the ninth unanimous pick for the American League MVP Award. Griffey hit .304 for Seattle, led the AL with 56 home runs, and led the Majors with 147 RBI. He receives all 28 first-place votes and 392 points in balloting to become the first unanimous AL pick since Frank Thomas in 1993, and the 13th unanimous selection overall.
- November 18 — The expansion draft starts with several transactions. Two pitchers who appeared in the World Series a month earlier, Tony Saunders (Florida Marlins) and Brian Anderson (Cleveland Indians), are the first players taken. Saunders, the first player chosen overall, heads a list of new Tampa Bay Devil Rays team members that includes Quinton McCracken, Bubba Trammell, Albie López and Terrell Wade. Tampa Bay also obtains John Flaherty from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Brian Boehringer and Andy Sheets; Kevin Stocker from the Philadelphia Phillies for Bobby Abreu; Fred McGriff from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for a player to be named, and signs free agent Roberto Hernández. The Arizona Diamondbacks, meanwhile, who signed free agent Jay Bell to a five-year contract the day before, selects Jeff Suppan, Jorge Fábregas and Karim García, and acquire Travis Fryman from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Joe Randa, Gabe Alvarez and a minor leaguer. They also obtain Devon White from the Florida Marlins for a prospect.
- January 6 – Dick Donovan, 69, All-Star pitcher, mainly with the White Sox and Indians, who led AL in ERA in 1961 and won 20 games in 1962
- January 11 – Carol Habben, 63, slugger center fielder who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
- January 20 – Curt Flood, 59, All-Star center fielder who won seven Gold Gloves and batted .300 six times; challenged baseball's reserve clause all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, unsuccessfully, after refusing a trade
- January 27 – Kathryn Beare, 79, catcher for the Fort Wayne Daisies of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
- February 7 – Manny Salvo, 83, Boston pitcher who tied for the National League lead in shutouts in 1940
- February 13 – Bobby Adams, 75, third baseman for the Cincinnati Reds/Redlegs, Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Chicago Cubs between 1946 and 1959
- February 25 – Cal Abrams, 72, popular Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder, who also played for the Reds, Pirates, Orioles and White Sox
- March 3 – Harry Davis, 86, first baseman for the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Browns in the 1930s
- April 8 – Bob Cain, 72, pitcher for the White Sox, Tigers and Browns from 1949 to 1953, who is most remembered for the walk he issued to pinch-hitting midget Eddie Gaedel in 1951
- April 25 – Kay Blumetta, 73, pitcher who spent eleven seasons in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
- May 21 – Piper Davis, 79, Negro league player from 1942 to 1950
- June 1 – Mickey Rocco, 81, Cleveland first baseman who led the American League in fielding percentage at his position in 1943 and 1945
- June 8 – Ken Hunt, 62, backup outfielder for the Yankees, Angels and Senators from 1959 to 1964
- June 9 – Thornton Lee, 90, All-Star pitcher who won over 100 games for the White Sox; won 22 games and led AL in ERA in 1941
- July 10 – Dwight Lowry, 39, manager of the Jamestown Jammers of the New York–Penn League and former catcher for the Detroit Tigers
- July 31 – Eddie Miller, 80, 7-time All-Star shortstop for four NL teams who led league in fielding five times
- August 12 – Rex Barney, 72, pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers between 1943 and 1950, who threw a no-hitter against the New York Giants in 1948
- August 23 – Guy Curtright, 84, White Sox outfielder who finished sixth in 1943 American League batting race with a .291 average
- August 23 – Buddy Hassett, 85, first baseman who played from 1936 through 1942 for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Bees/Braves and New York Yankees
- September 9 – Richie Ashburn, 70, Hall of Fame center fielder for the Phillies who batted .308 lifetime, winning two batting titles, and led NL in putouts nine times, hits three times, triples twice and steals once; retired with six of the top eight single-season putout totals in history
- September 19 – Bill Butland, 89, pitcher who played for the Boston Red Sox (1940, 1942, 1946–1947).
- September 22 – Eddie Sawyer, 87, manager who led the Phillies' "Whiz Kids" to the 1950 pennant, later a scout
- September 25 – Bill Donovan, 81, pitcher for the Boston Braves in the 1940s
- September 26 – Woody English, 91, All-Star infielder for the Cubs who batted .300 twice
- October 6 – Johnny Vander Meer, 82, All-Star pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds who in 1938 became the only player to pitch two consecutive no-hitters; led NL in strikeouts three times
- October 14 – Al Somers, 92, umpiring instructor who developed thousands of students for the profession, including 70 major league umpires
- October 21 – Dolph Camilli, 90, All-Star first baseman who was the NL's MVP in 1941, leading the Brooklyn Dodgers to the pennant; had five 100-RBI seasons
- October 30 – Barney Martin, 74, appeared in one game for the Cincinnati Reds in 1953
- November 2 – Roy McMillan, 68, All-Star shortstop for the Reds, Braves and Mets who won the NL's first three Gold Gloves; minor league manager, coach and scout
- November 13 – Bill Conroy, 82, catcher for the Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Red Sox between 1935 and 1944
- November 20 – Dick Littlefield, 71, well-traveled pitcher who played for nine teams, earning 15 of his 33 wins with the Pirates
- November 27 – Buck Leonard, 90, Hall of Fame first baseman of the Negro Leagues regularly among the league leaders in batting average and home runs
- November 28 – Sylvia Wronski, 72, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League pitcher for the 1944 Milwaukee Chicks champion team
- December 22 – José Oliva, 26, Dominican infielder for the Braves and Cardinals in 1994 and 1995