YEAR IN REVIEW : 1954 National League

Off 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.

In 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.

In 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.

Around 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.

Baseball Almanac Top Quote

"You get a few handshakes and walk away from 20 years of your life (when he left the St. Louis Cardinals). I cried like a baby." - Future Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter

1954 National League Player Review

1953 | 1954 Hitting Statistics League Leaders | 1954

Philadelphia
125
New York
.345
St. Louis
41
New York
212
Cincinnati
49
Philadelphia
.442
Cincinnati
141
St. Louis
120
Brooklyn
New York
.667
Milwaukee
34
Brooklyn
378
New York
13

1954 National League Pitcher Review

1953 | 1954 Pitching Statistics League Leaders | 1954

Philadelphia
29
New York
2.30
Brooklyn
60
Brooklyn
24
New York
6
Philadelphia
185
New York
.750
Philadelphia
23

1954 National League Team Standings

1954 All-Star Game | 1954 Team Standings | 1954 World Series

97
57
.630
0
92
62
.597
5
89
65
.578
8
75
79
.487
22
74
80
.481
23
72
82
.468
25
64
90
.416
33
53
101
.344
44

1954 National League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls
Brooklyn
634
Batting Average
St. Louis
.281
Doubles
St. Louis
285
Hits
St. Louis
1,518
Home Runs
Brooklyn
186
New York
On Base Percentage
St. Louis
.354
Runs
St. Louis
799
Slugging Average
Brooklyn
.444
Stolen Bases
St. Louis
63
Triples
Philadelphia
58
St. Louis

1954 National League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games
Philadelphia
78
ERA
New York
3.10
Fewest Hits Allowed
New York
1,258
Fewest Home Runs Allowed
Milwaukee
106
Fewest Walks Allowed
Philadelphia
450
Saves
Brooklyn
36
Shutouts
New York
19
Strikeouts
Brooklyn
762
baseball almanac flat baseball

baseball almanac fast facts

On April 13, 1954 , Hank Aaron made his Major League debut. The young outfielder went 0 for 5. Ten days later, on April 23, 1954 , the future home run king went yard during his 7th career game against Cardinals' pitcher Vic Raschi .

1954 American League Pennant Race | by Jim Halloran ( Baseball and America )

The Giants surprised everyone with a comeback effort to beat out their nemesis Dodgers. How the Giants took the step from a fifth place, fourteen games below .500 record in 1953 to 97 wins this season, was largely due to two exciting additions. Number one was the return of NL MVP Willie Mays from the military who hit 41 homeruns. Number two was a trade in which the Giants sent 1951 hero Bobby Thomson to the Braves for young pitcher Johnny Antonelli. Antonelli responded with 21 wins. The favored Dodgers wilted late when Campanella’s input dropped dramatically due to a hand injury and although ace pitcher Don Newcombe returned from the service, he was not ready to assume his previous role and won only nine games.

This was the year for the debut of outfielder (HOF) Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee Braves and SS (HOF) Ernie Banks of the Cubs. It was also the start of the very short and limited two year pitching career of future Dodger HOF manager, Tommy Lasorda. Another HOF manager Walter Alston took the helm of the 1954 Dodgers. The Braves Joe Adcock had a record-breaking game when he hit four home runs and a double for a one game total base record of 18.

#1 New York Giants (97-57) . Equally as important as the addition of Antonelli was the two headed bullpen monsters of pitchers Hoyt Wilhelm and Marv Grissom who combined to win 22 games and save 26 more. Starting pitchers Ruben Gomez and the “Barber” Sal Maglie provided starting pitching support with a combined 31 wins. SS Alvin Dark hit 20 homeruns, and outfielder Don Mueller batted .342, just shy of Mays .348. Dusty Rhodes provided input from the bench batting .341 with 15 homeruns in just 164 at bats.

#2 Brooklyn Dodgers (92-62) . Duplicating their 105 win season of 1953 was not to be. Still a great roster of future Hall of Famers but missing the speed and pitching of previous seasons. The pitching staff was headed up by reliable Carl Erskine with 18 wins but with little from Newcombe and hurt by the loss of 1952 MVP Joe Black to injury, it was not enough.

#3 Milwaukee Braves (89-65) . Despite not quite matching their 1953 resurgence, fan interest in Milwaukee was electric. Third baseman 3B (HOF) Eddie Mathews continued his torrid hitting with 40 homeruns and 103 RBIs while 1b Joe Adcock broke through batting .308, 27 homeruns and 87 RBIs. Add to that, a rookie right fielder 20 year old Henry Aaron showed some promise hitting 13 homeruns. The duo of Spahn and Lew Burdette anchored the pitching staff winning 36 games and were supported by newcomer Gene Conley’s 14 wins. The 6’8” Conley also played professional basketball for Boston Celtics.

The Failures

#4 Philadelphia Phillies (75-79) . The very old roster of the Phillies was in decline. (HOF) Richie Ashburn once again broke the .300 mark and was surprisingly accompanied with catcher Smoky Burgess .368. Del Ennis hit his usual 20+ homeruns but there was no other help. Robin Roberts added to his consecutive six 20 win seasons, but Curt Simmons lost more than he won and Jim Konstanty was only a shell of his former greatness.

#5 Cincinnati Redlegs (74-80) . New manager Birdie Tebbetts guided the Redlegs to a slightly improved season, but not enough to rouse much excitement. They continued to flex their homerun power. 1B Ted Kluzewski led the team with 49 homeruns and was backed up by outfielders Jim Greengrass 27, Gus Bell 17 and Wally Post 16. It was not enough to offset the poor pitching staff with no pitcher exceeding 12 wins.

#6 St. Louis Cardinals (72-82) . The Cardinals added Rookie of the Year outfielder Wally Moon but it did not prevent them from losing 11 more games than the last season. One would think with HOF players Musial batting .330 and Schoendienst .317 along with Moon’s .303 they should have won more than 72 games. However, only pitcher Harvey Haddix stood out with 18 wins. An aging Vic Raschi came over from the Yanks but could only contribute 8 wins.

#7 Chicago Cubs (64-80) . The Cubbies could not even match the 65 wins from a season ago. They had some offense with old timer Hank Sauer hitting 41 homeruns, HOF Ralph Kiner’s 22 and future HOF rookie, shortstop Ernie Banks 19, but their best pitcher Bob Rush lost more games, 15, than he won, 13.

#8 Pittsburgh Pirates (53-101) . The Pirates settled right into their natural position of last place. Having traded Kiner to the Cubs there were no baseball cards of Pirates that excited the kids. Only veteran infielder Sid Gordon topped .300, batting .308. There was not one pitcher who won more games than losses.

On July 31, 1954 , Joe Adcock hit a bases empty home run during the second inning with Don Newcombe on the mound. During the 5th inning Adcock went deep versus Erv Palica . During the 7th inning Adcock went deep again - this time versus Pete Wojey AND in the 9th inning Adcock became a member of one the rarest hitting clubs when he went deep for a record tieing 4 times - his final victim being Johnny Podres .

Did you know that prior to the 1954 season players were allowed to leave their glove on the field between innings? This rule was changed in late 1953 and 1954 was the first season were it was no longer officially permitted.

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