After murdering both his wife and mother, serial sniper Charles Whitman ascended to the observation deck at Austin's University of Texas tower killing fourteen people and injuring thirty-one others during a ninety-minute shooting spree. He was eventually shot and killed himself after a civilian and two police officers stormed the tower and overpowered him.
Media icon Walt Disney, who turned the whimsical cartoon world of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck into a million dollar a year entertainment empire, died of cancer at the age of sixty-five. The pioneering animator had produced the first fully animated motion picture and had invented the original concept of theme parks with his final masterpiece, Disneyland in California.
The first U.S. manned space flights, Gemini 8 thru 12, were launched in preparation for man's eventual trip to the moon. Following the pioneering Mercury program and preceding the Apollo missions, Gemini flights were specifically developed to learn how to maneuver a spacecraft into orbit and rendezvous with other docking vehicles.
On July 29th, Mickey Mantle hit his four-hundred ninety-fourth homerun off of Chicago White Sox ace Bruce Howard moving himself ahead of fellow Yankee Lou Gehrig for sixth place on the all-time list. Teammate Al Downing sweetened the deal with a clutch 2-1 performance on the mound.
Baltimore Orioles slugger "Boog" Powell astonished the crowd at Fenway Park after hitting not one, not two, but three, opposite-field homers OVER the "Green Monster" on the way to a 4-3, victory in which he totaled thirteen bases himself. Powell would also go on to become the first player ever to appear in the Little League World Series as well as the Major League version.
Teammate Frank Robinson was unanimously voted as the American League MVP becoming the first player to win the title in both the American and National Leagues since the Baseball Writers Association took it over in 1931. Robinson, who also won the American League Triple Crown, was also voted most valuable player in 1961 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.
Tony Cloninger, of the recently transplanted Atlanta Braves, became the first National League pitcher to ever hit two grand-slams in a single game during a July 3rd, 17-3 triumph over the San Francisco Giants. Cloninger's first slam came off of rival pitcher Bob Priddy in the first, and then in the fourth he added another off of Ray Sadecki.
Willie Mays moved up to #2 (behind Babe Ruth) on the all-time list with his five-hundred thirty-fifth career home run, off of Ray Washburn, as the San Francisco Giants topped the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 on August 17th.
On October 2nd, Sandy Koufax tallied his last Major League victory with a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies for the National League pennant. The Los Angeles Dodgers ace completed his twelve-year career with an amazing 165-87 record with a 2.76 ERA, forty shutouts and two-thousand three-hundred ninety-six strikeouts. Koufax also held the National League single-season strikeout record with three-hundred eighty-two K's (1965) and compiled an astounding 0.95 ERA in World Series starts.
Major League Baseball's first African-American umpire, Emmett Ashford made his debut on Opening Day as the American League's Washington Senators lost to the visiting Cleveland Indians 5-2.
Ted Williams used a portion of his Hall of Fame induction speech to plead for the inclusion of Negro League players including Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The infield at Houston's Astrodome became the first to be replaced by the new experimental surface known as "Astroturf". In the first game ever to be played on the artificial grass, the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers prevailed over the home team 6-3.
Dan Topping sold his remaining shares of interest in the New York Yankees to the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) for a reported $1.4 million dollars. In the end, the television dynasty paid a total of $14 million for total control of the franchise. Topping initially looked to come out on top in the deal as three days later, only four-hundred thirteen fans showed up at Yankee Stadium for a game against the Chicago White Sox.
"Probably the most dramatic change in pitching I've observed in my years in baseball has been the disappearance of the knockdown or brushback pitch. This is why record numbers of home runs are flying out of ballparks, why earned run averages are soaring, and why there are so few twenty game winners in the majors." - Frank Robinson
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
Emmett Ashford became the first black umpire on April 11, 1966 when he worked an American League game: Indians at Senators 5-2.
“The bigger they are the harder they fall.” Much of baseball fans in the USA sat back and enjoyed watching the ever dominant Yankees fall to the cellar of the league. Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Elston Howard were no longer the threat of past years. Whitey Ford suffered shoulder problems and SS Tony Kubek \was forced to retire before the season started with recurring back problems. It did not take long to kick out manager Johnny Keane and bring former manager Ralph Houck back to the helm from the front office.
All the attention now went to Baltimore. (HOF) Frank Robinson came over from the Cincinnati Reds in a lopsided trade for pitcher Milt Pappas. All Robinson did was win the MVP Award and capture a Triple Crown. Armed with Robinson, Boog Powell, Brooks Robinson and an outstanding young pitching staff, the Orioles rode a 13-game win streak in early July to take over first place for the remainder of the season.
#1 Baltimore Orioles (97-63) . Frank Robinson became the first player to win MVP awards in both leagues. His Triple Crown season posted .316 BA, 49 home runs and 122 RBIs. All of the four starters had double digit win seasons, led by sophomore Jim Palmer’s 15. Most of the team’s success came from its bullpen duo of slow ball pitcher Stu Miller and knuckleballer Eddie Fischer. Manager Hank Bauer showed the same grit as a manager that he had as a player for the Yankees.
#2 Minnesota Twins (89-73) . The Twins fell well short of their 102 wins of 1965. With the exception of outfielder Tony Oliva, the offense sputtered in comparison. Only pitcher Jim Kaat stood out by leading the league with 25 wins.
#3 Detroit Tigers (88-74) . The Tigers were a repeat from the previous season. A powerful lineup led by 1B Norm Cash’s 32 home runs and three other batters clobbering 20 or more. The offense lacked consistency with no batter reaching the .300 BA mark. Pitcher Denny McClain enjoyed his first 20 win season, but Mickey Lolich dropped off to a 14-14 season.
#4 Chicago White Sox ( 83-79) . The White Sox disappointed their fan base dropping 12 more games than they did as a pennant contender the previous year. Not much went right either in offense or pitching. Outfielder Tommy Agee came back from a broken hand to bat .273 with 44 steals. Third baseman Don Buford topped that with 51 steals as the club led the league in stolen bases. Tommy John led the pitching staff with 14 wins.
#5 Cleveland Indians (81-81) . The Indians put together a great start leading the league for much of the first three months before totally disintegrating. Offense and pitching were equally responsible. There was a power outage as Rocky Colavito, Leon Wagner and 3B Max Alvis could not match their previous output. Pitcher Sonny Siebert posted 16 wins, but Sam McDowell suffered a sore arm and dropped to nine wins.
#6 California Angels (80-82) . A slight bump-up in standings and wins partially due to a resurgent 37-year-old pitcher Jack Sanford's 13 wins. Ace Dean Chance had a horrible season winning only 12 while dropping 17. Still a team with little power or consistency at the plate. The team was loaded with over the hill veterans such as Lew Burdette, Jimmy Piersall, Joe Adcock, and Norm Siebern.
#7 Kansas City Athletics (74-86) . It was nice to escape the cellar with some promising hurlers on the roster. Catfish Hunter was joined with Jim Nash (12-1) and Lew Krause (14-9). Twenty-one-year old pitcher Blue Moon Odom pitched well in a limited capacity. The offense with the exception of Campy Campaneris still had too many missing parts.
#8 Washington Senators (71-88) . The Senators had nothing to feel good about. The team played almost identical to ’65. Frank Howard led the weak offense while Pete Richer again led a poor pitching staff.
#9 Boston Red Sox (72-90) . The Red Sox held onto their inglorious ninth place standing even though there was a slight uptick in wins posted. They added some youth and power with the addition of rookie 1B George “Boomer” Scott (27 home runs) and the improvement of SS Rico Petrocelli (18 HRs). Yaz and Tony Conigliaro filled out the promising offense, but were not enough to compensate for their poor pitching.
#10 New York Yankees (70-89) . Where to start? Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris combined for a measly 36 home runs. Elston Howard became a .250 hitter with little power and with the exception of 1B Joe Pepitone’s 31 home runs, the team showed little hope. The leading pitchers were Mel Stottlemyre and Fritz Peterson with 12 wins each.
Records for most pitches during a game are not kept or are they considered official; however, Denny McLain might be in the top ten! On August 29, 1966, McLain threw 229 pitches in a nine walk, eight hit, 6-3 victory versus the Orioles.