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.
"To do what he (Jackie Robinson) did has got to be the most tremendous thing I've ever seen in sports." - Pee Wee Reese
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Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
It finally happened, a pennant and a World Series championship came to Brooklyn. The chant “wait til next year” was silenced. The Dodgers came out of the gate by winning 10 in a row and 22 of 24. By July 4 they had built a 12 ½ game cushion and never felt any pressure. They were led by the resurgence of catcher Roy Campanella, fully recovered from his 1954 hand injury.
The Braves moved up to second largely as a result of the maturing of Hank Aaron. The Giants fell to third place despite the continuing heroics of Willie Mays. The bottom tier stayed in pact with little change in standings from the previous season.
#1 Brooklyn Dodgers (98-59) . Campanella won the MVP for the third time in five years batting .318 with 32 homeruns and 107 RBIs. Many thought it should have gone to Duke Snider who hit 42 homeruns. 138 RBIs and a hefty batting average of .318. It was an all-star hitting line up. Don Newcombe rebounded with 20 wins and Clem Labine had a career year posting 13 wins. A 19 year old Sandy Koufax made his debut by pitching in 12 games winning two. This was a very well balanced team.
#2 Milwaukee Braves (85-69) . Despite winning four fewer games than the year before, the Braves moved up a notch to second place. Eddie Mathews had another 40 plus homerun season and Hank Aaron showed what was coming by hitting 27 homeruns, 106 RBIS and a batting average of .314. Unexpected offense came from shortstop Johnny Logan, .297 and 13 homeruns. Warren Spahn showed he was human with a 17-14 record while Lew Burdette could only harness 13 wins. The offense sputtered when 1B Joe Adcock was lost for 90 games due to a broken arm.
#3 New York Giants (85-74) . The World Champion Giants returned to earth. Willie Mays blasted 51 homeruns, 127 RBIs with a batting average of .319, but the rest of the offense never got untracked. The biggest disappointment was the decline of 1954 hero Johnny Antonelli who followed his 21 win season with 14. The pitching duo of Ruben Gomez and an aging Sal Maglie could only manage a total of 18 wins.
#4 Philadelphia Phillies (77-77) . The Phillies had fallen into a rut. Same old story — Richie Ashburn .338, and Del Ennis with 29 homeruns, 120 RBIs but no other bats worth noting. Robin Roberts won 25 but only Maury Dickson could win more than 10 games with 12. There did not appear to be any help on its way for this tired looking roster.
#5 Cincinnati Redlegs (75-79) . A power lineup with weak pitching. Muscleman 1B Ted Kluzewski 47 homers was joined by outfielders Wally Post’s 40 and Gus Bell’s 27. Twenty-six year old left handed pitcher Joe Nuxhall won 17 and Art Fowler 11 but no ne else could post double digits in victories.
#6 Chicago Cubs ( 72-81) . The slight improvement over ’54 was primarily due to their young shortstop Ernie Banks (.295, 44 homeruns, 117 RBIS). Outfielder Hank Sauer was retired. All starting pitchers lost more than they won with “Sad” Sam jones finishing the year with 20 loses.
#7 St. Louis Cardinals (68-86) . Hard to understand a team with 1B (HOF) Stan Musial, 2B (HOF) Red Schoendienst and upcoming stars OF Wally Moon and 3B Ken Boyer plus Rookie of the Year outfielder Bill Virdon could win only 68 games. Of course, it was because the pitching was horrible. Ace Harvey Haddix could only manage 12 wins while losing 15.
#8 Pittsburgh Pirates (60-84) . For the fourth year in a row the Pirates came in dead last. There was a power outage without Ralph Kiner, although OF Frank Thomas did smack 27 hrs. However,it was not hopeless. Shortstop was very efficiently played by 24 year-old Dick Groat and future Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente took over right field. For a last place club, pitcher Bob Friend had a very respectful 14-9 season.
On August 15, 1955, National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn hit a home run in Sportsman's Park giving him a home run in every single National League ballpark.
On October 25, 1955, baseball legend and future hall of fame executive Branch Rickey left the Pirates organization and retired from Major League Baseball.