Year In Review : 1959 American League

O

The United States expanded its borders as both Alaska and Hawaii were officially admitted to the Union. Despite an overwhelming vote by Alaskans in 1956, it took more than two years for the Senate to finally agree to make Alaska the forty-ninth state. On March 18, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower added Hawaii, the Aloha State, and commissioned a new fifty star U.S. Flag.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson), and Ritchie Valens died when their Beechcraft plane crashed just outside Clear Lake, Iowa, during a stormy winter night. Holly was famous for many hits including "Peggy Sue." The Big Bopper had one big hit, "Chantilly Lace." And Valens was best known for his hit, "La Bamba." The tragic accident was penned in the papers as "The Day the Music Died".

Scandal rocked America's most popular Game Show "Twenty-One" after former champion Herbert Stempel confessed to being given the answers to questions, told which questions to miss, and coached in presentation. After he blew the whistle, public outrage was so great that in 1959 Congress opened hearings on the great American quiz show fix and later formally outlawed all future quiz show deceptions.

I n the American League

The Boston Red Sox remained as the only Major League team not to include minority players in its line-up. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed a grievance against the franchise charging them with racial discrimination and calling for an official investigation into the team's signing policies.

Chicago White Sox second baseman Nellie Fox managed five hits in seven at bats on Opening Day (including a two-run home run off pitcher Don Mossi to win the game) during a fourteen-inning, 9-7 victory over the Detroit Tigers. His five hits in a season opener tied a Major League record that would not be matched for forty years.

Cleveland's Rocky Colavito hit four consecutive home runs at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium en route to an 11-8 victory over the home team Orioles. The Indian slugger joined Lou Gehrig and Bobby Lowe as the only Major League players ever to hit four consecutive round-trippers.

I n the National League

On May 26, Pirates ace Harvey Haddix pitched a perfect game against Milwaukee for twelve innings, only to lose in the 13 th . After Felix Mantilla managed to reach base on a fielding error, Hank Aaron was intentionally walked. Pittsburgh's strategy proved meaningless though as Joe Adcock maintained the Braves newfound momentum with a three-run blast for the comeback win. The following day National League President Warren Giles ruled that the final score should be amended to 1-0, since both runners Henry Aaron and Joe Adcock were both ruled out. (Aaron had been called for leaving the field during play, and Adcock had passed him in the base path.)

Seven pitchers combined to tie a National League record with twenty-three strikeouts during a May 31 outing between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers. Sandy Koufax led the effort with nine "K's" for the 5-3 win.

The San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs set a new record for the longest nine-inning game in history after playing for three hours and fifty minutes. The home team finally won the "marathon at Wrigley" with a score of 20-9 after tallying nineteen hits and five home runs.

A round the league

The Rules Committee finally permitted inter-league trading for a limited, three-and-a-half-week period during Major League Baseball's winter meetings.

The Players Association fired lawyer J. Norman Lewis and replaced him with Judge Robert C. Cannon, the son of Wisconsin Congressman Raymond J. Cannon, who had attempted to unionize the players during the 1920 season.

Controversy erupted over the American League batting title as the Cleveland Indians' Tito Francona finished the season with a league leading .363 average, but fell one at-bat short (three-hundred ninety-nine) of the required total (four-hundred). As a result, Harvey Kuenn of the Detroit Tigers was crowned the American League batting champion.

Washington D.C. Senator Estes Kefauver warned Major League Baseball that they were closely monitoring the "attitudes of organized baseball" toward the Continental League in an effort to prevent any antitrust issues.

"It takes all winter to train them (the insects which caused a 28 minute delay on June 2, 1959) and now, poof, on lousy bomb (fireworks) and they're all blown-up." - White Sox owner Bill Veeck
1959 American League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Detroit

135

Batting Average

Detroit

.353

Doubles

Detroit

42

Hits

Detroit

198

Home Runs

Cleveland

42

Washington

On Base Percentage

Detroit

.437

RBI

Boston

112

Runs

Detroit

115

Slugging Average

Detroit

.530

Stolen Bases

Chicago

56

Total Bases

Cleveland

301

Triples

Washington

9

1959 American League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Washington

17

ERA

Baltimore

2.19

Games

Chicago

67

Saves

Chicago

15

Shutouts

Washington

6

Strikeouts

Detroit

201

Winning Percentage

Chicago

.750

Wins

Chicago

22

1959 American League

Team Standings

Chicago White Sox

94 60 .610 0

Cleveland Indians

89 65 .578 5

New York Yankees

79 75 .513 15

Detroit Tigers

76 78 .494 18

Boston Red Sox

75 79 .487 19

Baltimore Orioles

74 80 .481 20

Kansas City Athletics

66 88 .429 28

Washington Senators

63 91 .409 31

1959 American League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Boston

626

Batting Average

Kansas City

.263

Doubles

Boston

248

Hits

New York

1,397

Home Runs

Cleveland

167

On Base Percentage

Detroit

.338

Runs

Cleveland

745

Slugging Average

Cleveland

.408

Stolen Bases

Chicago

113

Triples

Chicago

46

1959 American League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Cleveland

58

ERA

Chicago

3.29

Fewest Hits Allowed

Cleveland

1,230

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

Baltimore

111

Fewest Walks Allowed

Detroit

432

Saves

Chicago

36

Shutouts

Baltimore

15

New York

Strikeouts

New York

836



On June 10, 1958, Rocky Colavito joined Lou Gehrig as only the second player in American League history to hit four consecutive home runs during the same game .

On July 21, 1958, the Boston Red Sox became the last Major League team to break the color line - twelve years after the debut of Jackie Robinson . Follow the link if you do not remember the player's name OR if you want to see the first black Major League player for every Major League team.

Some significant hits during 1958 included: April 21 - Mickey Mantle's 250th home run, June 2 - Ted Williams' 2,500th career hit, and August 11 - Al Kaline's 1,000th career hit.

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