The following are the baseball events of the year 1978 throughout the world.
Major League Baseball
Awards and honors
MLB statistical leaders
Major league baseball final standings
- January 19 – Eddie Mathews is elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America on 301 of 379 ballots.
- January 25 – The San Diego Padres send Dave Tomlin and cash to the Texas Rangers in return for Gaylord Perry, who will win this year's National League Cy Young Award.
- January 31 - Commissioner Bowie Kuhn voids the Oakland Athletics' trade of Vida Blue to the Cincinnati Reds, citing the "best interests of baseball" clause. As compensation, the A's send Doug Bair to the Reds for minor-league prospect Dave Revering.
- March 17 – At Al Lopez Field in Tampa, Florida, the Cincinnati Reds host the New York Yankees in a Spring training match-up wearing green uniforms in honor of St. Patrick's Day. In 1990, the Boston Red Sox become the second team to adopt this tradition.
- April 1 – Starting off with a bang, Japanese star Sadaharu Oh hits a grand slam home run on opening day. It is his 757th home run.
- April 13 – The New York Yankees defeat the Chicago White Sox 4–2 in their home opener on Reggie Candy Bar Day. Reggie Jackson slugs a 3-run home run in the first inning, and the field is showered with candy bars which were given out free to the fans at the game.
- April 16 – The St. Louis Cardinals' Bob Forsch hurls a no-hitter in beating the Philadelphia Phillies 5–0. Forsch walks 2 and strikes out 3 in pitching the first home no-hitter by a Cardinal since Jesse Haines in 1924. His brother, the Houston Astros' Ken Forsch, will toss a no-hitter the following season against the Atlanta Braves — making them the first big league brothers to each toss a no-hitter.
- April 20 – With two out in the top of the fourth inning, the Atlanta Braves' Jeff Burroughs hits a ground ball up the middle that San Diego Padres rookie shortstop Ozzie Smith dives for behind second base. As he was in the air, the ball hits the base, and caromes behind Smith. As he is diving in the opposite direction, Smith reaches out with his bare hand and catches the ball. He bounces up, and throws Burroughs out at first. The Padres win the game 2–0.
- April 29 – Pete Rose smashes three home runs in a 14–7 win over the New York Mets.
- May 5 – Pete Rose singles off Montreal's Steve Rogers for career hit 3,000 and gets a hug at first base from former teammate Tony Pérez. The Montreal Expos beat the Cincinnati Reds 4–3.
- May 12 – At Royals Stadium, a potential game-ending routine fly ball becomes an Amos Otis walk-off inside-the-park home run as Reggie Jackson and Mickey Rivers collide in the outfield. The Kansas City Royals defeat the New York Yankees, 4–3. The misplay turns a sure Goose Gossage save into a sour loss for the current World Champion Yankees.
- May 14 – With the Chicago Cubs losing 7–5 to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dave Kingman hits a two run home run with two outs in the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings. Kingman, who had also homered in the sixth, hits his third home run of the day in the fifteenth inning to give the Cubs a 10–7 victory over the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, and end his day with eight RBIs. Following the game, Paul Olden, a reporter for radio station KLAC in Los Angeles asks Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, "What's your opinion of Kingman's performance?" during his post-game interview. Lasorda goes off in a now-famous obscenity-laced tirade.
- May 20 – At Olympic Stadium, Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits two home runs off Wayne Twitchell in a 6–0 victory over the Montreal Expos. His second is a 535-foot shot in the fourth inning that lands in the upper deck — the only fair ball ever to be hit there.
- May 23 – With the Oakland Athletics leading the American League Western Division (24–15), manager Bobby Winkles walks off the job. Jack McKeon takes over.
- June 3 – Davey Johnson becomes the first major leaguer to hit two pinch-hit grand slams in a season, as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5–1.
- June 14 – Pete Rose starts his 44-game hitting streak by collecting two hits in the Cincinnati Reds' 3–1 win over the Chicago Cubs.
- June 16 –
- In his 12th major league season speckled with near-misses, Cincinnati's Tom Seaver finally hurls a no-hitter. The Cardinals are the 4–0 victims as Seaver strikes out 3 batters.
- Fresh off the Arizona State University campus with no minor league ball, the Atlanta Braves' Bob Horner homers in his first major league game off Bert Blyleven of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
- June 17 – The Yankees' Ron Guidry strikes out 18 batters — 15 in 6 innings — in a 4–0 shutout of the California Angels, setting an American League record for left-handers. The victory raises the New York Yankee southpaw's record to 11–0.
- June 30 – In the first game of a 10–9, 10–5 doubleheader loss to the Atlanta Braves, the San Francisco Giants' Willie McCovey hits his 500th career home run, off Braves pitcher Jamie Easterly. McCovey becomes the 12th member of the 500th home run club. Giant Mike Ivie adds his 2nd pinch grand slam of the year in the opener. Giant Jack Clark has 3 runs in the 2 games.
- July 11 – At San Diego, the National League wins the All-Star Game over the American League, 7–3. Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey earns the MVP trophy. Vida Blue starts for the NL, becoming the first pitcher to start for both leagues in the All-Star Game. Blue also started in 1971 and 1975 for the American League.
- July 13 – Jerry Koosman and Tom Seaver lock up for the second time since Seaver's trade to the Cincinnati Reds. Koosman and the Mets beat Seaver and the Reds, 4–2. Only one of the three runs Seaver gives up is earned.
- July 17 – The Kansas City Royals defeated the New York Yankees 9-7 in 11 innings, but the game is remembered for Reggie Jackson ignoring signs from third-base coach Dick Howser with the score tied 5-5 in the bottom of the 10th. With Thurman Munson on first, manager Billy Martin wanted Jackson to sacrifice bunt. Jackson made a half-hearted attempt with the first pitch, and Martin removed the bunt sign. Jackson, however, defied Martin and still attempted a bunt, but ended up striking out. Jackson was suspended by Martin for five games.
- July 21:
- As Reggie Jackson was returning from suspension, Billy Martin says in a post-game interview about Jackson and Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, "One's a born liar (referring to Jackson), and the other's convicted (referring to Steinbrenner, about an incident from the past when Steinbrenner was accused of making illegal presidential campaign contributions)." Martin later appears on live television tearfully announcing his resignation from the Yankees, although some sources believed Steinbrenner actually fired him. Bob Lemon is named Yankee manager for the remainder of the season.
- Cleveland Indians starter Mike Paxton strikes out four batters in the fifth inning of an 11–0 win over the Seattle Mariners.
- July 26 – Johnny Bench hits his 300th career home run.
- August 1 – The Atlanta Braves trounce the Cincinnati Reds, 16–4, and stop Pete Rose's hitting streak at 44 games. Larry McWilliams and Gene Garber are the Atlanta pitchers. Rose goes 0-for-4, including striking out in the 9th inning to end the game. Rose's streak is the second-longest in major league history. He goes 70-for-182 during the skein (a batting average of .385).
- August 5 – At Old-timers Day at Yankee Stadium, recently fired Billy Martin is announced as the New York Yankees' manager for the 1980 season.
- August 20 – Before the Los Angeles Dodgers' game against the New York Mets, Steve Garvey and Don Sutton engage in a clubhouse fistfight over comments made by Sutton in an interview with the Washington Post about Garvey being the "All-American boy".
- September 5 – The Montreal Expos beat the Chicago Cubs 10–8 in a 9-inning game that sees a Major-League record 45 players participate.
- September 7 – The "Boston Massacre" begins. The Boston Red Sox enter today's opening game of a four-game series in Boston with a four-game lead over the New York Yankees; a lead which had been fourteen games just weeks earlier. The Yankees defeat the Red Sox 15–3, and go on to sweep the series, erasing the Red Sox lead in the American League East Division.
- September 14 – 39-year-old Atlanta Braves pitcher Jim Bouton earns his 62nd and final big league victory (his first since 1970), a 4–1 win over the San Francisco Giants. Bouton is best known as the author of the baseball diary Ball Four.
- September 20 – The Yankees' Ron Guidry suffers his third and final loss in a stellar 25-3, Cy Young Award-winning season. The Yankees are defeated by the Toronto Blue Jays with left-hander Mike Willis the winning pitcher. All three of Guidry's losses in 1978 were to left-handers named "Mike": Mike Caldwell, Mike Flanagan, and Willis.
- September 23 – Following a dinner party in Gary, Indiana, California Angels outfielder Lyman Bostock was killed while riding in a car with several others. The estranged husband of a woman in the car fired a single shotgun blast into the car, killing Bostock. Bostock was 27 years old.
- September 30 – The Philadelphia Phillies overcame a first-inning grand slam by Willie Stargell to beat the host Pittsburgh Pirates, their in-state rivals, 10–8, to clinch their third straight National League East Title. Winning pitcher Randy Lerch contributes two home runs to his cause. The loss snaps the Pirates' streak of 24 straight wins at Three Rivers Stadium.
- October 1
- October 2 – Bucky Dent's crucial 7th-inning home run helps the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox, 5–4, in a one-game playoff for the American League East title. It is another defining moment in the Yankees – Red Sox rivalry. With Kansas City, Los Angeles and Philadelphia also having won their divisions, all four defending division winners repeat. Ron Guidry closes out the year with a 25–3 record, but not before giving up a home run to Carl Yastrzemski—the only one he will allow to a left-handed hitter all season.
- October 4 – Steve Garvey smashes two home runs and a triple to pace the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 9–5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in the opener of the National League Championship Series. Davey Lopes and Steve Yeager also homer at Veterans Stadium.
- October 7 – The Los Angeles Dodgers win the National League Championship Series, 3 games to 1, with a 4–3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. Bill Russell's 10th-inning, two-out single scores Ron Cey with the winning run. A walk to Cey and a routine liner that Garry Maddox muffs in center field sets up Russell's game-winner. Dusty Baker collects four hits for the Dodgers.
- October 17 – The New York Yankees win their fourth straight game, 7–2, to clinch their second consecutive World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent is named Series MVP.
- November 10 – In a 10-player transaction, the New York Yankees send former Cy Young Award winner Sparky Lyle along with Mike Heath, Larry McCall, Dave Rajsich, Domingo Ramos and cash consideration to the Texas Rangers, in exchange for Juan Beníquez, Mike Griffin, Paul Mirabella, Dave Righetti and Minor leaguer Greg Jemison. Righetti, considered the top left handed pitching prospect in the minors, will win AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1981.
- November 22 – Detroit Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker wins the American League Rookie of the Year Award with 21 of 28 first places votes over Paul Molitor of the Milwaukee Brewers.
- November 28 – The Cincinnati Reds dismiss their nine-year manager, Sparky Anderson, who had led the team to five NL Division titles, four NL Championship pennants, two World Championships (1975–76), and averaged 96 wins per season. Anderson will become the manager of the Detroit Tigers in 1979, replacing Les Moss.
- December 8 – The New York Mets trade pitcher Jerry Koosman to the Minnesota Twins for minor league pitcher Greg Field and a player to be named later. The trade leaves Ed Kranepool as the last remaining member of the ″Miracle Mets″ team that won the 1969 World Series. The Twins will complete the trade by sending Jesse Orosco to the Mets on February 7, 1979.
- January 7 – George H. Burns, 84, first baseman for five AL teams who batted .307 lifetime and won 1926 MVP award with the Cleveland Indians
- January 13 – Bill Clowers, 79, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in the 1920s
- January 13 – Merwin Jacobson, 83, backup outfielder for the New York Giants, Chicago Cubs and Brooklyn Robins between 1915 and 1927
- January 13 – Joe McCarthy, 90, Hall of Fame manager who led the New York Yankees to eight pennants and record seven World Series titles; also won 1929 NL pennant with Chicago Cubs, and was first manager to capture titles in both leagues; 2125 career wins ranked 4th in major league history, and winning percentages of .615 (regular season) and .698 (postseason) were both records
- January 27 – Monte Pearson, 69, All-Star pitcher who won 100 games, mainly with the Indians and Yankees
- February 3 – Mike Herrera, 80, second baseman for the Boston Red Sox from 1925–26, and one of the first men to play in both the major leagues and the negro leagues
- February 8 – Josephine Kabick, 55, female pitcher who played from 1944 through 1947 in the AAGPBL
- February 23 – Vic Harris, 72, outfielder and manager in the Negro Leagues who guided the Homestead Grays to seven Negro National League pennants, including five in a row from 1937 to 1941; played in six East-West All-Star games between 1933 and 1947
- March 12 – Gene Moore, 68, All-Star right fielder known for his accurate arm
- March 21 – Fritz Coumbe, 88, a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Naps & Indians, and Cincinnati Reds between 1914 and 1921
- March 30 – Billy Cox, 58, third baseman, mainly with the Brooklyn Dodgers, known for spectacular defense
- April 8 – Ford Frick, 83, Hall of Fame executive who served as commissioner from 1951 to 1965 and NL president from 1935 to 1951; served as ghostwriter for Babe Ruth while a sportswriter, and in 1961 ruled that home run records of Ruth and Roger Maris would be recorded separately based on season length
- April 14 – Joe Gordon, 63, 9-time All-Star second baseman in 11 seasons for the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians who won the 1942 MVP award; set AL record of 246 home runs at his position, later a manager and scout
- April 15 – Nick Cullop, 78, outfielder for the New York Yankees, Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians, Brooklyn Robins and Cincinnati Reds, and also a longtime player/manager at minor league level
- April 20 – Jack Graney, 91, Canadian left fielder and leadoff hitter for the Cleveland Indians who led AL in walks twice and doubles once; was first batter ever to face Babe Ruth, and later became broadcaster
- May 29 – Carl Reynolds, 75, outfielder for five teams who batted .302 lifetime
- August 5 – Jesse Haines, 85, Hall of Fame pitcher who won 210 games, including a no-hitter, for the St. Louis Cardinals; had three 20-win seasons, and won twice in 1926 World Series
- August 7 – Kay Lionikas, 54, outfielder, one of three descendants of Greek migrants to play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
- August 15 – Ed Chaplin, 84, catcher for the Boston Red Sox between 1920 and 1922
- August 18 – George Harper, 86, outfielder for six teams who batted .300 three times
- September 16 – Bill Foster, 74, star pitcher in the Negro Leagues where he was a dominant left-hander; later coached at Alcorn State University for two decades
- September 23 – Lyman Bostock, 27, outfielder for the Minnesota Twins and California Angels who twice batted .300
- October 8 – Jim Gilliam, 49, All-Star infielder for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, previously in the Negro Leagues, who was the 1953 Rookie of the Year; led NL in triples and walks once each
- October 16 – Eddie Stumpf, 84, Minor league player, manager, coach, scout and executive in a career than spanned more than four decades
- October 27 – Rube Walberg, 82, pitcher who won 155 games, primarily with the Philadelphia Athletics
- November 5 – Tommy O'Brien, 59, backup outfielder for the Pirates, Red Sox and Senators in the late 1940s
- November 20 – Warren Brown, 84, Chicago sportswriter
- December 9 – Dick Siebert, 66, All-Star first baseman for the Philadelphia Athletics who twice batted .300; coach at the University of Minnesota for 31 years, winning three College World Series titles
- December 12 – Nick Dumovich, 76, pitcher for the 1923 Chicago Cubs
- December 20 – Willard Mullin, 76, cartoonist whose caricature of the "Brooklyn Bum" personified the Dodgers franchise
- December 24 – George McQuinn, 68, 7-time All-Star first baseman for the Browns and Yankees who had 34-game hitting streak in 1938
- December 24 – Bill Rodgers, 91, second baseman who played between 1915 and 1916 for the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds
- ^ Baseball Almanac – Grand Slam Records