Apollo 11 astronaut, Neil Armstrong, became the first man to walk on the moon after landing the lunar module, known as the "Eagle" at Tranquility Base on July 16 th . Armstrong made his historic descent to the surface live on television making the now historic statement: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Twenty-one hours and thirty-six minutes later (after conducting several experiments and planting the U.S. flag) the Eagle returned safe and sound to the Columbia for its return flight to Earth on July 24 th .
On the night of August 9 th , several members of a hippie cult led by self-proclaimed messiah Charles Manson brutally murdered actress Sharon Tate and four others in her Beverly Hills mansion. The next evening Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, wealthy owners of a grocery chain, were also brutally attacked in their Los Angeles home. Initially the crimes were not connected even though victims in both cases had suffered from multiple stab wounds and the words "pig" and "Helter Skelter" were written in blood all over both crime scenes.
The Woodstock Music and Art Festival was held at Max Yasgur's dairy farm in Bethel, New York representing the culmination of the counterculture of the 1960's and the high point of the "hippie era." Although 10,000 to 20,000 people were expected, well over 400,000 showed up and crashed the gate as music's biggest names including Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Joe Crocker, The Who and the Grateful Dead came together for three days of "music, peace and love".
On March 1 st , "The Commerce Comet" also known as Mickey Mantle announced his retirement after eighteen years in professional baseball. During his Hall of Fame tenure with the New York Yankees, "The Mick" batted .298, hit five-hundred thirty-six home runs and appeared in an amazing sixty-five World Series games in which he tallied a record eighteen home runs and forty RBIs.
As Major League Baseball celebrated its Centennial season, two New York Yankees topped the commemorative list of the games greatest. "Babe" Ruth was unanimously crowned as the "Greatest Player Ever" and Joe DiMaggio was christened as the "Greatest Living Player".
Reggie Jackson hit two home runs and drove in a whopping ten runs as the Oakland Athletics regained first place in the American League West with a 21-7 romp over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on June 14 th . Jackson doubled home a run in the first, homered in the third and fifth, singled in two in the seventh and drove in three more with a single in the eighth. The whopping twenty-one run total set a team record that wouldn't be matched until the 2000 season.
In the first regular season Major League Baseball game ever to be played outside of the borders of the United States, the Montreal Expos defeated the visiting St. Louis Cardinals 8-7. Both teams were introduced to the capacity crowd of 29,184 in both English and French Canadian.
St. Louis Cardinals ace Bob Gibson set a National League record on August 16 th (reaching two-hundred strikeouts for the seventh season) after an 8-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.
On May 13 th , Ernie Banks, of the Chicago Cubs, hit seven RBIs (including his one-thousand five-hundredth) with two, three-run home runs and a double during a 19-0 massacre over the San Diego Padres. The blowout tied the mark for the largest shutout margin in the history of the modern National League.
Ted Williams was named Jim Lemon's replacement as manager of the Washington Senators after the Capital's franchise finished in last place with a miserable 65-96 record. "Teddy Baseball" was reported to have signed a five-year contract for $75,000 a season and ten percent in the team's stock.
Both leagues agreed to try the new "designated pinch hitter" rule during spring training, but under two different variations. The American League allowed the optional use of a DPH only for the home team while the National League required home managers to obtain the visiting skipper's approval for the experimental substitution.
Bowie Kuhn, a forty-two year old lawyer whose firm had handled all of the National League's legal affairs was unanimously elected as the new Commissioner of Baseball. Two other top candidates; Mike Burke of the New York Yankees and Charles Feeney of the San Francisco Giants had been previously deadlocked resulting in Kuhn's nomination.
In an effort to prevent an impending strike, Major League Baseball and the Players Association finally settled on a new revised pension plan. The tenure for qualifying was shortened from five years to four and the minimum age requirement was also lowered from fifty to forty-five. The players also agreed to get $5.45 million per year (retroactive to 1959) as well as a percentage of all televised game revenues.
"It was the best stuff I ever had (on September 15, 1969 when he struck out a National League record 19 batters). When I had 9 strikeouts I decided to go all the way, but it cost me the game because I started to challenge every batter." - Steve Carlton
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
Did you know that the first regular season Major League baseball game played outside the United States of America occurred on April 14, 1969 ? It took place in front of 29,184 fans at Parc Jarry, in Montreal, where the Expos defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 8-to-7.
The “Amazing Mets” surprised the baseball world in winning the National League East Division. No one could comprehend how a 9th place, perennial losing , team could jump from 73 to 100 wins in one season. The season started in a normal fashion with the Mets losing their home opener to the expansion Montreal Expos. But they started to turn things around and found themselves in second place behind the Chicago Cubs in late June.
In early July they took two of three from the Cubs at Shea Stadium and followed that up the very next week with again taking the Cubs in two or three to move into contention. The Mets fans had to hold their breath as the team hit a slump in August and fell behind by 9 ½ gamers. But again, they rallied and on September 8 they moved within 2 ½ games of the Cubs just before the Cubs came into New York for a two game series. The Mets took both. They continued winning while the Cubs slumped and finished with 100 wins. eight games ahead of the second place Cubs.
In the West, the Braves also had a close race. Relying on the bats of Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda and Rico Carty and the pitching of (HOF) Phil Niekro to hold off the Giants and Cincinnati Reds. The Giants had MVP Willie McCovey and the Reds featured Pete Rose.
There was still little faith in the rejuvenated Mets as the Braves were heavily favored to win the playoff series. But Tom Seaver shut them out in game one and the bats of Cleon Jones, Tommy Agee, Art Shamsky and 2B Ken Boswell tore into the Braves pitching staff and completed a three game sweep to move onto the World Series.
The expansion teams, the San Diego Padres and Montreal Expos, both played poor enough to lose 110 games.
#1 New York Mets (100-62) . Manager Gil Hodges received much earned praise for directing the Mets. There were no Hall of Famers in the everyday lineup. Only outfielder Cleon Jones batted over .300. However starting pitchers (HOF) Tom Seavers (23 wins) and Jerrry koosman (17 wins) along with relief relievers Tug McGraw and Ron Taylor were outstanding. (HOF) Nolan Ryan missed considerable time with a groin injury.
#2 Chicago Cubs ( 92-70) . The disappointed Cub fans were hopeful after their promising 1968 season that maybe this would be the year, They came close. The offense still had a productive Ernie Banks, 3B Ron Santo and Billy Williams. Pitcher Bill Hands joined Fergie Jenkins as a 20 game winner and young Ken Holtzman added 17.
#3 Pittsburgh Pirates (88-74) . The Bucs made a big jump forward. Their outfield of Roberto Clemente, Matty Alou and Wille Stargell was as good as any. Added to that was .300 hitting catcher Manny Sanguilen and 22-year-old 1B Ty Oliver with 17 home runs. However, the pitching was mediocre at best. Steve Blass led the staff with 16 wins.
#4 St. Louis Cardinals (87-75) . The Cardinals took a nosedive after their pennant winning season of 1968. Only OF Lou Brock stood out with 52 steals and a .298 team leading batting average. Their pitching fared better with Bob Gibson winning 20 and lefty Steve Carlton 17.
#5 Philadelphia Phillies (63-99) . The Phillies were on a hamster wheel of poor baseball. Strictly a one man offense with moody 1B Dick Allen, 32 home runs. The pitching was no better. Only Rick Wise could win more than he lost (15-13).
#6 Montreal Expos (52-110) . Baseball’s first international team, were enthusiasticly welcomed by Canada's baseball fans, Just as he was in Houston, OF Rusty Staub became a fan favorite batting .302, 29 home runs. The pitching was disaster. Bill Stone man led the staff with 11 wins, but he lost 19.
#1 Atlanta Braves (92-69) . A well balanced team. Hank Aaron batted .300 with 44 home runs and 97 RBIs, 1B Orlando Cepeda 22 HRs, 88 RBIs, and Rico Carty .342 batting average. The hitting was supported by solid pitching delivered by knuckleballer Phil Niekro 23 wins, and Ron Reed, 18, and a bullpen headed up by Cecil Upshaw, 27 saves.
#2 San Francisco Giants (90-72) . Willie McCovey had taken over from Willie Mays as the team batting leader. He took the MVP Award by leading the league in home runs (46) and RBIs (126). The other power source came from outfielder Bobby Bonds with 32 home runs and 90 RBIs. At 38, Mays was slowing down playing in just 104 games with 13 home runs and a .282 BA. Juan Marichal was still "the man" on the mound with 21 wins. Gaylord Perry had 18 wins.
#3 Cincinnati Reds (89-73) . The Reds moved up a spot as they were assembling a team to be reckoned with in the future. Pete Rose won his first batting title, .344, while 3B Tony Perez showed off his muscle with 37 home runs. In his second season twenty-one-year old catcher Johnny Bench knocked out 26 home runs with 90 RBIs. The Reds led the league in homeruns. The pitching was suspect, with the exception of Jim Merrit's 17 wins.
#4 Los Angeles Dodgers (85-77) . The Dodgers improved over 1968, but were never contenders. A weak offense with only Willie Davis breaking the .300 mark. Second baseman Ted Sizemore was the Rookie of the Year in a season of no standout first year players. The improved record was due to two twenty game winners, Claude Osteen and Bill Singer. Future HOF Don Sutton recorded 17 victories.
#5 Houston Astros (81-81) . The Astros were able to beat out an expansion team and played .500 baseball for the first time in their short history. Outfielder Jimmy Wynn and 2B Joe Morgan supplied some offensive punch and 22-year-old pitcher Larry Dierker won 20 games.
#6 San Diego Padres (52-110) . The expansion Padress were in over their heads in the West Division. No bats, no arms. Pitching was so bad their leading pitchers, Al Santarini and Phil Niekro only won 8 games each. Their #3 pitcher Clay Kirby won 7, lost 20.
On April 17, 1969 , Bill Stoneman was pitching for the inaugural Montreal Expos and tossed the franchises first no-hit game. Stoneman struck out 8 Phillies, walked 5, and won 7-0 at Connie Mack Stadium.
On September 22, 1969, rookie pitcher Mike Corkins asked his manager Preston Gomez , "Why'd it have to be me?" Gomez replied, "Son, there've been 599 before you." The item in question was none other than the 600th career home run hit by slugger extraordinaire Willie Mays .