After large numbers of North Vietnamese troops entered Cambodia in 1969. Premier Lon Nol assumed control of the government, while Prince Sihanouk was in Peking, and pledged to force the removal of the occupying military. Initially, the invaders agreed to withdraw, but then announced their support for Sihanouk, who had promised to fight the new government. President Nixon announced that U.S. troops would join with South Vietnamese troops to invade the border areas of Cambodia and eliminate all Communist sanctuaries.
Four students were killed at Kent State University after Ohio National Guardsmen clashed with anti-war protesters. The students were engaged in a rally condemning President Nixon's approval for a massive incursion into Cambodia. While appearing on television on April 30th, Nixon announced that the invasion was for a limited period, and was to save American lives, and claimed that American forces would not advance more than twenty-one miles into the country.
Monday Night Football debuted on ABC, with Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson, and Don Meredith all giving play-by-play. The on-camera camaraderie in the booth as well as the groundbreaking approach to covering the game resulted in the development of several multi-camera and play-by-play technologies that are still being used today. As a result, Monday Night Football has become the most successful and longest-running primetime sports series in television history.
Baltimore's Frank Robinson hit two successive grand slams during a 12-2 Orioles triumph over the Washington Senators becoming just the seventh major leaguer to ever accomplish the feat. The back-to-back historic blasts were the only grand slams Robinson ever hit as a "Blackbird".
The Kansas City Royals set an unwanted Major League mark on August 3rd after falling 10-8 to the Baltimore Orioles for the twenty-third time in two seasons.
Tommy Harper of the Milwaukee Brewers matched thirty stolen bases with his thirtieth home run of the year to become the fifth major leaguer to go 30-30 in the same season. Incidentally, the stats added up as the resulting 4-2 win over the Anaheim Angels marked the Brewers "60th" of the year.
On July 8th, San Francisco Giant Jim Ray Hart tied a modern Major League record with six runs batted in during one inning with all coming in the fifth. The "bay area brawler" slammed a three run home run and three run triple and eventually hit for the cycle en route to a 13-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
The New York Mets' Tom Seaver set a Major League record after striking out nineteen Padres, including the last ten in succession, during an April 22nd, 2-1 victory over San Diego. The feat topped every pitcher ever to take the mound in the 20th Century and no one had ever struck out ten in a row to date.
Atlanta Braves icon "Hammerin'" Hank Aaron collected his three-thousandth hit with an infield single as well as his five-hundred seventieth home run off of Wayne Granger during a 7-6, 15-inning loss to the Cincinnati Reds on May 17th.
St. Louis Cardinals' Golden Glove outfielder Curt Flood filed a civil lawsuit against Major League Baseball in an effort to challenge their contract reserve clause. Flood refused to report to the Philadelphia Phillies after being traded and contended that the rule violated federal antitrust laws. Flood eventually lost his $4.1 million suit later in the year after Federal Judge Irving Ben Cooper upheld the legality of the clause. However, Cooper did recommend changes in the reserve system, to be achieved through negotiation between both players and owners.
"X-5" baseballs, a new experimental brand claiming to travel faster and farther than traditional balls was field tested during all Major League Spring Training games in both Arizona and Florida. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered a halt to their use after a three week trial period, which had ended with inconclusive results.
All-Star Game voting was finally returned to the fans as punch-card ballots debuted in major league ballparks across the nation. It was the first time since 1958 that the exhibition's squads were not entirely selected by managers, coaches and players.
Both players and management agreed to end their labor dispute on June 8th by settling on a new standard contract. Among the compromises that benefited the players was a raise in the minimum league salary from $10,000 to $12,000 per season.
"To go to a game in Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, or Crosley Field in Cincinnati, or Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, or Shibe Park in Philadelphia, was to experience baseball intimately, and to be marinated in a sense of many summers lingering in the atmosphere."
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
Is the ball juiced? On March 18, 1970 an experimental ball (dubbed X-5) was used in a Spring Training game. The Indians and Pilots had a combined 34 hits and Seattle won 19-14. Major League Baseball said the ball was only 5% livelier, but Sam McDowell disagreed saying in response to that claim, "Times 100!"
The competitive imbalance of 1969 continued into 1970. The Orioles repeated their success of ’69 using the same formula. They continued to rely on the bats of MVP Boog Powell, (HOF) 3B Brooks and Frank Robinson along with quality pitching of 20 game winners Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally and Jim Palmer. Minnesota likewise repeated even though they lost 2B Rod Carew and starting pitcher Luis Tiant for much of the season. They got solid seasons from Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva and Cy Young winner Jim Perry.
Not only were both teams records almost identical to the previous season, the results of the playoff were also the same as the Birds swept the Twins in three straight games. First baseman Boog Powell and 2B Davey Johnson provided the offense and Jim Palmer threw a final game shutout to move onto the World Series. The Twins pitching let them down.
The news off the field during the season centered on the saga of the Tigers 1968 and 69 Cy Young winner Denny McClain. It was discovered that McClain had fallen into serious financial difficulties due a gambling addiction. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended McClain for the first 90 days of the season. His comeback was a failure as his fastball had lost velocityand his record fell to 3-5 through August. However, this was not all. McClain doused a couple of reporters with a bucket of ice water causing Kuhn to suspend him again this time for a week. It went downwards even more when Kuhn hit McLain with his third suspension on September 9 for the duration when he was found carrying a pistol against his probation agreement. The Tigers had seen enough and the once fabulous McLain was traded to the lowly Washington Senators.
#1 Baltimore Orioles (108-54) . Almost identical to '69 — another runaway season. Three 20 game winners — Dave McNally (24) Mike Cuellar (24) and Jim Palmer (20) breezed past the competition. The starting roster returned with Frank Robinson & Boog Powell Robinson leading the way. Powell took MVP honors batting .297 with 35 home runs and 114 RBIs.
#2 New York Yankees (93-69) . The Yanks with manager Ralph Houck at the helm took a giant step in the right direction. The addition of Rookie of the Year catcher Thurman Munson made a big difference Outfielder Roy White stepped up to the plate with 22 home runs and 90 RBIs. Pitcher Fritz Peterson put it all together and won 20 games while Lindy McDaniel was solid in relief with 25 saves.
#3 Boston Red Sox (87-76) . The Red Sox posted the same won / lost record as 1969. The offense was powerful, but the pitching was not good. Yaz had another great season (.329, 40 home runs, 102 RBIs) as did Tony Conigliaro 36 HRs, 118 RBIs, Reggie Smith, .303, 22 HRs and shortstop Rico Petrocelli, 29 HRs and 103 RBIs. Ray Culp led the not so fearsome pitching staff with 17 wins.
#4 Detroit Tigers (79-83) . The Tigers drop was primarily due to the antics of Denny McLain. The heroes of yesteryear, Al Kaline, Norm Cash and catcher Bill Freehan were slipping. Mickey Lolich assumed the role of the ace of the pitching staff, but could only win 14 games.
#5 Cleveland Indians (76-86) . Some improvement, but far from contending. The Indians had little spark with the exception of pitcher "Sudden" Sam McDowell who once again led the league in strikeouts with 304. Second year catcher Ray Fosse took over behind the plate and led the team in batting .307.
#6 Washington Senators (70-92) . Back in the cellar finishing 38 games behind the league leader. Outsider of a monster season by slugging outfielder Frank Howard who led the league in home runs (44) and RBIs (126). Pitcher Dick Elsworth was the only starting pitcher with a winning record, 16-12.
#1 Minnesota Twins (98-64) . Like the Orioles, the team stats were also remarkedly similar to 1969. Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva slugged away. Oliva won the batting title (.326) and Killebrew was runner up in the homerun chase (41). Rod Carew missed two thirds of the season, including the playoffs. Jim Perry rose to career high 24 wins and took home the Cy Young Award.
#2 Oakland Athletics (89-73) . Another team with practically the same record as the previous season with no big changes on their roster. Reggie Jackson cooled off a bit with only 23 home runs, but outfielder Joe Rudi got the opportunity to play and hit .309. Shortstop Bert Campaneris led the league in stolen bases (42). Catfish Hunter led the pitching staff with 18 wins and veteran Diego Segui posted the league's lowest ERA, 2.58.
#3 California Angels (86-76) . The Angels put together a much improved team. Outfielder Alex Johnson tied Oliva for the best BA, and Jim Fregosi found some power hitting 22 home runs. Pitcher Clyde Wright came out of nowhere to win 22 games.
#4 Kansas City Royals (65-97) . There was no improvement in KC. They lacked hitting with the exception of outfielder Lou Pinella, .301. The pitching was not good. Veteran Ted Abernathy came over in a trade to post 9 wins and 12 saves, but there was nothing beyond that.
#5 Milwaukee Brewers (65-97) . The Seattle Pilots moved to Milwaukee, but it did not improve their play. They still received excellent output from 3B Tommy Harper .296, 31 HRs, 82 RBIs and 38 stolen bases to join the very elite club of players with 30 HRs and 30 steals.
#6 Chicago White Sox (56-106) . It could not get worse for the White Sox. Although reclaimed SS Luis Aparicio batted .313, his speed was gone. They had one power bat in 3B Bill Melton, 31 home runs, but nothing was going to help a team with such a pitiful pitching staff. Tommy John on his attempt to find the old magic won 12, but lost 17.
On Opening Day at County Stadium in Milwaukee the Brewers played their first regular season game losing to the Angels 12-0. The game marked the return of American League baseball to the city of Milwaukee where it had been absent for 69 seasons.