1969 Major League Baseball season
The 1969 Major League Baseball season was celebrated as the 100th anniversary of professional baseball, honoring the first professional touring baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. A special silhouetted batter logo was created by Jerry Dior1 to commemorate the anniversary, and is still used to this day. It has served as inspiration for logos for other sports leagues in the United States—most notably the National Basketball Association, which used the silhouette of Jerry West to create their current logo, unveiled after the 1970–71 season as part of the 25th anniversary of their own founding.
It was the first season of what is now called the "Divisional Era," where each league of 12 teams was divided into two divisions of six teams each. The winners of each division would compete against each other in a League Championship Series, then best-of-five, to determine the pennant winners that would face each other in the World Series.
In a year marked by the second expansion of the decade, the New York Mets and the Baltimore Orioles faced each other in the 1969 World Series. Having won the N.L. East Division with a league-best 100–62 record, and sweeping the N.L. West Division Champion Atlanta Braves in three games in the first National League Championship Series, the "Miracle Mets" became the first expansion team to win a pennant. They faced the A.L. East Division Champion Orioles, holders of the best record in baseball by far (109–53), who also swept the A.L. West Division Champion Minnesota Twins in three games in the first American League Championship Series. In one of the most incredible achievements in baseball history, the upstart Mets upset the heavily-favored Orioles and won the World Series title in five games, leading to bedlam on the field of Shea Stadium.
In an effort to counteract a trend of low-scoring games, Major League Baseball adopted two measures during the Baseball Winter Meetings held in December 1968. The strike zone was reduced to the area over home plate between the armpits and the top of the knees of a batter. Also, the height of the pitching mound was reduced from 15 inches to 10 inches, and it was recommended that the slope be gradual and uniform in every park.2
After the 1961 American League addition of the Los Angeles Angels, and the second MLB team to be known as the Washington Senators (the original Senators became the Minnesota Twins that year), with the New York Mets and Houston Colt .45s (now Astros) added to the National League in 1962, MLB called for a further four-team expansion at the 1967 Winter Meetings. However, there was a complication: Missouri U.S. Senator Stuart Symington was irate over the seemingly shady deal to permit Kansas City Athletics owner Charles O. Finley to move his team to Oakland, California, for the 1968 season. This happened even though Finley had just signed a deal to play at Municipal Stadium at AL president Joe Cronin's behest, and Jackson County, Missouri, had just issued public bonds to build a stadium, the future Kauffman Stadium.
Symington drew up legislation to remove baseball's anti-trust exemption, and threatened to push it through if Kansas City did not get a new team. The Office of the Commissioner complied, and the AL agreed to put one of its new franchises in Kansas City. Ewing Kauffman won the bidding for that franchise, naming it the Kansas City Royals, after the local American Royal livestock show. The other AL team was awarded to Seattle, Washington. A consortium, led by Dewey Soriano and William Daley, the latter once tried to move the Cleveland Indians to Seattle, won the bidding for the Seattle franchise, and named it the Seattle Pilots, a salute to the harbor pilots of the Puget Sound maritime industry.
In the NL, one franchise was awarded to San Diego, California; the other to Montreal, Quebec, resulting in the first MLB franchise outside the United States. C. Arnholdt Smith, former owner of the AAA Pacific Coast League's San Diego Padres, won the bidding for the San Diego franchise, also naming it the Padres. Charles Bronfman, owner of Seagram, won the bidding for the Montreal franchise, naming them the Expos, in honor of the World's Fair that year. This was the last NL expansion until the 1993 season.
As part of the 1969 expansion, each league was to be split into two divisions of six teams each, with each league holding a best-of-five League Championship Series. The AL was divided purely along geographic lines, but when it came to assign divisions in the NL, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals insisted on being placed in the same division with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, on the basis that a schedule with more games with eastern teams would create a more lucrative schedule in the form of popular interest and more games timed to match television's prime time schedule. Thus, Atlanta and Cincinnati were placed in the NL West. This alignment also addressed concerns that putting the league's three strongest clubs—St. Louis, San Francisco, and the Cubs—in the west would create a bad balance between divisions. The expansion had originally been planned for 1971, but further pressure from Symington led to its taking place in 1969 instead.
The Padres and Expos each finished with 110 losses and at the bottom of their respective divisions. The Royals did better, finishing 69-93 and in fourth in the AL West. Even though the Pilots managed to avoid losing 100 games (they finished 64–98, last in the AL West), financial trouble would lead to a battle for team control, ending with bankruptcy and the sale of the team to Bud Selig and its move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin as the Milwaukee Brewers for the 1970 season. The legal fallout of the battle would lead eventually to the expansion for the 1977 season.
The pennant races in the American League lacked drama. In the east, the Baltimore Orioles won 109 games and won the division by a whopping 19 games over the defending world champion Detroit Tigers. The surprise team was the Washington Senators. Under new manager Ted Williams, they went 86–76; it was their first winning season since joining the league in 1961. The Western Division race was a little closer, but the Minnesota Twins led most of the season and were never really threatened in winning the division by 9 games over the Oakland Athletics (who were the only other west team to finish over .500). The National League, on the other hand, was very dramatic. The Chicago Cubs won 35 of their first 50 games, and on August 16, they led the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals by 9 games. But the Mets proceeded to win 37 of their last 48 games while the Cubs went 20–28 in the same time period and the Mets won the division by 8 games. The West was even crazier. With 3 weeks to play in the season, 5 teams were all within 2 games of each other. The Houston Astros were the first to drop out of the race, losing 8 of 10. With two weeks to play, the San Francisco Giants led the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves by ½ game while the Cincinnati Reds were 2 games back. The Dodgers then lost 8 in a row and 10 of 11 to fall to 4th place. The Braves then went on a 10 game winning streak, ultimately clinching the division over the Giants on the next to last day of the season with a 3–2 win over the Reds. For the Giants, it was the 5th year in a row they would finish in 2nd place.
- Most Valuable Player – Harmon Killebrew, Minnesota Twins
- Cy Young Award – Denny McLain, Detroit Tigers and Mike Cuellar, Baltimore Orioles
- Rookie of the Year – Lou Piniella, Kansas City Royals
- Most Valuable Player – Willie McCovey, San Francisco Giants
- Cy Young Award – Tom Seaver, New York Mets
- Rookie of the Year – Ted Sizemore, Los Angeles Dodgers
|League Championship Series NBC||World Series NBC|
|NL||New York Mets||4|
|East||New York Mets||3|
- World Series MVP: Donn Clendenon
- All-Star Game, July 23 at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium: National League, 11-6; Willie McCovey, MVP
- Kirkpatrick, Rob (2009). 1969: The Year Everything Changed. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 978-1-60239-366-0.
- Wall Street Jornal: The Man Behind the MLB Logo
- "Spirited Trading On 'Frisco Board". The Sun. 4 December 1968. p. 24. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
- Holtzman, Jerome (May 2002). "Where did save rule come from? Baseball historian recalls how he helped develop statistic that measures reliever's effectiveness". Baseball Digest. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
Content from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
What Is This Site? The Ultimate Study Guide is a mirror of English Wikipedia. It exists in order to provide Wikipedia content to those who are unable to access the main Wikipedia site due to draconian government, employer, or school restrictions. The site displays all the text content from Wikipedia. Our sponsors generously cover part of the cost of hosting this site, and their ads are shown as part of this agreement. We regret that we are unable to display certain controversial images on some pages the site at the request of the sponsors. If you need to see images which we are unable to show, we encourage you to view Wikipedia directly if possible, and apologize for this inconvenience.
A product of XPR Content Systems. 47 Union St #9K, Grand Falls-Windsor NL A2A 2C9 CANADA