On Thursday, September 9th, more than 1,200 inmates at Attica prison gained control of the facility in a well-planned and brutal attack. During the initial violence, fifty correctional officers and civilian employees were brutally beaten and taken prisoner. With hostages as leverage, the inmates listed twenty-eight demands they wanted met including amnesty for the crimes they had already committed when they took over the prison. After four tense days of unsuccessful negotiations, the command was given to retake the prison and rescue the hostages. With National Guard helicopters flying overhead administering chemical agents, a rescue force of nearly two-hundred New York State police officers stormed the facility. When it was over, ten hostages were dead, along with thirty-two inmates.
Cult-leader Charles Manson and several of his followers including Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, were convicted for the brutal Tate-LaBianca murders that occurred in August of 1969. Even though Manson was not physically present at the murders and his devotees attempted to assume full responsibility, he was seen as the malevolent power that influenced and directed their actions. All of the defendants were sentenced to death, but were later commuted to life after California's laws regarding the death penalty were changed.
Boxing legend, Muhammad Ali's draft evasion conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in June. The decision came four years after the "People's Champion" had refused to participate in the Vietnam War due to his Islamic faith. Despite citing religious reasons, Ali was denied status as a conscientious objector to the war and was subsequently convicted of refusing to be inducted into the armed forces. During the same year, Ali was stripped of his heavyweight boxing title and had his boxing license suspended.
On July 9th, the Oakland Athletics' Vida Blue tossed the longest shutout in American League history during a twenty inning, 1-0 triumph over the Anaheim Angels. The A's ace fanned seventeen batters in eleven innings while the Angels' Billy Cowan tied a Major League record by striking out six times. Both teams also combined to set a Major League record with forty-three K's.
The American League netted their only All-Star victory between 1962 and 1983 with a 6-4 victory over the Nationals. The outing appeared more like a home run derby though as Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, and Harmon Killebrew all hit round-trippers.
The Detroit Tigers proved the old adage that "less is more" after they tied a Major League record by using six different pinch hitters during the seventh inning while still losing 6-5 to the New York Yankees on September 5th.
On August 24th, Ernie Banks hit his fif-hundred twelfth and final home run off of the Cincinnati Reds' Jim McGlothin during a 5-4 win at Wrigley Field. The monumental blast moved Banks ahead of Mel Ott for an eighth place tie with Eddie Mathews on the all-time list.
The Pittsburgh Pirates started what is believed to be the first all-minority line-up on September 1st as Rennie Stennett, Gene Clines, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Manny Sanguillen, Dave Cash, Al Oliver, Jackie Hernandez, Dock Ellis and Bob Veale all take the field for the "Buccos".
At the World Series, Roberto Clemente and Steve Blass combined on both sides of the plate for a 2-1, Game 7 victory that granted the Pirates their first World Championship title since 1960. After the game, some 40,000 ecstatic fans rioted in downtown Pittsburgh resulting in over one-hundred injuries and thousands of dollars in property damage.
On New Year's Day, the BBWAA failed to elect anyone during the annual Baseball Hall of Fame election. With two-hundred seventy votes required, the closest nominees were Yogi Berra with two-hundred forty-two and Early Wynn with two-hundred forty.
Boston's Carl Yastrzemski signed what is believed to be the richest player contract in baseball history at the time. The three-year agreement agreed to pay the Red Sox slugger an accumulated salary of $500,000.
Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn determined that players from the Negro Leagues would be given a full membership into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and not honored in a separate wing as originally announced.
Sixteen baseball researchers at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown formed the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), with founder Robert Davids as president. Currently SABR boasts over 7,000 members worldwide and has continually dedicated itself to the accurate preservation of America's national pastime.
"I am the proudest man on the face of the Earth today." - Satchel Paige on August 9, 1971 (National Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech)
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
On April 5, 1971, a baseball tradition will die. Opening Day ceremonies in Washington D.C. are the last of there kind and 45,061 fans were able to watch the Senators crush the Athletics 8-0.
The Orioles walked away with the East Division title with a third consecutive 100-win season. With four twenty-game winning pitchers – Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally, Jim Palmer and Pat Dobson – supported by the bats of Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Brooks Robinson, and newcomer Merv Rettenmund, it was never in doubt.
The West was also a runaway. In winning 101-games the Oakland A’s announced the beginning of a coming dynasty. The youngsters blossomed. Cy Young winner Vida Blue won 9 of his first 10 decisions to join Catfish Hunter as twenty-game winners. Rollie Fingers was the closer. Hitting stars Reggie Jackson and 3B Sal Bando supplied the big bats while ex-Dodger Tommy Davis supplied a valuable piece off the bench.
As good as the A's played in the regular season the playoffs were a different story. The trio of Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar and Jim Palmer made it look easy in a three game sweep. The young pitching staff of the A’s were not ready for the more experienced Orioles.
#1 Baltimore Orioles (101-57) . The trio of Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Boog Powell all drove in more than 90 runs. The four headed monster starting pitching staff won an astonishing 84 games. Eddie Watt was effective out of the bullpen before a broken hand shelved him. Rookie outfielder Don Baylor was a September call-up.
#2 Detroit Tigers (91-71) . The Tigers made a great leap forward to second place by increasing their win total 12 games. Giving up on Denny McClain proved to be the right move. Pitcher Joe Coleman stepped forward and won 20-games to complement Mickey Lolich's league leading 25 victories. Two 36-year-old batters, Al Kaline and Norm Cash, along with catcher Bill Freehan, led the offense.
#3 Boston Red Sox (85-77) . The Red Sox moved up one notch primarily due to the bats of 1B George "Boomer" Scott, 3B Rico Petrocelli, and Reggie Smith. Their mediocre pitching staff lacked depth. Veteran Sonny Siebert led the staff with 16-wins.
#4 New York Yankees (82-80) . The Yankees just barely climbed over the .500 mark. Centerfielder Bobby Murcer had a career year, batting .331 with 25 home runs, but the rest of the team offense sputtered. The pitching burden still fell on the shoulders of Mel Stottlemeyr and Fritz Peterson, but neither was outstanding.
#5 Washington Senators (63-96) . No fans and few wins led to another exit from Washington. They would move to Texas at the season's conclusion. It was pretty much a carbon copy of 1970. Frank Howard was again their power house, but his numbers were starting to decline. Any expectations that Denny McClain would make a comeback were dashed early as he struggled to a 10-win / 22-loss record.
#6 Cleveland Indians (60-102) . The Tribe hit the bottom. Some familiar future Yankees, 1B Chris Chambliss and 3B Craig Nettles, showed some hope, but were still getting accustomed to big league baseball. Ace pitcher Sam McDowell disappointed as did the rest of the pitching staff.
#1 Oakland Athletics (101-60) . If there was any doubt that they were building a solid team in Oakland, it disappeared in 1971. Reggie Jackson and 3B Sal Bando led the power with a combined 56 home runs. Bert Campaneris stole 35 bases. In addition to 20-game winners, Cy Young and MVP winner Vida Blue and star pitcher Catfish Hunter, Chuck Dobson won 15 before an elbow injury cut his season short.
#2 Kansas City Royals (85-76) . A starting pitching staff led by Dick Drag's 17-wins benefited from closer Ted Abernathy's 23 saves. The 20-game win improvement from the unknown KC Royals attracted attention. A hit and run team, the Royals were led by centerfielder Amos Ottis' league leading 52 steals and little SS Freddie Patek's 49. Otis and 2B Cookie Rojas each hit .300.
#3 Chicago White Sox (79-83) . The White Sox took a step up from their 56-win 1970 season. The big shot in the arm for the offense was 3B Bill Melton with a league leading 33 home runs. Veteran pitcher Wilbur Wood notched 22-wins for an otherwise poor pitching staff.
#4 California Angels (76-86) . The Angels had hopes of contending, but seemed to be distracted by the antics of outfielder Alex Johnson. Johnson the team’\'s leading hitter in 1970, was a constant problem. He could not get along with teammates or management and after numerous fines and suspensions, he was suspended for the season on June 26. Another disappointment was the inability of Tony Cogniliaro to overcome his eye injury and he retired on July 11. The only player to stand out was pitcher Andy Messersmith who recorded 20-wins.
#5 Minnesota Twins (74-88) . The 1970 division winners fell hard. Despite having the league's RBI leader, Harmon Killebrew 119, and batting champ Tony Oliva, .337, the team never got on-track. Poor pitching was the cause, as both Jim Perry and Jim Kaat disappointed. One note of optimism was rookie pitcher Bert Blyleven who posted 16-wins.
#6 Milwaukee Brewers (69-92) . A rather dreadful season for the third year franchise and not much in the pipeline. Outfielder Johnny Briggs led the offense with 21 home runs. The best pitching record was posted by Marty Patten a paltry 14-14 season.
Did you know that the best fielding third baseman in history once committed three errors during the same inning? On July 28, 1971, Brooks Robinson actually had a bad day during the sixth inning versus the Athletics. The eleven time consecutive Gold Glove winner would still win number twelve, but the moment is still a noteworthy part of his career.