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The Year of the Pitcher

In Major League Baseball, the trend throughout the 1960s was of increased pitching dominance, caused by enforcing a larger strike zone (top of armpit to bottom of knee) beginning in 1963. The delicate balance of power between offense and defense reached its greatest tilt in favor of the pitcher by 1968.

Individually, Bob Gibson set a modern earned run average record of 1.12 and a World Series record of 17 strikeouts in Game 1, while Series opponent Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers won 31 regular season games, the only player to reach the 30 win milestone since Dizzy Dean in 1934. Mickey Lolich won three complete games in the World Series, the last player as of 2009 to do so. Luis Tiant of the Cleveland Indians had the American League's lowest ERA at 1.60 and allowed a batting average of only .168, a major league record.

Hitting was anemic. Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox had the lowest batting average of any league champion when his .301 was good enough for the American League batting title. The AL's collective slugging average of .340 remains the lowest since 1915 (when the game was still in the so-called dead-ball era), while the collective batting average of .231 is the all-time lowest.

This was also the first season of the Athletics franchise played in Oakland, CA. After the season, the Rules Committee, seeking to restore balance, restored the pre-1963 strike zone and lowered the height of the pitching mound from 15 to 10 inches. Four expansion teams joined the majors for the 1969 season. 1969 batting averages zoomed back to their historical averages and never again would pitching have as large a statistical average over batting in the major leagues.


Major League Baseball

Other champions

Awards and honors

MLB Statistical Leaders

  American League National League
Type Name Stat Name Stat
AVG Carl Yastrzemski BOS .301 Pete Rose CIN .335
HR Frank Howard WAS 44 Willie McCovey SFG 36
RBI Ken Harrelson BOS 109 Willie McCovey SFG 105
Wins Denny McLain DET 31 Juan Marichal SFG 26
ERA Luis Tiant CLE 1.60 Bob Gibson STL 1.12
Ks Sam McDowell CLE 283 Bob Gibson STL 268
SB Bert Campaneris OAK 62 Lou Brock STL 62

Major League Baseball final standings

American League final standings

American League
Club Wins Losses Win %   GB
Detroit Tigers 103 59 .636 --
Baltimore Orioles 91 71 .562 12
Cleveland Indians 86 75 .534 16.5
Boston Red Sox 86 76 .531 17
New York Yankees 83 79 .512 20
Oakland Athletics 82 80 .506 21
Minnesota Twins 79 83 .488 24
California Angels 67 95 .414 36
Chicago White Sox 67 95 .414 36
Washington Senators 65 96 .404 37.5

National League final standings

National League
Club Wins Losses Win %   GB
St. Louis Cardinals 97 65 .599 --
San Francisco Giants 88 74 .543 9
Chicago Cubs 84 78 .519 13
Cincinnati Reds 83 79 .512 14
Atlanta Braves 81 81 .500 16
Pittsburgh Pirates 80 82 .494 17
Los Angeles Dodgers 76 86 .469 21
Philadelphia Phillies 76 86 .469 21
New York Mets 73 89 .451 24
Houston Astros 72 90 .444 25



  • February 13 – The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers execute a four-player trade, with Tom Haller one of the two players going to Los Angeles and Ron Hunt one of the two going to San Francisco. The trade is the first between the two clubs since their move to the West Coast, and also the first since the one that would have sent Jackie Robinson from the Brooklyn Dodgers to the New York Giants after the season, but he retired rather than report with his new team.

  • April 15 - At the Astrodomemarker, the Houston Astros defeat the New York Mets 1-0 in a 24-inning, 6-hour, 6-minute marathon. In the bottom of the 24th, Bob Aspromonte's bases-loaded ground ball goes through the legs of Met shortstop Al Weis for an error (the only one commited by the Mets all game) that plates Norm Miller for the winning run. To date, the game is the longest to end in a shutout in terms of both innings and duration.


  • July 1 – As a part of the season that will see him post a 1.12 ERA, Bob Gibson's streak of 47 and two-thirds inning of scoreless pitching is broken.


  • September 18 – Sixteen hours after Perry's feat, Ray Washburn of the St. Louis Cardinals makes major league history by hurling a second consecutive no-hitter in the same park. Run-scoring hits by Mike Shannon and Curt Flood at Candlestick down the Giants, 2–0. This is the first time in history back-to-back no hitters have been pitched between the same two teams on two consecutive days.

  • September 28Mickey Mantle plays in his 2,401'st and final game, eight days after hitting his last home run ending his career with 536.

  • October 10 – In Game Seven of the World Series, Mickey Lolich of the Detroit Tigers, pitching on two days rest, wins his third game of the Series as he beats Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals, 4–1. Lolich brings Detroit its first World Championship since 1945. Lolich hurls a five-hitter, and is named Series MVP. Key moments came in the 6th inning when Lolich picked Lou Brock and Curt Flood off first base to keep the score 0–0. With the game scoreless in the 7th, the Tigers had two on and two out when Jim Northrup hit a line drive to center field. Gold glover Flood misjudged the ball and started in, allowing the ball to sail over his head for a triple. Northrup then scored on Bill Freehan's double for a 3–0 lead. Each team added a 9th inning run to account for the 4–1 final score. It was the first time the Cardinals had ever lost a 7th game of a World Series. The Tigers became only the 3rd team to rally from a 3–1 deficit to win the series 4 games to 3 (the 1925 Pirates and 1958 Yankees were the first two). The Tigers became the last team to win the championship between two first-place teams from leagues without division play where the pennant is automatically awarded to the team with the best won-lost record in its league.








  • January 26Eddie Phillips, 66, catcher for the Boston Braves, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees, Washington Senators, and Cleveland Indians between 1924 and 1935
  • February 7Ollie Marquardt, 65, second baseman for the 1931 Boston Red Sox; later a successfully minor league manager
  • February 26Rip Collins, 72, a four-sport star at Texas A&M University, who pitched in the American League for the New Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Browns from 1920–31, and also was a member of the 1921 AL champion Yankees team
  • February 29Lena Blackburne, 81, infielder, manager and coach in almost a 30-year baseball career, who also originated the idea of rubing mud on new baseballs to remove their slippery finish
  • March 30Bernie Hungling, 72, catcher for the Brooklyn Robins and St. Louis Browns between 1922 and 1930


  • April 19Tommy Bridges, 61, 6-time All-Star pitcher who won 194 games for the Detroit Tigers, including three 20-win seasons and a 4–1 World Series record
  • April 26John Kroner, 57, second baseman for the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians in the 1930s
  • May 26Doc Ayers, 78, spitball pitcher for the Washington Senators and Detroit Tigers
  • June 11Dan Boone, 73, a pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics, Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians from 1920 through 1923
  • June 11Bill Regan, 69, second baseman for the Boston Red Sox, who became the first player in the team's history to hit two home runs in the same inning ( ), a mark only matched by Ellis Burks 62 years later
  • June 15Sam Crawford, 88, Hall of Fame right fielder for the Tigers, a lifetime .309 hitter who hit a record 312 triples, led both leagues in home runs, and retired with the 5th-most RBI in history


  • July 3Pat Simmons, 59, pitcher who played from 1928 to 1929 for the Boston Red Sox
  • July 8Dusty Boggess, 64, NL umpire for 18 seasons from 1944 to 1962 who worked in four World Series
  • July 27Babe Adams, 86, pitcher who won 194 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates; the only member of their championship teams in both 1909 and 1925, he won three games in the 1909 World Series
  • August 22Heinie Groh, 78, third baseman for the New York Giants and Cincinnati Reds who led the NL in hits, runs and walks once each and in doubles twice, widely known for his "bottle bat"
  • August 29Paul Howard, 84, outfielder for the 1909 Boston Red Sox
  • September 14Hans Lobert, 86, third baseman for five National League clubs from 1903 to 1917, and later a coach, manager and scout between 1920 and 1944
  • September 25Ken Holloway, 71, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees between 1922 and 1930
  • September 26Bud Clancy, 68, first baseman who played from 1924 through 1934 for the Chicago White Sox, Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies


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