Year In Review : 1952 National League
Off the field...
After an eight-year study, scientist Jonas Salk finally developed a vaccine that prevented the crippling disease known as polio. Though he was hailed as a miracle worker and a national hero, Salk remained shy of the public eye. He declined to apply for a patent for the vaccine, saying that he was more concerned with people having access to it than the money it would bring him. His next project, one that lasted up until his death in 1995, was to find a cure for AIDS.
The 1952 Olympic games took place in Helsinki reflecting the attitudes of "East versus West" that had been spawned by the Cold War. The Soviet Union decided to rejoin the competition for the first time since 1912, although from a distance. Instead of joining the other athletes in the Olympic Village, the Soviets set up their own camp strictly for Eastern bloc countries near the Soviet naval base at Porkkala. All Russian athletes were then chaperoned by Soviet officials everywhere they went in an effort to prevent communication with athletes from the West.
In the American League...
On April 30th, renamed "Ted Williams Day" at Boston's Fenway Park, "Teddy Baseball" played in his final game of the season before going overseas to serve in the Korean War as a Marine fighter pilot. Fittingly, in his last at-bat, the Red Sox slugger hit a game-winning, two-run home run off Detroit's Dizzy Trout for a 5-3 victory over the Tigers.
Seven players including members of the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians were turned in by American League umpire Bill Summers for apparently "fraternizing" before a game. Although the players remained nameless, they were fined $5 each for violating the 1951 rule that strictly prohibited socializing between players from two competing teams.
Washington Senators' owner Clark Griffith dispelled any chance of being accused of practicing preferential treatment after he sold his own nephew, catcher Sherry Robertson, to the Philadelphia Athletics. Robertson later returned to his uncle's front office and served as director of their farm system from 1958-1970.
In the National League...
Boston Braves ace Warren Spahn tied a National League record (set by Jim Whitney) after posting eighteen strikeouts against the Chicago Cubs in a ffiteen inning, 3-1 loss. Spahn also added a home run as the only score in support of his own efforts. June 14th has also been remembered as a winning day in Braves history after team scout Dewey Griggs signed an up and coming rookie named Henry Aaron to his first Major League contract.
The Brooklyn Dodgers set a National League mark after completing double plays in twenty-three consecutive games.
On September 29th, Stan Musial shocked the Cubs by making his first (and only) Major League pitching appearance. After beating Chicago's Frank Baumholtz for his sixth batting title, the St. Louis Cardinal's slugger decided to face his adversary from the mound. Baumholtz responded to the challenge with a clutch hit and managed to reach base on a fielding error en route to a 3-0 victory.
Around the league...
The Celler committee announced that legislation for government control of Major League Baseball was unnecessary. The committee stated that the sport was obviously "competent and trustworthy" enough to solve its own problems. They also opposed all legislation exempting the reserve clause from antitrust laws.
Seventy-seven year-old Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Honus Wagner finally retired after forty years as both a Major League player and coach. "The Flying Dutchman" completed his career with a .327 career batting average, six-hundred forty-three doubles, two-hundred fifty-two triples and seven-hundred twenty-two stolen bases. He also hit one-hundred one home runs (with never more than ten a season), won the National League Batting Champion title eight times and batted .300 (or better) sixteen times — including fifteen seasons in a row.
Russia openly criticized the American game of baseball by citing their own version called "lapka" as being the original concept for the game. The State Department quickly came to the defense of the National Pastime by accusing the Soviet's claim as the founders of baseball to be part of its "Hate America" Cold War campaign.
Major League attendance plummeted for the second season in a row as National League ticket sales dropped a staggering 904,854 and American League sales went down 588,788.