Year In Review : 1968 National League

O

On April 4th, a lone assassin later identified as James Earl Ray, shot and killed America's leading civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King as he stood on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. A Baptist preacher, King had been on the forefront of the non-violent struggle to obtain civil rights for black Americans everywhere.

Robert Kennedy, brother of the late President John F. Kennedy, was also shot and killed on June 5th, after winning the Democratic primary for the Presidency in California. A lone gunman named Sirhan Sirhan attacked the former Attorney General as he exited through the kitchen at the Ambassador Hotel following a speech.

The U.S.S. Pueblo, an American intelligence-gathering vessel, was captured by the North Korean military who immediately accused the United States of conducting spy operations within their territorial waters. After eleven months of being taken prisoner and torture, the ships' crew was finally released. .S.S. Pueblo, still to this date, is the only ship of the U.S. Navy currently being held captive.

I n the American League

Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers became the first Major League pitcher to win thirty games since Dizzy Dean in 1934 as well as the first American League ace since Lefty Grove in 1931.

Five days later, McLain was on his way to win number thrity-one when the New York Yankees' Mickey Mantle tagged him for his five-hundred thirty-fifth career home run pushing him ahead of Jimmie Foxx for the #3 spot on the all-time list. Despite "The Mick's" mark, the Tigers managed to preserve the pitchers record with a clutch 6-2 performance.

On September 22nd, the Minnesota Twins' Cesar Tovar matched Bert Campanarie's 1965 performance of playing all nine positions against the visiting Oakland Athletics. In an odd twist, the first batter Tovar faced was Campanarie himself who fouled out on the way to a 2-1 loss.

I n the National League

Los Angeles Dodgers' ace Don Drysdale passed Walter Johnson's 1913 record of 55 2/3 scoreless innings after going from May 14th to June 8th while tossing 58 2/3 of his own. Drysdale finally allowed a runner to reach home after Howie Bedell, of the Philadelphia Phillies scored Tony Taylor on a sacrifice fly.

On June 14th, Hank Aaron joined the "500 Home Run Club" with a three-run, four-hundred foot shot over the left-center field fence courtesy of the San Francisco Giants' Mike McCormick. "Hammerin" Hank became only the eighth player in Major League history to accomplish the feat which was sweetened by a 4-2 Atlanta Braves victory.

Bob Gibson, of the St. Louis Cardinals, tallied his twenty-second win and thirteenth shutout of the season on September 27th marking the first time a National tallied thirteen scoreless games since 1916. Gibson also boasted an ERA of 1.12, the second lowest ever in the National League.

A round the League

The Players Relations Committee and Players Consistency Association signed the first Major League Baseball "basic agreement" which increased the league's minimum salary to $10,000 and identified a formal grievance procedure. Both sides also agreed to explore the options for a reserve clause.

The Major League Players Association signed a major card contract worth millions with the Topps baseball card company.

The Baseball Rules Committee made several major changes to the game resulting in the most modifications to be implemented at one time in the history of the game. They included: the pitcher's mound being lowered from fiteen inches to ten, the strike zone being decreased from the shoulders-to-knees to armpits-to-knees, tighter enforcement and penalties for illegal pitches, extra-inning ties resuming from the point of interruption instead of being replayed and finally the study of artificial surfaces on ball fields and the pros and cons of turf.

Both the American and National Leagues restructured their divisions resulting in the AL East consisting of Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, New York and Washington, the AL West including California, Chicago, Kansas City, Minnesota, Oakland and Seattle, the NL East featuring Chicago, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis and the NL West claiming Atlanta, Cincinnati, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

"If I ever made a mistake inside, all right, but the outside is mine and don't you forget it." - Bob Gibson
1968 National League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Chicago

96

Batting Average

Cincinnati

335

Doubles

St. Louis

46

Hits

Atlanta

210

Cincinnati

Home Runs

San Francisco

36

On Base Percentage

Cincinnati

.394

RBI

San Francisco

105

Runs

Chicago

98

Slugging Average

San Francisco

.545

Stolen Bases

St. Louis

62

Total Bases

Chicago

321

Triples

St. Louis

14

1968 National League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

San Francisco

30

ERA

St. Louis

1.12

Games

Cincinnati

78

Saves

Los Angeles

25

Chicago

Shutouts

St. Louis

13

Strikeouts

St. Louis

268

Winning Percentage

Pittsburgh

.750

Wins

San Francisco

26

1968 National League

Team Standings

St. Louis Cardinals

97 65 .599 0

San Francisco Giants

88 74 .543 9

Chicago Cubs

84 78 .519 13

Cincinnati Reds

83 79 .512 14

Atlanta Braves

81 81 .500 16

Pittsburgh Pirates

80 82 .494 17

Philadelphia Phillies

76 86 .469 21

Los Angeles Dodgers

76 86 .469 21

New York Mets

73 89 .451 24

Houston Astros

72 90 .444 25

1968 National League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

San Francisco

508

Batting Average

Cincinnati

.273

Doubles

Cincinnati

281

Hits

Cincinnati

1,573

Home Runs

Chicago

130

On Base Percentage

Cincinnati

.322

Runs

Cincinnati

690

Slugging Average

Cincinnati

.389

Stolen Bases

Pittsburgh

130

Triples

St. Louis

48

1968 National League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

San Francisco

77

ERA

St. Louis

2.49

Fewest Hits Allowed

New York

1,250

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

Los Angeles

65

Fewest Walks Allowed

San Francisco

344

Saves

Cincinnati

38

Shutouts

St. Louis

30

Strikeouts

Houston

1,021



On April 19, 1968, Nolan Ryan threw nine pitches during the third inning and all nine were strikes against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ryan became only the seventh National League pitcher in history to accomplish this unique pitching feat.

On July 14, 1968 , Hank Aaron hit his 500th career home run against Mike McCormick and became the first player in Major League history with both 500 home runs and 3,000 career hits .

During the 1916 National League season , Grover Alexander tossed 16 shutouts. On September 27, 1968, Bob Gibson tossed his 13th shutout of the season - the most since Alexander in 1916.

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