Year In Review : 1954 American League

O ff the field...

The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) backed a coup by Colonel Carlos Armas to overthrow the Guatemalan Government. The government, ruled under Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, supported a Communist-authored land reform bill that expropriated most of the land holdings of United Fruit Company. The Guatemalan actions had led to a U.S. arms embargo, but they later purchased arms from Czechoslovakia providing an excuse for the uprising.

After hearing the case of Brown versus the Board of Education, Chief Justice Earl Warren (United States Supreme Court) formally ruled that all forms of segregation were unconstitutional. The landmark case was a first step in mandating racial equality and initiated the desegregation of all public institutions in the United States of America.

I n the American League...

The Boston Red Sox managed to pull off a rare triple play, but still lost to the Baltimore Orioles during a seventeen-inning game that set a new American League record for time consumed at four hours and fifty-eight minutes, and tied the Major League mark (set seven weeks earlier) for the most players used in a single game (forty-two).

On August 30 th , the Cleveland Indians completed an embarrassing eleven home-game sweep of the visiting Boston Red Sox. It was the first such sweep since the New York Yankees, led by "Murderers Row", had blanked the laughable St. Louis Browns back in 1927.

Mickey Vernon of the Washington Senators tallied his 2,000 th career hit on September 2 nd . He also notched his nineteenth home run of the season for a franchise record for left-handers.

I n the National League...

Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals hit five home runs during a May 2 nd doubleheader against the New York Giants. In a strange coincidence, eight-year-old Nate Colbert (who would grow up to play for the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, Montreal Expos, Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics) was in attendance and would become the only other player in Major League history to tie Musial's mark. Both teams split for the day as the Cards won the first game 10-6 and the Giants took the second 9-7.

On May 4 th , the Phillies and Cardinals set a Major League record (later broken) by using a staggering forty-two combined players during an eleven-inning, 14-10 Philly victory. Philadelphia used seven pitchers throughout the effort and the St. Louis topped them with eight men on the mound.

At Ebbets Field, Milwaukee Brave Joe Adcock hit four home runs and added a double for a total of eighteen total bases during a 15-7 massacre over the Brooklyn Dodgers on July 31 st . Adcock's eighteen bases set a Major League record and when combined with the seven bases from the day before, gave him a two-day tally of twenty-five. The combined total tied the slugger with Ty Cobb for most bases in two consecutive games.

A round the league...

"The Yankee Clipper" Joe DiMaggio married Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe in San Francisco. Nine months later the two were divorced, but continued to maintain an on-again, off-again relationship. DiMaggio had reportedly told friends that the two were going to be re-married shortly before her death from a drug overdose eight years later. In the years that followed, he rarely spoke of her and had roses delivered to her gravesite twice a week for the next two decades. He never married again.

Rightfielder Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals outpolled every other National League player in the 1954 All-Star balloting.

In Game 1 of the Fall Classic, New York Giants outfielder Willie Mays made what many consider to be the greatest catch in World Series history. "Say Hey" managed to hold the game to a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning after racing back to deep centerfield and making an awkward "over-the-head" snatch of Cleveland Indian Vic Wertz's 462-foot drive.

The Major League owners association voted down the sale of the Athletics to a syndicate representing the city of Philadelphia. One week later, Arnold Johnson emerged to buy a controlling interest in the franchise from the Mack family for a reported $3.5 million dollars. He later decided to move the team to Kansas City amidst mixed emotions from the rest of the league.

"For the first time since 1954, it's the - yes! - the first-place Indians. Talk about a real-life 'Field of Dreams.' It don't get any better than this." - Walter Shapiro [fantasizing about a strike free season] in Time (1994)
1954 American League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Boston

136

Batting Average

Cleveland

.341

Doubles

Washington

33

Hits

Chicago

201

Detroit

Home Runs

Cleveland

32

On Base Percentage

Boston

.516

RBI

Cleveland

126

Runs

New York

129

Slugging Average

Chicago

.535

Stolen Bases

Boston

22

Total Bases

Chicago

304

Triples

Chicago

18

1954 American League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Cleveland

21

Washington

ERA

Cleveland

2.64

Games

Washington

54

Philadelphia

Saves

New York

22

Shutouts

Cleveland

5

Chicago

Strikeouts

Baltimore

185

Winning Percentage

Chicago

.842

Wins

Cleveland

23

Cleveland

1954 American League

Team Standings

Cleveland Indians

111 43 .721 0

New York Yankees

103 51 .669 8

Chicago White Sox

94 60 .610 17

Boston Red Sox

69 85 .448 42

Detroit Tigers

68 86 .442 43

Washington Senators

66 88 .429 45

Baltimore Orioles

54 100 .351 57

Philadelphia Athletics

51 103 .331 60

1954 American League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Boston

654

Batting Average

New York

.268

Doubles

Boston

244

Hits

Boston

1,436

Home Runs

Cleveland

156

On Base Percentage

New York

.351

Runs

New York

805

Slugging Average

New York

.408

Stolen Bases

Chicago

98

Triples

Washington

69

1954 American League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Cleveland

77

ERA

Cleveland

2.79

Fewest Hits Allowed

Cleveland

1,220

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

Baltimore

78

Fewest Walks Allowed

Cleveland

486

Saves

New York

37

Shutouts

Chicago

23

Strikeouts

Boston

707



On April 13, 1954, the Baltimore Orioles played their first Major League game and lost to the Detroit Tigers 3-0. Two days later they played their first game at Memorial Stadium and won 3-1 over the Chicago White Sox in front of 53,371 fans who were happy to see baseball return to Baltimore for the first time since 1902.

On April 26, 1901, the Philadelphia Athletics played their first game. On September 26, 1954, they played their final game until they are relocated to Kansas City for the 1955 season.

Other notable dates in 1954 include: June 12 - Bob Feller 2,500th career strikeout, July 6 - Cleveland Indians scored 8 runs during the first inning (a new record), September 6 - Carlos Paula became first black player on the Washington Senators, and September 25 - Cleveland Indians won their 111th game of the season to set a new American League watermark.

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