Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and approximately one-hundred other participants in the "Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott" were indicted for conspiracy to conduct an illegal boycott and sentenced to prison. All cases were eventually settled by $100 fines and the Supreme Court later ruled that segregation on any form of public transportation was unconstitutional.
After Colonel Tom Parker negotiated the sale of Elvis Presley's Sun Records contract to RCA, the future "King of Rock and Roll" had his first recording session at their studio in Nashville. Among the songs recorded was "Heartbreak Hotel" which was released as a single and sold over 300,000 copies in its first three weeks. It quickly climbed to number one on Billboard's pop singles chart for eight weeks, hit number one on the country chart, number five on the R&B chart and became the first Elvis single to sell over one million copies, earning him his first gold record.
Prince Rainier III of Monaco married film actress Grace Kelly. A civil ceremony was held in the throne room in the Palace of Monaco and was attended by the couple's close family and friends. The Prince, who still rules the country today, succeeded his grandfather Louis II in 1949 to become Monaco's thirty-first ruler. Unfortunately, Princess Grace was killed in a car crash on September 14, 1982 after her car went off a road over a cliff in Monaco.
The New York Yankees and Washington Senators combined to set a Major League record after each hit three home runs on Opening Day. Bronx Bomber Mickey Mantle hit two tape measure blasts himself (both over five-hundred feet) off pitcher Camilo Pascual en route to a 10-4 win.
Boston lefthander Mel Parnell tossed a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park on July 14 th . The 4-0 triumph was the first "no-no" for the Red Sox since 1923. Unfortunately Parnell went on to a mediocre 4-4 record before tearing a muscle in his pitching arm that ultimately ended his career as Boston's winningest lefty.
Don Larsen of the New York Yankees threw ninety-seven pitches for the only perfect game in World Series history while defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers 2-0 in Game 5.
On May 2 nd , twenty-five Giants and twenty-three Cubs participated in a seventeen-inning marathon setting a Major League record for the most player appearances in a single game. New York eventually prevailed over Chicago 6-5 as both teams combined to intentionally walk eleven batters (another Major League record) with the home team "Cubbies" contributing seven.
Dale Long of the Pittsburgh Pirates connected against the Brooklyn Dodgers' Carl Erskine at Forbes Field on May 28 th for his eighth home run in as many games. His consecutive record for round trippers would stand for thirty-one years until New York Yankee Don Mattingly finally equaled it in 1987.
Despite losing 13-6 to the St. Louis Cardinals on July 21 st , the Brooklyn Dodgers' Junior Gilliam made twelve assists at second base to set a modern Major League record, while team captain Pee Wee Reese tallied his two-thousandth Major League hit - one of only five active players to reach the plateau.
The Major League owners voted to establish the Cy Young Memorial Award for outstanding pitcher of the year. Don Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers (who won the 1949 Rookie of the Year Award) became the first recipient and also went on to win the National League Most Valuable Player title.
Pitching legend Satchel Paige signed a new contract with the Birmingham Black Barons (Negro League) at age fifty to both play and manage. His frequent successful duels against such barnstorming Major Leaguers as Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, and Bob Feller helped boost the credibility of black baseball and established him as one of the greatest aces ever to take the mound.
Former National Football League tackle (New York Giants) turned American League umpire Frank Umont became the first Major League official to wear glasses while calling a game. Many fans hoped that it would start a "trend" across the league as many umpires had been accused of needing spectacles.
The National Braille Press presented Boston Red Sox manager Pinky Higgins with their 1956 schedule, printed in Braille for the first time. All other Major League teams would soon follow with Braille printed season calendars for the sight impaired.
"(Mickey) Mantle's got more power than any hitter I ever saw - including the Babe." - Yankee Coach Bill Dickey on Aptil 17, 1956
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
There might not be an official record for the most wild looking pitches, but on May 20, 1956, Washington Senators' pitcher Chuck Stobbs would have probably qualified for the top ten when he uncorked a wild one that landed 17 rows into the stands and closer to first base than home plate! After the game Stobbs told reporters, "I wanted to dig a hole and hide under the mound."
The Yankees dominance continued. They started the season winning seven of eight and took permanent possession of first place on May 16. This would be the seventh pennant in eight seasons under Casey Stengel. It was the year that Mickey Mantle blossomed into his great career by winning the Triple Crown and MVP batting .353, 52 home runs and 130 RBIs. He was again supported by Yogi Berra, Hank Bauer, Bill Skowron and Gil McDougal. Even with a pitching staff that led the league in wins, complete games, ERA, shutouts, and strikeouts the Indians could not keep pace.
The promising White Sox won six fewer games than '55 due mainly to not being a good road team. With the exception of Kansas City dropping two places and Washington moving up one the final standings were a copy of 1955.
#1 New York Yankees (97-57) . The talented lineup included four positions player that hit more than 20 home runs—Mantle, Berra, Skowron and Bauer. With disappointing seasons from pitchers Bob Turley, Don Larsen and Tommy Byne, Stengel found a hidden gem in 26 year old Tom Sturdivant (16-6) and sophomore Johnny Kucks (18-9). Whitey Ford, (19-6), missed out on winning 20 games by losing on the last day of the season. Outfielder Elston Howard provided some relief for Yogi by filling in behind the plate in 26 games.
#2 Cleveland Indians (88-66) . Rookie outfielder Rocky Colavito quickly became a fan favorite by belting 21 home runs. Reliable outfielder Vic Wertz also created some excitement with 32 home runs and 106 RBIs. Second baseman Bobby Avila suffered through a miserable year batting .224 and 3B Al Rosen was mediocre. They missed Larry Doby who was sent off to the White Sox. Pitchers Early Wynne, Bob Lemon and Herb Score each won exactly 20 games. Score led the league in shutouts.
#3 Chicago White Sox (85-69) . Despite two important additions — (HOF) Larry Doby and the AL Rookie of the Year and future Hall of Fame Luis Aparicio, the team disappointed after three years of improvement. Aparicio was making defensive plays that left the crowd speechless. Doby and Minnie Minoso each hit more than twenty home runs. Second baseman Nellie Fox failed to hit his usual .300 plus and 1B Walt Dropo never got on track. Pitcher Billy Pierce had his first 20 game win season. He was supported by Jack Harshman's 16 wins, however the reminder of the pitching staff was very mundane.
#4 Boston Red Sox ( 84-70) . 1956 duplicated the record of 1954. An upward movement was expected following the acquisition of 1B Mickey Vernon from the Senators. Vernon .310 batting average and the expected fine seasons from Ted Williams, .345 with 24 home runs and OF Jackie Jensen .315, 20 home runs and 97 RBIs kept the offense moving, but once again the pitching let them down. Right hander Tom Brewer led the staff with a solid 19 game winning season, but age and an ankle injury to former ace Mel Parnel took their toll.
#5 Detroit Tigers (82-72) . Shortstop Harvey Kueen (.334)and OF Al Kaline (.314, 27 homeruns and 128 RBIs) were joined by the surprising outfielder Charlie Maxwell .326 with 27 home runs. Third baseman Ray Boone had a career best .308, 25 home runs. Two pitchers, Frank Lary and Billy Hoeff, stood out winning 21 and 20 games respectively, but it was not enough to make up for the lack of depth and consistency of the rest of the team.
#6 Baltimore Orioles (69-85) . A slight move up the ranks was encouraging for this previously futile team. Only one player with 20 home runs, catcher Gus Triandos, and only one bat hit .300 — Bob "Frozen Rope" Boyd. Only one pitcher won more than 10 games, Ray Moore with twelve. But still an improvement of 12 wins over 1955.
#7 Washington Senators (59-85) . Having sent their only good hitter, Mickey Vernon, to Boston the Senators had to rely on the bats of shortstop Pete Runnels .310, catcher Clint Courtney .300, outfielders Roy Sievers, 20 home runs and Jim Lemon, 27 home runs. Pitchers Chuck Stobbs,15 wins, and Pedro Ramos, 12 wins, accounted for 75% of the starting pitchers wins.
#8 Kansas City Athletics (52-102) . It was not a case of young players breaking into the major leagues. The team was pretty much made up of castaways and it showed. The brightest spot was 1B Vic Power who batted .309. Harry "Suitcase" Simpson, so named for the many teams he was traded too, hit 21 home runs and knocked in 105. Ace pitcher Art Ditmar won 12 games however he lost 22. Troy Hermage won one game while losing 13.
On May 30, 1956, Mickey Mantle hit the legendary 600+ foot home run in Yankee Stadium. On the mound was Pedro Ramos of the Washington Senators who had a 2-2 count with Mantle batting left-handed and two men on base. The next pitched was crushed and it traveled 370 feet away, 117 feet high, and approximately 18 inches away from clearing the right field facade - which would have allowed it to become the first and only pitch to literally leave Yankee Stadium.
Other notable dates in 1956 include: July 14 - Mel Parnell's no-hitter, July 17 - Ted Williams' 400th career home run, August 23 - Nellie Fox 7-for-7 at the plate, September 9 - Bob Feller Day in Cleveland, and September 11 - Bob Lemon's 200th career victory.