Year In Review : 1966 National League

Off the field...

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.

In the American League...

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.

In the National League...

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.

Around the League...

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.

Baseball Almanac Top Quote

"You know, I never had a cross word with anybody in 15 years in Milwaukee. Everybody had fun. We'd get to the park 2 or 3 hours early, sit around 2 or 3 hours after the game. Boy, that was enjoyable." - Eddie Mathews

1966 National League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls
Chicago
95
Batting Average
Pittsburgh
.342
Doubles
Philadelphia
40
Hits
Atlanta
218
Home Runs
Atlanta
44
On Base Percentage
Chicago
.417
RBI
Atlanta
127
Runs
Atlanta
122
Slugging Average
Philadelphia
.632
Stolen Bases
St. Louis
74
Total Bases
Atlanta
355
Triples
St. Louis
13

1966 National League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games
Los Angeles
27
ERA
Los Angeles
1.73
Games
Atlanta
73
Saves
Los Angeles
21
Shutouts
Philadelphia
5
St. Louis
Chicago
Philadelphia
St. Louis
Los Angeles
Cincinnati
Strikeouts
Los Angeles
317
Winning Percentage
San Francisco
.806
Wins
Los Angeles
27

1966 National League

Team Standings

Los Angeles Dodgers 95 67 .586 0
San Francisco Giants 93 68 .578
Pittsburgh Pirates 92 70 .568 3
Philadelphia Phillies 87 75 .537 8
Atlanta Braves 85 77 .525 10
St. Louis Cardinals 83 79 .512 12
Cincinnati Reds 76 84 .475 18
Houston Astros 72 90 .444 23
New York Mets 66 95 .410 28½
Chicago Cubs 59 103 .364 36

1966 National League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls
Atlanta
512
Batting Average
Pittsburgh
.279
Doubles
Pittsburgh
238
Hits
Pittsburgh
1,586
Home Runs
Atlanta
207
On Base Percentage
Pittsburgh
.331
Runs
Atlanta
782
Slugging Average
Pittsburgh
.428
Stolen Bases
St. Louis
144
Triples
Pittsburgh
66

1966 National League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games
Los Angeles
52
Philadelphia
San Francisco
ERA
Los Angeles
2.63
Fewest Hits Allowed
Los Angeles
1,287
Fewest Home Runs Allowed
Los Angeles
84
Fewest Walks Allowed
Los Angeles
356
Saves
Pittsburgh
43
Shutouts
Los Angeles
20
Strikeouts
Los Angeles
1,084
baseball almanac flat baseball

baseball almanac fast facts

On April 12, 1966, baseball made its debut in Atlanta, Georgia when the Milwaukee Braves moved their "home" to Fulton County Stadium. Nearly a quarter-million fans watch the pre-game parade and 50,671 fans attended the inaugural game where the Pirates won 3-2 on a 13th inning Willie Stargell home run.

On April 24, 1966, Willie Mays tied Mel Ott for the National League record for career home runs when he hit his 511th long ball. On May 4, 1966, Claude Osteen of the Dodgers served up the record breaker and Mays stood at the top of the senior circuit.

On October 2, 1966, one of the most dominant pitchers of the era recorded his final victory. Sandy Koufax won his 27th of the season and captured the Dodgers second consecutive pennant before hanging up his spikes at the top of his career. Asked why he chose to leave the game at this moment he replied, "I've got a lot of years to live after baseball and I would like to live them with the complete use of my body."

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