Year In Review : 1968 American League

O

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 eleven months of being taken prisoner and torture, the ships' crew was finally released. .S.S. Pueblo, still to this date, is the only ship of the U.S. Navy currently being held captive.

I n the American League

Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers became the first Major League pitcher to win thirty 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 thrity-one when the New York Yankees' Mickey Mantle tagged him for his five-hundred thirty-fifth career home run 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 nine 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.

I n 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, four-hundred 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 twenty-second win and thirteenth shutout of the season on September 27th marking the first time a National tallied thirteen scoreless games since 1916. Gibson also boasted an ERA of 1.12, the second lowest ever in the National League.

A round 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 fiteen inches to ten, 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.

"Anyone who could drink 25 Pepsis a day, play the organ in his (Denny McLain) spare time and win 31 games in a season was quite clearly, a very special person who deserved special privileges." - Joe Falls in Detroit News
1968 American League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Boston

119

Batting Average

Boston

.301

Doubles

Boston

37

Hits

Oakland

177

Home Runs

Washington

44

On Base Percentage

Boston

.429

RBI

Boston

109

Runs

Detroit

95

Slugging Average

Washington

.552

Stolen Bases

Oakland

62

Total Bases

Washington

330

Triples

California

13

1968 American League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Detroit

28

ERA

Cleveland

1.60

Games

Chicago

88

Saves

Minnesota

18

Shutouts

Cleveland

9

Strikeouts

Cleveland

283

Winning Percentage

Detroit

.838

Wins

Detroit

31

1968 American League

Team Standings

Detroit Tigers

103 59 .636 0

Baltimore Orioles

91 71 .562 12

Cleveland Indians

86 75 .534 16½

Boston Red Sox

86 76 .531 17

New York Yankees

83 79 .512 20

Oakland Athletics

82 80 .506 21

Minnesota Twins

79 83 .488 24

California Angels

67 95 .414 36

Chicago White Sox

67 95 .414 36

Washington Senators

65 96 .404 37½

1968 American League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Boston

582

Batting Average

Oakland

.240

Doubles

Baltimore

215

Hits

Oakland

1,300

Home Runs

Detroit

185

On Base Percentage

Boston

.316

Runs

Detroit

671

Slugging Average

Detroit

.385

Stolen Bases

Oakland

147

Triples

Minnesota

41

1968 American League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Detroit

59

ERA

Cleveland

2.66

Fewest Hits Allowed

Cleveland

1,087

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

Minnesota

92

Fewest Walks Allowed

Minnesota

414

Saves

Chicago

40

Shutouts

Cleveland

23

Strikeouts

Cleveland

1,157



On May 8, 1968 , Catfish Hunter pitched a perfect game against the Twins in the newly opened Oakland-Alameda Coliseum: the first no-hit, no-walk, no-error game in the American League since 1922.

On June 29, 1968, shortstop Ron Hansen turned the fifth unassisted triple play in American League history when he caught a hard hit liner (first out), tagged second (second out), then applied a tag to the runner coming from first (final out).

On September 14, 1968, Denny McLain became the first thirty game winner since Dizzy Dean of the St. Louis Cardinals. The most recent American League pitcher prior to McLain to win thirty games was Lefty Grove of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1931.

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