Year In Review : 1969 National League
Off the field…
Apollo 11 astronaut, Neil Armstrong, became the first man to walk on the moon after landing the lunar module, known as the "Eagle" at Tranquility Base on July 16th. Armstrong made his historic descent to the surface live on television making the now historic statement: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Twenty-one hours and thirty-six minutes later (after conducting several experiments and planting the U.S. flag) the Eagle returned safe and sound to the Columbia for its return flight to Earth on July 24th.
On the night of August 9th, several members of a hippie cult led by self-proclaimed messiah Charles Manson brutally murdered actress Sharon Tate and four others in her Beverly Hills mansion. The next evening Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, wealthy owners of a grocery chain, were also brutally attacked in their Los Angeles home. Initially the crimes were not connected even though victims in both cases had suffered from multiple stab wounds and the words "pig" and "Helter Skelter" were written in blood all over both crime scenes.
The Woodstock Music and Art Festival was held at Max Yasgur's dairy farm in Bethel, New York representing the culmination of the counterculture of the 1960's and the high point of the "hippie era." Although 10,000 to 20,000 people were expected, well over 400,000 showed up and crashed the gate as music's biggest names including Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Joe Crocker, The Who and the Grateful Dead came together for three days of "music, peace and love".
In the American League…
On March 1st, "The Commerce Comet" also known as Mickey Mantle announced his retirement after eighteen years in professional baseball. During his Hall of Fame tenure with the New York Yankees, "The Mick" batted .298, hit five-hundred thirty-six home runs and appeared in an amazing sixty-five World Series games in which he tallied a record eighteen home runs and forty RBIs.
As Major League Baseball celebrated its Centennial season, two New York Yankees topped the commemorative list of the games greatest. "Babe" Ruth was unanimously crowned as the "Greatest Player Ever" and Joe DiMaggio was christened as the "Greatest Living Player".
Reggie Jackson hit two home runs and drove in a whopping ten runs as the Oakland Athletics regained first place in the American League West with a 21-7 romp over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on June 14th. Jackson doubled home a run in the first, homered in the third and fifth, singled in two in the seventh and drove in three more with a single in the eighth. The whopping twenty-one run total set a team record that wouldn't be matched until the 2000 season.
In the National League…
In the first regular season Major League Baseball game ever to be played outside of the borders of the United States, the Montreal Expos defeated the visiting St. Louis Cardinals 8-7. Both teams were introduced to the capacity crowd of 29,184 in both English and French Canadian.
St. Louis Cardinals ace Bob Gibson set a National League record on August 16th (reaching two-hundred strikeouts for the seventh season) after an 8-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.
On May 13th, Ernie Banks, of the Chicago Cubs, hit seven RBIs (including his one-thousand five-hundredth) with two, three-run home runs and a double during a 19-0 massacre over the San Diego Padres. The blowout tied the mark for the largest shutout margin in the history of the modern National League.
Around the league…
Ted Williams was named Jim Lemon's replacement as manager of the Washington Senators after the Capital's franchise finished in last place with a miserable 65-96 record. "Teddy Baseball" was reported to have signed a five-year contract for $75,000 a season and ten percent in the team's stock.
Both leagues agreed to try the new "designated pinch hitter" rule during spring training, but under two different variations. The American League allowed the optional use of a DPH only for the home team while the National League required home managers to obtain the visiting skipper's approval for the experimental substitution.
Bowie Kuhn, a forty-two year old lawyer whose firm had handled all of the National League's legal affairs was unanimously elected as the new Commissioner of Baseball. Two other top candidates; Mike Burke of the New York Yankees and Charles Feeney of the San Francisco Giants had been previously deadlocked resulting in Kuhn's nomination.
In an effort to prevent an impending strike, Major League Baseball and the Players Association finally settled on a new revised pension plan. The tenure for qualifying was shortened from five years to four and the minimum age requirement was also lowered from fifty to forty-five. The players also agreed to get $5.45 million per year (retroactive to 1959) as well as a percentage of all televised game revenues.