The entire crew of the Apollo One spacecraft including Virgil Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee were killed during a pre-launch rehearsal after fire swept through their Saturn rocket as it sat on its launching pad. The tragedy marked the first deaths of any astronaut while actively engaged in the American space program.
The United States Senate promoted Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall as the first African-American member of the Supreme Court. Previous to his nomination from President Lyndon B. Johnson, Marshall had held office in the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals after President John F. Kennedy recognized him as one of the country's most promising attorneys.
American labor leader Jimmy Hoffa was arrested and sentenced to thirteen years in prison following a series of government investigations into illegal business practices. While serving his sentence at a federal prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, he refused to resign as president of the Teamsters and retained the support of most union members. United States President Richard Nixon eventually commuted Hoffa's sentence releasing him from prison on Christmas Eve, 1971. Four years later, while attempting to rebuild his administration, Hoffa "disappeared" after apparently attending a meeting at the Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. To this day, the Teamster leader has never been found and was declared legally dead in 1982.
On May 30th, New York Yankees lefty Whitey Ford surprisingly announced his retirement after struggling for several weeks due to a bone spur on his throwing elbow. The perennial ace finished his career with an amazing 236-109 record, a 2.75 lifetime ERA, ten World Series wins and the highest career winning percentage (.690) of any modern pitcher.
The Washington Senators managed to fight off exhaustion long enough to beat the Chicago White Sox 6-5 during a twenty-two inning contest that lasted six hours and thirty-eight minutes. The June 12th marathon set the record for the longest night game in American League history.
New York Yankees team president Mike Burke announced that "The House That Ruth Built" (also known as Yankee Stadium) would undergo its first major renovation at an estimated cost of $1.5 million dollars. The Mets agreed to allow the Bronx Bombers to use Shea Stadium while their park was getting the facelift.
St. Louis Cardinal and single-season home run champion Roger Maris hit a "one in a million" shot against the Pittsburgh Pirates for his first National League round-tripper. Unbelievably, Maris, who wore number 9, hit a ball into Seat 9, located in Row 9 during a game on May 9th.
The Chicago Cubs and New York Mets combined for eleven home runs (Cubs eight, Mets three) during the second game of a June 11th doubleheader. The unexpected "home run derby" tied a Major League record originally set by the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees in 1950.
Tony Perez ended the longest All-Star Game in Major League history (fifteen innings) to date after launching a home run off "Catfish" Hunter for the 2-1 National League victory. Despite the game-winning hit, pitching reigned supreme at this Midsummer Classic as Ferguson Jenkins of the National League struck out seven, the American League allowed no walks and both leagues combined for thirty total strikeouts.
After an eleven-hour debate, the American League owners approved the move of Charles Finley's Athletics from Kansas City to Oakland. The junior circuit also mandated the expansion of the league with a deadline of 1971, guaranteeing a new franchise in both Kansas City and Seattle by that time.
The National League owners also agreed to a two team expansion and explored the possibilities of putting the new teams in Milwaukee, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo and / or San Diego.
St. Louis Cardinal Orlando Cepeda became the first National League MVP to be voted for unanimously while the American League MVP, Boston Red Sox slugger Carl Yastrzemski, won the Triple-Crown and led the American League in batting average (.326), slugging average (.622), home runs (tied with Harmon Killebrew with forty-four), RBIs (one-hundred twenty-one) and hits (one-hundred eighty-nine).
Four Baseball Hall of Fame inductees debuted during the 1967 season including Tom Seaver, Johnny Bench, Rod Carew and Reggie Jackson.
"My idea of managing is giving the ball to Tom Seaver and sitting down and watching him work." - Sparky Anderson
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
On April 13, 1967, a 22 year old pitcher named Tom Seaver pitched his first Major League game. The future hall of famer lasted five and a third innings, allowed six hits, gave up two runs and walked four in a no-decision debut.
The Cardinals were stacked and no one challenged them. The off season pick up of Roger Maris for journeyman Charlie Smith might have served as an omen of what was to come. In his second year with the club (HOF) 1B Orlando Cepeda batted .325, 25 home runs and a league leading 111 RBIs to take the MVP Award. Maris was joined in the outfield with Lou Brock and Curt Flood. Tim McCarver was behind the plate. All of this offense came in handy when ace Bob Gibson went down with a broken leg on July 15.
The Giants were victimized by sub-par seasons from Willie Mays and pitching ace Juan Marichal. It would have been worse if not for the comeback of Mike McCormick winning the Cy Young Award with 22-wins. The surprise of the league was the vast improvement of the Cubs under the direction of manager Leo Durocher. The Mets reverted back to the cellar despite the arm of Rookie of the Year Tom "Terrific" Seaver’s 16 wins.
#1 St. Louis Cardinals (101-61) . In addition to Orlando Cepeda's great stats, Lou Brock led the league with 52 steals and hit .295 with 21 home runs. Curt Flood batted .335. Maris had a difficult season adjusting to the change. With Bob Gibson out, the pitching staff depended on Dick Hughes, Nelson Briles and young left hander 22-year-old (HOF) Steve Carlton.
#2 San Francisco Giants (91-71) . With Willie Mays suffering through a poor season (.265, 22 homers) 3B Jim Ray Hart picked up some of the slack by knocking out 29 HRs and driving in 99 runs. Mike McCormack had some pitching support from Gaylord Perry and Ray Sadowski. Juan Marichal suffered a thigh injury that contributed to his disappointing 14-10 season.
#3 Chicago Cubs (87-74) . What a thrill for Cub fans to have a team that was somewhat in contention for a pennant. The 28-game win improvement from 1966 was due to the cumulative efforts of 3B Ron Santo (.300, 31 HRs, 99 RBIs), OF Billy Williams (28 HRs,84 RBIs) and a rejuvenated Ernie Banks (23 HRs and 95 RBIs). Young Fergie Jenkins became a 20-game winner to lead the pitching staff.
#4 Cincinnati Reds (87-75) . The Reds benefited from the continued good hitting of 2B Pete Rose and Vada Pinson. Third baseman Tony Perez supplied the power with 26 home runs and 102 RBIs. Milt Pappas and Jim Mahoney led the pitchers with 16 and 15 wins respectively.
#5 Philadelphia Phillies (82-80) . The Phils did not live up to expectations. Third baseman Dick Allen missed 40 games with a neck injury, but still led the club with 23 home runs. Pitcher Jim Bunning was the ace of the staff with 17 wins while striking out a league leading 253 strikeouts.
#6 Pittsburgh Pirates (81-81) . A contending team in '66 fell quite hard to a .500 record. Roberto Clemente won another batting title .357, and three other hitters exceeded .300 — Matty Alou batted .335, Manny Mota .321, and off season acquisition 3B Maury Wills .302. But there was a power shortage as Willie Stargell's power numbers dropped. The pitching was mediocre with the exception of Bob Veale (16-5).
#7 Atlanta Braves (77-85) . The Braves also took a dip. Eddie Matthews retired, but Hank Aaron led the league in homers (37). Pat Jarvis led the shaky pitching staff with 15 wins and knuckleballer Phil Niekro produced the lowest ERA in the NL.
#8 Los Angeles Dodgers (74-88) . In addition to Sandy Koufax bowing out with his arthritic arm, the rest of the fine pitching of 1966 collapsed. Don Drysdale and Don Sutton recorded more losses than wins. Claude Osteen won 17 games, but also lost 17. The 1966 hero, Phil "The Vulture" Regan, slipped to 6-9 after his 14-1 '66 season. There was no power whatsoever. nor were there any .300 hitters. With the Maury Wills trade stolen bases became practically extinct.
#9 Houston Astros (69-93) . The Astros could not find a away out of the doldrums. Second baseman (HOF) Joe Morgan became legitimate batting .275 with 29 steals. Fan favorite outfielder Rusty Staub batted .333. Only left hander Mike Cuellar showed any pitching potential winning 16 while losing 11.
#10 New York Mets (61-101) . In falling back into the cellar "The Lovable Mets" were starting to lose their sympathetic fan base. In hindsight, they were starting to build a team anchored by with outfielders Cleon Jones and ex-Dodger Tommy Davis. Third baseman Ed Charles came over from the KC A's and shortstop Bud Harrelson was showing his defensive skills. But it was Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Award winner Tom "Terrific" Seaver who was grabbing headlines. Also hidden away in the bullpen were two rookies Jerry Koosman and Tug McGraw.