Year In Review : 1949 National 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.

"I think one of the most difficult things for anyone who's played baseball is to accept the fact that maybe the players today are playing just as well as ever." - Ralph Kiner
1949 National League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Pittsburgh

117

Batting Average

Brooklyn

.342

Doubles

St. Louis

41

Hits

St. Louis

207

Home Runs

Pittsburgh

54

On Base Percentage

St. Louis

.438

RBI

Pittsburgh

127

Runs

Brooklyn

132

Slugging Average

Pittsburgh

.658

Stolen Bases

Brooklyn

37

Total Bases

St. Louis

382

Triples

St. Louis

13

St. Louis

1949 National League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Boston

25

ERA

New York

2.50

Games

St. Louis

59

Saves

St. Louis

9

Shutouts

Philadelphia

5

Brooklyn

St. Louis

Cincinnati

Strikeouts

Boston

151

Winning Percentage

Brooklyn

.714

Wins

Boston

21

1949 National League

Team Standings

Brooklyn Dodgers

97 57 .630 0

St. Louis Cardinals

96 58 .623 1

Philadelphia Phillies

81 73 .526 16

Boston Braves

75 79 .487 22

New York Giants

73 81 .474 24

Pittsburgh Pirates

71 83 .461 26

Cincinnati Reds

62 92 .403 35

Chicago Cubs

61 93 .396 36

1949 National League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Boston

684

Batting Average

St. Louis

.277

Doubles

St. Louis

281

Hits

St. Louis

1,513

Home Runs

Brooklyn

152

On Base Percentage

Brooklyn

.354

Runs

Brooklyn

879

Slugging Average

Brooklyn

.419

Stolen Bases

Brooklyn

117

Triples

Philadelphia

55

1949 National League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Boston

68

New York

ERA

St. Louis

3.44

Fewest Hits Allowed

Brooklyn

1,306

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

St. Louis

87

Fewest Walks Allowed

Philadelphia

502

Saves

St. Louis

19

Shutouts

Brooklyn

15

Strikeouts

Brooklyn

743



Don Newcombe

On September 19, 1949, Ralph Kiner hit his 50 th home run of the season and simultaneously became the first National League player in history to reach the fifty single season home run plateau twice during a career.

The Brooklyn Dodgers clinched the 1949 pennant on the last day of the season (October 2 nd ) when the defeated the Phillies 9-7 in a ten-inning game at Shibe Park.

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