On February 9th, the British rock group The Beatles arrived in America for an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. It was the "Fab 4's" first trip to the United States and introduced their unique sound and stylish appearance to millions of American teenagers. By the week of April 4th, The Beatles had taken over the radio airways and held the top five slots on the American pop charts.
The highly contested and still criticized Warren Commission delivered its final report on September 27th concluding that President John F. Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, had acted alone and on his own recourse.
American's first computer dynasty International Business Machines (also known as IBM) introduced the first 360 Computer, which was defined as a second-generation system based on transistors. The groundbreaking machine was instantly heralded as a huge success and became the standard for computers of many businesses for many years.
Mickey Mantle set the tenth Major League record of his career after hitting two "switch" home runs in a single game against the Chicago White Sox. Mantle's first shot off Ray Herbert (a left-handed effort) traveled 461 feet and finally stopped 502 feet from the plate. Later in the game, "The Mick" added a second round-tripper (swinging right-handed) that guaranteed rookie pitcher Mel Stottlemyre's 7-3 debut victory.
Decades before the "Roberto Alomar incident" Golden Glove first baseman Vic Power of the California Angels was suspended for ten days and fined $250 after spitting on umpire Jim Honochick during a doubleheader loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Kansas City A's rookie Bert Campaneris became only the second player (Bob Nieman) since 1900 to hit two home runs in his Major League debut during a 4-3 win over Jim Kaat and the Minnesota Twins. He also set the mark as the first American League player ever to knock one out on the first pitch thrown to him. Bill Roman of the Detroit Tigers equaled the feat later in the season during a 7-6, loss to the New York Yankees for his first (and last) career home run.
Willie Mays became the first African-American player to hold the "team leader title" after San Francisco Giants' skipper Alvin Dark named him as the team's captain.
On April 6th, "Shea Stadium" was officially dedicated as the New York Mets ballpark. The $25 million dollar facility was named after William A. Shea who christened baseball's newest cathedral by pouring a mixture of water from the Harlem River (near the old Polo Grounds) and the Gowanus Canal (near the site of Ebbetts Field) over the infield in a pre-game ceremony.
The St. Louis Cardinals became only the second team in the modern era (1923 Giants) to score at least one run in every inning while rolling over the Chicago Cubs during a September 13th outing at Wrigley Field. "Redbirds" Lou Brock and Julian Javier led the rally with one homer each and Curt Simmons topped Dick Ellsworth on the mound for the 15-2 win.
Subscription television for baseball games debuted on July 17th as the first pay cablecast (a night game between the LA Dodgers and Chicago Cubs) was broadcasted live from Los Angeles. The home team emerged as 3-2 winners thanks to the solid arm of Don Drysdale who sat down ten batters.
The National League avoided an umpires' strike by agreeing with the officials on a new five-year contract that increased both pensions and insurance payments.
After an eleven year stint in Milwaukee, the Braves Board of Directors unanimously voted to request permission from the National League to move the struggling franchise to Atlanta. Milwaukee County officials immediately sued to block the move despite the team's faltering attendance of 800,000 for the past two seasons. In November, the league ordered the Braves to stay put in Milwaukee for the upcoming season, but permitted a move to Atlanta in 1966.
Major League Baseball finally approved a free-agent draft system that mimicked the one used in professional football. Order of selection was determined in reverse order of each club's previous season standings and all draftees were to be included on the forty man roster. They also restored all powers rescinded after Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis's death in 1944 to the baseball commissioner's office. The decision waived all owners' rights to take legal action in the event of disagreements and granted the commissioner total authority to judge whether actions taken by a team and/or owner were in the best interests of the game.
"It was pretty somber. Yogi said, 'Hey (Phil) Linz, shove that (harmonica) right up you #*@.' I didn't hear him so I asked Mickey (Mantle) what Yogi had said and Mick said, 'He said play it louder.' So I did. Yogi went berserk and came charging to the back of the bus, enraged. Mick couldn't stop laughing." - Phil Linz in the New York Daily News (August 21, 1964)
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
On May 2, 1964, Tony Oliva , Bob Allison , Jimmie Hall , and Harmon Killebrew (in that order) each hit a home run during the eleventh inning making the Twins only the third team to accomplish the feat to date.
The armor was beginning to crack. The Yanks began the year with Yogi Berra assuming the field manager role and sending Ralph Houck to the General Manager’s office. Mid August found the once powerful Yanks in third place behind Baltimore and Chicago. Sluggish play and little discipline applied from Berra all changed when Berra finally exploded in a full rage. The object of Yogi’s displeasure was the playful playing of a harmonica by shortstop Phil Linz on a bus trip following being swept in a three game series. Suddenly the team woke up. Helped by the return of Mantle from injury, the call up of pitcher Mel Stottlemyre from the minors and the acquisition of Pedro Ramos the Yanks posted a 22-6 record in September to clinch the pennant on the next to last day of the season.
The White Sox mounted their challenge due to a strong three headed pitching rotation and the power hitting of 3B Pete Ward. The Orioles challenged behind the defense and hitting of 3B Brooks Robinson and the power bat of 1B Boog Powell.
#1 New York Yankees (99-63) . Mickey Mantle .303, 35 HRs, 114 RBIs and catcher Elston Howard, .312 spearheaded the offense. Pitcher Jim Bouton won 18 and Whitey Ford 16, but of equal contribution were the nine wins of Mel Stottlemyre during the stretch run. Outside of 1B Joe Pepitone and Stottlemyre this was not a young team.
#2 Chicago White Sox (98-64) . Third baseman Pete Ward led the offense with 25 home runs and 94 RBIs but the success of the team stemmed from the pitchers. Gary Peters won 29 games, Juan Pizzaro 19, and Joe Horlen had 13 wins with a 1.80 ERA. (HOF) Hoyt Wilhelm saved 27 games while winning 12.
#3 Baltimore Orioles (97-65) . Baltimore fans got to see MVP Brooks Robinson at his best batting .317, 28 home runs and 116 RBIs. Twenty two year old, Boog Powell made his presence known by hitting 39 home runs and driving in 99. Nineteen year-old Wally Bunker won 19, Milt Pappas 16, and veteran Robin Roberts showed he could still contribute with 13 wins.
#4 Detroit Tigers (85-77) . The Tigers showed some punch from their mainstays 1B Norm Cash and Al Kaline along with shortstop Dick McAuliffe who surprised with a team leading 24 HRs. Dave Wickersham came over from the A’s to win 19 games and Mickey Lollich 18. Pitcher Denny McClain was still finding his way making limited appearances.
#5 Los Angeles Angels (82-80) . The Angels had a gem of a starting pitcher in Dean Chance. Chance took the CY Young Award by posting a 20-9 won lost record with a 1.85 ERA. They also had the goat of pitchers when an ineffective Bo Belinsky got suspended for punching out a sports writer. Veterans 1B Joe Adcock, 21 HRs and OF Jimmy Piersall .314 were the leaders in a less than stellar offense.
And the Others
#6 Cleveland Indians (79-83) . The Indians matched their lousy 1963 won-lost record. The offense was still primarily centered around outfielder Leon Wagner’s 38 home runs and 100 RBIs. They traded away pitchers Mudcat Grant and Pedro Ramos for not much in return. The tribe did have a young “Sudden” Sam McDowell join the pitching staff with 11 wins and 177 strikeouts in 173 innings.
#7 Minnesota Twins (79-83) . A step back for a promising team. Harmon Killebrew, 47 home runs and Bob Allison with 32 were joined by Rookie of the Year and batting champ Tony Oliva (.323, 32 HRs, 94 RBIs). A mid season trade with the Indians added Mudcat Grant to a starting rotation of Jim Kaat, Jim Perry, and Camilo Pascual.
#8 Boston Red Sox (72-90) . Boston fans were excited to welcome rookie Tony Conigliaro. Before leaving the lineup as a result of a broken arm, the 19 year-old phenom was batting .290 with 24 home runs in a 111 games. Aside from the dynamic rookie the only other stand out was big reliever Dick Radatz who saved 29 games while winning 16.
#9 Washington Senators (62-100) . It was nice to escape the cellar but this expansion team still had a long way to go. There were no standout rookies. Sophomore Claude Osteen led the pitching staff with 15 wins.
#10 Kansas City Athletics (57-105) . All the promotion gimmicks that owner Charles Finley, i.e. green and gold uniforms, a mascot mule, racing a player against a horse, etc. could not keep the team from losing more than 100 games. The old Yankee castaways were gone. The strategy changed to a power offense with OF Rocky Colavito, 34 homeruns, joining 1B Jim Gentile 29 hrs but the pitching cupboard was bare. They did have two youngsters make their appearances—shortstop Bert Campaneris and pitcher Blue Moon Odom who would both make their presence felt in future seasons.
On August 12, 1964, Mickey Mantle hit switch hit home runs during the same game for the tenth time in his career - a new Major League record. The first blast cleared the 461-foot marker, carried over the 22 foot screen, and landed approximately 14 rows into the bleachers. A reporter told Mantle after the game that the ball traveled 502 feet and Mantle replied, "Aw, I didn't hit it all that good."
On September 30, 1954, Luis Tiant and Sam McDowell struck out seventeen Boston Red Sox batters during a doubleheader at Fenway Park. The Indians won both ends and set a new American League record for team strikeouts during a single season .