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.
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.
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.
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.
"Youngsters of Little League can survive undercoaching a lot better than overcoaching." - Hall of Famer Willie Mays
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
On April 16, 1972, Burt Hooten of the Chicago Cubs no-hit the Phillies 4-to-0 on a freezing cold day. Hooton, who was in his second season, was only pitching his fourth career game and he won the gem using his "knuckle-curve" pitch.
The National League had none of the suspense of the junior circuit. In the East, Pittsburgh rose to the top for the third consecutive year. "The We Are Family" slogan of the Bucs ran true. The same great crew of outfielders Clemente, Vic Davillio, Al Oliver all batted over .300 and 1B Willie Stargell clubbed 33 homeruns with 129 RBIs to fuel the offense. As in 1971 pitchers Steve Blass, Dock Ellis, and Nelson Briles held the opposition at bay. At the other end of the division the last place Phillies had the Cy Young Award winner — Steve Carlton. Carlton’s season was historical in that he won 27 games for a team that could only win 59.
In the West, the Reds reclaimed the title after a one year slump. The familiar names of the Big Red Machine were still swinging away. Catcher Johnny Bench won his second MVP trophy, Pete Rose and Joe Morgan caused chaos on the bases. Tony Perez led the team in home runs. The surprise of the division were the previous perennial losers, the Houston Astros. The second place Astros found themselves with a legitimate star in second year 21-year-old outfielder Cesar Cedeno. He joined OF Jimmy Wynn and 1B Lee May to form a solid offense.
The playoffs were exciting. In the fifth game finality, the Reds scored the deciding run with two out in the bottom of the ninth on a wild pitch by Pirates pitcher Bob Moose to get back to the World Series. Pete Rose led the Reds batting .450.
#1 Pittsburgh Pirates (96-65) . The Pirates fielded the same everyday lineup as '71. Steve Blass was this year's ace pitcher winning 19 games. This would be the last season of the family. On December 31 (HOF) Roberto Clement lost his life in a mercy plane crash that was delivering needed food and supplies to earthquake victims of Nicaragua. The shocking death sent all baseball fans into a tailspin. To honor Clemente he was inducted post humorously into the HOF without waiting for the five year after playing rule of the HOF.
#2 Chicago Cubs (85-70) . The Cubbies put together another good season. Outfielder Billy Williams was the league batting champ hitting .333. while also leading the Cubs with 37 hie runs and 122 RBIs. Fergie Jenkins continued with his fine career winning 20 games and the rejuvenated Milt Pappas posted 17.
#3 New York Mets (83-73) . Yogi Berra replaced Gil Hodges as manager following Hodges's off season death. He inherited a team bult around the pitching. Tom Seaver (21 wins) was joined by Rookie of the Year Jon Matlock (15 wins). The bullpen was headed by Tug McGraw who posted 27 saves. The offense continued to lag far behind the pitching.
#4 St. Louis Cardinals (75-81) . The Cardinals were headed in the wrong direction. Catcher Ted Simmons had another great season and Lou Brock kept tearing up the bases with 63 steals, but third Baseman Joe Torre could not come anywhere near his MVP season of 1971. Pitcher Bob Gibson was still a dominant force on the mound with 19 wins. Losing Steve Carlton to the Phillies dashed any hopes of capturing the division title.
#5 Montreal Expos (70-86) . The Expos's struggles continued. A weak offense coupled with a mediocre pitching staff which had only two pitchers with a plus record in the win / lost column.
#6 Philadelphia Phillies (59 -97) . Decades later baseball fans are still speaking in awe of Steve Carlton's 27 wins and league leading 310 strikeouts. An offense with no pop and no batters capable of hitting better than .281. Their #2 pitcher won only 7 games.
#1 Cincinnati Reds (95-59) . The Reds came back to #1 and continued their quest for building their own dynasty. This was MVP catcher Johnny Bench's at his best. He slammed out 40 home runs and 120 RBIs along with his fine defensive skills. Pete Rose hit .307, off season acquisition 2B Joe Morgan .282 with 53 steals, and 1B Tony Perez added 21 home runs and 90 RBIs. With their potent offense they could getaway with a mediocre pitching staff that were thankful for reliever Clay Carrol's league leading 37 saves.
#2 Houston Astros (84-69) . The Astros were building a decent ball club. With four batters hitting more than 20 home runs and driving in more than 90 RBIs their offense created chaos for opposing teams. Pitchers Larry Dierker and Dan Wilson each nabbed 15 wins. Losing Joe Morgan to the Reds might have changed the outcome of the season.
#3 Los Angeles Dodgers (85-70) . Shedding problem child Dick Allen proved costly for LA as their offense was not strong in any area. Pitcher Al Downing took a big step backwards leaving them with two elite pitchers — 20 game winner Claude Osteen and future HOF Don Sutton, 19 wins.
#4 Atlanta Braves (70-84) . The offense was there, but the pitching was not. Hank Aaron had another good season as did speedster outfielder Ralph Garr, Outfielder Dusty Baker showed he belonged in the big leagues hitting .321 with 17 home runs. Pitcher and knuckleballer Phil Niekro was the work horse of the staff with 16 wins.
#5 San Francisco Giants (69-86) . The defending division winning Giants collapsed. Willie Mays was gone, Willie McCovey was injured for more than half the season and outfielder Bobby Bonds came down to earth. A pitching staff was minus Jim Perry and Juan Marichal lost his touch.
#6 San Diego Padres (58-95) . The only offensive tool was 1B Nate Colbert who smashed 38 home runs and drove in 111. There was not a starting pitcher with a winning record.
Did you know that on September 16, 1972, Mike Schmidt , who would become a future member of the 500 Home Runs Club , connected for his first Major League home run against Balor Moore of the Montreal Expos?