Year In Review : 1964 American League
Off the field…
On February 9th, the British rock group The Beatles arrived in America for an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. It was the "Fab 4's" first trip to the United States and introduced their unique sound and stylish appearance to millions of American teenagers. By the week of April 4th, The Beatles had taken over the radio airways and held the top five slots on the American pop charts.
The highly contested and still criticized Warren Commission delivered its final report on September 27th concluding that President John F. Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, had acted alone and on his own recourse.
American's first computer dynasty International Business Machines (also known as IBM) introduced the first 360 Computer, which was defined as a second-generation system based on transistors. The groundbreaking machine was instantly heralded as a huge success and became the standard for computers of many businesses for many years.
In the American League…
Mickey Mantle set the tenth Major League record of his career after hitting two "switch" home runs in a single game against the Chicago White Sox. Mantle's first shot off Ray Herbert (a left-handed effort) traveled 461 feet and finally stopped 502 feet from the plate. Later in the game, "The Mick" added a second round-tripper (swinging right-handed) that guaranteed rookie pitcher Mel Stottlemyre's 7-3 debut victory.
Decades before the "Roberto Alomar incident" Golden Glove first baseman Vic Power of the California Angels was suspended for ten days and fined $250 after spitting on umpire Jim Honochick during a doubleheader loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Kansas City A's rookie Bert Campaneris became only the second player (Bob Nieman) since 1900 to hit two home runs in his Major League debut during a 4-3 win over Jim Kaat and the Minnesota Twins. He also set the mark as the first American League player ever to knock one out on the first pitch thrown to him. Bill Roman of the Detroit Tigers equaled the feat later in the season during a 7-6, loss to the New York Yankees for his first (and last) career home run.
In the National League…
Willie Mays became the first African-American player to hold the "team leader title" after San Francisco Giants' skipper Alvin Dark named him as the team's captain.
On April 6th, "Shea Stadium" was officially dedicated as the New York Mets ballpark. The $25 million dollar facility was named after William A. Shea who christened baseball's newest cathedral by pouring a mixture of water from the Harlem River (near the old Polo Grounds) and the Gowanus Canal (near the site of Ebbetts Field) over the infield in a pre-game ceremony.
The St. Louis Cardinals became only the second team in the modern era (1923 Giants) to score at least one run in every inning while rolling over the Chicago Cubs during a September 13th outing at Wrigley Field. "Redbirds" Lou Brock and Julian Javier led the rally with one homer each and Curt Simmons topped Dick Ellsworth on the mound for the 15-2 win.
Around the League…
Subscription television for baseball games debuted on July 17th as the first pay cablecast (a night game between the LA Dodgers and Chicago Cubs) was broadcasted live from Los Angeles. The home team emerged as 3-2 winners thanks to the solid arm of Don Drysdale who sat down ten batters.
The National League avoided an umpires' strike by agreeing with the officials on a new five-year contract that increased both pensions and insurance payments.
After an eleven year stint in Milwaukee, the Braves Board of Directors unanimously voted to request permission from the National League to move the struggling franchise to Atlanta. Milwaukee County officials immediately sued to block the move despite the team's faltering attendance of 800,000 for the past two seasons. In November, the league ordered the Braves to stay put in Milwaukee for the upcoming season, but permitted a move to Atlanta in 1966.
Major League Baseball finally approved a free-agent draft system that mimicked the one used in professional football. Order of selection was determined in reverse order of each club's previous season standings and all draftees were to be included on the forty man roster. They also restored all powers rescinded after Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis's death in 1944 to the baseball commissioner's office. The decision waived all owners' rights to take legal action in the event of disagreements and granted the commissioner total authority to judge whether actions taken by a team and/or owner were in the best interests of the game.