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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…

Apollo 11 astronaut, Neil Armstrong, became the first man to walk on the moon after landing the lunar module, known as the "Eagle" at Tranquility Base on July 16th. Armstrong made his historic descent to the surface live on television making the now infamous statement: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." 21 hours and 36 minutes later (after conducting several experiments and planting the U.S. flag) the Eagle returned safe and sound to the Columbia for its return flight to Earth on July 24th.

On the night of August 9th, several members of a hippie cult led by self-proclaimed messiah Charles Manson brutally murdered actress Sharon Tate and four others in her Beverly Hills mansion. The next evening Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, wealthy owners of a grocery chain, were also brutally attacked in their Los Angeles home. Initially the crimes were not connected even though victims in both cases had suffered from multiple stab wounds and the words "pig" and "Helter Skelter" were written in blood all over both crime scenes.

The Woodstock Music and Art Festival was held at Max Yasgur's dairy farm in Bethel, New York representing the culmination of the counterculture of the 1960's and the high point of the "hippie era." Although 10,000 to 20,000 people were expected, well over 400,000 showed up and crashed the gate as music's biggest names including Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Joe Crocker, The Who and the Grateful Dead came together for three days of "music, peace and love".

In the American League…

On March 1st, "The Commerce Comet" also known as Mickey Mantle announced his retirement after 18 years in professional baseball. During his Hall of Fame tenure with the New York Yankees, "The Mick" batted .298, hit 536 home runs and appeared in an amazing 65 World Series games in which he tallied a record 18 homers and 40 RBIs.

As major league baseball celebrated its Centennial season, two New York Yankees topped the commemorative list of the games greatest. "Babe" Ruth was unanimously crowned as the "Greatest Player Ever" and Joe DiMaggio was christened as the "Greatest Living Player".

Reggie Jackson hit two home runs and drove in a whopping 10 runs as the Oakland Athletics regained first place in the American League West with a 21-7 romp over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on June 14th. Jackson doubled home a run in the 1st, homered in the 3rd and 5th, singled in two in the 7th and drove in three more with a single in the 8th. The whopping 21-run total set a team record that wouldn't be matched until the 2000 season.

In the National League…

In the first regular season major league baseball game ever to be played outside of the borders of the United States, the Montreal Expos defeated the visiting St. Louis Cardinals 8-7. Both teams were introduced to the capacity crowd of 29,184 in both English and French Canadian.

St. Louis Cardinals ace Bob Gibson set a National League record on August 16th (reaching 200 strikeouts for the seventh season) after an 8-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.

On May 13th, Ernie Banks, of the Chicago Cubs, hit seven RBIs (including his 1,500th) with two, 3-run homers and a double during a 19-0 massacre over the San Diego Padres. The blowout tied the mark for the largest shutout margin in the history of the modern National League.

Around the league…

Ted Williams was named Jim Lemon's replacement as manager of the Washington Senators after the Capital's franchise finished in last place with a miserable 65-96 record. "Teddy Baseball" was reported to have signed a five-year contract for $75,000 a season and 10 percent in the team's stock.

Both leagues agreed to try the new "designated pinch hitter" rule during spring training, but under two different variations. The American League allowed the optional use of a DPH only for the home team while the National League required home managers to obtain the visiting skipper's approval for the experimental substitution.

Bowie Kuhn, a 42-year old lawyer whose firm had handled all of the National League's legal affairs was unanimously elected as the new Commissioner of Baseball. Two other top candidates; Mike Burke of the New York Yankees and Charles Feeney of the San Francisco Giants had been previously deadlocked resulting in Kuhn's nomination.

In an effort to prevent an impending strike, major league baseball and the Players Association finally settled on a new revised pension plan. The tenure for qualifying was shortened from five years to four and the minimum age requirement was also lowered from 50 to 45. The players also agreed to get $5.45 million per year (retroactive to 1959) as well as a percentage of all televised game revenues.

Off the field…

On April 4th, a lone assassin later identified as James Earl Ray, shot and killed America's leading civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King as he stood on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. A Baptist preacher, King had been on the forefront of the non-violent struggle to obtain civil rights for black Americans everywhere.

Robert Kennedy, brother of the late President John F. Kennedy, was also shot and killed on June 5th, after winning the Democratic primary for the Presidency in California. A lone gunman named Sirhan Sirhan attacked the former Attorney General as he exited through the kitchen at the Ambassador Hotel following a speech.

The U.S.S. Pueblo, an American intelligence-gathering vessel, was captured by the North Korean military who immediately accused the United States of conducting spy operations within their territorial waters. After several tense hours of negotiations, the ships' crew was finally released.

In the American League…

Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers became the first major league pitcher to win 30 games since Dizzy Dean in 1934 as well as the first American League ace since Lefty Grove in 1931.

Five days later, McLain was on his way to win number 31 when the New York Yankees' Mickey Mantle tagged him for his 535th career homerun pushing him ahead of Jimmie Foxx for the #3 spot on the all-time list. Despite "The Mick's" mark, the Tigers managed to preserve the pitchers record with a clutch 6-2 performance.

On September 22nd, the Minnesota Twins' Cesar Tovar matched Bert Campanarie's 1965 performance of playing all 9 positions against the visiting Oakland Athletics. In an odd twist, the first batter Tovar faced was Campanarie himself who fouled out on the way to a 2-1 loss.

In the National League…

Los Angeles Dodgers' ace Don Drysdale passed Walter Johnson's 1913 record of 55 2/3 scoreless innings after going from May 14th to June 8th while tossing 58 2/3 of his own. Drysdale finally allowed a runner to reach home after Howie Bedell, of the Philadelphia Phillies scored Tony Taylor on a sacrifice fly.

On June 14th, Hank Aaron joined the "500 Home Run Club" with a three-run, 400 foot shot over the left-center field fence courtesy of the San Francisco Giants' Mike McCormick. "Hammerin" Hank became only the eighth player in major league history to accomplish the feat which was sweetened by a 4-2 Atlanta Braves victory.

Bob Gibson, of the St. Louis Cardinals, tallied his 22nd win and 13th shutout of the season on September 27th marking the first time a National tallied 13 scoreless games since 1916. Gibson also boasted an ERA of 1.12, the second lowest ever in the National League.

Around the League…

The Players Relations Committee and Players Consistency Association signed the first major league baseball "basic agreement" which increased the league's minimum salary to $10,000 and identified a formal grievance procedure. Both sides also agreed to explore the options for a reserve clause.

The Major League Players Association signed a major card contract worth millions with the Topps baseball card company.

The Baseball Rules Committee made several major changes to the game resulting in the most modifications to be implemented at one time in the history of the game. They included: the pitcher's mound being lowered from 15 inches to 10, the strike zone being decreased from the shoulders-to-knees to armpits-to-knees, tighter enforcement and penalties for illegal pitches, extra-inning ties resuming from the point of interruption instead of being replayed and finally the study of artificial surfaces on ball fields and the pros and cons of turf.

Both the American and National Leagues restructured their divisions resulting in the AL East consisting of Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, New York and Washington, the AL West including California, Chicago, Kansas City, Minnesota, Oakland and Seattle, the NL East featuring Chicago, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis and the NL West claiming Atlanta, Cincinnati, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

Off the field…

The entire crew of the Apollo One spacecraft including Virgil Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee were killed during a pre-launch rehearsal after fire swept through their Saturn rocket as it sat on its launching pad. The tragedy marked the first deaths of any astronaut while actively engaged in the American space program.

The United States Senate promoted Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall as the first African-American member of the Supreme Court. Previous to his nomination from President Lyndon B. Johnson, Marshall had held office in the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals after President John F. Kennedy recognized him as one of the country's most promising attorneys.

American labor leader Jimmy Hoffa was arrested and sentenced to thirteen years in prison following a series of government investigations into illegal business practices. While serving his sentence at a federal prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, he refused to resign as president of the Teamsters and retained the support of most union members. United States President Richard Nixon eventually commuted Hoffa's sentence releasing him from prison on Christmas Eve, 1971. Four years later, while attempting to rebuild his administration, Hoffa "disappeared" after apparently attending a meeting at the Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. To this day, the Teamster leader has never been found and was declared legally dead in 1982.

In the American League…

On May 30th, New York Yankees lefty Whitey Ford surprisingly announced his retirement after struggling for several weeks due to a bone spur on his throwing elbow. The perennial ace finished his career with an amazing 236-109 record, a 2.75 lifetime ERA, 10 World Series wins and the highest career winning percentage (.690) of any modern pitcher.

The Washington Senators managed to fight off exhaustion long enough to beat the Chicago White Sox 6-5 during a 22-inning contest that lasted 6 hours and 38 minutes. The June 12th marathon set the record for the longest night game in American League history.

New York Yankees team president Mike Burke announced that "The House That Ruth Built" (also known as Yankee Stadium) would undergo its first major renovation at an estimated cost of $1.5 million dollars. The Mets agreed to allow the Bronx Bombers to use Shea Stadium while their park was getting the facelift.

In the National League…

St. Louis Cardinal and single-season home run champion Roger Maris hit a "one in a million" shot against the Pittsburgh Pirates for his first National League round-tripper. Unbelievably, Maris, who wore number 9, hit a ball into Seat 9, located in Row 9 during a game on May 9th.

The Chicago Cubs and New York Mets combined for 11 homers (Cubs 8, Mets 3) during the second game of a June 11th doubleheader. The unexpected "home run derby" tied a major league record originally set by the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees in 1950.

Tony Perez ended the longest All-Star Game in major league history (15 innings) after launching a home run off "Catfish" Hunter for the 2-1 National League victory. Despite the game-winning hit, pitching reigned supreme at this Midsummer Classic as Ferguson Jenkins of the NL struck out 7, the AL allowed no walks and both leagues combined for 30 total K's.

Around the League…

After an 11-hour debate, the American League owners approved the move of Charles Finley's Athletics from Kansas City to Oakland. The AL also mandated the expansion of the league with a deadline of 1971, guaranteeing a new franchise in both Kansas City and Seattle by that time.

The National League owners also agreed to a 2 team expansion and explored the possibilities of putting the new teams in Milwaukee, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo and/or San Diego.

St. Louis Cardinal Orlando Cepeda became the first National League MVP to be voted for unanimously while the American League MVP, Boston Red Sox slugger Carl Yastrzemski, won the Triple-Crown and led the AL in batting average (.326), slugging average (.622), home runs (tied with Harmon Killebrew with 44), RBIs (121) and hits (189).

Four Baseball Hall of Fame inductees debuted during the 1967 season including Tom Seaver, Johnny Bench, Rod Carew and Reggie Jackson.

Off the field…

After murdering both his wife and mother, serial sniper Charles Whitman ascended to the observation deck at Austin's University of Texas tower killing 14 people and injuring 31 others during a 90-minute shooting spree. He was eventually shot and killed himself after a civilian and two police officers stormed the tower and overpowered him.

Media icon Walt Disney, who turned the whimsical cartoon world of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck into a million dollar a year entertainment empire, died of cancer at the age of 65. The pioneering animator had produced the first fully animated motion picture and had invented the original concept of theme parks with his final masterpiece, Disneyland in California.

The first U.S. manned space flights, Gemini 8 thru 12, were launched in preparation for man's eventual trip to the moon. Following the pioneering Mercury program and preceding the Apollo missions, Gemini flights were specifically developed to learn how to maneuver a spacecraft into orbit and rendezvous with other docking vehicles.

In the American League…

On July 29th, Mickey Mantle hit his 494th homerun off of Chicago White Sox ace Bruce Howard moving himself ahead of fellow Yankee Lou Gehrig for 6th place on the all-time list. Teammate Al Downing sweetened the deal with a clutch 2-1 performance on the mound.

Baltimore Orioles slugger "Boog" Powell astonished the crowd at Fenway Park after hitting not one, not two, but three, opposite-field homers OVER the "Green Monster" on the way to a 4-3, victory in which he totaled 13 bases himself. Powell would also go on to become the first player ever to appear in the Little League World Series as well as the Major League version.

Teammate Frank Robinson was unanimously voted as the American League MVP becoming the first player to win the title in both the American and National Leagues since the Baseball Writers Association took it over in 1931. Robinson, who also won the AL Triple Crown, was also voted most valuable player in 1961 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the National League…

Tony Cloninger, of the recently transplanted Atlanta Braves, became the first National League pitcher to ever hit two grand-slams in a single game during a July 3rd, 17-3 triumph over the San Francisco Giants. Cloninger's first slam came off of rival pitcher Bob Priddy in the 1st, and then in the 4th he added another off of Ray Sadecki.

Willie Mays moved up to #2 (behind Babe Ruth) on the all-time list with his 535th career homer, off of Ray Washburn, as the San Francisco Giants topped the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 on August 17th.

On October 2nd, Sandy Koufax tallied his last major league victory with a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies for the National League pennant. The LA Dodgers ace completed his 12-year career with an amazing 165-87 record with a 2.76 ERA, 40 shutouts and 2,396 strikeouts. Koufax also held the NL single-season strikeout record with 382 K's (1965) and compiled an astounding 0.95 ERA in World Series starts.

Around the League…

Major league baseball's first African-American umpire, Emmett Ashford made his debut on opening day as the American League's Washington Senators lost to the visiting Cleveland Indians 5-2.

Ted Williams used a portion of his Hall of Fame induction speech to plead for the inclusion of Negro League players including Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The infield at Houston's Astrodome became the first to be replaced by the new experimental surface known as "Astroturf". In the first game ever to be played on the artificial grass, the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers prevailed over the home team 6-3.

Dan Topping sold his remaining shares of interest in the New York Yankees to the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) for a reported $1.4 million dollars. In the end, the television dynasty paid a total of $14 million for total control of the franchise. Topping initially looked to come out on top in the deal as three days later, only 413 fans showed up at Yankee Stadium for a game against the Chicago White Sox.

Off the field…

Controversial civil rights activist Malcolm Little, also known as "Malcolm X", was assassinated while delivering a speech at the OAAU rally in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem on February 21st. The Islamic minister had become an inspirational leader along side Dr. Martin Luther King after breaking ties with the Nation of Islam in order to create his own religious community known as Muslim Mosque, Inc., and later the Organization of Afro-American Unity.

A routine traffic stop and arrest for drunk driving in South Central Los Angeles lit the fire for what would become known as the Watts Riots. In response to the police action, many residents accused the law of practicing racial bias and erupted violently for six days leaving 34 dead, over a thousand people injured, nearly 4,000 arrested, and hundreds of buildings destroyed.

Construction on the nation's tallest memorial, the Gateway Arch, was finally completed after a four-year span. The 630 feet high, stainless steel structure was originally designed by architect Eero Saarinen in 1947 for the Expansion Memorial Park which was established on the banks of the Mississippi River to commemorate the westward growth of the United States.

In the American League…

New York Yankees ace Mel Stottlemyre became the first pitcher in 55 years to hit an inside-the-park home run during a 6-3 win over their AL rivals, the Boston Red Sox, on July 20th.

Bert Campanarie, of the Kansas City Athletics, set an unprecedented major league record by playing all 9 positions during a September 8th outing against the California Angels. Campanarie allowed just one run (on a hit) and two walks while on the mound, but went 0-for-3 at the plate. Despite the "one man show" the Angels went on to win it, 5-3 after 13-innings.

Shortstop Ron Hanson of the Chicago White Sox tied a major league record with 28 fielding chances during a double-header against the Boston Red Sox. Hanson handled 18 shots in the first contest, setting an American League record, and 10 more in the nightcap. Chicago, like their shortstop, came out on top in both games with matching 3-2 victories.

In the National League…

On April 9th, the $31 million dollar, ultramodern indoor ballpark known as the "Astrodome" debuted with an exhibition game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees. President Lyndon B. Johnson and Texas Governor John Connally were among the 47,000+ plus fans who witnessed the first ever, indoor homerun courtesy of Mickey Mantle.

Chicago "Cubbie" Ernie Banks slugged his 400th career homer during a 5-3 triumph over Curt Simmons and the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

San Francisco slugger Willie Mays became the fifth member of the ultra-exclusive "500 Homerun Club" after paying the membership dues off Don Nottebart during a 5-1 Giants victory over the Houston Astros at the Astrodome.

Around the League…

Baseball's first free-agent draft was held at the Hotel Commodore in New York City resulting in 320 players being selected by 20 major league teams. It was later determined that the draft would continue to take place every June and January with teams selecting prospects in the reverse order of the league standings.

One of baseball's greatest left-handed aces, Warren Spahn announced his retirement after an amazing 21 seasons. Spahn walked away from the game with a 363-245 career record and a lifetime ERA of 3.09. He also ranked as number 6 on the all-time list with 63 shutouts and 13, 20-win seasons.

On December 9th, Branch Rickey, the man who helped Jackie Robinson break through baseball's color barrier by signing him with the Brooklyn Dodgers, died at the age of 83.

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax became the first three-time recipient of the Cy Young Award. Unfortunately, it would be his last as he would manage only one more season before retiring with an astounding 165-87 record over a 12 year period.

Off the field…

On February 9th, the British rock group The Beatles arrived in America for an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. It was the "Fab 4's" first trip to the United States and introduced their unique sound and stylish appearance to millions of American teenagers. By the week of April 4th, The Beatles had taken over the radio airways and held the top five slots on the American pop charts.

The highly contested and still criticized Warren Commission delivered its final report on September 27th concluding that President John F. Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, had acted alone and on his own recourse.

American's first computer dynasty International Business Machines (also known as IBM) introduced the first 360 Computer, which was defined as a second-generation system based on transistors. The groundbreaking machine was instantly heralded as a huge success and became the standard for computers of many businesses for many years.

In the American League…

Mickey Mantle set the tenth major league record of his career after hitting two "switch" homers in a single game against the Chicago White Sox. Mantle's first shot off Ray Herbert (a left-handed effort) traveled 461 feet and finally stopped 502 feet from the plate. Later in the game, "The Mick" added a second round-tripper (swinging right-handed) that guaranteed rookie pitcher Mel Stottlemyre's 7-3 debut victory.

Decades before the "Roberto Alomar incident" Golden Glove first baseman Vic Power of the California Angels was suspended for 10 days and fined $250 after spitting on umpire Jim Honochick during a doubleheader loss to the Chicago White Sox.

Kansas City A's rookie Bert Campaneris became only the second player (Bob Nieman) since 1900 to hit two home runs in his major league debut during a 4-3 win over Jim Kaat and the Minnesota Twins. He also set the mark as the first American League player ever to knock one out on the first pitch thrown to him. Bill Roman of the Detroit Tigers equaled the feat later in the season during a 7-6, loss to the New York Yankees for his first (and last) career home run.

In the National League…

Willie Mays became the first African-American player to hold the "team leader title" after San Francisco Giants' skipper Alvin Dark named him as the team's captain.

On April 6th, "Shea Stadium" was officially dedicated as the New York Mets ballpark. The $25 million dollar facility was named after William A. Shea who christened baseball's newest cathedral by pouring a mixture of water from the Harlem River (near the old Polo Grounds) and the Gowanus Canal (near the site of Ebbetts Field) over the infield in a pre-game ceremony.

The St. Louis Cardinals became only the second team in the modern era (1923 Giants) to score at least 1 run in every inning while rolling over the Chicago Cubs during a September 13th outing at Wrigley Field. "Redbirds" Lou Brock and Julian Javier led the rally with one homer each and Curt Simmons topped Dick Ellsworth on the mound for the 15-2 win.

Around the League…

Subscription television for baseball games debuted on July 17th as the first pay cablecast (a night game between the LA Dodgers and Chicago Cubs) was broadcasted live from Los Angeles. The home team emerged as 3-2 winners thanks to the solid arm of Don Drysdale who sat down 10 batters.

The National League avoided an umpires' strike by agreeing with the officials on a new 5-year contract that increased both pensions and insurance payments.

After an 11-year stint in Milwaukee, the Braves Board of Directors unanimously voted to request permission from the National League to move the struggling franchise to Atlanta. Milwaukee County officials immediately sued to block the move despite the team's faltering attendance of 800,000 for the past two seasons. In November, the league ordered the Braves to stay put in Milwaukee for the upcoming season, but permitted a move to Atlanta in 1966.

Major League Baseball finally approved a free-agent draft system that mimicked the one used in professional football. Order of selection was determined in reverse order of each club's previous season standings and all draftees were to be included on the 40-man roster. They also restored all powers rescinded after Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis's death in 1944 to the baseball commissioner's office. The decision waived all owners' rights to take legal action in the event of disagreements and granted the commissioner total authority to judge whether actions taken by a team and/or owner were in the best interests of the game.

Off the field…

Minister and civil-rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King led over two hundred thousand people in the largest non-violent demonstration ever held to support the passage of civil rights legislation. The historic march on Washington D.C. was highlighted by King's infamous "I have a dream" speech in which he stated "…one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self evident; that all men are created equal."

On November 22nd, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed as he rode through the streets of Dallas, Texas aboard the presidential motorcade. Lee Harvey Oswald was later identified as the lone assassin although his guilt was never proven in a court of law. While in police custody, Oswald himself was shot and killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.

As a first step toward ending the "Cold War", a test ban agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union was ratified by the Senate on October 10. The contract between the world's two superpowers prohibited any future above ground testing of nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

In the American League…

Detroit Tiger Billy Bruton tied a major-league record for most doubles in a single game after hitting 4 straight to top the Washington Senators 5-1 on May 19th. Teammate and rookie pitcher Bill Faul matched Bruton's efforts on the mound while tossing a 3-hitter in his first major league start.

On May 22nd, Mickey Mantle hit what is considered by many experts to be the longest homerun in major league history. Batting left-handed against the visiting Kansas City A's at Yankee Stadium, Mantle opened the 11th inning with a monumental blast off Bill Fisher that traveled 374 feet from home plate, bouncing off of the third tier façade and falling just inches short of going out of the stadium. A senior physicist from the University of Arizona, Professor J.E. McDonald, calculated the estimated distance the ball would have traveled at 620 feet.

Cleveland pitcher Early Wynn finally won his 300th (and final) game thanks to a little help from the Indian's bullpen. After losing 8 straight and struggling through five innings during the 2nd half of a Kansas City doubleheader, Wynn was replaced by relief man Jerry Walker who tossed four scoreless sides en route to a 7-4 win over the Athletics.

In the National League…

Chicago Cubs first baseman Ernie Banks became the first National League player to tally 22 putouts (and 23 chances) in a game, during a May 9th, 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

On June 15th, Juan Marichal set two records after becoming the first Latin American pitcher AND only the second Giant (Carl Hubbell, 1929) to pitch a no-hitter during a 1-0 triumph over the Houston Colt 45s (Astros) at Candlestick Park.

Milwaukee Brave veteran Warren Spahn topped the National League record for most starts (previously held by Grover Alexander) with his 601st appearance on the mound during a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 23rd. Later in the season Spahn tied Christy Mathewson's N.L. record with his 13th, 20-win season and became the oldest to do so at age 42.

Around the League…

The Major League Rules Committee voted to expand the strike zone, extending it from the top of the shoulders to the bottom of the knees restoring its original pre-1950 specifications.

On September 6th, major league baseball celebrated its 100,000th game with a classic match-up between the Cleveland Indians and Washington Senators at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

St. Louis Cardinals' slugger Stan Musial made a record 24th All-Star Game appearance as his National League teammates combined to beat their American League counterparts 5-3 in the Midsummer Classic.

Houston Colt 45s (Astros) manager Harry Craft shocked the New York Mets after starting an all-rookie line-up during a September 27th contest. Fifteen rookies appeared in all, but were bested by the older and wiser Mets who "mentored" them with a 10-3 lesson in experience.

Off the field…

After hearing the case of Engel vs. Vitale, the Supreme Court ruled that state-sponsored prayer in schools was unconstitutional. Although prayer was not outlawed in school entirely (only school-sponsored prayer) the decision ignited a controversy that has continued unabated until today.

In February, astronaut John Glenn became the first American in orbit and Alan Shepard followed later that year as the first to travel into space after a 15-minute flight on July 21st. Both missions were in preparation of meeting President Kennedy's goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

In late August, American spy planes detected the building of military missile sites in Cuba. U.S. Intelligence sources later determined the Soviets, under Nikita Khrushchev, had decided to shorten the strategic gap between the two world powers by placing missiles there limiting America's warning capabilities if attacked. In October, President John F. Kennedy was presented with conclusive proof that the Soviets were in fact installing medium-range ballistic missiles. After several tense days of defensive posturing, the issue was peacefully resolved after the United States agreed not to invade Cuba, and the Soviets agreed to withdraw all military forces and weapons.

In the American League…

The Baltimore Orioles' Brooks Robinson became only the fifth player in major league history to hit grand slams in back-to-back games after knocking out a bases loaded round-tripper on May 6th and May 9th.

After missing 30 games due to recurring knee injuries, New York's Mickey Mantle limped to the plate as a pinch hitter and launched a 420 foot blast off of Gary Bell of the Cleveland Indians. The home team crowd showed their respects by giving the visiting Yankee a standing ovation.

Earl Wilson became the first black pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the American League as the Boston Red Sox topped the California Angels 2-0 on June 26th at Fenway Park. Wilson also dominated at the plate with a 400-foot homer off Bo Belinsky who had tossed a "no-no" of his own in his last start against the Baltimore Orioles.

In the National League…

On September 7th, LA Dodger Maury Wills stole 4 bases off the Pittsburgh Pirates setting a National League record for 82 "robberies" in a single season.

The Houston Colt 45s, one of the National Leagues two new teams (New York Mets), opened with an impressive 11-2 triumph over the Chicago Cubs before a crowd of over 25,000. Roman Mejias set the pace with two, 3-run homers and Hal Smith followed close behind debuting with a round-tripper of his own.

Stan Musial set a National League record (previously held by Mel Ott) after scoring for the 1,806th time in his career during a St. Louis Cardinals win over the Chicago Cubs on April 13th. Later in the season Musial became the leagues all-time leader in total bases with 5,864 during a June 22nd outing against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Around the League…

John "Buck" O'Neil became the first African-American coach in major league baseball after joining the staff of the Chicago Cubs. O'Neil had been a scout for the Cubs organization previously and was credited with discovering both Ernie Banks and Lou Brock.

Baseball's newest franchise, the New York Mets, debuted in what some referred to as "copycat uniforms" that featured Dodger blue sleeves, Giants orange lettering and Yankee pinstripes. Unfortunately the Mets played as bad as they looked and finished their inaugural season with a laughable 40-120 record.

After several years of "double-headers", both players and owners agreed to return the All-Star Game to its original, one-game format in 1963.

Kansas City owner Charles Finley hired the first woman in baseball broadcasting. Betty Caywood was brought in initially to do "color-commentary" for the A's games, but later became the first female to regularly announce baseball games while airing her reports from both the dugout and the stands.

Off the field…

A new American based humanitarian organization called the "Peace Corps" was started at the insistence President John F. Kennedy. The program encouraged young people, most just out of college, to volunteer a year of their time to work as teachers, health care providers or other advisors for poor nations in Africa, Asia and South America.

The United States government pledged to increase its military presence to aid South Vietnam in the fight against the Viet Cong rebels. Although not "officially engaged" in a formal state of war, the new agreement provided increased funding for the Vietnamese army and more U.S. advisors in the field.

An unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the government of Cuban premier Fidel Castro by United States-backed rebels took place in April. An invasion force consisting of 1500 Cuban exiles, armed with U.S. weapons, landed at the Bahía de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) on the south coast hoping to find support from the local population. Within hours, most were wiped out by Castro's own troops or taken prisoner for ransom. Acting President John F. Kennedy took full responsibility for the disaster, even though the plans had been put in place during the Eisenhower administration.

In the American League…

New York's newly crowned single-season homerun champion* Roger Maris beat out Yankee teammate Mickey Mantle by 4 votes for the American League MVP award.

On September 15th, the New York Yankees also broke the all-time home run record (for a team) with 223 round-trippers. The combined franchise mark had been previously held by the 1947 New York Giants and the 1956 Cincinnati Reds.

Baltimore Orioles slugger Jim Gentile tied Ernie Banks' major league record for most grand slams in a season after hitting his fifth off of the Chicago White Sox' Don Larsen.

In the National League…

On September 15th, LA Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax sat down 10 Milwaukee Braves bringing his season total to 243 - a National League record for left-handed pitchers. The New York Giants' Richard Marquard had held the N.L. lefty record previously after fanning 237 in 1911.

The San Francisco Giants set a new precedent for major league salaries after signing Willie Mays to an $85,000 contract - the highest in the history of professional baseball.

The National Leagues' newest franchise was officially christened as the "Mets" after New York fans were asked to vote on a list of finalists submitted by mail. Other names selected for the ballot included the "Burros", "Skyliners", "Rebels" and "Skyscrapers".

Around the League…

Political tensions between the United States and Cuba initially prevented all Cuban players, including Minnie Minoso of the Chicago White Sox and Camilo Pascual and Pedro Ramos of the Minnesota Twins, from returning to the U.S. for the 1961 season. After several negotiations, a high-ranking foreign ministry official finally permitted their unconditional return.

"The M&M Boys" (Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris) became THE single most important story in the 1961 season as both New York Yankee teammates raced to beat Babe Ruth's single-season homerun record of 60. After going head-to-head for several months, Mantle fell out of the race due to a serious hip infection that required hospitalization. Maris pressed on and finally topped "The Bambino" during the final game of the season with number 61* off Tracy Stallard of the Boston Red Sox. Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled that Maris' record would be recorded with an asterisk in the books, making it a separate and distinctive record due to the new 162 game schedule. Years later, acting Commissioner Fay Vincent reversed the ruling, removing the asterisk and recognizing Maris as an official record-breaker.

In response to the rash of homeruns around the league, both American League President Joe Cronin and National League President Warren Giles agreed to order tests to determine if the "1961 baseball" was "livelier" than those of past seasons. The investigation conducted by technologists at Foster D. Snell Inc. concluded that the ball was slightly larger and several ounces lighter than the one used by Babe Ruth in the 1920's.

After nine innings, the season's second All-Star Game was called at a 1-1 tie due to heavy rain at Boston's Fenway Park.

Off the field…

The 50-star Flag of the United States was officially dedicated on July 4th. The newly expanded banner had been modified following the admission of the 50th state, Hawaii, on August 21st, 1959 with an Executive Order filed by President Eisenhower providing the arrangement of nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows staggered vertically.

President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1960 enabling federal judges to appoint referees to hear persons claiming that state election officials had denied minorities the right to register and vote. Though well intended, the statute proved ineffective, making it necessary for President Lyndon B. Johnson to persuade Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

John F. Kennedy, a first-ballot nominee, defeated Richard Nixon to become the youngest President ever elected in the United States. Winning by a narrow margin in the popular vote, Kennedy became the first Roman Catholic President and immediately set out to redeem his campaign pledge to get America moving again. His economic programs launched the country on its longest sustained expansion since World War II.

In the American League…

On opening day, "Teddy Baseball" (Ted Williams) tied the "Iron Horse" (Lou Gehrig) with the 493rd home run of his career. The 500-foot blast in his first at-bat remained the only bright moment for Boston as the Washington Senators' Camilo Pascual struck out 11 Red Sox batters on the way to a 10-1 victory. Williams hit number 500 later that season with a 3-1 win over the Cleveland Indians on June 17th.

American League MVP Roger Maris debuted as a New York Yankee against the Boston Red Sox with two home runs and four RBIs en route to an 8-4 win at Fenway Park.

Baltimore Orioles catcher Clint Courtney became the first at his position to complete two career unassisted double plays during a 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees.

In the National League…

George Crowe of the St. Louis Cardinals hit four-pinch homers for a major league career record of 14.

Baseball's greatest defensive player became baseball's greatest offensive player with a single at-bat during the Pittsburgh Pirates - New York Yankees World Series. After being statistically dominated by their American League rivals for six outings, the National League champions found themselves with their backs against the wall at Forbes Field for Game 7. Stats mattered little in the end though as second baseman Bill Mazeroski stepped up to the plate (in the bottom of the ninth) and delivered a desperate, bases-empty homer for the 10-9 victory and the first Pirates World Championship in thirty-five years.

The Los Angeles Dodgers set an all-time National League record for attendance with 2,253,887 coming out to the Coliseum.

Around the League…

Bill Veeck became the first to break uniform tradition after putting the names of his players on the backs of their Chicago White Sox jerseys. In reaction, the rest of the league's teams sent formal protests to the commissioner's office demanding that the names be removed. After hearing both sides, it was determined that each team would have the option to add their names or stay with the traditional number only.

Television icon Gene Autry attended the annual American League owners meeting while investigating possible broadcasting opportunities. After realizing Autry's true respect for the game of baseball as well as his political connections in California, AL President Joe Cronin nominated him for ownership. The result was the birth of the California Angels expansion franchise.

The Sporting News named Boston Red Sox icon Ted Williams as their "Player of the Decade" for the 1950s.

The last remaining chapter in the Negro Leagues disbanded after a steady decline in talent due to the inclusion and rapid growth of African-American players in the major leagues.

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All essays researched and written by Michael Aubrecht.
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