YEAR IN REVIEW : 1953 National League

Off the field...

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.

In the American League...

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.

In the National League...

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.

Around the League...

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.

Baseball Almanac Top Quote

"The players can do more for themselves than any outside representative." - National League President Warren Giles

1953 National League Player Review

1952 | 1953 National League Hitting Statistics Leaders | 1954

St. Louis
105
Brooklyn
.344
St. Louis
53
Philadelphia
205
Milwaukee
47
St. Louis
.437
Brooklyn
142
Brooklyn
132
Brooklyn
.627
Milwaukee
26
Brooklyn
370
Brooklyn
17

1953 National League Pitcher Review

1952 | 1953 National League Pitching Statistics Leaders | 1954

Philadelphia
33
Milwaukee
2.10
New York
68
St. Louis
18
St. Louis
6
Philadelphia
198
Brooklyn
.769
Philadelphia
23
Milwaukee

1953 National League Team Standings

1953 All-Star Game | 1952 Team Standings | 1953 World Series

105
49
.682
0
92
62
.597
13
83
71
.539
22
83
71
.539
22
70
84
.455
35
68
86
.442
37
65
89
.422
40
50
104
.325
55

1953 National League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls
Brooklyn
655
Batting Average
Brooklyn
.285
Doubles
St. Louis
281
Hits
Brooklyn
1,529
Home Runs
Brooklyn
208
On Base Percentage
Brooklyn
.366
Runs
Brooklyn
955
Slugging Average
Brooklyn
.474
Stolen Bases
Brooklyn
90
Triples
Philadelphia
62

1953 National League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games
Philadelphia
76
ERA
Milwaukee
3.30
Fewest Hits Allowed
Milwaukee
1,282
Fewest Home Runs Allowed
Milwaukee
107
Fewest Walks Allowed
Philadelphia
410
Saves
St. Louis
36
Shutouts
Milwaukee
14
Strikeouts
Brooklyn
817
baseball almanac flat baseball

baseball almanac fast facts

Did you know that the Braves, who opened the 1953 season in Milwaukee, were scheduled to open in Boston until the move was approved on March 18th of the same season?

1953 National League Pennant Race | by Jim Halloran ( Baseball and America )

Talk about a cakewalk to the pennant. What the Dodgers did was an embarrassment to the National League. The Dodgers became the first team in the National League to win consecutive pennants since the 1944 Cardinals. It was hard to compete against a team featuring two players with 40 plus homeruns; Duke Snider and Roy Campanella, and the league’s leading batting average hitter Carl Furillo (.343). Carl Erskine stepped forward with 21 wins taking the place of ace pitcher Don Newcome who was completing his military obligation. The big surprise came out of Milwaukee.

For the first time since 1903 there was a shift of franchises when the Braves departed Boston for baseball hungry Milwaukee. The move paid off not only with a big boost in attendance by producing a National League attendance record of 1,9826,397, but also with a vastly improved baseball team which won 28 more games than the previous year. The Cincinnati Reds responded from the political pressure of the McCarthy hearings on communism by changing their name to the Redlegs.

#1 Brooklyn Dodgers (105-49) . A lot of the talk was about the 83 homeruns that Duke Snider and Roy Campanella hit but they were hardly alone as 1b Gill Hodges added 31 homeruns. Jackie Robinson at age 34 was not slowing down batting .326 with 17 stolen bases. Add the stolen bases of SS Peewee Reese 22 and 21 from Rookie of the Year 2b Jim “Junior” Gilliam and you also had the fastest team in the league. Five pitchers recorded double digit win seasons.

#2 Milwaukee Braves (92-62) . The Braves were building credibility as several of their new players were taking steps towards greatness. The leaders in that regard were 21 year old 3B Eddie Mathews who batted .302 with 47 homeruns and 137 RBIs and 26 year old Lew Burdette with 15 wins. Spahn of course was back tol his dominant self in winning 23 games.

#3 Philadelphia Phillies (83-71) . Pretty much the same line up as the last three years just a year older. Outfielder Richie Ashburn rebounded with fine batting average .330 while OF Del Ennis contributed 29 homeruns with 125 RBIs. Robin Roberts added to his consecutive 20 win seasons with 23 victories and Curt Simmons won 15 but the bullpen provided little support.

#4 St. Louis Cardinals (83-71) . Similar to the Phils, the Cards were pretty much a repeat from 1952. Outside of Stan Musial, .337, 30 homeruns, 113 RBIs and (HOF) 2B Red Schoendienst .340, the offense was mediocre. As was the pitching with the exception of blossoming right hander Harvey Haddix who won 20 games in his first complete season.

Second Division Strugglers

#5 New York Giants (70-84) . The Giants were still without Mays and it showed. OF Monte Irvin batted .329 with 21 homeruns and joined SS Alvin Dark, .300, 23 homeruns and OF Bobby Thomson’s 28 homeruns to form the bulk of their offense. The pitching staff was very bad led by only two double digit starters. Ruben Gomez won13 and Larry Jansen 11. Hoyt Wilhelm was in the bullpen and recorded 15 saves.

#6 Cincinnati Redlegs (69-85) . The new name did nothing to change the team as it produced the same dismal record of last year. A power loaded team with no pitching. Along with !B Ted Kluzewski’s 40 homeruns and OF Gus Bell with 30 were OF Jim Greengrass, catcher Andy Seminick and newcomer outfielder Wilbur Marshall in battering opposing pitchers. Unfortunately, the opposing teams battered the Redleg pitchers even more.

#7 Chicago Cubs (65-89) . If Ralph Kiner was hoping to play for a better team after being traded from Pittsburgh to the Cubs early in the season in a ten player trade he was sadly mistaken. Although Kiner hit 26 homeruns in 120 games with 87 RBIS with the Cubs which led his new team in both categories, it did not change their fortunes. 1B Dee Fondy did bat .309 with 18 homeruns but there was not much else. No pitcher recorded more than 12 wins.

#8 Pittsburgh Pirates (50-104) . At least they won 50 games, an eight game improvement over ’52. General Manager Branch Rickey was proven right when he told Ralph Kiner in a salary dispute that the Pirates could come in last place with or without him. The Pirates were left with only OF Frank Thomas, 30 homeruns, and no pitchers with more than 10 wins.

Modern Major League pitchers rarely toss a complete game during a full season of play. On July 9, 1953, Robin Roberts streak of 28 CONSECUTIVE complete games ended after he gave up 11 hits and 5 earned runs - his relief was Bob Miller and it occurred during the 8th inning versus the Dodgers.

Can you name the player who made his Major League debut in 1953 and did not miss a game until his consecutive games played streak reached 424? It was none other than Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs who made his debut on September 17, 1953 and went 0-for-3 in a losing effort (final score was 16-4) versus the Phillies.

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