Year In Review : 1974 National League

O ff the field...

On August 8th, 1974 Richard Nixon became the first President in U.S. history to resign. His decision to step down came as the House of Representatives was poised to vote on the articles of impeachment against him due to his involvement the Watergate scandal.

Patricia Hearst, the heiress to the Hearst fortune, was kidnapped by a radical terrorist group called the "Symbionese Liberation Army" resulting in one of the largest manhunts of all time. While under control of the S.L.A., she was brainwashed and forced to rob a bank while protecting her "comrades in arms." After she was found, Hearst was convicted for grand theft and served almost two years of a seven-year prison term. Finally, she was released with help from President Jimmy Carter and two decades later, President Bill Clinton granted her a full pardon.

Charles A. Lindbergh, the first man to fly across the Atlantic (from New York-to-Paris) in 1927 aboard the "Spirit of St. Louis", died of cancer of the lymphatic system. The aviation pioneer had become a recluse after retiring to the island of Kipahulu, Hawaii where he developed an active concern with conservation. Upon hearing of his death, President Ford stated the courage and daring of his historic flight would never be forgotten and that he would be remembered as one of America's all-time heroes.

I n the American League...

"Ten-Cent Beer Night" in Cleveland backfired after drunken and disorderly fans stumbled onto the field of play causing the Indians to forfeit the game to the Texas Rangers. With a five-all score in the ninth, Tribe fans poured onto the field and surrounded outfielder Jeff Burroughs while trying to take his hat and glove for souvenirs. After players from both sides rushed to his aid, the game was called in favor of the visitors.

Principal New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was suspended for two years by the Commissioner's Office after he was convicted in federal court for making illegal contributions to the re-election campaign of President Richard Nixon.

The Oakland Athletics' Gene Tenace proved that it's not always what you do, but sometimes what you don't. Tenace tied a 1930 mark set by John Clancy of the Chicago White Sox in which the first baseman played an entire nine-innings without ever having a fielding chance.

I n the National League...

On Thursday April 4th, Hank Aaron hit a three-run homer off of Jack Billingham as the Atlanta Braves lost to the Reds 7-6, at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium. The eleven inning game itself took a backseat to "Hammerin'" Hank, who had finally tied Babe Ruth with home run number 714. Both Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and Vice-president Gerald Ford were on hand to congratulate the slugger who had persevered over racial prejudice and death threats from several fans who did not want to see the Bambino's record fall to a black man. Four days later, back home at Fulton County Stadium, Aaron hit number 715 off Los Angeles Dodgers' lefty, Al Downing. Lost in the celebration was Aaron's tying of Willie Mays' National League record of 2,063 runs as well as his team's 7-4 victory.

The Mets lost 4-3 to the Cardinals during a "long-distance" marathon night game on September 11th. After seven hours and twenty-five innings, the outing became the longest game to a decision in Major League history. In the end, New York had batted one-hundred three times and St. Louis was not far behind with ninety-nine plate appearances. A record one-hundred seventy-five official at-bats were recorded, with a Major League record of forty-five runners left stranded. Despite the historical moment, only a thousand fans were on hand when it finally ended at 3:13 a.m.

On June 29th, Lou Brock nabbed his seven-hundredth bag at Wrigley Field as the St. Louis Cardinals crushed the hometown "Cubbies" 11-2. Brock's sixty-fifth robbery of the season put him in the company of baseball's greatest "criminals" including Ty Cobb, who stole eight-hundred ninety-two bases, Eddie Collins (seven-hundred forty-three), Max Carey (seven-hundred thirty-eight) and Honus Wagner (seven-hundred one).

A round the League...

Forty-eight major leaguers opted to try the new arbitration procedure that had been established to aid in the negotiation of contract differences. The first to file was Minnesota pitcher Dick Woodson, who was seeking an agreement worth $29,000. The Twins had offered $23,000 and both parties presented their arguments to a Detroit lawyer and labor arbitrator Harry H. Platt. After reviewing the monetary amounts presented, the verdict was cast in Woodson's favor.

A new organization known as the "Major League Scouting Bureau" was founded to cut expenditures across the league by centralizing scouting. Initially, membership was not mandatory (until 1984) resulting in only seventeen of twenty-four teams agreeing to pay the $118,000 fee for inclusion. All American League clubs except the White Sox and Toronto joined and only the Cubs, Expos, Pirates, Braves, Astros and the Reds represented the National League.

To prevent the sale of "counterfeit" memorabilia, a system was developed to maintain the integrity of authentic baseballs during Hank Aaron's quest for Babe Ruth's home run record. After Aaron's 710th round-tripper, all official major league balls issued were "encoded" with a special serial number and a diamond symbol that was only visible under fluorescent light.

Twenty-seven years after Jackie Robinson first entered the majors, Frank Robinson became Major League Baseball's first black manager. The thirty-nine year old player / manager signed a $175,000 contract with the Cleveland Indians making him the team's twenty-eighth skipper. Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn announced that it should have taken place much sooner and Robinson stated that his only wish was that Jackie could have been there to share in the moment.

"My boy has a chance to do it (break Babe Ruth's career home run record). He takes care of himself and nothing comes in front of baseball for Henry. Nothing. On days when he is feeling good, it's just too bad for the pitchers." - Estella Aaron (Hank Aaron's Mother)
1974 National League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Atlanta

126

Batting Average

Atlanta

.353

Doubles

Cincinnati

45

Hits

Atlanta

214

Home Runs

Philadelphia

36

On Base Percentage

Cincinnati

.430

RBI

Cincinnati

129

Runs

Cincinnati

110

Slugging Average

Philadelphia

.546

Stolen Bases

St. Louis

Total Bases

Cincinnati

315

Triples

Atlanta

17

1974 National League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Atlanta

18

ERA

Atlanta

2.28

Games

Los Angeles

106

Saves

Los Angeles

21

Shutouts

New York

7

Strikeouts

Philadelphia

240

Winning Percentage

Los Angeles

.769

Wins

Los Angeles

20

Atlanta

1974 National League

Team Standings

Pittsburgh Pirates

88 74 .543 0

St. Louis Cardinals

86 75 .534

Philadelphia Phillies

80 82 .491 8

Montreal Expos

79 82 .491

New York Mets

71 91 .438 17

Chicago Cubs

66 96 .407 22

Los Angeles Dodgers

102 60 .630 0

Cincinnati Reds

98 64 .605 4

Atlanta Braves

88 74 .543 14

Houston Astros

81 81 .500 21

San Francisco Giants

72 90 .444 30

San Diego Padres

60 102 .370 42

1974 National League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Cincinnati

693

Batting Average

Pittsburgh

.274

Doubles

Cincinnati

271

Hits

Pittsburgh

1,560

Home Runs

Los Angeles

139

On Base Percentage

Los Angeles

.346

Runs

Los Angeles

798

Slugging Average

Los Angeles

.401

Stolen Bases

St. Louis

172

Triples

Philadelphia

50

1974 National League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Pittsburgh

51

ERA

Los Angeles

2.98

Fewest Hits Allowed

Los Angeles

1,272

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

Houston

84

Fewest Walks Allowed

Los Angeles

464

Saves

Cincinnati

27

Montreal

Shutouts

Atlanta

21

Strikeouts

Los Angeles

943



On April 4, 1974 , Hammerin' Hank Aaron tied the all-time home run mark set by Babe Ruth . On April 8, 1974 , Aaron beat the unbeatable record and Baseball Almanac has both box scores online for you to review.

If there were a category for longest home run hit by distance Mike Schmidt would probably be in the top five with the ball he launched on June 10, 1974. After blasting from his bat, the ball traveled more than 300 feet from home plate before hitting a speaker - a speaker that was connected to the roof of the Astrodome 117 feet above the field.

On September 25, 1974, Tommy John surgery became a household word when Dr. Frank Jobe successfully removed a tendon from Tommy John's right arm and transplanted it into his left (throwing) arm "repairing" the damage to his torn muscles. John commented later that year, "When they operated I told them to put in a (Sandy) Koufax fastball. They did, but it was Mrs. Koufax's."

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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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