Year In Review : 1973 American League

O ff the field...

NASA launched the Skylab Space Station, a science and engineering laboratory, into orbit aboard a Saturn V rocket on May 14th. Three crews of three astronauts each visited the station on missions lasting twenty-eight, fifty-nine and eighty-four days. Many UV astronomy experiments and detailed X-ray studies of the Sun were executed before the station fell from orbit in July of 1979.

Vice President Spiro Agnew came under investigation by the U.S. attorney in Baltimore for allegedly receiving payoffs from engineers seeking contracts when Agnew the governor of Maryland. Although he maintained his innocence, Agnew eventually resigned from office on October 10, 1973, and pleaded no contest, to a single charge that he had failed to report $29,500 of income received in 1967. Following his resignation, Agnew was fined $10,000 and placed on three years' probation.

The United States completed its withdrawal from Vietnam in accordance with the Paris Peace Accords. Under its terms, there would be a ceasefire, U.S. troops would agree to leave the country and all prisoners of war would be released. Two years later, the Communists achieved total victory in Vietnam.

I n the American League...

The American Leagues' two premiere catchers Carlton Fisk, of the Boston Red Sox, and Thurman Munson, of the New York Yankees squared off after the Bombers captain barreled into Fisk while trying to score from third on a missed bunt by teammate Gene Michael. The fight was fueled both the legendary rivalry between the two teams and the genuine dislike between the two players. Although the winner of the brawl remained undetermined, the winner of the game went to the Red Sox 3-2.

Frank Robinson, of the California Angels, homered against the Texas Rangers at Arlington Stadium giving him at least one career home run in all thirty-two Major League ballparks.

Fellow Angel Nolan Ryan set a Major League record on his last pitch of the year after striking out the Minnesota Twins' Rich Reese for his three-hundred eighty-third K of the season. The Anaheim crowd gave Ryan a five minute standing ovation and the veteran ace returned the gesture with a 5-4 decision for his twenty-first win of the season.

I n the National League...

On August 17th, Willie Mays hit his six-hundred sixtieth (and final) home run off of the Cincinnati Reds' Don Gullett. Unfortunately the New York Mets fell 2-1, remaining seven and a half games back in last place. Somehow, Yogi Berra and his "Miracle" Mets managed to climb back to the top and won the National League East pennant on October 1st despite having no .300 hitters and no pitchers with more than nineteen wins.

Phil Neikro became the first Atlanta Braves pitcher ever to toss a no-hitter after dominating the San Diego Padres for a 9-0 triumph while walking three batters and fanning four. Two days later the Braves signed his younger brother, Joe from the Detroit Tigers reuniting the brothers for the first time in the majors.

Wilbur Wood attempted to set a record while starting both games of a doubleheader between his Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees, but it backfired completely as "the Iron Man wannabe" was taken for a 12-2 and 7-0 loss.

A round the League...

A group of seventeen investors led by Ohio Shipbuilder George Steinbrenner purchased the New York Yankees from the Columbia Broadcasting Company (CBS) for a reported $10 million dollars. The television giant was forced to take a $4 million dollar loss in the deal while Steinbrenner went on to become the owner of one of the largest market teams in all professional sports.

At a joint meeting of all twenty-four Major League owners, a unanimous decision was made to allow the use of the "Designated Hitter" in the American League for a three season probationary period. The experiment marked the first time since 1901 that the National and American Leagues played under different rules. The concept of interleague play was also submitted for committee review.

Both players and owners agreed to what was coined as the "10 and 5 rule" in which a player with a decade of experience in the majors and five-years with their present team could veto a trade. The league minimum salary was also raised to $15,000 and all salary disputes were to be from then on arbitrated. These amendments prevented an impending strike and allowed the start of the spring training season.

Eleven weeks after his untimely death in a plane crash, Pittsburgh Pirate legend Roberto Clemente was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame during a special election that superceded the five-year waiting period. Clemente was on a humanitarian mission that was taking supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua when the aircraft he was flying in went down off the coast of Puerto Rico. "The Great One" as he was called, represented the first Latin American to be inducted into Cooperstown after receiving 93% of the four-hundred twenty-four ballots cast and his lifetime batting average of .317 is still the highest of any right-hander since World War II.

"I hope it (the designated hitter 'experiment') works. I would have preferred that both leagues did it, but if it's successful in one, then I hope the National follows suit." - Commissioner Bowie Kuhn
1973 American League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Kansas City

122

Batting Average

Minnesota

.350

Doubles

Oakland

32

Milwaukee

Hits

Minnesota

203

Home Runs

Oakland

32

On Base Percentage

Kansas City

.420

RBI

Oakland

117

Runs

Oakland

99

Slugging Average

Oakland

.531

Stolen Bases

Boston

54

Total Bases

Oakland

295

Milwaukee

Milwaukee

Triples

Baltimore

11

Minnesota

1973 American League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Cleveland

29

ERA

Baltimore

2.40

Games

Detroit

65

Saves

Detroit

38

Shutouts

Minnesota

9

Strikeouts

California

383

Winning Percentage

Oakland

.808

Wins

Chicago

24

1973 American League

Team Standings

Baltimore Orioles

97 65 .599 0

Boston Red Sox

89 73 .549 8

Detroit Tigers

85 77 .525 12

New York Yankees

80 82 .494 17

Milwaukee Brewers

74 88 .457 23

Cleveland Indians

71 91 .438 26

Oakland Athletics

94 68 .580 0

Kansas City Royals

88 74 .543 6

Minnesota Twins

81 81 .500 13

California Angels

79 83 .488 15

Chicago White Sox

77 85 .475 17

Texas Rangers

57 105 .352 40

1973 American League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Baltimore

648

Batting Average

Minnesota

.270

Doubles

Minnesota

240

Hits

Minnesota

1,521

Home Runs

Cleveland

158

On Base Percentage

Baltimore

.348

Runs

Oakland

758

Slugging Average

Boston

.401

Stolen Bases

Baltimore

146

Triples

Baltimore

48

1973 American League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

California

72

ERA

Baltimore

3.07

Fewest Hits Allowed

Baltimore

1,297

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

California

104

Fewest Walks Allowed

New York

457

Saves

Detroit

46

Shutouts

Minnesota

18

Strikeouts

California

1,010



On April 6, 1973 , Ron Blomberg (a former autograph of the week selection) became the first designated hitter in American League history.

Do you remember which pitcher threw the first no-hitter in Kansas City Royals history? It happened on April 27, 1973 in Tiger Stadium, Jim Perry was the losing pitcher, and the box score is on Baseball Almanac .

Nolan Ryan , who pitched two no-hitters in 1973, had another memorable game on September 27, 1973. During that game versus the Twins, Ryan struck out Steve Brye during the eighth inning to tie Sandy Koufax's single season record for strikeouts (382). In the eleventh inning, with two outs and two strikes on Rich Reese , Ryan fired his last pitch of the season and fanned Reese to set a new single season strikeout record.

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