Year In Review : 1965 National League
Off the field…
Controversial civil rights activist Malcolm Little, also known as "Malcolm X", was assassinated while delivering a speech at the OAAU rally in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem on February 21st. The Islamic minister had become an inspirational leader along side Dr. Martin Luther King after breaking ties with the Nation of Islam in order to create his own religious community known as Muslim Mosque, Inc., and later the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
A routine traffic stop and arrest for drunk driving in South Central Los Angeles lit the fire for what would become known as the Watts Riots. In response to the police action, many residents accused the law of practicing racial bias and erupted violently for six days leaving thirty-four dead, over a thousand people injured, nearly four-thousand arrested, and hundreds of buildings destroyed.
Construction on the nation's tallest memorial, the Gateway Arch, was finally completed after a four-year span. The six-hundred thirty feet high, stainless steel structure was originally designed by architect Eero Saarinen in 1947 for the Expansion Memorial Park which was established on the banks of the Mississippi River to commemorate the westward growth of the United States.
In the American League…
New York Yankees ace Mel Stottlemyre became the first pitcher in fifty-five years to hit an inside-the-park home run during a 6-3 win over their American League rivals, the Boston Red Sox, on July 20th.
Bert Campanaris, of the Kansas City Athletics, set an unprecedented Major League record by playing all nine positions during a September 8th outing against the California Angels. Campanaris allowed just one run (on a hit) and two walks while on the mound, but went 0-for-3 at the plate. Despite the "one man show" the Angels went on to win it, 5-3 after thirteen innings.
Shortstop Ron Hanson of the Chicago White Sox tied a Major League record with twenty-eight fielding chances during a double-header against the Boston Red Sox. Hanson handled eighteen shots in the first contest, setting an American League record, and ten more in the nightcap. Chicago, like their shortstop, came out on top in both games with matching 3-2 victories.
In the National League…
On April 9th, the $31 million dollar, ultramodern indoor ballpark known as the "Astrodome" debuted with an exhibition game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees. President Lyndon B. Johnson and Texas Governor John Connally were among the 47,000+ plus fans who witnessed the first ever, indoor home run courtesy of Mickey Mantle.
Chicago "Cubbie" Ernie Banks slugged his four-hundredth career homer during a 5-3 triumph over Curt Simmons and the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
San Francisco slugger Willie Mays became the fifth member of the ultra-exclusive "500 Homerun Club" after paying the membership dues off Don Nottebart during a 5-1 Giants victory over the Houston Astros at the Astrodome.
Around the League…
Baseball's first free-agent draft was held at the Hotel Commodore in New York City resulting in three-hundred twenty players being selected by twenty Major League teams. It was later determined that the draft would continue to take place every June and January with teams selecting prospects in the reverse order of the league standings.
One of baseball's greatest left-handed aces, Warren Spahn announced his retirement after an amazing twenty-one seasons. Spahn walked away from the game with a 363-245 career record and a lifetime ERA of 3.09. He also ranked as number six on the all-time list with sixty-three shutouts and thirteen, twenty-win seasons.
On December 9th, Branch Rickey, the man who helped Jackie Robinson break through baseball's color barrier by signing him with the Brooklyn Dodgers, died at the age of eighty-three.
Los Angeles Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax became the first two-time recipient of the Cy Young Award. Unfortunately, he would manage only one more season (where he became the first three-time recipient) before retiring with an astounding 165-87 record over a twelve year period.