Year In Review : 1946 National League
Off the field...
John William Mauchly designed the first all-electronic computer for the U.S. Department of Army Ordnance to help compute ballistic firing tables. The revolutionary device, called the ENIAC, weighed thirty tons and consisted of thirty separate units that were cooled by a crude, forced-air system. The all "digital" computer operated on 19,000 vacuum tubes, 1,500 relays, and hundreds of thousands of resistors, capacitors, and inductors that consumed almost 200 kilowatts of electrical power.
Dr. Benjamin Spock published his first book "The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care" with a dramatic contrast to earlier child-care guides that favored rigid schedules and warned against showing a child too much affection. Dr. Spock's book was reassuring in its support of maternal tenderness and went on to sell 25,000,000 copies while revolutionizing parenting in the United States and abroad.
In the American League...
The New York Yankees became the first Major League Baseball team to fly on a regular basis after leasing a United Airlines plane nicknamed the "Yankee Mainliner". Despite the convenience of a shortened travel schedule, four players, including Red Ruffing, still elected to take the train.
Boston Red Sox second baseman Johnny Pesky became the first American League player to single-handedly score six runs in a game during a 14-10 triumph over the Chicago White Sox on May 8th for their thirteenth straight victory. Boston extended its streak to fifteen games before losing to their rivals, the New York Yankees, on May 11th.
The American League All-Stars embarrassed the National's representatives with a 12-0 triumph at Fenway Park. Despite the lop-sided finale, this particular Midsummer Classic remained special, as the '45 event had been cancelled due to wartime travel restrictions. Many players later stated that they had never seen a more festive occasion and many of them had not seen their major league rivals in several years. "Home field" slugger Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox led the charge with two home runs, two singles, a walk, four runs scored and four runs batted in.
In the National League...
On March 17th, the Brooklyn Dodgers played an exhibition game in Daytona Beach against their own Minor League farm team, the Montreal Royals. With Jackie Robinson in the line-up, it marked the first appearance of an integrated baseball team during the 20th century. As a fitting tribute, the field was later renamed Jackie Robinson Ballpark in honor of the man who broke through baseball's color barrier.
On May 20th, Chicago Cubs ace Claude Passeau made his first error since 1941 to end an all-time pitcher's fielding streak of two-hundred seventy-three consecutive errorless chances. Passeau was noted for playing with a special modified glove due to a deformed left hand that was disfigured by a childhood shooting accident.
The Pittsburgh Pirates voted 20-16 in favor of a walkout (prior to a game against the New York Giants) in order to gain recognition of the American Baseball Guild. According to league policy however, a two-thirds majority vote was required to "legally" initiate a strike. Despite being unsuccessful, the players had made a statement in direct support of the newly established coalition that had yet to be acknowledged by the league. As a prelude to the Players Association, the guild had proposed the increase of the leagues' minimum salary to $7,500 as well as a formal arbitration policy for all future salary disputes.
Around the league...
The Chicago White Sox became the first Major League team to provide an official Media Guide for the baseball writers. The seventeen-page publication had been developed by Marsh Samuel and listed individual player and team information as well as limited statistical data. Bill Veeck was so impressed by the concept; he hired Samuel himself to develop a similar guide for the Cleveland Indians.
The Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Athletics and Phillies all refused to raise their standard ticket fare while the rest of the league upped their costs considerably with $2.50 for boxes, $1.25 for general admission and .60 cents for outfield bleachers.
Fortune magazine published a study into the finances of Major League Baseball that included a detailed report on the New York Yankees franchise. As a sign of things to come, the Bronx Bombers posted league high revenues of $306,000 that were cut to $201,000 following Minor League losses. Of their overall gross income, $896,000 came from home ticket sales. Despite playing poorly, the Yanks completed their home season with a record attendance of 2,309,029. The best previous draw was credited to the Chicago Cubs who boasted 1,485,166 fans in 1929.
On Friday, August 9th, all games (four each for both the American and National Leagues) were played at night for the first time in Major League history.