After three bloody years, one month, and two days of fighting, the Korean War officially ended. In the end the United States suffered 33,327 deaths and 102,000 wounded at a cost of $18 billion dollars. Under the terms of the cease-fire, Korea was re-divided at the 38 th parallel (as it was the day the Communists had first attacked). Agreement was quickly reached in almost all areas, with the exception of a prisoner-exchange compromise. The United Nations forces refused to return prisoners who did not want to be repatriated and as a result, sporadic fighting continued over a two-year period until President Eisenhower threatened the use of nuclear weapons to achieve peace.
American Communist Party members turned spies, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, were executed on June 19 th after being convicted of espionage for selling the formula for the atomic bomb to the Soviets. They were the first civilians put to death under the Espionage Act of 1917.
Boston Red Sox slugger turned combat ace Ted Williams safely crash-landed his damaged Panther fighter plane after being hit by enemy fire while flying a combat mission in Korea on February 19 th . He later returned home from active-duty in August and finished the season with thirteen home runs and an incredible .407 batting average.
New York Yankee Mickey Mantle hit the longest home run in Griffith Stadium history with a five-hundred sixty-five foot "tape-measure" blast off pitcher Chuck Stobbs for a 7-3 victory over the Washington Senators on April 17 th .
The St. Louis Browns set the Major League mark for most consecutive home defeats, after losing their 20 th game in succession, 6-3 to the visiting Cleveland Indians.
Roy Campanella set the Major League record for most runs batted in by a catcher after smacking a three run home run in a 6-3 Brooklyn Dodgers win over the Philadelphia Phillies on September 7 th . Campanella's total of one-hundred twenty-five runs batted in topped New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra's mark of one-hundred twenty-four set in 1950. The perennial All-Star had also set the National League mark for most home runs by a catcher the previous day after topping the Chicago Cubs' Gabby Hartnett who hit thirty-seven in 1930.
Cincinnati's ball club officially changed its name from the "Reds" to the "Redlegs", in response to the McCarthy era pressure of anti-communism. They later reverted back to the Reds in 1959.
Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Boyd Tepler was denied in the U.S. Court of Appeals after filing a $450,000 grievance against Major League Baseball and owner William Wrigley. The lawsuit, filed in 1951, accused his coaching staff of negligence that led to a premature career-ending arm injury in 1944.
United States Immigration Commissioner Mackey warned that all Major League alien ballplayers who jumped U.S. pro-contracts faced deportation under the McCarran-Walter Act.
After seventy-seven years, the Boston Braves became the Milwaukee Braves in the first franchise shift in baseball since 1903 when Baltimore moved to New York (Yankees). As a result, Milwaukee assumed Pittsburgh's place in the Western Division for scheduling purposes and the Brewers were moved to Toledo.
In an effort to prevent the decline of baseball in small towns and cities throughout the country, Senator Edwin C. Johnson offered a bill to give all ball clubs the sole right to ban radio and/or television broadcasts of major league games in their own territories. The bill was intended to restore the equity between large communities and the small areas and was in direct response to the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department who had prohibited teams from banning any broadcasts in 1949.
On June 3 rd , U.S. Congress officially cited the research of New York City librarian Robert Henderson that clearly proved Alexander Cartwright had "founded" the game of baseball and not Abner Doubleday. Henderson's book "Bat, Ball and Bishop", which was published in 1947, documented Cartwright's contribution to the origins of the game.
"I don't think its wise to send a man (Bobo Holloman) back to the minor leagues right after he's become immortal. It looks as if you are punishing him for throwing a no-hitter." - Bill Veeck
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
On May 6, 1953, Bobo Holloman made his Major League debut and won his first Major League game. However, did you know that he also hit 2 singles, drove in 3 runs, and did not allow a single hit?
There was little suspense in the American League pennant race in 1953. The Yankees opened the season winning nine of ten. They followed this with an 18 game winning streak in late May, which broke the previous record for consecutive victories held by the 1906 Chicago White Sox. Starting from game three, the Yanks held first place the entire season. (HOF) Whitey Ford returned from two years of military service to lead the pitching staff with 18 wins while Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra fueled the offense.
The rest of the league provided little challenge. Cleveland was the only other team to win more than 90 games and that was due primarily to 3B Al Rosen who came within 1 percentage point in batting average of winning the triple crown. The few fans that attended the games of the St. Louis Browns were sure the Brownies would play better than 1952 but the team proved them wrong by winning only 54 games.
#1 New York Yankees (99-52) . It wasn’t just Ford, Mantle and Berra. Veteran pitchers Ed Lopat won 16, Johnny Sain 14 and Allie Reynolds and Vic Raschi each 13. Those wins combined with Ford’s 18 produced 74 wins versus only 30 losses for the starting rotation. Berra led the power assault with 27 homeruns. Mantle had 21 but played in only 127 games due to the start of the chronic injuries that would follow him throughout his career. Mantle hit a monstrous 565 foot homerun against Chuck Stobbs of the Senators. At the time it was considered the longest measured homerun ever hit and many claimed it surpassed 600 feet With Ford returning home, the roaming pack of Ford, Billy Martin, Mantle and Hank Bauer were becoming well known at the city’s night clubs.
#2 Cleveland Indians (92-62) . 1953 for the Indians was Al Rosen and company. The dynamic third basemen led the league with 43 homeruns, 145 RBIs and a .336 BA which was one percentage point lower than the Senators Mickey Vernon. That one percentage point prevented Rosen from winning the triple crown. The four headed pitching staff of Wynn, Garcia, Lemon and Feller were overpowering but it was becoming more and more obvious Feller was past his peak. Luke Easter also was a victim of aging and contributed little.
#3 Chicago White Sox (89-65) . Things were starting to blossom in Chicago. There was no stopping OF Minnie Minoso’s bat, .311 with 104 RBIs and 25 stolen bases. Billy Pierce continued his fine career with 18 wins while newly acquired veteran Virgil Trucks added 15.
#4 Boston Red Sox (84-69) . A mediocre Red Sox team was rejuvenated in August by the return of Ted Williams after two years of combat warfare in Korea. The amazing “Splendid Splinter”, batted .407 with 13 homeruns in the final 37 games of the season. Twenty three year old OF Jimmy Piersall played a full season after spending part of his rookie season fighting mental disorders. Mel Parnell again led the pitching staff winning a career high 21 wins. Mickey McDermott added 18. Red Sox fans wondered how things would have changed with a full season from their Hall of Fame right fielder.
Second Division Strugglers
#5 Washington Senators (76-78) . Having reached the .500 mark in ‘52 there was hope in Washington, but improvement did not come. 1B Mickey Vernon won the batting title .337 and OF Jim Busby broke the .300 mark but there was very little power. As usual 3B Eddie Yost led the league in walks with 123. Pitching ace Bob Porterfield had a career year winning 22 games.
#6 Detroit Tigers (60-94) . As bad as their record was, it was 10 games better than 1952. OF Ray Boone had a good season hitting .312 with 22 homeruns and 93 RBIS but what excited the fans most was Rookie of the Year shortstop Harvey Kuenn who batted .302. The pitching staff was horrendous from top to bottom.
#7 Philadelphia Athletics (59-95) . The dismal season deflated all the fan interest gained by their surprising fourth place finish the previous year. Pitcher Bobby Shantz followed up his 24 win season in 1952 with a 5-9 season. Gus Zernial could still be counted on with 42 homeruns and 108 RBIS and 1b Eddie Robinson added 22 homeruns with 102 RBIs, but Farris Fain was traded and there was no support from anyone else.
#8 St. Louis Browns (54-100) . A pitching staff whose best pitcher Marlin Stuart won 8 games and an offense whose leading batter, Dick Kyhoiskid, hit .278 kept the Browns in the doldrums. Forty eight year old Satchel Paige was still on the roster but could only record 3 wins. There was one day of excitement for their few beleaguered fans when rookie pitcher Bobo Hollomon threw a no hitter in his major league debut against the A’s on May 6. He proceeded to go 2 and 7 and was back in the minors at the end of the season. The Browns set a record by losing 20 consecutive home games.
Other notable dates in 1953 include: June 18 - Boston Red Sox scored a record 17 runs during the seventh inning, July 6 - Mickey Mantle hit a pinch hit grand slam over the roof in Connie Mack Stadium, July 8 - Al Kaline smacked his first Major League hit, July 29 - Ted Williams returned after nearly six months in the Korean War, September 13 - Bob Trice became the first black Athletics' player, and on September 27 the St. Louis Browns played their final game in the American League (and lost 2-1 versus the Chicago White Sox).