The “Beeg Boy” Bats .366; “Sudden” Sam Fans 304


Look back at the 1970 MLB season.

By Glen Sparks

  • Alex Johnson leads the American League with a .329 batting average. He hits 14 home runs and drives in 86 runs for the California Angels. Johnson, in his first season with the Angels and his seventh season in the majors, spends just two years in southern California. He hits .288 over a 13-year career with eight teams.
  • Rico Carty tops the National League with a .366 batting average as a member of the Atlanta Braves. The “beeg boy” from the Dominican Republic batted .342 the previous year. He misses the 1971 season due to a knee injury. He also missed the 1968 campaign, battling tuberculosis. In 15 seasons, Carty hits .299 and slugs 204 homers.
  • The Washington Senators’ Frank Howard mashes baseballs all season. He leads the A.L. with 44 homers and 126 RBI. The Capital Punisher also led the league with 44 home runs in 1968. He finished second in 1969 with a career-high 48. Washington acquired the one-time Los Angeles Dodger in 1965. The 6-foot-7-inch first baseman, outfielder hits 382 career homers. The 1960 Rookie of the Year finishes in the top 10 in the MVP voting four times.
  • The N.L. Cy Young Award goes to Bob Gibson. The St. Louis Cardinals ace doesn’t top his glorious 1968 season and 1.12 ERA, but he does win 23 games and strikes out a career-high 274 batters. His ERA of 3.12 is exactly two runs higher than in his ’68 MVP year. The Hall of Fame right-hander wins 251 career games and strikes out 3,117 hitters. He is a five-time 20-game winner.
  • Cleveland Indians fireballer Sam McDowell strikes out 304 batters to lead the majors. Sudden Sam k’d 325 hitters in 1965 and leads the league five times in a fast-moving career. Tom Seaver of the New York Mets tops the N.L. in strikeouts. He fans 283 hitters, including 19 on April 22 against the San Diego Padres (10 straight). Tom Terrific, like McDowell, tops the league five times. He strikes out at least 200 hitters every year from 1968 through 1976. The three-time Cy Young Award winner k’s 3,640 hitters in his career, en route to the Hall of Fame.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies’ Jim Bunning beats the Houston Astros 6-5 on Aug. 11 and becomes the first pitcher since Cy Young to win at least 100 games in each league. Bunning, a future Hall of Famer and U.S. Senator from Kentucky, retires with 224 lifetime wins. He wins 118 games in the A.L. (Detroit Tigers) and 106 in the N.L. (the Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates and Dodgers).
  • Johnny Bench crushes 45 home runs and drives in 148 runs. The Cincinnati Reds catcher leads the N.L. in both categories, bats .293 and wins a Gold Glove. Not surprisingly, he wins the MVP. The 1968 Rookie of the Year wins another MVP following the 1972 campaign.
  • John Wesley “Boog” Powell is the A.L. MVP winner. The big first baseman for the Baltimore Orioles knocks out 35 homers, drives in 114 runs and hits .297. Powell smacks 339 homers over a 17-year career and brings home 1,001 runs. These days, the easy-going guy from Key West, Fla., operates a barbecue stand outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
  • Jim Perry is not as famous as his Hall of Famer brother Gaylord. He did, however, fashion a solid career of his own. He earns the 1970 A.L. Cy Young Award as a Minnesota Twin. The right-hander (switch-hitter) goes 24-12 with a 3.04 ERA. He wins 215 games in the majors. Gaylord wins 99 more.
  • The Orioles (108-54 in the regular season) and Reds (102-60) meet in the World Series. This one goes down as the Brooks Robinson Fall Classic. The Orioles third baseman contributes several big hits, bats .429, and makes several highlight-reel plays in the field. Baltimore bats .292 as a team. The Reds’ Lee May hits .389 (7-for-18) in a losing cause, with two homers and eight RBI. Hal McRae goes 5-for-11 (.455).

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