Controversial civil rights activist Malcolm Little, also known as "Malcolm X", was assassinated while delivering a speech at the OAAU rally in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem on February 21st. The Islamic minister had become an inspirational leader along side Dr. Martin Luther King after breaking ties with the Nation of Islam in order to create his own religious community known as Muslim Mosque, Inc., and later the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
A routine traffic stop and arrest for drunk driving in South Central Los Angeles lit the fire for what would become known as the Watts Riots. In response to the police action, many residents accused the law of practicing racial bias and erupted violently for six days leaving thirty-four dead, over a thousand people injured, nearly four-thousand arrested, and hundreds of buildings destroyed.
Construction on the nation's tallest memorial, the Gateway Arch, was finally completed after a four-year span. The six-hundred thirty feet high, stainless steel structure was originally designed by architect Eero Saarinen in 1947 for the Expansion Memorial Park which was established on the banks of the Mississippi River to commemorate the westward growth of the United States.
New York Yankees ace Mel Stottlemyre became the first pitcher in fifty-five years to hit an inside-the-park home run during a 6-3 win over their American League rivals, the Boston Red Sox, on July 20th.
Bert Campanaris, of the Kansas City Athletics, set an unprecedented Major League record by playing all nine positions during a September 8th outing against the California Angels. Campanaris allowed just one run (on a hit) and two walks while on the mound, but went 0-for-3 at the plate. Despite the "one man show" the Angels went on to win it, 5-3 after thirteen innings.
Shortstop Ron Hanson of the Chicago White Sox tied a Major League record with twenty-eight fielding chances during a double-header against the Boston Red Sox. Hanson handled eighteen shots in the first contest, setting an American League record, and ten more in the nightcap. Chicago, like their shortstop, came out on top in both games with matching 3-2 victories.
On April 9th, the $31 million dollar, ultramodern indoor ballpark known as the "Astrodome" debuted with an exhibition game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees. President Lyndon B. Johnson and Texas Governor John Connally were among the 47,000+ plus fans who witnessed the first ever, indoor home run courtesy of Mickey Mantle.
Chicago "Cubbie" Ernie Banks slugged his four-hundredth career homer during a 5-3 triumph over Curt Simmons and the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
San Francisco slugger Willie Mays became the fifth member of the ultra-exclusive "500 Homerun Club" after paying the membership dues off Don Nottebart during a 5-1 Giants victory over the Houston Astros at the Astrodome.
Baseball's first free-agent draft was held at the Hotel Commodore in New York City resulting in three-hundred twenty players being selected by twenty Major League teams. It was later determined that the draft would continue to take place every June and January with teams selecting prospects in the reverse order of the league standings.
One of baseball's greatest left-handed aces, Warren Spahn announced his retirement after an amazing twenty-one seasons. Spahn walked away from the game with a 363-245 career record and a lifetime ERA of 3.09. He also ranked as number six on the all-time list with sixty-three shutouts and thirteen, twenty-win seasons.
On December 9th, Branch Rickey, the man who helped Jackie Robinson break through baseball's color barrier by signing him with the Brooklyn Dodgers, died at the age of eighty-three.
Los Angeles Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax became the first two-time recipient of the Cy Young Award. Unfortunately, he would manage only one more season (where he became the first three-time recipient) before retiring with an astounding 165-87 record over a twelve year period.
"I again find myself humbled and somewhat overwhelmed by the events unfolding in front of us." - Al Kaline
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
On June 20, 1965, Tigers superstar Al Kaline hit a single and drove in two runs versus the Athletics. Kaline helped his team overcome an eight run deficit, but he will remember this day more as the game in which he had career RBI number one-thousand.
What appeared as a crack in the armor in ’64 turned into a deep crevice for the Bronx bombers in 1965. Yankee ownership thought they had pulled a major coup when they recruited manager Johnny Keane from the World Series Champion Cardinals even at the risk of dismissing fan favorite Yogi Berra. Keane came believing he had secured baseball's highest honor of leading the fabled Bronx Bombers. But it did not happen as expected. Mantle, Maris, and Elston Howard all missed substantial time and 1964 hero Jim Bouton could only manage 4 wins. Filling in with the likes of catcher Doc Edwards, Roger Repoz and Phil Linz was not the answer as the Yanks slid to sixth place—8 games below .500.
Moving up from 1964 sixth place, the Minnesota put it all together winning 102 games. The Twins controlled the league practically the entire season. An offense built around MVP shortstop Zoilo Versailes, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Bob Allison and 1B Don Mincher was supported by a pitching staff that included Mudcat Grant, Jim Kaat and Jim Perry.
#1 Minnesota Twins (102-60) . A 23 game improvement over 1964 vaulted the Twins into winning the pennant. SS Zoilo Versailes who was noted for his glove brought his bat this season (.273, 19 HRs, 77 RBIs, 27 stolen bases). OF Tony Oliva took home the batting title hitting .321. Harmon Killlebrew was lost for a quarter of the season, but still slammed 25 home runs. Outfielders Bob Allison, and Jimmie Hall along with 1B Don Mincher all blasted over twenty home runs. Pitcher Mudcat Grant posted a league leading 21-wins, Jim Kaat followed with 18 and Jim Perry 12 . Relief specialist Al Worthington saved 21 games and won ten.
#2 Chicago White Sox (95-67) . The White Sox added some power with eight batters hitting double digit homerun output. However, the pitching took a step back when Juan Pizarro went down with a sore arm, and Gary Peters slipped from 20-wins to nine.
#3 Baltimore Orioles (94-68) . Although pretty much a replay from '64 the young pitchers were maturing. Steve Barber, Milt Pappas and Wally Bunker all had double digit win seasons and were joined in season by 19-year-old future HOF Jim Palmer. Rookie of the Year outfielder Curt Blefary led the team with 22 home runs. Boog Powell could not match his previous year’s power numbers, but Brooks Robinson showed his value hitting .297 with 18 home runs.
#4 Detroit Tigers (89-73) . The Tigers could not improve their fourth place finish of 1964, despite the maturing of pitcher Denny McClain who posted 18 wins. Mickey Lolich backed McClain up with 15 wins. Al Kaline missed time with an injury as did 1964 sensation SS Dick McAuliffe. First baseman Norm Cash again provided the power with 30 home runs. A big boast came from second year outfielder Willie Horton who blasted 29 home runs and 104 RBIs.
#5 Cleveland Indians (87-75) . The strong bats of Rocky Colavito, Leon Wagner, 1B Fred Whitfield and 3B Max Alvis provided the power. Along with the overpowering fastball of Sudden Sam McDowell, who led the league in strikeouts and ERA, the Indians improved by 8 wins over 1964. Newcomer Ralph Terry and pitcher Luis Tiant filled in for the traded Mudcat Grant.
The Second Division.
#6 New York Yankees (77-85) . What a comedown. If it hadn’t been for Mel Stottlemeyer’s pitching (20-9) they might have ended up near the bottom of the league. With no .300 hitters, a lack of power, and an aging Whitey Ford, it made for a horrible debut for manager Johnny Keane. Of course losing Mickey Mantle and Elston Howard for a combined 670 games did not help. Outfielder Tom Tresh led the offense (.277, 26 home runs, 74 RBIs).
#7 California Angels (75-87) . They changed their name, but lost 5 more games than the previous season. Pitcher Dean Chance could not reproduce another 20-win season and there was little behind him on the pitching staff. A dull offense with little power and no .300 hitters contributed to a disappointing season.
#8 Washington Senators (70-92) . Adding OF Frank Howard provided some much needed power (.289, 21 home runs, 84 RBIs) at the plate. Another new addition, pitcher Pete Richert's 15 wins, also contributed to winning 8 games more than 1964.
#9 Boston Red Sox (62-100) . Outfielder Tony Cogniliaro led the league with 32 home runs and Carl Yastzremski continued his consistent solid bat, but much more was needed. Miserable pitching was evident with no starting pitcher posting more wins than losses. Bill Monbouquette slipped, as did Dick Radatz. Twenty-three-year-old pitcher Jim Lonberg made his debut with mixed results.
#10 Kansas City Athletics (59-103 ). The biggest headline out of KC was the Charlie Finley promotion event of playing SS Bert Campaneris for one inning at each position. Campy did not get a hit nor did the A's win the game, but it did bring some fans to the ballpark. All-Star Campaneris led the league with 51 stolen bases. Another Finley promotion was bringing back 59-year-old Satchel Paige to successfully pitch 3 innings in a game. Nineteen-year-old rookie Catfish Hunter won 8 games.
On September 16, 1965, Dave Morehead of the Boston Red Sox tossed a 2-0 no-hitter versus the Cleveland Indians. Morehead came within one walk ( Rocky Colavito ) of a perfect game ! But, did you know that following the game team owners fired General Manager Pinky Higgins and replaced him with Dick O'Connell?