Year In Review : 1972 National League

O ff 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.

I n 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.

I n 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.

A round 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.

"Youngsters of Little League can survive undercoaching a lot better than overcoaching." - Hall of Famer Willie Mays
1972 National League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Cincinnati

115

Batting Average

Chicago

.333

Doubles

Houston

39

Philadelphia

Hits

Cincinnati

198

Home Runs

Cincinnati

40

On Base Percentage

Cincinnati

.419

RBI

Cincinnati

125

Runs

Cincinnati

122

Slugging Average

Chicago

.606

Stolen Bases

St. Louis

63

Total Bases

Chicago

348

Triples

Philadelphia

13

1972 National League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Philadelphia

30

ERA

Philadelphia

1.97

Games

Cincinnati

65

Montreal

Saves

Cincinnati

37

Shutouts

Los Angeles

9

Strikeouts

Philadelphia

310

Winning Percentage

Cincinnati

.750

Wins

Philadelphia

27

1972 National League

Team Standings

Pittsburgh Pirates

96 59 .619 0

Chicago Cubs

85 70 .548 11

New York Mets

83 73 .532

St. Louis Cardinals

75 81 .481 21½

Montreal Expos

70 86 .449 26½

Philadelphia Phillies

59 97 .378 37½

Cincinnati Reds

95 59 .617 0

Houston Astros

84 69 .549 10½

Los Angeles Dodgers

85 70 .548 10½

Atlanta Braves

70 84 .455 25

San Francisco Giants

69 86 .445 26½

San Diego Padres

58 95 .379 36½

1972 National League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Cincinnati

606

Batting Average

Pittsburgh

.274

Doubles

Pittsburgh

251

Hits

Pittsburgh

1,505

Home Runs

San Francisco

150

On Base Percentage

Cincinnati

.333

Runs

Houston

708

Slugging Average

Pittsburgh

.397

Stolen Bases

Cincinnati

140

Triples

Pittsburgh

47

1972 National League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

St. Louis

64

ERA

Los Angeles

2.78

Fewest Hits Allowed

Los Angeles

1,196

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

Los Angeles

83

Fewest Walks Allowed

Chicago

421

Saves

Cincinnati

60

Shutouts

Los Angles

23

Strikeouts

New York

1,059



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.

On June 4, 1972, the Los Angeles Dodgers retired three uniform numbers: 32 - worn by Sandy Koufax , 39 - worn by Roy Campanella , and 42 - worn by Jackie Robinson .

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?

Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac05 Dec
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@krbach @mcall I did typo that entry, and was off by a little, but not by much! 😉
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