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.
"Put a quote here. Try to find one that is applicable to the year being reviewed AND if possible, one that was made during the year itself."
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
On April 23, 1964, Ken Johnson of the Houston Colt .45s had no luck going his way when he pitched nine no-hit innings versus the Cincinnati Reds, but lost the game 0-1.
Two key acquisitions during the winter were the key to the reborn St. Louis Cardinals. Future (HOF) outfielder MVP Lou Brock came over from the Cubs, in exchange for pitcher Ernie Broglio, and reliever 37-year -old Barney Shultz was found in the junk yard.
The Phillies looked like a shoo in 6½ games ahead with two weeks remaining in the season. No one was counting on them dropping 10 in a row opening a frantic finish for four challengers. At season’s end the Phillies and Giants looked up to find the Cards, who were in fifth place in mid August, on top. Lou Brock, who had arrived in mid June, batted .348 for the remainder of the season and Schultz, a mid-August pick up saved 9 games during the stretch run.
The Reds tied the Phillies for second while playing the end of the season without manager Fred Hutchinson who stepped down due to terminal cancer. The rejuvenated Phils ran out of gas despite fine seasons of outfielder Bobby Callison, rookie 3B Dick Allen and pitcher Jim Bunning who came over from Detroit in a lopsided trade.
#1 St. Louis Cardinals (93-69) . The Cardinals' roster was stacked.The Musial era had ended, but the newcomers put on quite a show. In addition to Lou Brock's St Louis debut, .348 with 33 stolen bases, 3B MVP Ken Boyer batted over .300 with a league leading 113 RBIs, 1B Bill White hit .305 102 RBIs and OF Curt Flood batted .311 BA. The pitching staff was solid with Ray Sedecki winning 20, Bob Gibson 19 and Curt Simmons 16.
#2 Cincinnati Reds (92-70) . The leaders of the club were still outfielders Frank Robinson, .306 BA, 29 home runs, 25 steals and Vada Pinson 23 home runs. Pete Rose batted .286. Future HOF 1B Tony Perez was a September call-up. The pitching was not consistent. Jim O'Toole won 17 and Jim Mahoney 15, but there was a big drop off after them.
#3 Philadelphia Phillies (92-70) . A shocked and disappointed fan base witnessed a colossal season the collapse. The addition of Rookie of the Year, 3B Dick Allen, .318, 29 HRs made the move up possible. Outfielder Bob Callison produced another fine year hitting 31 HRs and driving in 114 runs as did pitcher Jim Bunning in winning 19 games.
#4 San Francisco Giants (90-72) . Willie Mays led the league with 47 home runs while 1B Orlando Cepeda and 3B Jim Ray Hart each hit 31. Cepeda was the only Giant who batted over .300. Juan Marichal had an excellent year in winning 21 games and striking out 208 batters. Pitcher Gaylord Perry threw for 12 wins.
#5 Milwaukee Braves (88-74) . The Braves had five position players with 20 or more home runs but it was not enough to mount a serious challenge. Newcomer outfielder Rico Carty led the team in hitting, .330 BA with 22 homers. Warren Spahn, now 43, faltered, winning only 6 games.Tony Cloninger became the new pitching ace with 19 wins, but no other pitcher stepped forward.
The Second Tier
#6 Los Angeles Dodgers (80-82) . Quite a drop. Many players took a step back from ’63. They still had Koufax and Drysdale that although still dominant could not match the previous season. Relief specialist Ron Perronoski took a considerable step backwards as did outfielder Tommy Davis. Shortstop Maury Wills stole 53 bases but the infield was weak, i.e, Junior Gilliam fell to batting .228, 2B Nate Oliver .243, and 1B Ron Fairly .250 and there was little power.
#7 Pittsburgh Pirates (80-82) . Roberto Clemente won the batting title, .339, however no other pirate could climb aboard the .300 mark. There was also a notable lack of power with only the young outfielder Willie Stargell able to hit 20 home runs. Lefthander Bob Veale had a good season winning 18 games, but there was little behind him.
#8 Chicago Cubs (76-86) . Third baseman Ron Santo clobbered 30 home runs, 114 RBIs while batting .313. Outfielder Billy Williams was just as good hitting .313, 33 home runs and 98 RBIs. Ernie Banks had passed his peak and the rest of the offense suffered. Larry Jackson was superb on the mound winning 24 games, 30% of the team's victories. The Cub fans were discovering the devastating impact of trading away Lou Brock for the fragile and disappointing Ernie Broglio who tallied just four wins.
#9 Houston Colt .45s (66-96) . The same record as the year before and a similar no offensive production. Outfielder Rusty Staub and 2B Joe Morgan 20-years-old remained on the bench. Rob Bruce was the team’s leading pitcher with 15 wins.
#10 New York Mets (53-109) . Nothing was changing in Queens. Still no pitcher who won more than they lost and no hitters with more than 20 home runs. The outlook was dismal as with the exception of 19-year-old Ed Kranepool the roster showed little youth.
On September 13, 1964, the St. Louis Cardinals scored at least one run during every inning to become the sixth National League team to record such a feat - a feat that is listed in its entirety in our Record Books section.