Year In Review : 1951 American League

O ff the field...

On May 12 th , the United States military detonated the first hydrogen bomb on an uninhabited testing island in the Pacific. The development of an A-bomb by the Russians had convinced the U.S. to proceed with development of the H-bomb version, which was several times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki to prompt the end of World War II.

Remington Rand Corporation debuted the first commercial digital computer, called the "UNIVAC" (Universal Automatic Computer). The first "UNIVAC" was sold to the United States Census Bureau to assist in the storage, compiling and managing of the U.S. population data. It weighed some 16,000 pounds, used 5,000 vacuum tubes, and could perform about 1,000 calculations per second. "UNIVAC" was also used to predict the 1952 presidential election. No one involved in the project actually believed its prediction (based on 1% vote in) that Eisenhower would sweep the election...he did.

I n the American League...

During a March 26 exhibition game between the New York Yankees and the University of California, an up-and-coming nineteen year old rookie named Mickey Mantle hit a home run (estimated at six-hundred feet) out of U.S.C.'s Bovard Stadium. "The Mick" went on to finish the day with four hits and seven runs batted in (including two, two-run home runs and a bases-loaded triple) as the Major Leaguers prevailed 15-1. Mantle struggled at the plate over the next few months while striking out fifty-two times and was eventually sent back to the Minor League team in Kansas City.

St. Louis owner Bill Veeck had everyone in stitches after substituting a midget to pinch-hit during the first inning in game two of a doubleheader. Eddie Gaedel, a three-foot, seven inch dwarf, emerged from a cake wearing the number 1/8 during pre-game festivities, then took the plate for center fielder Frank Saucer and walked on four balls. The Detroit Tigers had the last laugh however after posting a 6-2 victory over the comedic Browns.

I n the National League...

Howie Pollet finally ended the New York Giants sixteen-game winning streak with a clutch three hitter for a 2-0 Pittsburgh Pirates victory. The sixteen games (lasting from August 12 th to 28 th ) represented the longest winning streak in National League history since 1935.

On September 13 th , the St. Louis Cardinals became the first team since 1883 to play a doubleheader against two different teams on the same day. First they went up against the New York Giants (for a rescheduled rain game) and lost 4-6, then they fell 0-2 to the Boston Braves in their regularly scheduled night game.

The New York Giants literally snatched the National League pennant from the clutches of their rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers, after Bobby Thomson hit the infamous "shot heard 'round the world". It was a perfect ending to a career season in which Thomson hit .293 with thirty-two home runs and one-hundred one RBIs.

A round the league...

National League president Ford Frick was elected to a seven-year term as Major League Baseball's third commissioner. Frick, who had held the top office of the National League since 1934, also made a name for himself as a respected sports journalist and as Babe Ruth's "ghost" writer.

TOPPS debuted its first baseball cards (a five set series) that featured such favorites as Yogi Berra, Bob Feller, Ralph Kiner, Phil Rizzuto, Enos Slaughter, Duke Snider and Warren Spahn.

A resolution was put forth by the South Carolina House to reinstate "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, who had been banished from baseball because of his part in the 1919 "Black Sox Scandal". Jackson was one of eight players convicted of throwing the Series (five games to three) in favor of the underdog Cincinnati Reds. After a lengthy investigation in 1920, members of Chicago's tainted team were amazingly acquitted the following year despite their own confessions (which were recanted later). All of the players involved were banned from baseball because of their undeniable link to gamblers. Jackson himself had batted a Series-leading .375 but later acknowledged that he had let up in key situations.

On April 18 th , as part of a pre-game publicity stunt, golf legend Sam Snead teed off from home plate at Wrigley Field and bounced a golf ball off of the center field scoreboard. He was the first player ever to reach the structure and the Chicago Cubs followed suite with an 8-3 win over the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

"I feel his (Eddie Gaedel) participation in an American League championship game comes under the heading of conduct detrimental to baseball." - American League President Will Harridge
1951 American League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Boston

144

Batting Average

Philadelphia

.344

Doubles

Detroit

36

Washington

Hits

Detroit

191

Home Runs

Chicago

33

Philadelphia

On Base Percentage

Boston

.464

RBI

Chicago

129

Philadelphia

Runs

Boston

113

Slugging Average

Boston

.556

Stolen Bases

Cleveland

31

Chicago

Total Bases

Boston

295

Triples

Cleveland

14

Chicago

1951 American League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

St. Louis

24

ERA

Detroit

2.78

Chicago

Games

Boston

63

Saves

Boston

14

Shutouts

New York

7

Strikeouts

New York

164

Winning Percentage

Cleveland

.733

Wins

Cleveland

22

1951 American League

Team Standings

New York Yankees

98 56 .636 0

Cleveland Indians

93 61 .604 5

Boston Red Sox

87 67 .565 11

Chicago White Sox

81 73 .526 17

Detroit Tigers

73 81 .474 25

Philadelphia Athletics

70 84 .455 28

Washington Senators

62 92 .403 36

St. Louis Browns

52 102 .338 46

1951 American League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Boston

756

Batting Average

Chicago

.270

Doubles

Philadelphia

262

Hits

Chicago

1,453

Home Runs

Cleveland

140

New York

On Base Percentage

Boston

.358

Runs

Boston

804

Slugging Average

New York

.408

Stolen Bases

Chicago

99

Triples

Chicago

64

1951 American League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Cleveland

76

ERA

Cleveland

3.39

Fewest Hits Allowed

Cleveland

1,287

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

Cleveland

85

Fewest Walks Allowed

Chicago

549

Saves

Boston

24

Shutouts

New York

24

Strikeouts

New York

664



Perseverance? On April 17, 1951, slugger Mickey Mantle made his Major League debut and went 1-for-4 versus the Boston Red Sox. On May 1, 1951, Mantle hit his first Major League home run against Randy Gumpert of the Chicago White Sox. However, by the 15th of July, young Mantle had been struck out fifty-two times and was sent to Kansas City - a Triple-A Yankee affiliate.

The "unwritten rules of baseball" state that nobody should talk about a no-hitter while its in progress. On July 12, 1951, Allie Reynolds of the New York Yankees was not concerned with the unwritten rules and after the seventh inning walked into the dugout and asked Ed Lopat , "Hey pal, do you think I can pitch a no-hitter?" Lopat simply nodded and Reynolds then retired the last six batters in row for his first career no-hit game .

On August 19, 1951 , St. Louis Browns' owner Bill Veeck announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, as a special birthday present to our manager Zack Taylor , the management is presenting him with a brand new Brownie." Three foot seven inch Eddie Gaedel came to the plate during the first inning and received a bases on balls in front of approximately 18,000 fans.

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