Year In Review : 1951 National 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.

"(Ralph) Branca throws, there's a long fly, it's gonna be, I believe, THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT, THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT, THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!" - Russ Hodges
1951 National League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Pittsburgh

137

Batting Average

St. Louis

.355

Doubles

New York

41

Hits

Philadelphia

221

Home Runs

Pittsburgh

42

On Base Percentage

Pittsburgh

.452

RBI

New York

121

Runs

Pittsburgh

124

St. Louis

Slugging Average

Pittsburgh

.627

Stolen Bases

Boston

35

Total Bases

St. Louis

355

Triples

Pittsburgh

12

St. Louis

1951 National League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Boston

26

ERA

Boston

2.88

Games

St. Louis

65

Pittsburgh

Saves

St. Louis

13

Pittsburgh

Shutouts

Boston

7

Strikeouts

Brooklyn

164

Boston

Winning Percentage

Brooklyn

.880

Wins

New York

23

1951 National League

Team Standings

New York Giants

98 59 .624 0

Brooklyn Dodgers

97 60 .618 1

St. Louis Cardinals

81 73 .526 15½

Boston Braves

76 78 .494 20½

Philadelphia Phillies

73 81 .472 23½

Cincinnati Reds

68 86 .442 28½

Pittsburgh Pirates

64 90 .416 32½

Chicago Cubs

62 92 .403 34½

1951 National League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

New York

671

Batting Average

Brooklyn

.275

Doubles

Brooklyn

249

Hits

Brooklyn

1,511

Home Runs

Brooklyn

184

On Base Percentage

Brooklyn

.352

Runs

Brooklyn

855

Slugging Average

Brooklyn

.434

Stolen Bases

Brooklyn

89

Triples

St. Louis

57

1951 National League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Boston

73

ERA

New York

3.48

Fewest Hits Allowed

New York

1,334

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

Boston

96

Fewest Walks Allowed

New York

482

Saves

Cincinnati

23

St. Louis

Shutouts

Philadelphia

19

Strikeouts

Brooklyn

693


What did the 1883 and 1951 National League seasons have in common? For the first time since the previous century a team, which was the St. Louis Cardinals this year, played a doubleheader versus two different opponents. The Cards lost first to the New York Giants [4-6] and then to the Boston Braves [0-2] on the same day - September 14, 1951.

Did you know that on September 27, 1951, outfielder Bill Sharman of the Brooklyn Dodgers became the first and only Major League player ejected from a game without ever playing in a single game? After a bang-bang play at home where Bob Addis was called safe, there was an argument that continued to the point where Dascoli ejected Roy Campanella and Preacher Roe then cleared the bench ejecting Sharman and Cookie Lavagetto .

On October 3, 1951 , Bobby Thomson hit the Shot Heard Round The World and Russ Hodges uttered the quotation found at the top of the page. The Dodgers' announcer, Red Barber, was a little less exhuberant and described the shot with, "It's in there for the pennant."

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