Year In Review : 1962 National League
Off the field…
After hearing the case of Engel vs. Vitale, the Supreme Court ruled that state-sponsored prayer in schools was unconstitutional. Although prayer was not outlawed in school entirely (only school-sponsored prayer) the decision ignited a controversy that has continued unabated until today.
On February 20, 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. Flying aboard his spacecraft, Friendship Seven, the Marine Lieutenant travelled roughly 81,000 miles as he circled our planet three times at speeds greater than 17,000 mph.
In late August, American spy planes detected the building of military missile sites in Cuba. U.S. Intelligence sources later determined the Soviets, under Nikita Khrushchev, had decided to shorten the strategic gap between the two world powers by placing missiles there limiting America's warning capabilities if attacked. In October, President John F. Kennedy was presented with conclusive proof that the Soviets were in fact installing medium-range ballistic missiles. After several tense days of defensive posturing, the issue was peacefully resolved after the United States agreed not to invade Cuba, and the Soviets agreed to withdraw all military forces and weapons.
In the American League…
The Baltimore Orioles' Brooks Robinson became only the fifth player in Major League history to hit grand slams in back-to-back games after knocking out a bases loaded round-tripper on May 6th and May 9th.
After missing thirty games due to recurring knee injuries, New York's Mickey Mantle limped to the plate as a pinch hitter and launched a four-hundred twenty foot blast off of Gary Bell of the Cleveland Indians. The home team crowd showed their respects by giving the visiting Yankee a standing ovation.
Earl Wilson became the first black pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the American League as the Boston Red Sox topped the California Angels 2-0 on June 26th at Fenway Park. Wilson also dominated at the plate with a four-hundred foot homer off Bo Belinsky who had tossed a "no-no" of his own in his last start against the Baltimore Orioles.
In the National League…
On September 7th, Los Angeles Dodger Maury Wills stole four bases off the Pittsburgh Pirates setting a National League record for eighty-two "robberies" in a single season.
The Houston Colt 45s, one of the National Leagues two new teams (New York Mets), opened with an impressive 11-2 triumph over the Chicago Cubs before a crowd of over 25,000. Roman Mejias set the pace with two, three-run home runs and Hal Smith followed close behind debuting with a round-tripper of his own.
Stan Musial set a National League record (previously held by Mel Ott) after scoring for the 1,806th time in his career during a St. Louis Cardinals win over the Chicago Cubs on April 13th. Later in the season Musial became the leagues all-time leader in total bases with 5,864 during a June 22nd outing against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Around the League…
John "Buck" O'Neil became the first African-American coach in Major League baseball after joining the staff of the Chicago Cubs. O'Neil had been a scout for the Cubs organization previously and was credited with discovering both Ernie Banks and Lou Brock.
Baseball's newest franchise, the New York Mets, debuted in what some referred to as "copycat uniforms" that featured Dodger blue sleeves, Giants orange lettering and Yankee pinstripes. Unfortunately the Mets played as bad as they looked and finished their inaugural season with a laughable 40-120 record.
After several years of "double-headers", both players and owners agreed to return the All-Star Game to its original, one-game format in 1963.
Kansas City owner Charles Finley hired the first woman in baseball broadcasting. Betty Caywood was brought in initially to do "color-commentary" for the A's games, but later became the first female to regularly announce baseball games while airing her reports from both the dugout and the stands.