Year In Review : 1954 American League
Off the field...
The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) backed a coup by Colonel Carlos Armas to overthrow the Guatemalan Government. The government, ruled under Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, supported a Communist-authored land reform bill that expropriated most of the land holdings of United Fruit Company. The Guatemalan actions had led to a U.S. arms embargo, but they later purchased arms from Czechoslovakia providing an excuse for the uprising.
After hearing the case of Brown versus the Board of Education, Chief Justice Earl Warren (United States Supreme Court) formally ruled that all forms of segregation were unconstitutional. The landmark case was a first step in mandating racial equality and initiated the desegregation of all public institutions in the United States of America.
In the American League...
The Boston Red Sox managed to pull off a rare triple play, but still lost to the Baltimore Orioles during a seventeen-inning game that set a new American League record for time consumed at four hours and fifty-eight minutes, and tied the Major League mark (set seven weeks earlier) for the most players used in a single game (forty-two).
On August 30th, the Cleveland Indians completed an embarrassing eleven home-game sweep of the visiting Boston Red Sox. It was the first such sweep since the New York Yankees, led by "Murderers Row", had blanked the laughable St. Louis Browns back in 1927.
Mickey Vernon of the Washington Senators tallied his 2,000th career hit on September 2nd. He also notched his nineteenth home run of the season for a franchise record for left-handers.
In the National League...
Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals hit five home runs during a May 2nd doubleheader against the New York Giants. In a strange coincidence, eight-year-old Nate Colbert (who would grow up to play for the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, Montreal Expos, Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics) was in attendance and would become the only other player in Major League history to tie Musial's mark. Both teams split for the day as the Cards won the first game 10-6 and the Giants took the second 9-7.
On May 4th, the Phillies and Cardinals set a Major League record (later broken) by using a staggering forty-two combined players during an eleven-inning, 14-10 Philly victory. Philadelphia used seven pitchers throughout the effort and the St. Louis topped them with eight men on the mound.
At Ebbets Field, Milwaukee
Brave Joe Adcock hit four home runs and added a double for a total of eighteen total bases during a 15-7 massacre over the Brooklyn
Dodgers on July 31st. Adcock's eighteen bases set a Major League record and when combined with the seven bases from the day before, gave him a two-day tally of twenty-five. The combined total tied the slugger with Ty Cobb for most bases in two consecutive games.
Around the league...
"The Yankee Clipper" Joe DiMaggio married Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe in San Francisco. Nine months later the two were divorced, but continued to maintain an on-again, off-again relationship. DiMaggio had reportedly told friends that the two were going to be re-married shortly before her death from a drug overdose eight years later. In the years that followed, he rarely spoke of her and had roses delivered to her gravesite twice a week for the next two decades. He never married again.
Rightfielder Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals outpolled every other National League player in the 1954 All-Star balloting.
In Game 1 of the Fall Classic, New York Giants outfielder Willie Mays made what many consider to be the greatest catch in World Series history. "Say Hey" managed to hold the game to a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning after racing back to deep centerfield and making an awkward "over-the-head" snatch of Cleveland Indian Vic Wertz's 462-foot drive.
The Major League owners association voted down the sale of the Athletics to a syndicate representing the city of Philadelphia. One week later, Arnold Johnson emerged to buy a controlling interest in the franchise from the Mack family for a reported $3.5 million dollars. He later decided to move the team to Kansas City amidst mixed emotions from the rest of the league.