Year In Review : 1949 American League

O ff the field...

On April 4 th , foreign ministers from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United States formally signed the North Atlantic Treaty to create a worldwide coalition known as NATO. The alliance became necessary between nations of Western Europe and the United States to help deter the Soviet Union from further aggressive posturing. Article 5 of the treaty stated that an attack against one member of the coalition would be considered an attack against them all.

The American monopoly on the development of nuclear weapons ended on September 23 rd after President Truman announced that the Soviet Union had successfully detonated their first atomic bomb. The "Us" vs. "Them" mentally that followed touched off a nuclear arms race that would last into the 1990's.

I n the American League...

During pre-game ceremonies at the New York Yankees season opener, a monument to Babe Ruth was unveiled in center field along with two plaques honoring Lou Gehrig and Miller Huggins. All three would become centerpieces in the infamous Monument Park that now adorns the outfield area at Yankee Stadium.

On May 1 st , Elmer Valo of the Philadelphia Athletics became the first American League player to post two bases-loaded triples in a single game during a 15-9 win over the Washington Senators. Later in the season, Valo hit a third, tying the Major League record previously set by Shano Collins in 1918.

A pharmacist from Cleveland named Charley Lupica climbed a twenty-foot platform atop a flagpole on May 31 st and announced that he would remain perched there until the Indians won another pennant. Unfortunately, the 7 th -place Tribe was only able to manage 4 th place by the time Lupica descended on September 25, but owner Bill Veeck still rewarded the loyal druggist with a brand new car.

I n the National League...

A riot literally broke out in the Philadelphia Phillies stands on August 21 st after fans threw bottles in protest of umpire George Barr's call over a trapped fly ball. The unruly crowd's behavior resulted in the first forfeiture in the Major League in seven years. Ironically it was the visiting New York Giants who themselves, had been forced into the same situation in 1942, after their field was rushed by hundreds of youngsters.

On September 15 th , Pittsburgh pitcher Ernie Bonham died following an emergency appendectomy and stomach surgery. His untimely death shocked the Pirates organization as Bonham had just pitched eighteen days before with a clutch, 8-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Mrs. Bonham later became the first spouse to receive benefits under the major league players' pension plan, which provided the widow with a check for $90 a month over the next ten years.

Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson continued to break barriers after setting a Major League record for stealing home (thirteen total over a three-year period) after thieving his 5 th of the season during a 5-0 win over the Chicago Cubs. Robinson topped Ben Chapman who took eleven seasons to steal fifteen.

A round the league...

"Joltin" Joe DiMaggio signed with the New York Yankees for a reported sum of $100,000. It was the first six-figure contract in the history of Major League Baseball.

The 1949 All-Star Game at Ebbets Field marked the first appearance of black players including Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe and Larry Doby. In the end, it was the American League who capitalized on five National League errors for an 11-7 triumph.

The 1940s ended as the only decade in Major League Baseball history not to debut a new ballpark. The last new diamond had been the Cleveland's Municipal Stadium, which opened in 1932, and the following did not occur until 1953 when Milwaukee's County Stadium was unveiled.

In addition, the 1940s also ended with eight African-Americans on major league rosters: three each on the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cleveland Indians, and two with the New York Giants. Although it will be another decade before all teams would be fully integrated, most went on to sign players from the Negro Leagues over the next two years.

"A great ball player. A great man. A great American." - Inscription on Babe Ruth monument unveiled April 19, 1949
1949 American League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Boston

162

Batting Average

Detroit

.343

Doubles

Boston

39

Hits

Cleveland

203

Home Runs

Boston

43

On Base Percentage

Boston

.490

RBI

Boston

159

Boston

Runs

Boston

150

Slugging Average

Boston

.650

Stolen Bases

St. Louis

20

Total Bases

Boston

368

Triples

Cleveland

23

1949 American League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Boston

27

ERA

Cleveland

2.36

Games

New York

60

Saves

New York

27

Shutouts

Boston

6

Detroit

Strikeouts

Detroit

153

Winning Percentage

Boston

.793

Wins

Boston

25

1949 American League

Team Standings

New York Yankees

97 57 .630 0

Boston Red Sox

96 58 .623 1

Cleveland Indians

89 65 .578 8

Detroit Tigers

87 67 .565 10

Philadelphia Athletics

81 73 .526 16

Chicago White Sox

63 91 .409 34

St. Louis Browns

53 101 .344 44

Washington Senators

50 104 .325 47

1949 American League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Boston

835

Batting Average

Boston

.282

Doubles

Boston

272

Hits

Boston

1,500

Home Runs

Boston

131

On Base Percentage

Boston

.381

Runs

Boston

896

Slugging Average

Boston

.420

Stolen Bases

Chicago

62

Triples

Chicago

66

1949 American League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Philadelphia

85

ERA

Cleveland

3.36

Fewest Hits Allowed

New York

1,231

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

Washington

79

Fewest Walks Allowed

Cleveland

611

Saves

New York

36

Shutouts

Detroit

19

Strikeouts

New York

671



On June 24, 1949, the New York Yankees signed a high school player for $1,000 on the advice of scout Tom Greenwade who said, "The first time I saw (Mickey) Mantle I knew how Paul Krichell felt when he first saw Lou Gehrig . He know that as a scout he would never have another moment like it."

On May 6, 1949, Bobby Shantz of the Philadelphia Athletics appeared in only his second game on the mound. The young hurler pitched nine hitless relief innings until the 13th inning when he allowed a run. Wally Moses helped the rookie during their half of the inning by hitting a two run game winning home run.

Who is Charley Lupica? On May 31, 1949, Lupica climbed to the top of the Cleveland Indians flagpole, perched himself on a platform, and told the media he would not come down until the seventh place Indians moved into first place. On September 25, 1949, the Indians were still not in first place and Lupica was still on his platform - though he had been moved to a different ballpark (Municipal Stadium). Owner Bill Veeck held a ceremony for Lupica and literally buried the 1948 pennant in a coffin in center field.

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