Entrepreneur Ray Kroc opened the first McDonalds restaurant in Des Plains, Illinois, initiating the world's largest and most successful "fast-food" chain. Even after McDonald's was well established, Kroc still attempted to move forward with German-tavern restaurants, pie shops and even theme parks, like Disneyland. No endeavor however, would match the success of the "Golden Arches".
After racing in Bakersfield, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, up-and-coming actor James Dean traded in his Porsche Speedster for a Porsche Spyder 550 called "Little Bastard". Later that year he was killed in a bizarre auto accident on his way to race in Salinas, California. "Rebel Without a Cause" (considered to be his greatest work) was released less than a month later to rave reviews.
America's greatest theme park, Disneyland, opened in Anaheim California with eighteen cutting-edge attractions, including the Jungle Cruise, Tomorrowland Autopia, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and the Mark Twain Adventure. After years of construction, the ground-breaking visions of animation tycoon Walt Disney evolved into the creation of a Magical Kingdom that drew one million visitors in six months.
Eight years after Jackie Robinson broke the color-barrier, Elston Howard became the first African-American to don the Yankees pinstripes. The twenty-six year-old catcher, debuted with a clutch single in his first at-bat as New York went on to defeat the Boston Red Sox 8-4 at Fenway Park.
Cleveland Indians' ace Bob Feller one-hit the Boston Red Sox for a 2-0 victory on May 1 st setting a Major League record with twelve career one-hitters. Later that season, teammate Herb Score broke Grover Cleveland Alexander's rookie season strikeout record after fanning his two-hundred thirty-fifth of the year.
On June 21 st , Mickey Mantle became the first New York Yankee ever to hit a home run to straight-away center at Yankee Stadium. The epic blast traveled well over the thirty-foot hitter's backdrop and landed in the ninth row of bleachers for an estimated total of four-hundred eighty-six feet.
In his first Major League start, Pittsburgh Pirates' pitcher Al Grunwald threw "for the cycle" after surrendering a single, a double, a triple, and a home run (for four runs) all in a single inning during a 12-3 loss to the New York Giants.
Brooklyn Dodgers' pitcher Don Newcombe became the only National League pitcher of the decade to steal home (after he hit a clutch triple) in the ninth inning en route to a 6-2 win over the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates on May 26 th . Later in the season he would win twenty games and set another National League record with seven home runs, the most ever by a pitcher.
New York Giant Willie Mays became only the seventh player ever to hit fifty home runs in a single season after knocking two-run homers in each game of a double header against the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Polo Grounds. Mays joined fellow sluggers Babe Ruth, Ralph Kiner, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Hack Wilson and Johnny Mize as a member of baseball's prestigious "50 Club".
At the beginning of the 1955 season only three teams, out of sixteen, still had yet to field a black ballplayer (Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies).
On July 9 th , Chicago newspaperman Arch Ward, the originator of the All-Star Game, died suddenly at the age of fifty-eight on the way to cover his twenty-second Midsummer Classic. Ward was the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and was also credited with initiating the All-Star College Football Game and the All-America Football Conference.
One of the game's greatest, Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner died at the age of eighty-one on December 6 th . Wagner had played twenty-one years of outstanding baseball with eighteen of them as a Pittsburgh Pirate. He completed his career with a .327 career batting average, six-hundred forty-three doubles, two-hundred fifty-two triples and seven-hundred twenty-two stolen bases. He also hit one-hundred one home runs (with never more than ten a season), won the National League Batting Champion title eight times and batted .300 (or better) sixteen times — including fifteen seasons in a row.
The 1955 season debuted such rookie talents as Sandy Koufax, Brooks Robinson, Roberto Clemente and Harmon Killebrew. All now have plaques hanging in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.
"Just hold them for a few innings, fellas. I'll think of something." - Chuck Dressen
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
On April 12, 1955, the Athletics played their first game in Major League history in the city of Kansas City and beat the Detroit Tigers 6-2.
The Indians joyride did not carryover to 1955 as the Ole Professor took the Yanks back to their familiar position edging out the Indians by three games. This was accomplished by what some considered a revamped or rebuilt roster for the Yankees. Allie Reynolds was injured, the 1954 Rookie of the Year Bob Grim suffered from arm troubles, Vic Raschi, Ed Lopat and Johnny Sain were sold. Stengel countered by bringing back pitcher Tommy Byne (16 wins) from the minors followed by a huge 18 player trade with Baltimore that brought in pitchers Bob Turley and Don Larsen to join Whitey Ford. The aging Phil Rizzuto gave way to shortstop Billy Hunter obtained in the same trade. Gil McDougal moved over to second base from third due to injury to Jerry Coleman.
The Indians were hurt when OF Vic Wertz was sidelined in mid- August, but a high note was the debut of rookie pitcher Herb Score to pick up the slack from the aging Feller. Detroit witnessed the blossoming of 20 year- old (HOF) Al Kaline whose league leading batting average of .340 tied Ty Cobb as the youngest batting champion ever.
#1 New York Yankees (96-58) . For the second year in a row Yogi Berra took home the MVP award hitting 27 homeruns and knocking in 108. Mantle showed his power with 37 homeruns and his buddy, pitcher Whitey Ford, won 18. Newcomers Bob Turley and Tommy Byne combined for 33 wins while a rejuvenated 38 year old Jim Konstantly contributed a surprising eight victories and saved 11 others. Bill Skowron took over at first base and pitcher Johnny Kucks made his major league debut.
#2 Cleveland Indians (93-61) . Quite a come down from a110 win season. Outfielder Al Smith was the only offensive player to improve on their 1954 output, hitting .306 with 22 homeruns. Herb Score replaced Bob Feller and was name the AL Rookie of the Year winning 16 games. Bob Lemon and Early Wynn combined for 36 wins, but Mike Garcia faltered. The hope that adding veterans Ralph Kiner and Farris Fain would continue their heroics did not pan out.
#3 Chicago White Sox ( 91-63) . The White Sox matched their 1954 record and continued to be a pest for the league leaders. With very little power but a well balanced pitching staff and excellent defense made them a team to reckon with. Veteran George Kell hit .312 to offset a decline from Minnie Minoso. Second baseman Nellie Fox was becoming mister consistency batting .311. The pitching staff had a welcomed addition in Dick Donovan who won 15 games while Billy Pierce and Virgil Trucks combined for 28.
#4 Boston Red Sox (84-70) . A bounce back year for the Bosox that instilled some false hopes for the team’s immediate future. If Ted Williams had stayed healthy, they might have challenged. When he played (98 games), Williams was splendid, batting .356, 28 homeruns and 83 RBIs. Fortunately outfielder Jackie Jensen helped pick up some of the slack with 26 homeruns and 118 RBIs. Frank Sullivan, a monster of a pitcher won 18 games but there was little behind him. Mel Parnel was but a shadow of his former self.
The Second Division
#5 Detroit Tigers (79-75) . The Tigers climbed over the .500 mark for the first time since 1950. Harvey Kueen hit .306 to back up AL batting champion Al Kaline’s .340 with 27 homeruns. Twenty- three year old pitcher Billy Hoeff led a weak pitching staff with 16 wins.
#6 Kansas City Athletics (63-91) . The move from Philadelphia improved a bad team, but they were still very bad. The new fans cheered on 1B Vic Power who hit .318 with 19 homeruns along with outfielders Harry “Suitcase” Simpson’s .301 and power hitter Gus Zernial, who led the team with 30 homeruns. Art Ditmar was the leading pitcher with a paltry 12 wins.
#7 Baltimore Orioles ( 57-97) . Bad is when your leading homerun hitter, 1B Gus Triandos, can only belt 12 homeruns and your best pitcher, Jim Wilson (10-10) is the only pitcher not to lose more than he won.
#8 Washington Senators (53-101) . Thank goodness for 1B Mickey Vernon .301, SS Pete Runnels .284 and OF Roy Severs 25 homeruns being there because their pitching was maybe even worse than the Orioles, The Senators lived up to their legend “ Washington 1st in war, 1st in peace and last in the American League”.
On August 13, 1955, Larry Doby committed an error while playing outfield. This ended his streak of errorless games and set a new American League record of one-hundred sixty-seven games without an error.
In September 26, 1955, Ted Williams finished the season with a .356 average and seventy-one walks which was well ahead of batting champion Al Kaline's .340 average. Due to the high amount of walks, Ted Williams did not have enough at-bats to win the batting champion title. A rule change occurred by the following season changing the batting title criteria to plate appearances versus times at-bat.