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.
"Let's keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn, So send the Phils to Trenton, the Giants to St. Paul, but keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn, the greatest borough of all." - Phil Foster
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
The Baseball Writers Association did not select any players to the National Baseball Hall of Fame , but they did pick a Silver Anniversary team which included: 1B Lou Gehrig , 2B Rogers Hornsby , 3B Pie Traynor , SS Honus Wagner , C Bill Dickey , OF Ty Cobb , OF George Sisler , OF Babe Ruth , P Walter Johnson , P Lefty Grove , P Carl Hubbell , and managed by John McGraw .
The winds of change were dramatic in the National League in 1958. Walter O’Malley broke the hearts of Brooklynites by uprooting the storied franchise to Los Angeles. The move to LA broke attendance records with 1,875,556, but did not help the team as it fell to seventh place due primarily to its aging roster.
The Giants followed the Dodgers West to San Francisco and doubled their 1956 attendance despite playing in the 22,000 capacity Seals Stadium. The move was beneficial to the Giants as they rose above the .500 level to 80 wins and third place.
No team was able to stop the momentum of the Braves following their World Championship season. Although beset with injuries to centerfielder Billy Burton and pitcher Bob Buhl and 2B Red Schoendienst missing the stretch run after being diagnosed with tuberculosis, manager Haney, as he did in ’57, found young pitching help in his farm system. The biggest surprise was the turnaround of the formerly beleaguered Pirates. Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski and SS Dick Groat matured and pitcher Bob Friend had a career year, winning 22 games. The Phillies landed in the cellar where they had been headed for the past seven years.
#1 Milwaukee Braves (92-62) . The bats of Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron contributed 61 home runs and 172 RBIs while pitchers Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette collected 42 victories. With Bob Buhl out, three young pitchers Carl Willey, Juan Pizaro, and Joey Jay picked up the slack by winning 23 games. The Bravos had the lowest team ERA in the NL.
#2 Pittsburgh Pirates (84-70) . The Pirates caught the competition sleeping. In addition to the fine play and hitting of Clemente, Mazeroski and Groat, Frank Thomas took over third base and clobbered 31 home runs. Underrated outfielder Bob Skinner once again led the team with a .321 batting average. Pitcher Bob Friend was backed up by 14 game winner Vern Law.
#3 San Francisco Giants (80-74) . The nice leap by the Giants was partially due to the Rookie of the Year sensation, twenty-year old Orlando Cepeda. His incredible season of hitting .312 with 25 home runs fit nicely with Willie Mays .347, 29 home run performance. The on again, off again, career of pitcher Johnny Antonelli led a mediocre pitching staff with 16 wins.
#4 Cincinnati Redlegs (76-78) . The Redlegs produced a disappointing below .500 record after showing some hope in 1957. With the exception of Frank Robinson’s 31 home runs, the power production of Gus Bell and Wally Post dropped. In an attempt to improve the pitching they added veterans Harvey Haddix and Don Newcombe, but neither could fight off the aging process.
The Non Contenders
#5 Chicago Cubs (72-82) . Moving up two places and 10 victories teased the Cubs fans. The Cubs out homered all NL teams offense led by MVP SS Ernie Banks with his 45 home runs, 143 RBIs and .304 batting average. There were four other 20+ home run batters in the lineup, but the pitching let them down. They did find a young pitcher, twenty-three year old Glen Hobble, who won 16 games, however there was nothing behind him.
#6 St. Louis Cardinals (72-82) . Quite a slump from 87 wins the year before. The bats of Stan Musial, Ken Boyer and Wally Moon all slumped and the hopes of pitcher Lindy McDaniel and others did not materialize. Sad Sam Jones (14-13) was the only starter to post a winning record.
#7 Los Angeles Dodgers (71-83) . Age plus the huge dimensions of their temporary home at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum doomed the Dodgers. Roy Campanella was gone. Pee Wee Reese and pitcher Carl Erskine were relegated to back up positions and Don Newcombe was traded after a slow start. Duke Snider could only manage to hit 10 home runs due to the 40 foot high fence in left field.
#8 Philadelphia Phillies (69-85) . Judging by their previous three years It was predictable that the Phils would hit the cellar. Robin Roberts bounced back a bit, but the surprise of 1957, Jack Sanford, could win only 10. Richie Ashburn batted .350 but there was no power in the lineup. Ashburn and Willie Puddin Head Jones were the only position players left from the 1950 Whiz Kids roster.
On Opening Day, Major League baseball was played in front of 23,448 West Coast fans for the first time! The transplanted Giants (New York to San Francisco) defeated the transplanted Dodgers (Brooklyn to Los Angeles) 8-0 at Seals Stadium.
On September 13, 1958, Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves won his 20th game of the season - the 9th time he joined the 20 Wins Club during his career and a new Major League benchmark for left-handed pitchers.