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.
The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) introduced its first color television broadcast across five American cities for two and a half hours a day. However, due to the proprietary system used by CBS, more than 10½ million monochrome sets in the United States were blind to these telecasts. In response to the company forcing their own receivers on the consumer, the National Production Authority issued Order M-90 prohibiting the manufacturing of color sets for general public sale. Two years later, during a Congressional hearing on March 25, 1953, CBS announced that it had no plans to resume its own proprietary color system and the NPA lifted its ban on receiver manufacturing the following day.
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.
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.
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
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
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 American League pennant race was again upstaged by the senior circuit. The Yanks posted the same record as 1950 and although there was some threat from Cleveland it was largely extinguished by the time September rolled around. The biggest change was the disappointing season of the Tigers and the movement forward by the White Sox. 1951 marked the final season of the great Joe DiMaggio and the commencement of the career of 19-year old Mickey Mantle. For only the second time in his 13 year career Joltin Joe’s average was below .300, however he still finished his career batting average at .325. Mantle’s debut was less than successful as he was sent back to the minors early in the season, but came back mid-season to post 13 homeruns and 65 RBIs in 98 games.
The St. Louis Browns were so bad they had to rely on owner and General Manager Bill Veeck’s creative promotions to get any attention. His best known feat was sending 3 ft 7 inch Eddie Gaedel to bat as a pinch hitter to gain a walk. Of course, it was successful due to his diminutive size, but it is also said the pitcher was laughing so hard that there was no way he could throw a strike. Commissioner Frick outlawed such gimmicks immediately following the game.
#1 New York Yankees (98-56) . (HOF) Yogi Berra was the MVP hitting .294, 27 homeruns and 88 RBIs, Allie Reynolds (17-6) threw two no-hitters, and Eddie Lopat and Vic Raschi each won 21 games. (HOF) Whitey Ford was away serving in the armed forces. Third baseman Gil McDougal was named AL Rookie of the Year. On the bench were a couple of young newcomers that would go on to notable careers—infielder Billy Martin and outfielder Jackie Jensen.
#2 Cleveland Indians (93-61) . The pitching quartet of Early Wynn, (HOF) Bob Feller, Mike Garcia and Bob Lemon were even better than 1950. Their total of 79 wins was unmatched and provided a preview of what was to come. The veteran bats of 1B Luke Easter with 27 hrs and 103 RBIs, 3B Al Rosen, 24 home runs, 102 RBIs, OF Larry Doby .295, 20 home runs, and the emergence of 2B Bobby Avila .304, gave the pitching staff the support needed to move up to second place.
#3 Boston Red Sox (87-67) . Following a 94 win season the previous year the Sox fans expectations were not met. Still fielding pretty much the same lineup, the drop off in production was significant. 1950 MVP Billy Goodman cooled off considerably as did Dom Dimaggio. Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky and (HOF) 2B Bobby Doerr kept up their end of the bargain but they did not improve the pitching staff as it was pretty much the same—a one man show with Mel Parnell again winning 18 games. Time for a pennant was running out as the aging of its players was becoming apparent.
#4 Chicago White Sox (81-73) . Hurray for the White Sox as they climbed out of the doldrums to produce an 81 win season. Outside of 1b Eddie Robinson’s 20 home runs there was little power in the lineup, but the timely hitting of 2B (HOF) Nellie Fox .313 and OF Minnie Minoso .334, help move them into the upper division of the league. Young Billy Pierce won 15 games and Saul Rogovin, acquired in an early season trade from Detroit, posted the league’s lowest ERA, 2.78.
The Also Rans
#5 Detroit Tigers (73-81) . The Tigers fell on their faces after a hopeful 1950 second place finish. Third baseman George Kell and OF Vic Wertz saw their batting averages drop 50 points. Virgil Trucks managed to win 13 games which led the woeful pitching staff.
#6 Philadelphia Athletics (70-84) . Only in Philadelphia would a 70 win A'’'s team be celebrated. Out of the cellar due to the fine hitting of 1B Ferris Fain, .344, and OF Gus Zernial's career year of 34 home runs and 125 RBIs. Pitcher Bobby Shantz stepped into the limelight by winning 18 games. There was hope in Philly.
#7 Washington Senators (62-92) . Things were only getting worse in DC. They did add a promising shortstop Pete Runnels .278 to join 1B Mickey Vernon .297 as their only notable bats. The pitching staff was disastrous. Only Connie Marrero reached double digits with 11 wins.
#8 St. Louis Browns (52-102) . What can you say about a team with no batters able to hit .300 and a home run leader with only 15? The pitching staff did have a 20 game winner, Ned Garver which accounted for almost 40% of their wins, but no one else won more than 8. The talented Roy Sievers was still a bench player and appeared in only 38 games. (HOF) Satchel Paige bought some fans to the game, but his 4 wins did nothing to alleviate the team’s inefficiencies. Young pitcher 20-year old Bob Turley, who would go on to a notable career with other teams, made his major league debut.
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.