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.
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.
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 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
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
The Orioles bounced back to their 1971 excellence and made short work of the AL East Division competition. This was the first year of the American League adopting the DH role. The Birds handled it well by placing veteran Tommy Davis in that role. Davis led the team in batting .306. They were also helped by the addition of two rookies, Al Bumbry (Rookie of the Year) and Rich Coggins. More important though was another fine season by Jim Palmer who took Cy Young honors with 22 wins and the AL’s lowest ERA, 2.30. The Red Sox stayed competitive helped by the addition of DH Orlando Cepeda, who cranked out 20 home runs. The Tigers who faltered late were helped by reliever John Hiller’s 38 saves, a new Major League record.
No one was surprised when the Oakland A's took the title in the West. They were just starting out on a magnificent run. Buoyed by an offense built around MVP Reggie Jackson, 3B Sal Bando, SS Bert Campaneris and 1B Gene Tenace. An All-Star pitching rotation of Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue, Ken Holtzman and super closer Rollie Fingers, they outlasted the second place Kansas City Royals. The rest of the division was tame, however there was an Angels pitcher that stood out by throwing two no hitters — Nolan Ryan.
The A's took the AL championship for the second consecutive year knocking off the Birds in five games. Catfish Hunter was at his best winning 2 games with an ERA of 1.65. Blue Moon Odom won the fifth and deciding game limiting the Orioles to one run and 5 hits.
#1 Baltimore Orioles (97-85) . Catcher Earl Williams made up for the disappointing production of 1B Boog Powell by belting out a team leading 22 home runs and 83 RBIs. They also added 24-year-old outfielder Don Baylor who, in addition to displaying some power, stole 32 bases. In addition to Jim Palmer's Cy Young season, left hander Mike Cuellar posted 18 wins.
#2 Boston Red Sox (89-73) . The Red Sox were fun to watch. The old guard of Carl Yastzremski, Reggie Smith, Rico Petrocelli plus second year catcher Carlton Fisk kept the fans happy. Pitcher Louis Tiant entertained with his unusual delivery and won 20 games.
#3 Detroit Tigers (85-77) . The Tigers were pretending that they were not aging, but the results proved otherwise. The Al Kaline and Norm Cash led offense was failing and there was no youth in the pipeline. Mickey Lolich was still there, but gave up his ace role to Joe Coleman who posted 23 wins. Without relief pitcher John Hiller who, in addition to his 38 saves, won 10 games it would have been a total meltdown.
#4 New York Yankees (80-82) . Continuing a long streak of ineptness, the Yanks fell below the .500 mark. They had some offense, with catcher Thurman Munson, .301, 20 HRs, and centerfielder Bobby Murcer .304 with 22 home runs but little in the way of pitching. Mel Stottlemyre was still the ace, but he lost as many as he won (16-16).
#5 Milwaukee Brewers (74-88) . Milwaukee fans were still reminiscing about 1957. Ex-Red Sox 1B George Scott could still produce, .303 with 24 HRs,107 RBIs. One surprise was starting pitcher, Jim Colburn, who won 20 games, but there was nothing to back him up.
#6 Cleveland Indians (71-91) . Hard to find many wins or fans in Cleveland. Outside of pitcher Gaylord Perry's 19 wins (also 19 losses) it was hard to find anyone who could name the players on the roster.
#1 Oakland Athletics (94-68) . Everyone saw this coming following '72. Manager Dick William's team had depth. Outside of the all stars noted above, Joe Rudi added consistency and clutch hitting, while newcomer outfielder Billy North added more speed, 53 SBs to go along with Bert Campaneris's 34. MVP Reggie Jackson posted some outstanding stats .293, 32 HRs, 117 RBIs. Catfish Hunter, Ken Holtzman, and Vida Blue all won 20 games. Rollie Fingers saved 22.
#2 Kansas City Royals (88-74) . A young team starting to putting it all together. First baseman John Mayberry and outfielder Amos Otis each hit 26 home runs. Otis also joined up with SS Freddie Patek and 2B Cookie Rojas in stealing a combined 67 bases. Lefty Paul Splittoroff became a 20-game winner. Getting a taste of Major League Baseball were 22-year-old 2B Frank White and 20-year-old 3B George Brett.
#3 Minnesota Twins (81-81) . For the second consecutive season the Twins posted .500 seasons. Harmon Killebrew's knee injury limited him to 69 games leaving the offense up to batting average champ Rod Carew, .350, and Tony Oliva which was not enough. Pitching ace Bert Blyleven won 20 and led the league with 9 shutouts.
#4 California Angels (79-83) . Adding the DH was a blessing for the Angels and aging Frank Robinson. Robinson who found the fountain of youth with 30 HRs and 97 RBIs. The biggest news came from the bullpen as Nolan Ryan won 21 games and led the league with an incredible 383 strikeouts. Bill Singer also won 20 games.
#5 Chicago White Sox (77-85) . The '72 second place White Sox took a tumble. The offense which had become so dependent on 1B Dick Allen became lost when he went down with a broken leg in mid season.
#6 Texas Rangers (67-105) . When a team loses 105 games it ends up in last place. The only sign of hope came from rookie outfielder Jeff Burroughs. The burly Burroughs cracked 30 home runs and knocked in 85 runs. The pitching staff was horrible with no starting pitchers with a winning record except for Mike Paul (5-4).
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.