1960 Winter Meetings: The Missouri Compromise

This article was written by Alan P. Henry - David Kritzler

This article was published in Baseball’s Business: The Winter Meetings: 1958-2016

Baseball's Business: The Winter Meetings: 1958-2016On November 8, 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected president, ushering in an era of political comity and refreshed vision. Not to be outdone, the major-league owners were busily ushering in their own visionary plans, culminating in the historic Winter Meetings of 1960.

On December 7, the final day of the meetings at the Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, a protracted battle between the National League and American League overexpansion was resolved in a deal quickly tagged “The Missouri Compromise.”1

“In a smoke-filled room 26 floors above the street, the little band of willful men who own baseball was making living, throbbing history,” summarized columnist Red Smith, who further characterized the atmosphere as “electric with ennui.”2

Under the agreement, announced by Commissioner Ford Frick after days of prickly negotiations, the American League was given permission to expand into Los Angeles in 1961, with the National League moving back into New York in 1962. The American League team was to play its home games in 1961 at Wrigley Field, home of the former Los Angeles Angels of Pacific Coast League. After one year, the new Angels major-league team would move into the Dodgers’ soon-to-be-completed Chavez Ravine Stadium for the 1962 season, signing a four-year pact to lease the park, with a subsequent three-year option.3

The agreement meant both leagues would operate with 10 teams. In the American League the Angels would join a new Washington Senators franchise; the former Senators team was to move to Minneapolis-St. Paul and become the Twins. In the National League the two new teams were the New York Mets and the Houston Colt .45s. The agreement also saw the two leagues set up a formula to guide the future of major-league expansion after meeting Commissioner Frick’s call for a plan “we can live by.”4

The critical vote amending major-league Rule 1 (c), governing the addition of new clubs, was unanimously approved after Los Angeles Dodgers owner Walter F. O’Malley withdrew his objection.5 Frick said the amendment would permit one league to expand into the other league’s cities with a three-quarters approval vote by the owners, rather than the 100 percent vote previously required.6

Frick was praised in numerous quarters for his part in making the deal happen. “The commissioner steered a straight course,” O’Malley said. “If he had lost his sense of direction, we would have ended up in an awful mess.”7 Bob Burnes, writing in The Sporting News, echoed O’Malley’s sentiment. “Frick’s determination to make the leagues settle the issue between themselves was a credit to the commissioner’s judgment.”8

Like many battles between powerful forces, the road to productive peace was a rocky one, characterized by high-stakes brinksmanship, fluid alliances, and naked self-interest. Or, as baseball historians Eric Thompson and Andy McCue characterized it, “the path to expansion for both leagues was a combination of new markets and old politics.”9 And though technically the major-league portion of the Winter Meetings was only three days long, those days could more accurately be described as having been the final days of a months-long series of meetings and developments that were to change baseball forever.

Prologue to Expansion

Broadly, this group of men, typically characterized as hidebound by tradition, were actually riding the leading edge of an expansion wave that was to sweep across America over the next decade. As the Winter Meetings began, there were 51 teams among the four major professional sports (baseball, football, basketball, and hockey), including nine new teams that had joined the ranks of pro football months earlier. By 1969, there were 87.10

The owners were also riding a wave of public infatuation with major-league baseball — one that poet Walt Whitman acutely characterized in 1889 as capturing “the snap, go, fling of the American atmosphere.”11 Underscoring the point, when the Gallup Organization asked Americans in 1960 to name their favorite spectator sport, 34 percent chose baseball, more than football and basketball combined.12 And then, to put an exclamation point on it all, the public was treated to what in some quarters has been called the greatest World Series finish of all time: Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski’s seventh-game, ninth-inning, Series-winning crushing of a fastball from New York Yankees pitcher Ralph Terry over the left-field fence.

The major-league owners’ challenge, then, was to maintain that populist edge. In their view, that meant somehow dispatching the fledgling Continental League, which was fighting to become a viable entity and was therefore competition to baseball’s established order.

Continental League President Branch Rickey realized early on that congressional approval of a bill proposed by Senator Estes Kefauver (D-Tennessee), designed to bust baseball’s reserve clause, would exert the kind of political pressure necessary to help force major-league owners to cooperate. Predictably, at hearings before Senator Kefauver’s Anti-Trust and Monopoly subcommittee on May 19 and 20, Commissioner Frick called the bill “preposterous and vicious,” while National League President Warren Giles said it would “do great harm to a great game.”13 On June 28 a test vote on a related measure indicated that the Kefauver bill had only 41 votes, and the bill was withdrawn.14

On July 18 the National League voted to expand from eight teams to 10, provided that the Continental League, some of whose teams would play in the same cities as existing major-league franchises, disband.15 Then, realizing that 41 votes in the Senate against their position meant that the status quo regarding the reserve clause might not hold much longer, and sensing that expansion was now inevitable, the major-league owners invited the owners from the Continental League to a meeting in Chicago on August 2.16 “The Continental League comes to Chicago with their hats in their hand. We know we have no control over what is to happen,” said Continental League representative William Shea.17

At the meeting, led by New York Yankees owner Del Webb and Los Angeles Dodgers owner O’Malley, the major-league owners announced plans to outflank the Continental League by adding up to four new franchises no later than 1962 and four more in the future.18 In short order, sensing they’d been offered as good a deal as they were going to get, “Rickey and his people gathered in a side room, and when the door was shut, they let out a great shout of victory.”19 The Continental League, some of its prospective owners suddenly dreaming of having their own American or National League franchise, was effectively dead.

Now, the major-league owners were left to fight among themselves over the details of how to turn their expansion dream into reality.

On October 11, the day after Del Webb, chairman of the American League’s expansion committee, had made overtures toward expanding into Houston, O’Malley announced that the Houston Continental League group had applied for membership in the National League.20 Six days later, on October 17, the National League owners met in New York, where they officially approved franchises for Houston and New York, to begin play in 1962.21 The New York group was headed by heiress and philanthropist Joan Whitney Payson, and the Houston group was headed by oil fortune heir Craig Cullinan, both of whom were owners previously aligned with the Continental League.

Commissioner Frick said he believed the American League would soon go to 10 teams and that Los Angeles might be one of them. He added: “I don’t believe either league should be permitted to have exclusive control of cities the size of New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, and I will so vote, if it comes to that point.”22 Asked if he would approve an American League move to Los Angeles, O’Malley said: “I don’t think that would be smart of them to do that, although I would not oppose it. I believe that eventually they will go to the coast, but there are other fine cities, San Diego and Seattle.”23 Not to be outdone, that day American League President Joe Cronin called for the league to meet in executive session in New York the following week to further discuss expansion plans.24

On October 26 American League leaders met at the Savoy Hilton Hotel in New York, where they voted to expand to 10 teams and to one-up the National League by beginning play in 1961. They authorized Calvin Griffith to move his team “lock, stock and batboy” from Washington to Minneapolis-St. Paul, and approved a new franchise for the capital.25 They also sanctioned a 10th franchise in Los Angeles and said baseball would have its first 162-game schedule.26 At the meeting, the move garnered the minimum six votes needed for Griffith to move to Minnesota, with Detroit and Cleveland voting against him.27

Cronin called the expansion plan “the most forward-looking and progressive program in baseball history,”28 while also adding, “We’ve let the National League get too far out ahead of our league.”29 But in their haste to act, observed baseball historians Andy McCue and Eric Thompson, “these teams had no general managers, no managers, no players, no ticket-sales department, and a spring training that would begin in four months.”30 

The league’s drive to move into the Los Angeles market was motivated by Dan Topping, co-owner of the Yankees, when it became apparent that the National League was aiming for New York, The Sporting News’ Joe King reported. In August Topping had asked Commissioner Frick “to affirm a stand that Los Angeles as well as New York was open territory. Frick obliged, and promised that he would vote to that effect should there be a tie between the leagues in the matter.”31

O’Malley reacted that the move “would wreak havoc,” and said he had a right to the territory he had established, having (among other things) paid damages to the Pacific Coast League and being in the process of building a new park in Chavez Ravine.32

William Shea was equally irate, calling the American League’s expansion plan “one of the lowest blows below the belt in the history of the sport.”33 National League President Giles was more diplomatic, saying: “I think the National League can do a more practical job by waiting until 1962 for our expansion.”34

But the American League owners were not in a compromising or waiting mood. Columnist Shirley Povich reported after the vote that the American League owners were mad at the National League owners “over what they considered a double cross.”35 Cronin had reportedly talked about the National League as “the opposition we’ve got to lick.”36 And Webb said the two leagues were supposed to act in concert but the National League had not: “They pulled a fast one on us before the World Series and held a hurry up meeting to take in New York and Houston. This was O’Malley’s doing. … He knew we had our eyes on Houston and then they held this hush hush meeting to grab off Houston. I understand they got together and decide on this while riding on a plane to Pittsburgh for the Series.”37

On November 9 Frick, after considering objections from O’Malley about a possible American League move to Los Angeles, announced that under Rule 1 (c) of the Major League Rules, the American League could not place a second team in Los Angeles without the unanimous consent of the owners.38

On November 17, again meeting at the Savoy, the American League leaders met to award the new Washington franchise to Gen. Elwood “Pete” Quesada and his group over syndicates headed by Admiral John Bergen of New York and Edward Bennett Williams of Washington. Nicknamed The Pilot’s General, Quesada had developed many of the principles of tactical air-ground warfare that led to Allied air superiority in Europe, and in the Normandy invasion was noted for flying Gen. Dwight Eisenhower “piggy back” in a two-seater plane to the front lines. At Eisenhower’s urging, he took the job as the first head of the Federal Aviation Agency in 1958, serving until 1961. Quesada was also a frequent presence at Griffith Stadium, where he often sat with the team’s owner, Calvin Griffith.39

At the meeting, American League owners also devised a system for stocking the new teams in Washington and Los Angeles, with each of the eight existing teams losing seven men to the new members. And they agreed on a course of action to amend Rule 1 (c) to allow for a new team to enter a city that already had one. Concurrently, Commissioner Frick was involved in shuttle meetings with representatives from both leagues.40

On November 18 Cronin indicated that the American League was prepared to negotiate terms for entry into Los Angeles with O’Malley.41 On November 22 O’Malley, Giles, National League lawyer Lou Carroll, and Frick met with Cronin, Webb, Topping, Griffith, and John Fetzer of the Detroit Tigers. O’Malley held his ground, and said he would demand strict adherence to Rule 1 (c).42

Later that day, American League leaders and Cronin did another about-face. They would attempt to operate in 1961 with nine teams: Washington in the American League and either New York or Houston in the National League, and there would be interleague play, if the National League would also expand to nine teams and begin play in 1961. O’Malley was favorably inclined, but the other National League owners were opposed, preferring an “orderly solution.”43

The logjam began to disintegrate in New York on November 30, when Frick met with Cronin, Giles, Carroll, and American League attorney Ben Fiery. The resulting settlement eliminated the nine-club idea, rejected interleague play and made possible the American League’s entry into Los Angeles in 1961.44 Amendments were drafted to change to Rule 1 (c). Among the proposed changes, any major-league city with more than 2.4 million people could now be invaded by a rival without the consent of the other league. Only New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago fit that description.45

Frick expressed particular concern that any changes to Rule 1 (c) be “solid enough that we can live with and by it. We have to set up a permanent rule to guide not only American League expansion in 1961 by major expansion in 1962 and further major action around 1965, to go to twelve clubs.”46

In advance of the coming Winter Meetings, The Sporting News issued a stern challenge to the major-league owners: “Prosperity or Chaos: Time for Decision” was the headline over the lead editorial of the November 30 issue. “When they open their meeting in St. Louis next week, the major leagues will stand at the cross-roads. … [T]he club owners must choose the roads that lead to prosperity or stumble onto those which detour to chaos. Seldom in its history has Organized Ball needed so urgently the wisdom, the patience, the courage and the unselfishness which must be combined if it is to solve its problems in the long-term interests of millions of fans, as well as of leagues, clubs, officials, and players more directly involved.”47

Further, the “Bible of Baseball” took the owners to task for their failure to more quickly address antitrust issues, plot orderly expansion plans, and mitigate the damage they were inflicting on the health of the minor leagues. “To do these things, of course, would have required thinking far beyond provincial attitudes and well outside the counting rooms,” they editorialized. “We’re sorry to say not too many club owners were dedicated to this sort of thinking. Before this situation worsens … [i]t’s high time to consider not what’s good for any individual or league or any other just, but limited interest. It’s time to consider what is good for baseball.”48

The Winter Meetings Begin

On December 5, the opening day of the winter meetings in St. Louis, National League President Giles told a newsman it had killed the nine-club proposal. “It is not subject to reconsideration. This is final,” Giles said.49 Cronin said the National League had advised the American League that the rejection was based on the lack of stadium facilities in Houston and because indemnities to the American Association had not been satisfied in that city.50 “Earlier yesterday, the National League had suggested that the expansion problem could be resolved if Elwood (Pete) Quesada withdrew from the picture in Washington. That was not going to happen, as Quesada addressed the American League owners and won their unanimous reaffirmation.”51

Cronin offered that if the National League would reconsider a nine-team league, the Yankees would withdraw any claims for indemnification or damage and would open the New York territory to the National League. Cronin warned that if the National League refused to cooperate, the American League would move swiftly into Los Angeles. The proposal was relayed to the National League, which did not reconvene, but reiterated its opposition to the nine-team idea.52

On December 6, as both leagues met separately, a bold move on the multi-front, high-stakes chessboard was made by O’Malley, who told the Associated Press that he was willing to permit the American League to operate with a 10th club in Los Angeles in 1961 under certain conditions, which he declined to elaborate.53

The American League brought in, for screening purposes, the soon-to-be new owners of the Los Angeles Angels, headed by Gene Autry, the legendary “Singing Cowboy” and business tycoon, and Bob Reynolds, a two-time All-American football star from Stanford, successful investor, and civic leader in Southern California. Autry later huddled with O’Malley, then Frick. O’Malley and the league presidents then met with Frick.54

That evening, the American League owners called in the press to meet “the owners of the new Los Angeles club.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist Bob Broeg wrote of the pair: “The American League will have difficulty in Los Angeles, whether it moves to the Pacific Coast this year or next, because the Dodgers are formidable and so are the obstacles. But the franchise is in sound financial hands, the hands of sportsmen.”55

It appeared that difficulties had been cleared and both leagues adjourned until the next morning. But the unofficial meetings were far from over. “The real job of bringing both sides together was accomplished between 9 o’clock Tuesday night and 4 o’clock Wednesday morning in (Pirates owner John) Galbreath’s suite,” reported Bob Burnes. “Autry and O’Malley were there. Frick was in and out and two representatives of each league attended.”56 By the next afternoon, the “Missouri Compromise” had been hatched and approved. Or, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Neal Russo put it, “O’Malley finally yielded, all the way to the bank,” as agreements were reached, among others, indemnifying the Dodgers.57

Red Smith described the moment of victory: “The Commissioner cast a tender glance down the room toward the Dodgers’ O’Malley, who had wanted to keep Los Angeles for himself. … When it came O’Malley’s turn to talk he sat on the edge of the table. His cigar was short, his metaphors long and pre-mixed. He said he was proud of baseball ‘which has probably solved one of the most difficult problems in 20 years.’”58 Welcoming Autry and Reynolds into the ownership club, “his tones were warm. His words cuddly.” And then came O’Malley’s final flourish: “Baseball is crossing bridges, and sometimes we stumble a lot but if we sit around long enough we seem to get sense.”59

In short order, with only eight days left until the expansion draft, the Autry group quickly hired former Braves manager Fred Haney as general manager and former Giants manager Bill Rigney as field manager. And in a gesture of goodwill, as part of negotiations over the rival league’s entry into Los Angeles, Dodgers owner O’Malley ordered his staff to turn to over to Autry all Dodgers scouting reports on minor leaguers.60

Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine.

Senator Kefauver complimented the majors but warned that “some other steps must be taken looking forward toward an unrestricted draft” or baseball would run the risk of congressional action. “Now that the big-league owners have faced up to their responsibilities to the public,” the senator said, “I am hopeful they now will squarely deal with the problem of player control.”61

Upset by the roadblocks thrown up by the National League owners that had delayed their expansion to 10 teams, American League owners struck back. Using a procedural technicality, they sidetracked a proposal designed to permit clubs like Houston and New York to set up farm systems immediately, a year in advance of their impending bows. The measure was tabled at a joint meeting on December 7, even though the National Association and the National League had already passed it. “This is a serious blow to us,” said Charlie Hurth, general manager of the fledgling New York team. “We were prepared to announce immediately the signing of three working agreements and possibly arrange a fourth. Unless a rule of this type is adopted, it’s virtually impossible for us to sign players, since we wouldn’t be able to protect them from the draft next fall.”62

And while O’Malley praised the Autry group, pointing out that they were respecting the rights of the tenants other than the Dodgers to use the Los Angeles Coliseum, columnist Melvin Durslag suggested that O’Malley had gained some measure of revenge when he “managed to consign the American Leaguers to an obsolete concrete shack called Wrigley Field,” with its limited parking, narrow area streets, no washrooms on the upper deck, minor-league level power alleys, and 21,030 seating capacity.63 Further, the terms of the Angels’ four-year lease called for an annual rental of $200,000 or 7.5 percent of revenues, whichever was higher, plus all of the parking and concession revenues and maintenance costs.64

There was also a dustup on December 5 when American League owners granted conditional approval for the sale of the Kansas City club to a local group, and its continuation in the league through 1961. The problem arose because there had been no other bidders, and the league expected that the co-executrix of the 52 percent majority share would sign off. That’s when Chicago insurance tycoon Charles O. Finley entered the fray and offered more money. He won a subsequent bidding war and on December 19 the league gave official consent to the transfer.65

Major-league baseball’s historic decision to expand was easily the biggest story to come out of the Winter Meetings, and the move deservedly grabbed the public’s attention. But seemingly cast to the side were the continuing struggles of the minor leagues and their increasingly problematic relationship with their parent clubs. Indeed, “grave concern” for the future viability of the leagues was palpable.66

The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor-league umbrella organization, held its 59th annual convention from November 28 to December 1 at the Kentucky Hotel in Louisville.

Lester Biederman, who covered the Pittsburgh Pirates for the Pittsburgh Press for 31 years, wrote that the meetings “represent a touching drama to those who really understand what is taking place. There is no convention like this one held anywhere.” Some, he said, come to do business, others to catch up with old friends “and talk of the days when they were in the spotlight.” And others come looking for work. “The man you feel sorry for is the manager just released or the coach who was caught in a crossfire and needs work badly. … If he isn’t lucky here his last year’s salary may have to do for the next 12 months when he can hit the trail for the next minor league meeting.”.67

For its part, The Sporting News, in an editorial, outlined a gloomy state of affairs regarding the minor leagues and issued a somber challenge:

“The major leagues, in agreeing to expand, necessarily invaded some minor league territory. This in itself puts an additional burden on the majors. They not only must build strong franchises in new cities, they also must do everything possible to keep the remaining minor league sector alive. Without the minors, the majors have no lifelines. In recent years, there has been so much agitation for major league franchises that interest has deteriorated in minor league ball. … Poor facilities and availability of major league radio and television have further weakened the minors. … Despite all the pump priming, minor league attendance continued to dwindle to the point that revelation of the figures has been delayed. … The burden will rest with the major leagues.”68

Never mind the old saying “No one grows up playing baseball pretending that they’re pitching or hitting Triple-A.” The Sporting News editorial board aggressively emphasized the critical importance of the minor leagues. Under the headline “Note to Big Spenders — Don’t Forget Minors,” it wrote: “Expansion … demonstrates clearly that there is no shortage of fresh money to be poured from the top.” The minors must be “encouraged and promoted if the great sport is to be maintained as a precious institution. It would be most shortsighted to sprinkle millions among the grown crop of the majors, then to neglect to spread some financial fertilizer in the lower acres on which a large degree of the future of the game depends.”69

But in fact, the major leagues did appear to be ignoring the plight of the minor leagues, some of which faced an uncertain future without new working agreements so they could continue to operate as eight-team leagues.

As the winter meetings took place, only the Pacific Coast League was sure to have eight teams going forward, and then only after going to Honolulu to replace Sacramento. The International League also had to leave the mainland, replacing Miami with San Juan, but still lacked an eighth team, and Montreal no longer had a working agreement or major league tie-up. The American Association was faced with the knowledge that it was going to lose teams in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Houston due to the big-league expansion. Deeper into the minors, the situation was even worse. The Southern Association was on life support. The Double-A Texas League had only six teams. The Mexican League, also classified as a Double-A circuit, decided it was not going to get help from the majors and so would develop its own players.70

Throughout the minor leagues there was frustration over the lack of assistance from the major leagues, including one minor-league executive who unsuccessfully made the rounds in Louisville and St. Louis seeking sponsorship by one major-league club for a team on his circuit.71

“If the majors wanted to build better ball clubs in their expanded program, they could have accomplished it by turning over the money to the minors for development of players,” said another minor-league owner.72

Still, after the NAPBL announced that Jim Burris had been named president of the American Association, replacing Ed Doherty, who resigned to become general manager of the new Washington club, the 38-year-old former league secretary sounded a note of optimism. “I know that there’ll be tough days ahead. However, I believe that when the major leagues finally settle their expansion problems, they will be more cognizant of the need for strong upper-classification leagues.”73

In addition to announcing Burris’s promotion, the minor-league leaders named former Eastern League President Tommy Richardson president of the International League. He replaced Frank “Shag” Shaughnessy, who retired for health reasons after serving as president of the league since 1936. Shaughnessy invented a playoff system known as the Shaughnessy playoffs. Without those playoffs, “the minor leagues would not have been able to survive the critical years,” The Sporting News wrote in a sendoff editorial. But most significantly, they said, Shaughnessy was a “firm believer in the theory that baseball was popular because people understood it. He refused to let the rulebook be cluttered with amendments and changes.”74

Encircled by major-league owners squabbling about the where and when of expansion, the NAPBL attendees added to the uncertainty by voting down five measures offered by their own members that proposed increasing monetary assistance from the major leagues.

“Pressure from the parent club organizations and hopes that the majors would extend the player development fund were believed to have prompted the turndowns,” wrote Clifford Kachline.75 Among the financial measures defeated was a radio-television amendment that sought to prohibit the major leagues from permitting broadcasts of their games from stations within 100 miles of a minor-league park. By contrast, a proposal by the Los Angeles Dodgers to cut spring-training costs for the major leagues was approved.76

“To use a trite but true expression, ‘confusion reigned supreme,’” wrote The Sporting News’ editor, Oscar Kahan in describing the four-day convention. “Principally because of the expansion problems of the National League and the American League, it was almost impossible for the minors to complete their plans here until the majors settled their difficulties.” There was general agreement among the attendees that this year their meeting should have been held after the majors; instead, Kahan summarized, “Most minor leagues with problems left here with no solutions.”77

There was some forward movement, however, as a number of proposals approved by the minor leagues were ratified a week later by the major-league owners. Among them was the player-development fund, which the major-league owners committed to support at the previous year’s level of slightly more than $800,000, and with the same distribution formula.78

A “historic first” was established when both the minor-league and major-league meetings approved a college rule that prohibited Organized Baseball from signing college players during the school year. Players could, however, be signed during their summer vacation period.79

Everett Barnes, Colgate University baseball coach and chairman of the NCAA Coaches Association, spoke in favor of the measure before the minor-league executives on November 29.80 Cleveland Indians pitching hero Bob Feller also weighed in, saying professional baseball must turn more to colleges for future prospects. “Today, at least some college education is imperative — the more the better,” Feller said.81

The Sporting News supported the vote, saying, “[G]ood relations should be maintained with the colleges. They may become a vital necessity in the game if the minor leagues, the sources of talent, keep evaporating.”82

Also approved was an amendment to permit the major leagues to option players with less than two seasons of professional experience below the Class B level. It was designed to enable big-league clubs to send first-year players who were called up after their rookie season to Class C or D teams the next year in cases where they weren’t considered ready for a higher classification.83

On the first day of the NAPBL meetings, the annual series of player drafts kicked off. The draft was made in three phases: the draft of players eligible because of their length of time in the minors; first-year players; and a special draft for the Washington team. With a flair for the dramatic, Commissioner Frick announced, “The authorized representative of the Washington club of the American League will now select his draft choices.”84 General manager Ed Doherty announced that the team was claiming right-handed pitchers Ray Semproch from Spokane and John Gabler from Richmond, both at the $25,000 draft price.

All told, 11 major-league teams took 23 players from minor-league rosters at a cost of $497,000, compared with 14 players drafted at a total cost of $325,000 in 1959. The new draftees were made up of 12 pitchers, 7 catchers, 3 infielders, and 1 outfielder. Seventeen of the selections were picked under the normal draft rule at $25,000 apiece. Six first-year players were purchased for $12,000 each after rules were modified to allow a team to send a first-year player to the minors on option.85

The minor-league clubs also showed an increase in activity, taking 36 players for $327,000, versus 26 players for $167,000 the previous year.86

A simmering feud between Frick and Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck added a bit of drama to the draft. Veeck thought he had cleared the decks for a fifth pick with a trade made earlier in the day, but Frick vetoed it, saying his roster had been frozen at 36 on November 7, the same as every other American League club. “This is a violation of the freeze order. You are doing this just to embarrass me, and I don’t embarrass easily,” snapped Frick. Veeck’s indignant response: “Did he freeze the National League rosters? Why, no. This is strictly a unilateral rule. The National League can draft, but we can’t. He’s strictly a National League commissioner.”87

On the interleague front, the biggest swap occurred on December 3, when the San Francisco Giants swapped a two-time 20-game winner, Johnny Antonelli, and outfielder Willie Kirkland to the Cleveland Indians for eight-time All-Star and 1959 AL batting champion Harvey Kuenn. Giants manager Alvin Dark said of Kuenn, who sported a .313 lifetime batting average: “Hitters come in all types, and I like to have any kind of a good hitter on my side.” Experienced southpaw Antonelli said he would have quit San Francisco if he had not been traded. And “Kirkland is younger than Kuenn and has much more power” and was a better outfielder, said Indians general manager Frank Lane.88

Kuenn had been the American League player representative. After the trade, he was replaced by Johnny Temple as the Cleveland Indians player rep and by Gene Woodling of the Baltimore Orioles as player representative for all the American League players.89

After the Winter Meetings, the American League held its expansion draft on December 14 in Boston, to fill the rosters of the Los Angeles Angels and the Washington Senators. Each existing American League club had to make available for the draft seven players who had been on their active roster as of August 31, 1960, and eight others from their 40-man roster. The expansion clubs paid $75,000 for each of the 28 players they drafted, with a maximum of seven players drafted from each existing club, not including minor-league selections. They were required to take at least 10 pitchers, 2 catchers, 6 infielders, and 4 outfielders. The clubs also had the option of drafting one nonroster player for $25,000 from each established franchise.

Looking back over the last two months of the year, “some credit is due to the American League for what was accomplished in 50 days,” wrote baseball historian Eric Thompson. “Between October 26, 1960, when the American League expansion was announced, and December 14, 1960, when the expansion draft took place, the following obstacles were overcome: 1. Ownership for the two new franchises was established. 2. Stadium issues in Los Angeles were settled. 3. New policies for future expansion were established. 4. A method of player distribution, convoluted and mishandled as it was, was established. 5. A 162-game schedule was developed.”90



1 Neal Russo, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 8, 1960: E1.

2 Red Smith, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 8, 1960: E-63.

3 Bob Burnes, “Expansion Accord Hailed as Guidepost,” The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 2.

4 Ibid., 1

5 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 7, 1960: E1.

6 Ibid.

7 Burnes, The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 8.

8 Ibid.

9 Andy McCue and Eric Thompson, “Epic Mis-management 101: The American League Expansion for 1961,” The National Pastime, 2011: 1.

10 Leonard Koppett, Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1998), 291.

11 The Walt Whitman Archive, at whitmanarchive.org/criticism/disciples/traubel/WWWiC/4/med.00004.77.html.

12 gallup.com/poll/1696/baseball.aspx.

13 Lee Lowenfish, Branch Rickey, Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007), 569.

14 Ibid.

15 amazinavenue.com/2013/7/18/4534192/new-york-mets-history-july-18-nl-approves-expansion-1960.

16 Frank P. Jozsa, Major League Baseball Expansions and Relocations, A History 1876-2008 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co, 2009), 63.

17 Edward Prell, Chicago Tribune, August 2, 1960: Section 4, page 1.

18 Lowenfish, 574.

19  Michael Shapiro, “Memorabilia From the What If Drawer,” New York Times, July 22, 2009.

20 McCue and Thompson, 3.

21 New York Daily News, October 18, 1960, nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/mets-born-nl-votes-return-gotham-62-article-1.2144369.

22 Ibid.

23 Ibid.

24 Associated Press, Asbury Park Press, October 18, 1960: 22.

25 United Press International, Simpson’s Leader-Times (Kittanning, Pennsylvania), October 27, 1960: 11.

26 Michael Shapiro, Bottom of the Ninth (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2009), 263.

27 Bob Addie, The Sporting News, November 2, 1970: 7.

28 The Sporting News, November 2, 1960: 4.

29 Mark Armour, Joe Cronin (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010), 266.

30 McCue and Thompson.

31 Joe King, The Sporting News, November 2, 1960: 4.

32 Simpson’s Leader-Times, October 27, 1960: 11; Armour, 267.

33 Simpson’s Leader-Times, October 27, 1960: 11.

34 Ibid.

35 Shirley Povich, The Sporting News, November 2, 1960: 4.

36 The Sporting News, November 2, 1960: 4.

37 Shirley Povich, The Sporting News, November 2, 1960: 4.

38 Dan Daniel, The Sporting News, November 23, 1960: 11.

39 Shirley Povich, The Sporting News, November 23, 1960: 11.

40 Dan Daniel, The Sporting News, November 23, 1960: 11.

41 Ibid.

42 Dan Daniel, The Sporting News, November 30, 1960: 2.

43 Ibid.

44 Dan Daniel, The Sporting News, December 7, 1960: 1.

45 Bob Burnes, The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 2.

46 Dan Daniel, The Sporting News, December 7, 1960: 6.

47 The Sporting News, November 30, 1960: 12.

48 Ibid.

49 Bob Burnes, The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 1.

50 United Press International, Rochester (New York) Democrat and Chronicle, December 6, 1960: 33.

51 Ibid.

52 Bob Burnes, The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 1.

53  Associated Press, Kansas City Times, December 7, 1960: 22.

54 The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 2.

55 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 7, 1960: 58.

56 Bob Burnes, The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 8.

57 St. Louis Post Dispatch, December 8, 1960: E1.

58 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 8, 1960: E2.

59 Ibid.

60 McCue and Thompson.

61 The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 7.

62 Clifford Kachline, The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 8.

63 The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 7.

64  Shapiro, Bottom of the Ninth, 272.

65 David Jordan, The A’s: A Baseball History (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 2014), 95.

66 Eric Thompson, Baseball’s Lost Tradition (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, 2012).

67 Pittsburgh Press, December 1, 1960: 53.

68 The Sporting News, November 2, 1960: 12.

69  The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 10. The “no one grows up” quotation comes from Joe Feinstein, Where Nobody Knows Your Name (New York: Doubleday, 2004), inside front flap of the dust jacket. It is in quotes, attributed to “Chris Schwinlen, Triple-A pitcher.”

70 Bob Burnes, The Sporting News, December 21, 1960: 1.

71 The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 10.

72 The Sporting News, December 21, 1960: 1.

73 Johnny Carrico, The Sporting News, December 7, 1960: 7.

74 The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 10.

75 Clifford Kachline, The Sporting News, December 7, 1960: 11.

76 Ibid.

77  The Sporting News, December 7, 1960: 9.

78 The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 8.

79 Ibid.

80 The Sporting News, December 7, 1960: 16.

81  The Sporting News, November 16, 1960: 4.

82 The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 10.

83 The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 8.

84 The Sporting News, December 7, 1960: 6.

85 The Sporting News, December 7, 1960: 14.

86 Ibid.

87 The Sporting News, December 7, 1960: 8.

88 The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 9.

89  The Sporting News, December 14, 1960: 4.

90 Eric Thompson, Baseball’s Lost Tradition.