Return to Homepage

The 2000's

The 1990's

The 1980's

The 1970's

The 1960's

The 1950's

The 1940's

The 1930's

The 1920's

The 1900's

The 1800's


Timeline of American and National League Baseball for the Year In Review section. Project expanded to include the National League (1900-1876), Federal League (1915-1914), Players League (1890), Union Association (1884) and American Association (1891-1882).

MLB Timeline by Michael Aubrecht
Written for's Year In Review section.
Sources: Baseball-Almanac, The Baseball Timeline, The Baseball Library, The Baseball Chronicle,,

Off the field…

The United States expanded its borders as both Alaska and Hawaii were officially admitted to the Union. Despite an overwhelming vote by Alaskans in 1956, it took more than 2 years for the Senate to finally agree to make Alaska the 49th state. On March 18, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower added Hawaii, the Aloha State, and commissioned a new 50 star U.S. Flag.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson), and Ritchie Valens died when their Beechcraft plane crashed just outside Clear Lake, Iowa, during a stormy winter night. Holly was famous for many hits including "Peggy Sue." The Big Bopper had one big hit, "Chantilly Lace." And Valens was best known for his hit, "La Bamba." The tragic accident was penned in the papers as "The Day the Music Died".

Scandal rocked America's most popular Game Show "Twenty-One" after former champion Herbert Stempel confessed to being given the answers to questions, told which questions to miss, and coached in presentation. After he blew the whistle, public outrage was so great that in 1959 Congress opened hearings on the great American quiz show fix and later formally outlawed all future quiz show deceptions.

In the American League…

The Boston Red Sox remained as the only major league team not to include minority players in its line-up. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed a grievance against the franchise charging them with racial discrimination and calling for an official investigation into the team's signing policies.

Chicago White Sox second baseman Nellie Fox managed five hits in seven at bats on Opening Day (including a 2-run homer off pitcher Don Mossi to win the game) during a 14-inning, 9-7 victory over the Detroit Tigers. His five hits in a season opener tied a major league record that would not be matched for 40 years.

Cleveland's Rocky Colavito hit four consecutive home runs at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium en route to an 11-8 victory over the home team Orioles. The Indian slugger joined Lou Gehrig and Bobby Lowe as the only major league players ever to hit four consecutive round-trippers.

In the National League…

On May 26th, Pirates ace Harvey Haddix pitched a perfect game against Milwaukee for 12 innings, only to lose in the 13th. After Felix Mantilla managed to reach base on a fielding error, Hank Aaron was intentionally walked. Pittsburgh's strategy proved meaningless though as Joe Adcock maintained the Braves newfound momentum with a 3-run blast for the comeback win. The following day National League President Warren Giles ruled that the final score should be amended to 1-0, since both runners Henry Aaron and Joe Adcock were both ruled out. (Aaron had been called for leaving the field during play, and Adcock had passed him in the base path.)

Seven pitchers combined to tie a National League record with 23 strikeouts during a June 10th outing between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers. Sandy Koufax led the effort with nine "K's" for the 5-3 win.

The San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs set a new record for the longest 9-inning game in history after playing for three hours and fifty minutes. The home team finally won the "marathon at Wrigley" with a score of 20-9 after tallying 19 hits and five home runs.

Around the league…

The Rules Committee finally permitted inter-league trading for a limited, three-and-a-half-week period during major league baseball's winter meetings.

The Players Association fired lawyer J. Norman Lewis and replaced him with Judge Robert C. Cannon, the son of Wisconsin Congressman Raymond J. Cannon, who had attempted to unionize the players during the 1920 season.

Controversy erupted over the American League batting title as the Cleveland Indians' John Francona finished the season with a league leading .363 average, but fell one at-bat short (399) of the required total (400). As a result, Harvey Kuenn of the Detroit Tigers was crowned the AL's batting champion.

Washington D.C. Senator Estes Kefauver warned major league baseball that they were closely monitoring the "attitudes of organized baseball" toward the Continental League in an effort to prevent any antitrust issues.

Off the field…

The United States launched its first satellite "Explorer I" into orbit around the earth. The launch was in response to the Soviets who had successfully launched their first satellite "Sputnik" one year earlier.

U.S. Troops landed in Lebanon for the first time after President Eisenhower ordered 5,000 Marines deployed to help maintain order after a revolt in Iraq resulted in the ouster of the pro-Western Lebanese government.

Pan Am introduced the first 707 trans-Atlantic jet service on October 27, when its first 707 airliner, christened the "Clipper America", took off for Paris, France from New York.

In the American League…

Cleveland Indian Vic Power became the first American League player since 1927 to steal home twice in the same game. The crafty first baseman first stole home in the eighth inning, then again in the 10th giving the Indians a 10-9 win over the Detroit Tigers.

Boston's Ted Williams hit the 17th grand slam of his career (along with a 3-run homer) during an 11-8 win over the Detroit Tigers on July 29th. The bases-loaded-round-tripper tied the Red Sox slugger for 2nd place with Babe Ruth and moved him within 6 of the all-time leader, Lou Gehrig.

On August 28th, Nellie Fox of the Chicago White Sox set an unbelievable major league mark for consecutive games without striking out after completing his 98th outing without a single "K".

In the National League…

Tragedy struck the L.A. Dodgers after catcher Roy Campanella was involved in a serious auto accident on Long Island. Although he survived suffering a broken neck, his spinal column was nearly severed and his legs were permanently paralyzed.

On May 11th, the St. Louis Cardinals set a National League record by using 10 pinch hitters during a regulation double-header. Despite walking 14 batters in game 1, The "Redbirds" managed to top the Chicago Cubs 8-7 and followed in game 2 with another 6-5 win. Despite the lengthy line-up, Stan Musial remained the Cardinals biggest threat at the plate and posted a home run and four singles to come within two hits of 3,000. Amazingly, the Cards would tie their own record 2 months later against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 13th.

Milwaukee Braves ace Warren Spahn became the first lefty to win 20 or more games, nine times, after beating the St. Louis Cardinals 8-2 on September 13th. (Eddie Plank and Lefty Grove, each won 20 games, eight times).

Around the league…

Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick announced that the players and coaches (rather than the fans) would elect their line-ups for the All-Star Game.

"Teddy Baseball" aka Ted Williams, signed a whopping $135,000 contract extension with the Boston Red Sox making him the highest paid player (to date) in the history of major league baseball. Later that season he became only the 10th player ever to get 1,000 extra-base hits.

Decades before the premiere of ESPN or the YES Network, the New York Yankees announced that they would televise an unprecedented 140 games during the 1958 season. The Philadelphia Phillies followed several days later agreeing to broadcast 78 games in the New York City area.

Starting this season, all American League hitters were required to wear batting helmets.

Off the field…

President Dwight D. Eisenhower deployed Federal troops to uphold the integration of public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas after local authorities refused to implement court-ordered desegregation. Little Rock Mayor Woodrow Mann had sent the President a telegram asking for assistance in maintaining order and completing the integration process. The President responded by sending 1,000 members of the 101st Airborne Division and federalizing the 10,000-man Arkansas National Guard. On September 25th, nine black students finally entered Central High School under Army escort.

In the American League…

Ted Williams set an American League record after being intentionally walked 33 times during the regular season. It was the highest A.L. total since the league had started compiling the statistic in 1955.

On June 2nd, New York Yankees ace Whitey Ford fanned six batters in a row to tie an American League record as he shut out the Chicago White Sox 3-0.

Twenty-five days later, Billy Pierce of the Chicago White Sox tossed his 3rd straight shutout while obliterating the strikeout record after retiring 26 Washington Senators in a row before pinch-hitter Ed Fitz Gerald looped a double to become the only base runner in the 3-0 effort.

In the National League…

On August 17th, Richie Ashburn of the Phillies proved that lightning could strike twice after hitting spectator Alice Roth twice in the same at bat. The first foul struck the wife of Earl Roth, sports editor at the Philadelphia Bulletin in the face and the second hit her body while she was being removed from her seat on a stretcher. Mrs. Roth went on to the hospital to be treated for a broken nose and Philadelphia went on beat the New York Giants 3-1.

The L.A. Dodgers tied a National League record on August 24th after using eight pitchers during a single game. The expanded rotation failed miserably as the first-place Milwaukee Braves dominated the entire bullpen for a 13-7 massacre. The Dodgers' Johnny Podres surrendered three homeruns in the fourth and Hammerin' Hank Aaron added insult to injury with the first grand slam of his career. The St. Louis Cardinals also tied the record on September 21st while losing 9-8 (in 10 innings) against the Cincinnati Reds.

Milwaukee Braves' ace Warren Spahn hurled the 41st shutout of his career during an 8-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on September 3rd setting a new National League record for left-handed pitchers.

Around the league…

The Los Angeles Dodgers became the first major league baseball team to own their own plane after they purchased a 44-passenger, twin-engine airliner for $775,000 to transport the club during the season.

The Associated Press named Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jack Sanford as its National League Rookie of the Year and the Milwaukee Braves' Henry Aaron as the 1957 National League MVP with 239 votes. Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals was a close 2nd with 230. On the American League side, Tony Kubek of the Yankees was elected the AL Rookie of the Year and teammate Mickey Mantle edged out Red Sox rival Ted Williams 233 to 209 votes to win the American League MVP.

After the minor leagues threatened to sue major league baseball if Sunday games were televised in their territory, the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) announced that it would not broadcast any big league match-ups at the time a minor league game was scheduled.

New York City Mayor Robert Wagner formed an exclusive 4-member committee to find a National League "replacement team" for the vacating Dodgers and Giants.

Off the field…

Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and 100 other participants in the "Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott" were indicted for conspiracy to conduct an illegal boycott and sentenced to prison. All cases were eventually settled by $100 fines and the Supreme Court later ruled that segregation on any form of public transportation was unconstitutional.

After Colonel Tom Parker negotiated the sale of Elvis Presley's Sun Records contract to RCA, the future "King of Rock and Roll" had his first recording session at their studio in Nashville. Among the songs recorded was "Heartbreak Hotel" which was released as a single and sold over 300,000 copies in its first three weeks. It quickly climbed to number one on Billboard's pop singles chart for eight weeks, hit number one on the country chart, number five on the R&B chart and became the first Elvis single to sell over one million copies, earning him his first gold record.

Prince Rainier III of Monaco married film actress Grace Kelly. A civil ceremony was held in the throne room in the Palace of Monaco and was attended by the couple's close family and friends. The Prince, who still rules the country today, succeeded his grandfather Louis II in 1949 to become Monaco's 31st ruler. Unfortunately, Princess Grace was killed in a car crash on September 14, 1982 after her car went off a road over a cliff in Monaco.

In the American League…

The New York Yankees and Washington Senators combined to set a major league record after each hit 3 home runs on Opening Day. Bronx Bomber Mickey Mantle hit 2 tape measure blasts himself (both over 500 feet) off pitcher Camilo Pascual en route to a 10-4 win.

Boston lefthander Mel Parnell tossed a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park on July 14th. The 4-0 triumph was the first "no-no" for the Red Sox since 1923. Unfortunately Parnell went on to a mediocre 4-4 record before tearing a muscle in his pitching arm that ultimately ended his career as Boston's winningest lefty.

Don Larsen of the New York Yankees threw 97 pitches for the only perfect game in World Series history while defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers 2-0 in Game 5.

In the National League…

On May 2nd, twenty-five Giants and twenty-three Cubs participated in a 17-inning marathon setting a major league record for the most player appearances in a single game. New York eventually prevailed over Chicago 6-5 as both teams combined to intentionally walk eleven batters (another ML record) with the home team "Cubbies" contributing seven.

Dale Long of the Pittsburgh Pirates connected against the L.A. Dodgers' Carl Erskine at Forbes Field on May 28th for his 8th home run in as many games. His consecutive record for round trippers would stand for thirty-one years until New York Yankee Don Mattingly finally equaled it in 1987.

Despite losing 13-6 to the St. Louis Cardinals on July 21st, the Brooklyn Dodgers' Junior Gilliam made 12 assists at second base to set a modern major-league record and team captain Pee Wee Reese tallied his 2,000th major-league hit to become one of only 5 players to reach the mark.

Around the league…

The major league owners voted to establish the Cy Young Memorial Award for outstanding pitcher of the year. Don Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers (who won the 1949 Rookie of the Year Award) became the first recipient and also went on to win the National League MVP title.

Pitching legend Satchel Paige signed a new contract with the Birmingham Black Barons (Negro League) at age 50 to both play and manage. His frequent successful duels against such barnstorming major leaguers as Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, and Bob Feller helped boost the credibility of black baseball and established him as one of the greatest aces ever to take the mound.

Former NFL tackle (N.Y. Giants) turned American League umpire Frank Umont became the first major league official to wear glasses while calling a game. Many fans hoped that it would start a "trend" across the league as many umpires had been accused of needing spectacles.

The National Braille Press presented Boston Red Sox manager Pinky Higgins with their 1956 schedule, printed in Braille for the first time. All other major league teams would soon follow with Braille printed season calendars for the sight impaired.

Off the field…

Entrepreneur Ray Kroc opened the first McDonalds restaurant in Des Plains, Illinois initiating the world's largest and most successful "fast-food" chain. Even after McDonald's was well established, Kroc still attempted to move forward with German-tavern restaurants, pie shops and even theme parks, like Disneyland. No endeavor however, would match the success of the "Golden Arches".

After racing in Bakersfield, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, up-and-coming actor James Dean traded in his Porsche Speedster for a Porsche Spyder 550 called "Little Bastard". Later that year he was killed in a bizarre auto accident on his way to race in Salinas, CA. "Rebel Without a Cause" (considered to be his greatest work) was released less than a month later to rave reviews.

America's greatest theme park, Disneyland, opened in Anaheim California with 18 cutting-edge attractions, including the Jungle Cruise, Tomorrowland Autopia, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and the Mark Twain Adventure. After years of construction, the ground-breaking visions of animation tycoon Walt Disney evolved into the creation of a Magical Kingdom that drew 1 million visitors in 6 months.

In the American League…

Eight years after Jackie Robinson broke the color-barrier, Elston Howard became the first African-American to don the Yankees pinstripes. The 26 year-old catcher, debuted with a clutch single in his first at-bat as New York went on to defeat the Boston Red Sox 8-4 at Fenway Park.

Cleveland Indians' ace Bob Feller one-hit the Boston Red Sox for a 2-0 victory on May 1st setting a major league record with 12 career one-hitters. Later that season, teammate Herb Score broke Grover Cleveland Alexander's rookie season strikeout record after fanning his 235th of the year.

On June 21st, Mickey Mantle became the first New York Yankee ever to hit a home run to straight-away center at Yankee Stadium. The epic blast traveled well over the 30-foot hitter's backdrop and landed in the ninth row of bleachers for an estimated total of 486 feet.

In the National League…

In his first major league start, Pittsburgh Pirates' pitcher Al Grunwald threw "for the cycle" after surrendering a single, a double, a triple, and a home run (for 4 runs) all in a single inning during a 12-3 loss to the New York Giants.

Brooklyn Dodgers' pitcher Don Newcombe became the only National League pitcher of the decade to steal home (after he hit a clutch triple) in the 9th inning en route to a 6-2 win over the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates on May 26th. Later in the season he would win 20 games and set another N.L. record with 7 homeruns, the most ever by a pitcher.

New York Giant Willie Mays became only the seventh player ever to hit 50 home runs in a single season after knocking two-run homers in each game of a double header against the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Polo Grounds. Mays joined fellow sluggers Babe Ruth, Ralph Kiner, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Hack Wilson and Johnny Mize as a member of baseball's prestigious "50 Club".

Around the league…

At the beginning of the 1955 season only 3 teams, out of 16, still had yet to field a black ballplayer. (Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies)

On July 9th, Chicago newspaperman Arch Ward, the originator of the All-Star Game, died suddenly at the age of 58 on the way to cover his 22nd Midsummer Classic. Ward was the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and was also credited with initiating the All-Star College Football Game and the All-America Football Conference.

One of the game's greatest, Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner died at the age of 81 on December 6th. Wagner had played 21 years of outstanding baseball with 18 of them as a Pittsburgh Pirate. He completed his career with a .327 career batting average, 643 doubles, 252 triples and 722 stolen bases. He also hit 101 home runs (with never more than 10 a season), won the National League Batting Champion title eight times and batted .300 (or better) sixteen times - including fifteen seasons in a row.

The 1955 season debuted such rookie talents as Sandy Koufax, Ernie Banks, Brooks Robinson, Roberto Clemente and Harmon Killebrew. All now have plaques hanging in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.

Off the field…

The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) backed a coup by Col. Carlos Armas to overthrow the Guatemalan Government. The government, ruled under Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, supported a Communist-authored land reform bill that expropriated most of the land holdings of United Fruit Company. The Guatemalan actions had led to a U.S. arms embargo, but they later purchased arms from Czechoslovakia providing an excuse for the uprising.

After hearing the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education, Chief Justice Earl Warren (United States Supreme Court) formally ruled that all forms of segregation were unconstitutional. The landmark case was a first step in mandating racial equality and initiated the desegregation of all public institutions in the United States of America.

In the American League…

The Boston Red Sox managed to pull off a rare triple play, but still lost to the Baltimore Orioles during a 17-inning game that set a new American League record for time consumed at four hours and fifty-eight minutes, and tied the major-league mark (set seven weeks earlier) for the most players used in a single game (42).

On August 30th, the Cleveland Indians completed an embarrassing 11-home-game sweep of the visiting Boston Red Sox. It was the first such sweep since the New York Yankees, led by "Murderers Row", had blanked the laughable St. Louis Browns back in 1927.

Mickey Vernon of the Washington Senators tallied his 2,000th career hit on September 2nd. He also notched his 19th home run of the season for a franchise record for left-handers.

In the National League…

Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals hit five home runs himself during a May 2nd doubleheader against the New York Giants. In a strange coincidence, 8-year-old Nate Colbert (who would grow up to play for the Astros, Padres, Expos, Tigers and Athletics) was in attendance and would become the only other player in major league history to tie Musial's mark. Both teams split for the day as the Cards won the first game 10-6 and the Giants took the second 9-7.

On May 4th, the Phillies and Cardinals set a major league record (later broken) by using a staggering 42 combined players during an 11-inning, 14-10 Philly victory. Philadelphia used 7 pitchers throughout the effort and the St. Louis topped them with 8 men on the mound.

Home at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn Dodger Joe Adcock hit four home runs and added a double for a total of eighteen total bases during a 15-7 massacre over the Milwaukee Braves on July 31st. Adcock's eighteen bases set a major league record and when combined with the seven bases from the day before, gave him a two-day tally of twenty-five. The combined total tied the New York slugger with Ty Cobb for most bases in two consecutive games.

Around the league…

"The Yankee Clipper" Joe DiMaggio married Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe in San Francisco. Nine months later the two were divorced, but continued to maintain an on-again, off-again relationship. DiMaggio had reportedly told friends that the two were going to be re-married shortly before her death from a drug overdose eight years later. In the years that followed, he rarely spoke of her and had roses delivered to her gravesite twice a week for the next two decades. He never married again.

Rightfielder Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals outpolled every other National League player in the 1954 All-Star balloting.

In Game 1 of the Fall Classic, New York Giants outfielder Willie Mays made what many consider to be the greatest catch in World Series history. "Say Hey" managed to hold the game to a 2-2 tie in the 8th inning after racing back to deep centerfield and making an awkward "over-the-head" snatch of Cleveland Indian Vic Wertz's 462-foot drive.

The major league owners association voted down the sale of the Athletics to a syndicate representing the city of Philadelphia. One week later, Arnold Johnson emerged to buy a controlling interest in the franchise from the Mack family for a reported $3.5 million dollars. He later decided to move the team to Kansas City amidst mixed emotions from the rest of the league.

Off the field…

After three bloody years, one month, and two days of fighting, the Korean War officially ended. In the end the United States suffered 33,327 deaths and 102,000 wounded at a cost of $18 billion dollars. Under the terms of the cease-fire, Korea was re-divided at the 38th parallel (as it was the day the Communists had first attacked). Agreement was quickly reached in almost all areas, with the exception of a prisoner-exchange compromise. The United Nations forces refused to return prisoners who did not want to be repatriated and as a result, sporadic fighting continued over a two-year period until President Eisenhower threatened the use of nuclear weapons to achieve peace.

American Communist Party members turned spies, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, were executed on June 19th after being convicted of espionage for selling the formula for the atomic bomb to the Soviets. They were the first civilians put to death under the Espionage Act of 1917.

In the American League…

Boston Red Sox slugger turned combat ace Ted Williams safely crash-landed his damaged Panther fighter plane after being hit by enemy fire while flying a combat mission in Korea on February 19th. He later returned home from active-duty in August and finished the season with 13 home runs and an incredible .407 batting average.

New York Yankee Mickey Mantle hit the longest home run in Griffith Stadium history with a 565-foot "tape-measure" blast off pitcher Chuck Stobbs for a 7-3 victory over the Washington Senators on April 17th.

The St. Louis Browns set the major-league mark for most consecutive home defeats, after losing their 20th game in succession, 6-3 to the visiting Cleveland Indians.

In the National League…

Roy Campanella set the major league record for most runs batted in by a catcher after smacking a 3-run homer in a 6-3 Brooklyn Dodgers win over the Philadelphia Phillies on September 7th. Campanella's total of 125 RBIs topped New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra's mark of 124 set in 1950. The perennial All-Star had also set the National League mark for most homeruns by a catcher the previous day after topping the Chicago Cubs' Gabby Hartnett who hit 37 in 1930.

Cincinnati's ball club officially changed its name from the "Reds" to the "Redlegs", in response to the McCarthy era pressure of anti-communism. They later reverted back to the Reds in 1959.

Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Boyd Tepler was denied in the U.S. Court of Appeals after filing a $450,000 grievance against major league baseball and owner William Wrigley. The lawsuit, filed in 1951, accused his coaching staff of negligence that led to a premature career-ending arm injury in 1944.

Around the league…

United States Immigration Commissioner Mackey warned that all major league alien ballplayers who jumped U.S. pro-contracts faced deportation under the McCarran-Walter Act.

After 77 years, the Boston Braves became the Milwaukee Braves in the first franchise shift in baseball since 1903 when Baltimore moved to New York (Yankees). As a result, Milwaukee assumed Pittsburgh's place in the Western Division for scheduling purposes and the Brewers were moved to Toledo.

In an effort to prevent the decline of baseball in small towns and cities throughout the country, Senator Edwin C. Johnson offered a bill to give all ball clubs the sole right to ban radio and/or television broadcasts of major league games in their own territories. The bill was intended to restore the equity between large communities and the small areas and was in direct response to the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department who had prohibited teams from banning any broadcasts in 1949.

On June 3rd, U.S. Congress officially cited the research of New York City librarian Robert Henderson that clearly proved Alexander Cartwright had "founded" the game of baseball and not Abner Doubleday. Henderson's book "Bat, Ball and Bishop", which was published in 1947, documented Cartwright's contribution to the origins of the game.

Off the field…

After an eight-year study, scientist Jonas Salk finally developed a vaccine that prevented the crippling disease known as polio. Though he was hailed as a miracle worker and a national hero, Salk remained shy of the public eye. He declined to apply for a patent for the vaccine, saying that he was more concerned with people having access to it than the money it would bring him. His next project, one that lasted up until his death in 1995, was to find a cure for AIDS.

The 1952 Olympic games took place in Helsinki reflecting the attitudes of "East versus West" that had been spawned by the Cold War. The Soviet Union decided to rejoin the competition for the first time since 1912, although from a distance. Instead of joining the other athletes in the Olympic Village, the Soviets set up their own camp strictly for Eastern bloc countries near the Soviet naval base at Porkkala. All Russian athletes were then chaperoned by Soviet officials everywhere they went in an effort to prevent communication with athletes from the West.

In the American League…

On April 30th, renamed "Ted Williams Day" at Boston's Fenway Park, "Teddy Baseball" played in his final game of the season before going overseas to serve in the Korean War as a Marine fighter pilot. Fittingly, in his last at-bat, the Red Sox slugger hit a game-winning, 2-run homer off Detroit's Dizzy Trout for a 5-3 victory over the Tigers.

Seven players including members of the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians were turned in by American League umpire Bill Summers for apparently "fraternizing" before a game. Although the players remained nameless, they were fined $5 each for violating the 1951 rule that strictly prohibited socializing between players from two competing teams.

Washington Senators' owner Clark Griffith dispelled any chance of being accused of practicing preferential treatment after he sold his own nephew, catcher Sherry Robertson, to the Philadelphia Athletics. Robertson later returned to his uncle's front office and served as director of their farm system from 1958-1970.

In the National League…

Boston Braves ace Warren Spahn tied a National League record (set by Jim Whitney) after posting 18 strikeouts against the Chicago Cubs in a 15-inning, 3-1 loss. Spahn also added a home run as the only score in support of his own efforts. June 14th has also been remembered as a winning day in Braves history after team scout Dewey Griggs signed an up and coming rookie named Henry Aaron to his first major league contract.

The Brooklyn Dodgers set a National League mark after completing double plays in 23 consecutive games.

On September 29th, Stan Musial shocked the Cubs by making his first (and only) major league pitching appearance. After beating Chicago's Frank Baumholtz for his 6th batting title, the St. Louis Cardinal's slugger decided to face his adversary from the mound. Baumholtz responded to the challenge with a clutch hit and managed to reach base on a fielding error en route to a 3-0 victory.

Around the league…

The Celler committee announced that legislation for government control of major league baseball was unnecessary. The committee stated that the sport was obviously "competent and trustworthy" enough to solve its own problems. They also opposed all legislation exempting the reserve clause from antitrust laws.

Seventy-seven year-old Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Honus Wagner finally retired after 40 years as both a major league player and coach. "The Flying Dutchman" completed his career with a .327 career batting average, 643 doubles, 252 triples and 722 stolen bases. He also hit 101 home runs (with never more than 10 a season), won the National League Batting Champion title eight times and batted .300 (or better) sixteen times - including fifteen seasons in a row.

Russia openly criticized the American game of baseball by citing their own version called "lapka" as being the original concept for the game. The State Department quickly came to the defense of the National Pastime by accusing the Soviet's claim as the founders of baseball to be part of its "Hate America" Cold War campaign.

Major league attendance plummeted for the second season in a row as National League ticket sales dropped a staggering 904,854 and American League sales went down 588,788.

Off the field…

On May 12th, the United States military detonated the first hydrogen bomb on an uninhabited testing island in the Pacific. The development of an A-bomb by the Russians had convinced the U.S. to proceed with development of the H-bomb version, which was several times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki to prompt the end of World War II.

Remington Rand Corporation debuted the first commercial digital computer, called the "UNIVAC" (Universal Automatic Computer). The first "UNIVAC" was sold to the United States Census Bureau to assist in the storage, compiling and managing of the U.S. population data. It weighed some 16,000 pounds, used 5,000 vacuum tubes, and could perform about 1,000 calculations per second. "UNIVAC" was also used to predict the 1952 presidential election. No one involved in the project actually believed its prediction (based on 1% vote in) that Eisenhower would sweep the election…he did.

The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) introduced its first color television broadcast across 5 American cities for two and a half hours a day. However, due to the proprietary system used by CBS, more than 10.5 million monochrome sets in the United States were blind to these telecasts. In response to the company forcing their own receivers on the consumer, the National Production Authority issued Order M-90 prohibiting the manufacturing of color sets for general public sale. Two years later, during a Congressional hearing on March 25, 1953, CBS announced that it had no plans to resume its own proprietary color system and the NPA lifted its ban on receiver manufacturing the following day.

In the American League…

During a March 26 exhibition game between the New York Yankees and the University of California, an up-and-coming 19-year old rookie named Mickey Mantle hit a home run (estimated at 600 feet) out of U.S.C.'s Bovard Stadium. "The Mick" went on to finish the day with four hits and seven RBIs (including two, 2-run homers and a bases-loaded triple) as the major leaguers prevailed 15-1. Mantle struggled at the plate over the next few months while striking out 52 times and was eventually sent back to the minor league team in Kansas City.

St. Louis owner Bill Veek had everyone in stitches after substituting a midget to pinch-hit during the first inning in game 2 of a double header. Eddie Gaedel, a three-foot, seven inch dwarf, emerged from a cake wearing the number 1/8 during pre-game festivities, then took the plate for center fielder Frank Saucer and walked on 4 balls. The Detroit Tigers had the last laugh however after posting a 6-2 victory over the comedic Browns.

In the National League…

Howie Pollet finally ended the New York Giants 16-game winning streak with a clutch 3-hitter for a 2-0 Pittsburgh Pirates victory. The 16 games (lasting from August 12th to 28th) represented the longest winning streak in National League history since 1935.

On September 13th, the New York Giants became the first team since 1883 to play a double header against two different teams on the same day. First they went up against the St. Louis Cardinals (for a rescheduled rain game) losing 6-4, then they fell 2-0 to the Boston Braves in their regularly scheduled night game.

The New York Giants literally snatched the National League pennant from the clutches of their rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers, after Bobby Thompson hit the infamous "shot heard 'round the world". It was a perfect ending to a career season in which Thompson hit .293 with 32 homers and 101 RBIs.

Around the league…

National League president Ford Frick was elected to a seven-year term as major league baseball's third commissioner. Frick, who had held the top office of the NL since 1934, also made a name for himself as a respected sports journalist and as Babe Ruth's "ghost" writer.

TOPPS debuted its first baseball cards (a five set series) that featured such favorites as Yogi Berra, Bob Feller, Ralph Kiner, Phil Rizzuto, Enos Slaughter, Duke Snider and Warren Spahn.

A resolution was put forth by the South Carolina House to reinstate "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, who had been banished from baseball because of his part in the 1919 "Black Sox Scandal". Jackson was one of eight players convicted of throwing the Series (five games to three) in favor of the underdog Cincinnati Reds. After a lengthy investigation in 1920, members of Chicago's tainted team were amazingly acquitted the following year despite their own confessions (which were recanted later). All of the players involved were banned from baseball because of their undeniable link to gamblers. Jackson himself had batted a Series-leading .375 but later acknowledged that he had let up in key situations.

On April 18th, as part of a pre-game publicity stunt, golf legend Sam Snead teed off from home plate at Wrigley Field and bounced a golf ball off of the center field scoreboard. He was the first player ever to reach the structure and the Chicago Cubs followed suite with an 8-3 win over the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

Off the field…

The Korean War began after North Korean forces known as the "Democratic People's Republic" crossed the 38th parallel dividing North and South Korea. The attack, aimed at reuniting the country under Communist rule from the North, took place on June 24th and was a complete surprise to the American administration. Many feared that this attack heralded the beginning of World War III. Under the flag of the United Nations, 16 countries sent military forces to South Korea's defense, most coming from the United States. Many other countries contributed equipment, supplies, and other support. North Korea's main allies were the Soviet Union, which supplied it with arms, and China, which later sent many troops.

Two Puerto Rican nationalists, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, attempted to assassinate President Truman on November 1st. Both arrived in Washington D.C. the day before from the Bronx in New York City, where they were active in the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. Both felt the assassination would call attention to their home country and advance the cause of Puerto Rican independence. In the ensuing gun battle, both traded gunfire with White House policemen and several Secret Service Agents. Torresola was killed in the melee, but Collazo reached the steps of Blair House before collapsing with a gunshot wound to the chest. He was later sentenced to death. President Truman himself commuted the sentence to life imprisonment in 1952.

In June, 1950, three former agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and television producer Vincent Harnett, published "Red Channels", a pamphlet listing the names of 151 writers, directors and entertainers who they claimed had been members of subversive organizations (before World War II) but had not been blacklisted. The names had been compiled from FBI files and a detailed analysis of the "Daily Worker", an underground newspaper published by the American Communist Party.

In the American League…

On June 8th, the Red Sox recorded the most lopsided victory in baseball history after crushing the visiting St. Louis Browns 29-4. Boston also set several major league records including most extra bases on long hits (32) in a game, and the most extra bases on long hits in consecutive games (51). Leadoff batter Clyde Vollmer set a ML mark of his own as the only batter to go to the plate eight times in eight innings.

The Cleveland Indians came out swinging in the 2nd game of a June 18th doubleheader and set a modern major league record by scoring 14 runs in the first inning. The opening rally also tied the mark for most runs scored in a single inning. With the exception of pitcher Mike Garcia, all Tribe members batted twice en route to a 21-2 massacre.

The New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers combined for a major league record 11 home runs during a 10-9, June 23rd outing at Tiger Stadium. It was also the first time that nine different players connected for home runs in a single game. Detroit tallied four home runs in the 4th inning thanks to Dizzy Trout, Gerry Priddy, Vic Wertz, and Hoot Evers. New York's Hank Bauer connected for two while Joe DiMaggio, Jerry Coleman, Yogi Berra, and pinch hitter Tommy Henrich also belted round trippers. Home team slugger Evers finally won the contest with his second blast, an inside-the-park 2-run game winner in the 9th.

In the National League…

Boston Braves slugger Sid Gordon tied the major-league record for most grand slams in a season after knocking his fourth of the year against the Philadelphia Phillies. His team dominated both games in a Fourth of July double-header and their 12-9 win in game two gave both teams a combined total of 40 runs, 55 hits, and 90 total bases for the day.

On July 16th, players from around the league connected for 37 combined home runs setting a new major league record. Leading the home run derby was the Cincinnati Reds who posted two wins over the New York Giants, 16-4 and 11-10.

The Brooklyn Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-5 on July 26th as the Dodgers' Jim Russell went both ways for two home runs, making him the first switch-hitter in history to accomplish the feat more than once. On the other side of the plate, St. Louis' Stan Musial hit in his 30th straight game for the longest consecutive hitting streak of the decade.

Around the league…

Jackie Robinson, the man who broke baseball's color barrier signed a new contract for $35,000, making him the highest paid Brooklyn Dodger in the history of the franchise.

The Associated Press selected the "Miracle Braves" of 1914 as the greatest sports upset in the 20th century. Managed by George Stallings, Boston completed the season riding a 60-16 streak to go 94-59. Later, they went on to win the National League pennant by 10½ games over the heavily favored New York Giants in the post-season.

President Harry Truman tossed out two balls at the Washington opener (one left-handed and one right-handed) then sat through a driving rain to see his Senators beat the Philadelphia Athletics 8-7 at Griffith Stadium.

In an effort to discourage the continued major league signing of black ball players, Dr. J.B. Martin, the president of the Chicago Giants of the Negro American League, ordered manager Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe to sign several white players. Radcliffe obliged his employer by signing three white teenagers immediately and adding at least two others later in the season.

Email questions-comments-corrections

Copyright © 2002-2003 Pinstripe Press. All Rights Reserved.
All essays researched and written by Michael Aubrecht.
This site is not affiliated with or endorsed by the New York Yankees.