Minister and civil-rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King led over two hundred thousand people in the largest non-violent demonstration ever held to support the passage of civil rights legislation. The historic march on Washington D.C. was highlighted by King's infamous "I have a dream" speech in which he stated "one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self evident; that all men are created equal."
On November 22 nd , President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed as he rode through the streets of Dallas, Texas aboard the presidential motorcade. Lee Harvey Oswald was later identified as the lone assassin although his guilt was never proven in a court of law. While in police custody, Oswald himself was shot and killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.
As a first step toward ending the "Cold War", a test ban agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union was ratified by the Senate on October 10. The contract between the world's two superpowers prohibited any future above ground testing of nuclear weapons of mass destruction.
Detroit Tiger Billy Bruton tied a Major League record for most doubles in a single game after hitting four straight to top the Washington Senators 5-1 on May 19 th . Teammate and rookie pitcher Bill Faul matched Bruton's efforts on the mound while tossing a three hitter in his first Major League start.
On May 22 nd , Mickey Mantle hit what is considered by many experts to be the longest homerun in Major League history. Batting left-handed against the visiting Kansas City A's at Yankee Stadium, Mantle opened the eleventh inning with a monumental blast off Bill Fisher that traveled three-hundred seventy-four feet from home plate, bouncing off of the third tier facade and falling just inches short of going out of the stadium. A senior physicist from the University of Arizona, Professor J.E. McDonald, calculated the estimated distance the ball would have traveled at six-hundred twenty feet.
Cleveland pitcher Early Wynn finally won his 300 th (and final) game thanks to a little help from the Indian's bullpen. After losing eight straight and struggling through five innings during the second half of a Kansas City doubleheader, Wynn was replaced by relief man Jerry Walker who tossed four scoreless sides en route to a 7-4 win over the Athletics.
Chicago Cubs first baseman Ernie Banks became the first National League player to tally twenty-two putouts (and twenty-three chances) in a game, during a May 9 th , 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
On June 15 th , Juan Marichal set two records after becoming the first Latin American pitcher AND only the second Giant (Carl Hubbell, 1929) to pitch a no-hitter during a 1-0 triumph over the Houston Colt 45s (Astros) at Candlestick Park.
Milwaukee Brave veteran Warren Spahn topped the National League record for most starts (previously held by Grover Alexander) with his 601 st appearance on the mound during a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 23 rd . Later in the season Spahn tied Christy Mathewson's National League record with his thirteenth, twenty-win season and became the oldest to do so at age forty-two.
The Major League Rules Committee voted to expand the strike zone, extending it from the top of the shoulders to the bottom of the knees restoring its original pre-1950 specifications.
On September 6 th , Major League Baseball celebrated its 100,000 th game with a classic match-up between the Cleveland Indians and Washington Senators at D.C. Stadium.
St. Louis Cardinals' slugger Stan Musial made a record 24 th All-Star Game appearance as his National League teammates combined to beat their American League counterparts 5-3 in the Midsummer Classic.
Houston Colt 45s (Astros) manager Harry Craft shocked the New York Mets after starting an all-rookie line-up during a September 27 th contest. Fifteen rookies appeared in all, but were bested by the older and wiser Mets who "mentored" them with a 10-3 lesson in experience.
"That way I can see see where I've been (on why he ran around the bases facing backwards after hitting his 100th career home run). I always know where I'm going." - Jimmy Piersall on June 23, 1963
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
It wasn't as easy for the Dodgers as it might appear. The St. Louis Cardinals suddenly became a contender by winning 19 of 20 in early September to pull within one game of first place This set the stage for a crucial 3-game series on September 16 with Dodgers in St. Louis. Lefty Johnny Podres, the Dodger World Series hero in 1955, again proved invaluable by stopping the Dodgers on a three hit, 3-1, victory in game 1. In game 2, it was all Koufax who threw a 4-0 shoutout. In the must win game the Cards blew a 5-1 seventh inning lead and lost 6-5 in 13 innings.
The reigning pennant winning Giants fell apart in early August. An improved Phillies team picked up steam in the latter part of the season to move up to fourth place. Cincinnati, despite adding rookie Pete Rose, dropped to fifth place. Adding Duke Snider and Jimmy Piersall to their list of fading stars did not help the hapless New York Mets escape the cellar.
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers (99-63) . MVP and Cy Young Award winner Sandy Koufax was practically unhittable. He won 25 games, had an ERA of 1.88 and struck out 306 batters. Backing up Koufax was Don Drysdale, a 19 game winner, and relief specialist Ron Perranoski who saved 21 games, won 16 and recorded an excellent 1.67 ERA. The offense, although not overpowering, relied on another fine season from outfielders Tommy Davis, who won another batting title (.328) , and Frank Howard’s 28 home runs. Shortstop Maury Wills came down from his 104 stolen base record of the previous season but still kept the pitchers guessing with 40 steals.
#2 St. Louis Cardinals (93-60) . The Cardinals made a wise move by picking up former MVP shortstop Dick Groat from the Pirates. Groat (.319) joined Stan Musial and power hitters 1B Bill White and 3B Ken Boyer to form a lethal offense. The pitching staff was headed up by two 18 game winners, Ernie Broglio and Bob Gibson. Twenty-one year old catcher Tim McCarver took over behind home plate.
#3 San Francisco Giants ( 88-74) . Outfielders Willie Mays and Willie McCovey along with 1B Cepeda, were explosive. The three combined for 118 home runs and 302 RBIs. Pitcher Juan Marichal was second only to Sandy Koufax in pitching efficiency with 25 wins and 248 strikeouts. Jack Sanford returned to earth but still won a respectful 16 games. Former White Sox ace, Billy Pierce at age 36, fell to just 3 wins.
#4 Philadelphia Phillies (87-75) . The rejuvenated Phillies were led by 2B Tony Taylor who hit a solid .281 with 23 steals and 102 runs scored. Outfielder Bob Callison supplied the power slamming 26 homeruns. The pitching staff was headed up by rookie Ray Culp’s 14 wins and veteran Cal McLish’s 13.
#5 Cincinnati Reds (86-75) . The Reds dropped off from their 1962 solid 98 win season due to mediocre hitting and pitching. They still received solid production from outfielder Vada Pinson but Frank Robinson had a soft season by his standards. They were aided by Rookie of the Year, 2B Pete Rose, who started his major league career by batting a solid .281 with 23 stolen bases. Twenty three year old pitcher Jim Mahoney put together a sensational season winning 23 games while dropping only 7.
The Second Division
#6 Milwaukee Braves (84-78) . Practically a repeat of the previous season. Hank Aaron was the model of consistency with 44 HRs, .319 BA and 130 RBIs. Mathews was aging as was catcher Del Crandall who lost his starting position to 22 year old Joe Torre. The amazing 42-year-old Warren Spahn won 25 games, however Lew Burdette fell to a 6-and-5 record before being traded.
#7 Chicago Cubs (82-80) . A winning record seemed to be the equivalent of winning the pennant for Cubbie fans. Third baseman Ron Santo and outfielder Billy William led the offense with both knocking 25 home runs. Ernie Banks moved over to 1B and suffered his poorest season hitting .227. Much of the credit for the improved season was due to pitcher Dick Ellsworth’s 22 wins.
#8 Pittsburgh Pirates (74-88) . Pirate fans were wondering "here we go again" as the Bucs fell from 93 wins in ’62. Only Roberto Clemente would bat over .300 and nobody hit 20 home runs. Pitcher Bob Friend won 17 but lost 16. Vern Law retired mid season.
#9 Houston Colt .45s (66-96) . There were no players posting records of note but there were however three rookies who would make themselves familiar to baseball fans in future years. First baseman Rusty Staub and outfielder Jimmy Wynn became fan favorites. A late season call up that went unnoticed was 2B Joe Morgan. The pitching staff was old and inefficient.
#10 New York Mets (51-111) . The Mets remained the laughing stock of the National League. The saga of pitcher Roger Craig tells how bad, Craig lost 18 games in a row before winning for the first time in three months. No starting pitcher had more wins than losses and no batters hit above .272 BA. Eighteen year old Ed Kranepool joined the fracas in mid season.
The extremely high temperatures in Houston, Texas set the stage for the first ever Sunday night game. The historic event took place on June 9, 1963, at Colt Stadium where the Houston Colt .45s defeated the San Francisco Giants 3-0.
Several trivia experts know that when Felipe Alou , Jesus Alou , and Matty Alou appeared in the San Francisco Giants outfield together on September 6, 1963, it was a Major League first. However, did you know that 4 days later they set an even more unique record when they became the first trio of brothers to record all three outs during the same inning (8th inning versus the New York Mets).