YEAR IN REVIEW : 1972 American League

Off the field...

LIFE, the blueprint for magazine publishing in America folded as a weekly in December of 1972. Though the weekly version's life span covered only thirty-seve years, it is impossible to think of any other magazine that had such an extraordinary impact on the art of photo-journalism. Debuting in 1936, Henry R. Luce and his colleagues at Time Inc. decided to publish a magazine that would take pictures and words to an unprecedented level. Up to then, most newsworthy imagery had been deliberately posed and static, but after the portable 35mm camera was developed in the 1930's, it was discovered that a skilled photographer could take pictures of almost anything, anywhere; at anytime. Most magazines had been built around editors and writers, but was very different, as it was entirely been built around its photographers.

President Richard Nixon defeated Democratic candidate George McGovern by one of the widest margins on record. However, within a few months, his administration was under fire over the so-called "Watergate" scandal, stemming from a break-in at the offices of the Democratic National Committee during the 1972 campaign. The break-in was traced to several officials of the Committee to Re-elect the President. As a result, many resigned and some were later convicted of offenses connected with efforts to cover up the affair. Nixon himself denied any personal involvement, but the courts forced him to yield White House tape recordings, which indicated that he had, in fact, tried to interfere with the ongoing investigation.

In the American League...

On May 12th, the Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins went head-to-head for twenty-one innings before the one A.M. curfew halted play with the score 3-3. Both teams combined to tie the Major League record for intentional walks during an extra-inning game with seven and the Twins went a step further and tied their own club record by stranding twenty-three men on base. The following day play resumed as the Brewers scored in the top of the twenty-second to win 4-3, but the Twins prevailed with a 4-3 victory of their own in the second outing after fifteen innings. At the end of the day, both games tallied nine hours and twenty-three minutes setting an American League record for the most consecutive innings ever played in a two-day span.

June 4th belonged to the pitchers as a Major League record eight shutouts were pitched in sixteen games. Five took place in the American League and three in the National League with two being recorded by the Oakland Athletics who swept the Baltimore Orioles twice with a pair of identical 2-0 decisions.

California Angels' ace Nolan Ryan sat down sixteen batters for a 3-0 victory and an American League record with eight K's in a row on nine pitches. Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox, managed a one-out single in the first for the team's only hit, but Ryan responded by retiring the last twenty-six consecutive batters. In doing so, the future Hall of Famer became only the third pitcher in Major League history to twice fan the side on nine pitches.

In the National League...

Giants' giant Willie McCovey tied both Gil Hodges and Hank Aaron for the National League grand-slam record with fourteen of his own as San Francisco beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-3.

On September 30th, Roberto Clemente doubled to left-center off of the New York Mets' John Matlack at Three Rivers Stadium for his final at-bat and career hit number three-thousand. The Pittsburgh Pirates went on to win 5-0 and "The Great One" went on the list with Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, Hank Aaron, Eddie Collins, Napoleon Lajoie, Willie Mays, Paul Waner, and Adrian Anson as the newest member of the "3,000 hit club".

Unfortunately, Clemente was killed in a plane crash while on a humanitarian mission that was taking supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. The DC-7 aircraft he was flying in went down off the coast of Puerto Rico one-mile from San Juan with no survivors. The four time National League batting champion was only thirty-eight years old and had just won a World Series championship in 1971. As a tribute, he was elected on a special consideration to the National Baseball Hall of Fame with a 93% vote becoming the first Latin American to be inducted into Cooperstown.

Around the League...

Eighty-six games were cancelled due to the first general players' strike, which was eventually resolved on April 13th. Concessions came after both the owners and players agreed on a $500,000 increase in pension fund payments. In an effort to prevent paying the players for the work stoppage, the league decided not to make up the missed contests. As a result, some teams only played one-hundred fifty-three total games.

The Philadelphia Phillies' Steve Carlton became the first pitcher at 27-10, to win the Cy Young Award while playing with a last-place team and Rod Carew, of the Minnesota Twins, became the first American League player to lead the league in hitting without ever hitting a single home run.

The Oakland Athletics' Reggie Jackson set a new trend in baseball after being the first Major League ballplayer to wear a mustache since Wally Schang in 1914. As a result, the A's owner Charles Finley declared June 18th "Mustache Day" at the ballpark and offered $300 to each player that could grow one before Father's Day.

The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed lower court rulings in the Curt Flood case by a vote of 5-3 upholding baseball's exemption from antitrust laws. The decision cleared the way for future legislation or collective bargaining to undercut the reserve system, but proved meaningless after all major league owners agreed to salary arbitration at the end of the season.

Baseball Almanac Top Quote

"The only difference between me and those other great Yankees is my skin color." - Reggie Jackson

1972 American League Player Review

1971 | 1972 Hitting Statistics League Leaders | 1973

Chicago
99
New York
Minnesota
.318
Kansas City
33
Oakland
181
Chicago
37
Chicago
.422
Chicago
113
New York
102
Chicago
.603
Oakland
52
New York
314
Oakland
9

1972 American League Pitcher Review

1971 | 1972 Pitching Statistics League Leaders | 1973

Cleveland
29
Boston
1.91
Texas
66
New York
35
California
9
California
329
Oakland
.750
Cleveland
24
Chicago

1972 American League Team Standings

1972 All-Star Game | 1972 Team Standings | 1972 World Series

86
70
.551
0
85
70
.548
½
80
74
.519
5
79
76
.510
72
84
.462
14
65
91
.417
21
93
62
.600
0
87
67
.565
77
77
.500
15½
76
78
.494
16½
75
80
.484
18
54
100
.351
38½
American League Team Standings

1972 American League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls
Kansas City
534
Batting Average
Kansas City
.255
Doubles
Boston
229
Hits
Kansas City
1,317
Home Runs
Oakland
134
On Base Percentage
Kansas City
.329
Runs
Boston
640
Slugging Average
Boston
.376
Stolen Bases
Texas
126
Triples
Boston
34

1972 American League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games
Baltimore
62
ERA
Baltimore
2.53
Fewest Hits Allowed
California
1,109
Fewest Home Runs Allowed
Baltimore
85
Kansas City
Fewest Walks Allowed
Baltimore
395
Saves
Oakland
43
Shutouts
Oakland
23
Strikeouts
California
1,000
baseball almanac flat baseball

baseball almanac fast facts

On July 14, 1972, Bill Haller was the plate umpire in a Tigers versus Royals game. The Detroit catcher that day was Tom Haller , the brother of the umpire, making this the first time in history that such an event took place.

1972 American League Pennant Race | by Jim Halloran ( Baseball and America )

1972 was a season on hold for the first 13 days of the season due to a player strike for a better pension plan. The American League East went down to the final weekend when the Tigers clinched the division title by taking two of three games from the Red Sox to move onto the playoffs. The Orioles and the Yankees made it interesting as well before fading in late September. The Tigers surged on the strength of the return to action by 37 year old Al Kaline who had missed over 50 games due to a leg injury. Norm Cash, also 37, provided power. The Red Sox benefited from the addition of the AL Rookie of the Year catcher (HOF) Carlton Fisk. The Orioles might have taken first place again except for the preseason trading of Frank Robinson. The Yanks being in contention was primarily due to centerfielders Bobby Murcer playing a year looking like Mickey Mantle.

Although not a tight race in the West, the story coming out of Oakland was the signal to the rest of baseball that the Oakland A's had put together a team that would be as dominant as any team since the Yankees of the 1950s. A colorful squad of mustached players who relied on the pitching of Catfish Hunter, Ken Holtzman, Blue Moon Odom and Rollie Fingers and the bats of Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, OF Joe Rudi and 1B Mike Epstein to hold off a much improved Chicago White Sox team.

The Oakland versus Detroit AL championship playoff went five games with Oakland behind the arm of Blue Moon Odom nipping the Tigers 2-1 in the final game to move onto the World Series. Both teams had a shutout in the low scoring drama of the series.

East Division

#1 Detroit Tigers (86-70) . In addition to the Norm Cash and Al Kaline combination at the plate the pitching staff was in capable hands with both Mickey Lolich's 22 wins and Joe Coleman 19. A big addition was the August 2 acquisition for cash from the Phillies of lefthander Woody Fryman who posted 10 wins down the stretch.

#2 Boston Red Sox (85-70) . To come so close was a heartbreak for the city of Boston. Luis Tiant unexpectedly stepped up and won 15 games and posted the lowest AL ERA, 1.91. This coupled with good seasons from Marty Patin and Sonny Siebert provided the best pitching staff seen in New England in many years. The offense with the exception of Carlton Fisk (.293, 22 home runs) was disappointing.

#3 Baltimore Orioles (80-74) . It is not a good year when a team loses 17 more games than the previous season. A lot of blame to pass around. Frank Robinson was gone and neither Brooks Robinson nor Boog Powell could come close to matching 1971. The four headed pitching monster collapsed to just one — Jim Palmer. Manager Earl Weaver could not argue his way out of 74 loses.

#4 New York Yankees (79-76) . Another ho-hum season for the previous Bronx Bombers. Captain Thurman Munson and centerfielder Bobby Mercer held their own, but the rest of the offense failed to connect. Mel Stottlemeyr stumbled to a 14-18 season. Thank goodness relief pitcher Sparky Lyle was there as he led the league with 35 saves.

#5 Cleveland Indians (72-84 ). The Indians played to an empty Memorial Stadium. They had no power and no batter that hit .300. Somehow pitcher Gaylord Perry won 24 games for this moribund team.

#6 Milwaukee Brewers (65-91) . Fans were wondering when the building plan would start to show some promise as they lost more games than last season. It was hoped that the acquisition of 1B George "Boomer" Scott and pitcher Jim Lonberg from the Red Sox would change their circumstances, but neither was at the top of their game.

West Division

#1 Oakland Athletics ( 93-62) . A close look at the age of their roster should have made the rest of baseball squirm. The pitching staff led by Catfish Hunter's 21 wins along with Ken Holtzman's 19 and Blue Moon Odom's 16 would have even been better if Vida Blue had not been a salary holdout and missed 12 starts. Reggie Jackson and 1B Mike Epstein combined for 51 home runs, outfielder Joe Rudi batted .305, and SS Bert Campaneris again led the league stealing 52 bases. Denny McClain tried to unsuccessfully put his life back together and made a return from the minor leagues, but was not effective.

#2 Chicago White Sox (87-67) . The White Sox staged a turn around and made a brief challenge. The difference was newly acquired MVP 1B Dick Allen. Allen, despite his on and off the field problems, led the league in home runs (37) and RBIs (113). Outfielder Lee May also had a good season batting .308. Lefthander Wilbur Wood seduced the batters with a litany of different pitches and won a league leading 24 games.

#3 Minnesota Twins (77-77) . Second baseman (HOF) Rod Carew took the batting title hitting .313. Harmon Killebrew still had some power with 26 home runs. The pitching staff was hurt when Jim Kaat (10-2) went down with a broken wrist. Bert Blyleven won 17 games, but also lost 17.

#4 Kansas City Royals (76-78) . A disappointing year for KC fans who jealously watched their former team win the World Series. The offense stayed on track. Outfielder Lou Pinella had another .300 plus BA and rookie 1B John Mayberry crushed 25 home runs and knocked in 100. SS Freddie Patek and OF Amos Ottis combined for 61 stolen bases. Starting pitcher Dick Drago and reliever Ted Abernathy were not able to repeat their successes of '71.

#5 California Angels (76-80) . The only news to report out of the Angels was the maturing of (HOF) pitcher Nolan Ryan. Ryan found his control and his speedball striking out 329 batters while throwing 9 shutouts to lead the league in both categories.

#6 Texas Rangers (54-100) . A change of cities and division did not change a poor baseball club. No power and no batter hit more than .251. The pitching was as bad as the hitting with no pitchers on the entire squad able to win more games than losses.

On August 23, 1972, Dick Allen of the White Sox became the fourth player to hit a ball into the centerfield bleachers at Comiskey Park. The other three were Hank Greenberg , Jimmie Foxx , and Alex Johnson .

On October 2, 1972, Terry Forster of the White Sox stole second base and remained the last American League pitcher to steal a base until interleague play began during the 1997 season .

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