The United States launched its first satellite "Explorer I" into orbit around the earth. The launch was in response to the Soviets who had successfully launched their first satellite "Sputnik" one year earlier.
U.S. Troops landed in Lebanon for the first time after President Eisenhower ordered approximately five-thousand .S. Marines deployed to help maintain order after a revolt in Iraq resulted in the ouster of the pro-Western Lebanese government.
Pan Am introduced the first 707 trans-Atlantic jet service on October 27, when its first 707 airliner, christened the "Clipper America", took off for Paris, France from New York.
Cleveland Indian Vic Power became the first American League player since 1927 to steal home twice in the same game. The crafty first baseman first stole home in the eighth inning, then again in the tenth giving the Indians a 10-9 win over the Detroit Tigers.
Two walks and a hit batsman are all that Jim Bunning allowed as he won his sixth game in seven decisions and tossed the only American League no hitter of the season on July 20.
Boston's Ted Williams hit the 17 th grand slam of his career (along with a three-run home run) during an 11-8 win over the Detroit Tigers on July 29 th . The bases-loaded-round-tripper tied the Red Sox slugger for 2 nd place with Babe Ruth and moved him within six of the all-time leader, Lou Gehrig.
Tragedy struck the Los Angeles Dodgers after catcher Roy Campanella was involved in a serious auto accident on Long Island. Although he survived suffering a broken neck, his spinal column was nearly severed and his legs were permanently paralyzed.
On May 11 th , the St. Louis Cardinals set a National League record by using ten pinch hitters during a regulation double-header. Despite walking fourteen batters in game one, The "Redbirds" managed to top the Chicago Cubs 8-7 and followed in game two with another 6-5 win. Despite the lengthy line-up, Stan Musial remained the Cardinals biggest threat at the plate and posted a home run and four singles to come within two hits of three-thousand. Amazingly, the Cards would tie their own record two months later against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 13 th .
Milwaukee Braves ace Warren Spahn became the first lefty to win twenty or more games, nine times, after beating the St. Louis Cardinals 8-2 on September 13 th . (Eddie Plank and Lefty Grove, each won twenty games, eight times).
Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick announced that the players and coaches (rather than the fans) would elect their line-ups for the All-Star Game.
"Teddy Ballgame" aka Ted Williams, signed a whopping $135,000 contract extension with the Boston Red Sox making him the highest paid player (to date) in the history of Major League Baseball. Later that season he became only the 10 th player ever to get one-thousand extra-base hits.
Decades before the premiere of ESPN or the YES Network, the New York Yankees announced that they would televise an unprecedented one-hundred forty games during the 1958 season. The Philadelphia Phillies followed several days later agreeing to broadcast seventy-eight games in the New York City area.
Starting this season, all American League hitters were required to wear batting helmets.
"Do you have any observations with reference to the application of the antitrust laws to baseball?" - Senator Keauver "My views are just about the same as Casey's (Stengel)." - Mickey Mantle
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
On June 26, 1958, the Cleveland Indians fired manager Bobby Bragan for performance issues and replaced him at the helm with Joe Gordon . During the announcement the General Manager, Frank Lane, said to Bragan, "Bobby, I don't know how we're going to get along without you, but starting tomorrow we're going to try."
It seemed like a broken record with another dominant season by the Yankees. The top three teams from ’57 held on to their places. The White Sox were a pest but with their limited offense they were not a threat. To the surprise of many they traded (HOF) Minnie Minoso to the Indians for an aging and ineffective pitcher thirty eight year-old (HOF) Early Wynn.
The Red Sox could still score runs with the aging Williams and the MVP outfielder Jackie Jensen, but the rest of the league slept through the season. An early season trade that received little attention at the time was the trade to Kansas City of outfielder Roger Maris from the Cleveland Indians for 1B Vic Power. An exciting 4-3 All Star victory for the AL that produced no extra base hits was possibly the most exciting event of the AL season. Even the choice of 5 foot 6 inch outfielder as Rookie of the Year Albie Pearson of the Washington Senators drew little attention.
#1 New York Yankees (92-62) . There were cracks in the armor starting to show as the fabled Yanks started to age. Mickey Mantle was still young and powerful with 42 home runs but neither Yogi Berra, Hank Bauer or Moose Skowron could match 1957. Pitcher Bob Turley took over the role of ace in winning 21 games . Fireballing Ryne Duren came over from the A’s and saved 20 due to his overpowering fastball. Duren, with his large spectacles, was feared by hitters due to his sometimes erratic control. Tom Sturdivant, the Yanks savior over the past two seasons, fell victim to a tired arm resulting in just three wins.
#2 Chicago White Sox (82-72) . The short sighted trade of (HOF) Minnie Minoso showed up in an eight loss differential and kept the Sox from threatening the Yankees. The offense was stagnant with no power except an occasional homerun from catcher Sherm Lollar. They did however have speed leading he league in stolen bases. The pitching did not improve with the addition of Early Wynn. Neither pitcher Billy Pierce or Dick Donovan could match the previous year’s total.
#3 Boston Red Sox (79-75) . Ted Williams - at forty - was almost as good as he was at 39 winning another batting crown by hitting .328. Actually, Williams was the second best hitter on the team behind MVP Jackie Jensen who hit 35 homers and drove in 122 runs. All Star 3B Frank Malzone proved he belonged in the big leagues. A dreadful pitching staff once again held the Red Sox back.
#4 Cleveland Indians (77-75) . Minnie Minoso and catcher Russ Nixon both batted over .300 to support Rocky Colavito’s 41 home runs and 112 RBIs. However, their previous all star pitching staff was replaced with a mediocre staff led by Cal McLish’s 16 wins. Rookie Mudcat Grant was waiting in the wings.
The Non Contenders
#5 Detroit Tigers (77-77) . Harvey Kuenn moved from shortstop to the outfield and batted .319. But, Al Kaline was not at his best and pitcher Jim Bunning could not match his twenty-win season a year ago. The attempt to shore up the infield, and add some fight to the lineup, by picking up Billy Martin from the A’s was unsuccessful. Pitcher Frank Lary (15-15) was earning the nickname “Yankee Killer” but was not so great against the rest of the league.
#6 Baltimore Orioles (74-78) . Oriole fans were waiting for their dazzling third baseman (HOF) Brooks Robinson to start hitting as well as he fielded. They sure needed it. Catcher Gus Triandos bombed 30 home runs and that was pretty much the offense. The pitchers showed some progress but still a way to go. Young Billy O’Dell was the winning pitcher in the All-Star Game and second year 19-year-old Milt Pappas won 10 games.
#7 Kansas City Athletics (73-81) . Hometown boy Roger Maris showed some power, but he was still developing. One of the few Yankee transactions that did pay off was the purchase of outfielder Bob Cerv in 1956. This season Cerv hit 38 home runs, 104 RBIs, while batting .305 which was the primary reason behind the team’s 14-game win improvement. It did not come from any noted contributors on the pitching roster.
#8 Washington Senators (61-93) . Buried deep in the cellar from almost day one. They had gotten rid of 1B Mickey Vernon and outfielder Roy Sievers and received little in return. The only bright spot was Rookie of the Year, Albie Pearson. The 5’6” outfielder batted .275 to lead the dull offense. Pitcher Pedro Ramos and Camilio Pascual seemed to be in every kid’s baseball card collection, but they did not accomplishing much on the mound.
On July 9, 1958, Senator William Langer asked Casey Stengel if the New York Yankees were going to continue monopolizing the World Championship. The legendary response from Stengel was, "I got a little concern yesterday in the first three innings when I saw the three players I had gotten rid of and I said when I lost nine what am I going to do and when I had a couple of my players. I thought so great of that did not do so good up to the sixth inning I was more confused, but I finally had to go and call on a young man in Baltimore that we don't own and the Yankees don't own him, and he is doing pretty good, and I would actually have to tell you that I think we are more the Greta Garbo type no from success."
In 1958 Vic Power of the Cleveland Indians stole ONLY two bases. Both of those steals occurred on the 14th of August and both were from third to home plate including one during the tenth inning that scored the winning run versus the Detroit Tigers.