Introduction of the series here
The 1961 season was a bit of a rollercoaster for the team, finishing with a record of 79-83 and landing in 8th place in the AL. The World Series saw the Los Angeles Dodgers triumph over the Chicago White Sox in a thrilling 4-3 series victory.
In terms of transactions over the course of the 1961 season, there were none worth noting. Despite the temptation to sign young free agents like 17-year-old Sandy Alomar, the decision was made to stick with the existing roster, following a mandate from owner Clark Griffith to give the group another shot before making major changes.
The All-Star lineup featured 1B/3B Harmon Killebrew and C Earl Battey, but SP Camilo Pascual had a somewhat disappointing season compared to his previous All-Star performances. The bullpen struggled, and down in the minors, LF/RF Tony Oliva showcased impressive stats, potentially earning a spot in Minnesota next season.
Moving into the 1961-1962 offseason, notable changes were on the horizon with NL expansion and both leagues adopting the 162-game schedule. The Houston Colt .45s and New York Mets joined the league, and an expansion draft in November resulted in the loss of RP Bob Porterfield to the Mets and LF Joe Altoberry to Houston.
The managerial reins were handed over to Sam Mele, who brought in an entirely new coaching staff to mesh with the team. The offseason also saw the team acquiring RP Bill Fischer from Detroit and C Hobie Landrith from San Francisco in the free agency market.
In the Rule 5 draft, the team selected 22-year-old knuckleballer Phil Niekro and 23-year-old CF Mack Jones, while losing pitchers Gerry Arrigo and Joe Bonikowski to other teams. The Hall of Fame welcomed starting pitchers Hal Newhouser and Bob Feller in 1962.
The offseason proved to be a mix of changes and additions, setting the stage for what will hopefully be a more promising season ahead. Will this be the year that Tony Oliva makes himself a household name in MLB? I will check in next time in 1965, when MLB implements the amateur draft! In the meantime, here is a quick glance at the team heading into the 1962 season.
We have tough competition to win the AL, Hopefully with a revamped bullpen, a bounce back season from Pascual, and 3 solid prospects ready to contribute at Metropolitan Stadium, we surprise some people.