Look back at the 1976 MLB season.
By Glen Sparks
April 2 – The Oakland A’s trade star players Reggie Jackson Ken Holtzman, plus minor-league pitcher Bill Von Bommell, to the Baltimore Orioles for Don Baylor, Mike Torrez and Paul Mitchell.
April 15 – A newly remodeled Yankee Stadium with 52,613 fans in attendance. Former Yankee Bob Shawkey, winner of the 1923 opener, throws out the first pitch. The Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 11-4.
April 25 – Chicago Cubs outfielder Rick Monday sprints over to grab an American flag that two men were about to set fire to at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers win the game 5-4 in 10 innings. The following day, the Illinois legislature proclaims May 4 as Rick Monday Day in the Prairie state.
May 15 – The Detroit Tigers’ Mark “The Bird” Fidrych throws a complete game in his major league start, beating the Cleveland Indians 2-1. He carries a no-hitter through six innings, gives up just two hits total and, yes, talks to the ball.
May 29 – Houston Astros pitcher Joe Niekro hits the only home runs in his 22-year big-league career. The victim? Phil Niekro, Joe’s brother. The seventh-inning homer tied the game, and the Astros go on to win 4-3.
June 4 – Tom Seaver and the New York Mets blank the Los Angeles Dodgers 11-0. The Mets get plenty of offense from slugger Dave Kingman, who pounds three home runs.
July 20 – Hank Aaron, playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, hits the 755th and final home run his career. He smashes it of Dick Drago of the California Angles.
Sept. 10 – California Angels fireballer Nolan Ryan strikes out 18 Chicago White Sox and wins 3-2 at Comiskey Park.
Sept. 28 – Dodgers manager Walt Alston steps down after 23 seasons at the helm. “Smokey” led his teams to six National League pennants and four World Series titles. His replacement is third-base coach LaSorda.
Oct. 21 – The Cincinnati Reds wrap up their second straight World Series title by sweeping the New York Yankees in four games. The Series MVP is Johnny Bench, who bats .533 (8-for-15) with two home runs and six RBI.
Look back at the 1944 MLB season.
By Glen Sparks
St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Marty Marion bats just .267. He adds only six home runs and 63 RBI. The writers like his defense and leadership skills. They vote him the National League Most Valuable Player. Teammates call him Slats; his long arms inspire some to label him The Octopus.
Dixie Walker wins his first and only batting title at the age of 34. The outfielder hits .357 for the Brooklyn Dodgers in his 13th season and finishes third in the MVP voting. Walker, from Villa Rica, Ga., hits .306 over an 18-year career. Brooklyn fans call him The People’s Cherce.
Hal Newhouser wins 29 games for the Detroit Tigers. He also leads the American League in strikeouts (187) and ERA (2.22). The hometown left-hander (Wilbur Wright High School) is voted A.L. MVP. Newhouser, 4-F for World War II due to a leaky heart valve, also earns MVP honors in 1945. He wins 80 games from 1944-46.
Lou Boudreau leads the A.L. with a .327 batting average. The Cleveland Indians shortstop also slams 45 doubles to top the league. Boudreau enjoys his best campaign in 1948. He bats .355, drives in 106 and wins MVP honors.
The Boston Braves’ Jim Tobin tosses a no-hitter on April 27 at Braves Field against the Dodgers. Tobin also homers off Brooklyn’s Fritz Ostermueller in the eighth inning. He is the second pitcher to slam a homer and hurl a no-no in the same game. Wes Ferrell did it April 29, 1931, for the Indians.
George Myatt enjoys the game of his life on May 1. He goes 6-for-6 for the Washington Senators against the Boston Red Sox. The second baseman slaps five singles, one double and drives in four as Washington beats Boston 11-4. Myatt plays seven years in the majors and hits .283 with four home runs.
All baseball games get cancelled on June 6 as Allied forces begin the liberation of Europe in Normandy, France.
The Cincinnati Reds call 15-year-old pitcher Joe Nuxhall into action on June 10. Nuxhall gives up five runs in 2/3 of an inning. The lefty from nearby Hamilton, Ohio, does not appear in another big-league game until 1952. He wins 135 games in a 16-year career, most of it spent in Cincinnati. Nuxhall later becomes a beloved broadcaster with the Reds.
Braves pitcher Red Barrett needs just 58 pitches to throw a two-hit shutout against the Reds on Aug. 10. Barrett doesn’t walk or strikeout anyone in the 2-0 game that lasts 75 minutes. The legendary umpire Jocko Conlin works home plate. Barrett goes 69-69 in 11 seasons.
The St. Louis Browns win their lone A.L. pennant, nipping the Detroit Tigers by one game. Over in the N.L., the St. Louis Cardinals finish 14.5 games in front of the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cards beat the Browns in six games in the World Series. Every game is played at Sportsman’s Park on the city’s north side. Fans call this Fall Classic the “Streetcar Series” or “Trolley Series.”
Look back at the 1918 MLB season.
By Glen Sparks
The Detroit Tigers’ Ty Cobb hits .382 and wins his 11th American League batting title. Cobb leads the league for a final time the next season. The Georgia Peach posted his highest average in 1911, .420.
Babe Ruth, still playing for the Boston Red Sox, wins his first A.L. home run crown. He pounds out 11 round-trippers in 317 at-bats, tying Tilly Walker of the Philadelphia A’s for the lead. Ruth tops the league again in 1919 with 29 and slams 54 dingers in 1920, his first season with the Yankees.
Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder Zack Wheat wins his only batting title. He hits a career-high .335 in his 10th season. The Hamilton, Mo., native retires after the 1927 campaign with a .317 career average. He plays all but one of his 19 seasons with Brooklyn.
“Cactus” Gavvy Cravath, one of the first major leaguers out of southern California, tops the National League with eight homers. Cravath, an outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, plays 11 seasons and is the home run king six times. He retires with 119 homers.
Walter Johnson enjoys another big year for the Washington Senators. He leads the A.L. in wins (23), ERA (1.27), strikeouts (162) and shutouts (8). The Big Train, a Kansas native, wins 417 games in his Hall of Fame career. He tops league in strikeouts a dozen times and in wins six times.
Chicago Cubs fans watch as James “Hippo” Vaughn enjoys his finest season. He leads all N.L. hurlers in wins (22), ERA (1.74) and strikeouts (148). Vaughn wins 178 games in 13 big-league seasons and is a five-time 20-game winner.
The Boston Red Sox’ Hubert “Dutch” Leonard tosses the second no-hitter of his career on June 3. He beats the Detroit Tigers 5-0. Leonard goes just 8-6 on the season. The left-hander pitches 11 seasons in the majors and wins 139 games. Leonard threw his first no-hitter in 1916 against the St. Louis Browns. He is no relation to Emil John “Dutch” Leonard, who wins 191 career games.
Washington’s Johnson pitches into extra innings 15 times. He pitches two complete games of 18 innings, one of 16 innings and one of 15. Talk about a rubber arm.
The Cubs win the N.L. pennant by 10.5 games over the New York Giants. In the A.L., the Red Sox edge the Cleveland Indians by 2.5 games. Boston wins the World Series in six games. Neither team hits much. Boston bats .186 as a team, and Chicago hits .210. Both Carl Mays (1.00 ERA) and Ruth (1.06) go 2-0 for the Red Sox.
Look back at the 1967 MLB season.
By Glen Sparks
Carl Yastrzemski wins the Triple Crown and American League MVP award. The Boston Red Sox left fielder hits .326, smacks 44 home runs (tied with Harmon Killebrew) and drives in 121 runs.
The National League MVP goes to St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Orlando Cepeda. The former Rookie of the Year (1961, San Francisco Giants) leads the league with 111 RBI. He hits 25 homers and bats .325 in his second season in St. Louis.
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Roberto Clemente hits a career-high .357 and captures his fourth batting title. The dynamic right fielder also wins his eight straight Gold Glove. Clemente will win five more.
Hank Aaron wins his fourth and final home run title. The Atlanta Braves’ slugger belts 39 round-trippers. He retires with 755. His season high in homers is 47, in 1971.
Baseball gives out a Cy Young Award in both leagues for the first time. Jim Lonborg, a Boston Red Sox’ right-hander, earns the A.L. honor in his third season. He finishes with a 22-9 won-loss record and leads the league with 246 strikeouts. The N.L. winner is the San Francisco Giants’ Mike McCormick. He goes 22-10 with a 2.85 ERA in the year following Sandy Koufax’ retirement.
New York Mets rookie Tom Seaver wins his first major league game April 20. He beats the Cubs 6-1. Seaver goes 16-13 with a 2.76 ERA and earns NL Rookie of the Year honors. Rod Carew hits .292 and wins the A.L. ROY award.
Yastrzemski hits his 100th career homer May 16. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Willie Stargell knocks his 100th career home run June 7.
Houston Astros pitcher Don Wilson tosses a 2-0 no-hitter June 18 against the Braves at the Astrodome. The no-no is the first one thrown at a domed stadium or on artificial turf. Wilson strikes out 15, including Aaron on the final out.
The Cardinals knock off the Chicago Cubs 4-3 on July 25. The loss drops the Cubs into second place. They never get back into first.
St. Louis wins 101 games and cruises to the N.L. pennant, 10.5 games ahead of the runner-up Giants. The Red Sox take the A.L. pennant with a 92-70 record, one game in front of the Twins and the Detroit Tigers. The Cardinals win a classic World Series in seven games. They only bat .223 as a team, but Lou Brock hits .414 (12-for-29). Roger Maris (10-for-26, .385) and Julian Javier (9-for25, .360) also enjoy a big Series. Yaz hits .400 (10-for-25) in a losing cause and belts three homers. Bob Gibson goes 3-0 for St. Louis, completes all three starts and finishes with a 1.00 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 27 innings.
Look back at the 1927 MLB season.
By Glen Sparks
The New York Yankees’ Lou Gehrig smashes 47 home runs and drives in a league-leading 173 runs. He hits .373 and wins A.L. MVP honors. Gehrig hits 493 homers and bats .340 in a 17-year career cut short by tragic illness. The Iron Horse tops 150 RBI in a season seven times.
Gehrig’s teammate, Babe Ruth, blasts a record 60 home runs, finishes with 165 RBI and hits .356. The Baltimore basher, MVP in 1923 (A player could only win the award one time in those days.), tops everyone with a .486 on-base percentage and .722 slugging percentage.
Paul Waner earns National League MVP honors. The Pittsburgh Pirates right-fielder leads the senior circuit in hits (237), batting average (.380), RBI (131), total bases (342) and triples (18). His younger brother is Lloyd Waner, also a Pirates player. Paul is “Big Poison”, Lloyd is “Little Poison.” Both will go into the Hall of Fame.
Harry Heilmann nearly enjoys a second .400 season for the Detroit Tigers (.403 in 1923). The outfielder from San Francisco ends the year at .398, with 120 RBI. Heilmann bats .342 over 17 seasons and finishes three of them at .393 or better.
Brooklyn Robins (a.k.a., the Robins) ace Dazzy Vance leads the N.L. in strikeouts for the sixth straight year. He fans 184 and will top the league for a seventh and final time in 1928 with 200. Vance, the 1924 MVP, wins 197 games in a Hall of Fame career that didn’t really get started until after he turned 30.
The Philadelphia A’s acquire Ty Cobb on Feb. 8 after the Georgia Peach had played 22 seasons in Detroit. He hits .357 in 133 games and bats .323 in 95 games in 1928 before retiring with a dozen batting titles and a .367 batting average (later reduced to .366).
Lefty Grove does something to the New York Yankees on Sept. 3 that no other pitcher does the entire season. The A’s ace tosses a shutout against the Bronx Bombers.
Ruth smacks his record 60th homer of the season on Sept. 30. He hits it off Washington’s Tom Zachary to break a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning. Ruth breaks the single-season mark of 59 that he set in 1921.
Heilmann makes a valiant attempt at batting .400 for the Tigers. He goes 7-for-9 with a walk in a season-ending doubleheader on Oct. 2. He ends up .002 percentage points short of the celebrated mark.
The Pirates finish 94-60, 1.5 games ahead of the second-place St. Louis Cardinals, to take the N.L. pennant. The Yankees easily take the A.L. flag with a 110-44 record, 19 games in front of the runner-up A’s. Not surprisingly, the Yanks sweep the Series but hit a relatively modest .279 as a team in the Fall Classic. (The Pirates hit .223.) Ruth bats a lofty .400 (6-for-15) and hits two homers, the only round-trippers for New York.
Look back at the 1937 MLB season.
By Glen Sparks
Detroit Tigers second baseman Charlie Gehringer tops the American League with a .371 batting average and wins the MVP award. He drives in 96 runs and posts a career-high .458 on-base percentage. Gehringer, from Fowlerville, Mich., bats .320 in a Hall of Fame career, all of it spent with the Detroit Tigers. The Mechanical Man.
Joe “Ducky” Medwick, left-fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, wins the National League MVP award. The New Jersey native wins the Triple Crown with a .374 batting average, 31 home runs (tied with the New York Giants’ Mel Ott) and 154 RBI. He also leads the league in slugging percentage (.641) and OPS (1.056).
Lefty Gomez wins the pitching version of the Triple Crown. The New York Yankees hurler wins 21 games, posts a 2.33 ERA and strikes out 194 batters. The southpaw from northern California goes 189-102 over 14 seasons.
Hank Greenberg brings ‘em home. The Tigers first baseman ends the season with a league-high 183 RBI to go with his 40 homers. Greenberg, from New York City, slams 331 home runs in a 13-season career (interrupted by his service in World War II). He leads the league in home runs and RBI four times each.
New York Giants screwball artist Carl Hubbell tops the N.L. in wins (22) and strikeouts (153). The left-hander plays his entire career with the Giants, earns two MVP awards (1933 and ’36) and wins 253 games.
Cincinnati Reds catcher Ernie Lombardi gets six straight hits in a 21-10 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Hubbell wins his 24th straight game May 27 with a 3-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field. After winning 16 games to close out the 1936 season, he starts off the ’37 season with eight straight wins.
Mel Almada scores big on July 25. The leadoff hitter for the Washington Senators comes across the plate four time in the first game of a doubleheader against the St. Louis Browns. The native of Mexico (raised in Los Angeles) ties a major league record in the second game by scoring five runs.
The Tigers enjoy a big day Aug. 14 in a doubleheader against the Browns. They win the first game 16-1 and the second one 20-7. Detroit pitcher Elden Auker drives in five runs in Game 1; Gehringer knocked in six in Game 2.
The Yankees and Giants meet in the World Series. The Yanks drop only Game 4 and win the Series in five games. Gomez goes 2-0 in his two starts with a 1.50 ERA. Joe DiMaggio drives in four runs for the Yankees. Jo-Joe Moore hits .391 (nine-for-23) in a losing cause for the Giants.
Look back at the 1963 MLB season.
By Glen Sparks
Sandy Koufax breaks through with an MVP season for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The left-hander goes 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA and a career-high 11 shutouts. He strikes out 306 batters and walks only 58 in 311 innings of work. Koufax not only wins the N.L. MVP, he also is the game’s Cy Young Award winner for ’63.
Elston Howard earns A.L. MVP honors. The New York Yankees catcher belts 28 homers, drive in 85 runs and hits .287. The St. Louisan also gets high marks for his leadership skills.
Dodgers outfielder Tommy Davis follows up his great 1962 campaign (27 homers, league-leading 153 RBI and .346 batting average) by hitting .326 and topping the N.L. a second straight season. The Brooklyn-born ballplayer (just like Koufax) finishes eighth in the N.L. MVP voting after finishing third in ’62.
Harmon Killebrew crushes 45 home runs for the Minnesota Twins to lead the American League. “The Killer” (also, Hammerin’ Harmon) , from Payette, Idaho, leads the league six times in homers before retiring with 573.
Cincinnati Reds rookie and hometown boy Pete Rose begins his career 0-for-11. He gets his first hit, a triple, on April 13 off Bob Friend of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rose retires with 4,256 hits, more than anyone else in major league history. He also wins N.L. Rookie of the Year honors.
Gary Peters goes 19-8 with a sparking 2.33 ERA and wins A.L. Rookie of the Year honors. The lefty follows that up with a 20-8 campaign in 1964 (2.50 ERA) and posts a 1.98 ERA in 1966. He pitches 14 seasons and retires with a 124-103 won-loss mark. Peters, from Grove City, Pa., also blasts 19 homers over his career.
San Francisco Giants slugger Mays belts the 400th home run of his career Aug. 27 off St. Louis Cardinals starter Curt Simmons. The Giants beat the Cardinals 7-2.
Mays’ young teammate and fellow Alabama native, Willie McCovey, blasts the 100th homer of his career on Sept. 5, off the Houston Astros’ Don Nottebart. On Sept. 22, “Stretch” rips three home runs as the Giants knock off the New York Mets 13-4. He finishes the season with 44 homers and ties Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee Braves for the N.L. lead.
Cardinals great Stan Musial gets an RBI single off the Cincinnati Reds’ Jim Maloney in his final MLB at-bat on Sept. 29. The Cards beat the Reds 3-2 in 14 innings.
The Yankees finish the season 104-57 and easily win the A.L. pennant, 10.5 games ahead of the second-place White Sox. The Dodgers end up 99-63 and take the N.L. flag. In a World Series upset, the Dodgers sweep the Yankees for their second championship in L.A. The Dodgers dominate with their starting pitching, led by Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres. The Yankees manage just four total runs and hit only .171 as a team.