Year In Review : 1971 American League
Off the field...
On Thursday, September 9th, more than 1,200 inmates at Attica prison gained control of the facility in a well-planned and brutal attack. During the initial violence, fifty correctional officers and civilian employees were brutally beaten and taken prisoner. With hostages as leverage, the inmates listed twenty-eight demands they wanted met including amnesty for the crimes they had already committed when they took over the prison. After four tense days of unsuccessful negotiations, the command was given to retake the prison and rescue the hostages. With National Guard helicopters flying overhead administering chemical agents, a rescue force of nearly two-hundred New York State police officers stormed the facility. When it was over, ten hostages were dead, along with thirty-two inmates.
Cult-leader Charles Manson and several of his followers including Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, were convicted for the brutal Tate-LaBianca murders that occurred in August of 1969. Even though Manson was not physically present at the murders and his devotees attempted to assume full responsibility, he was seen as the malevolent power that influenced and directed their actions. All of the defendants were sentenced to death, but were later commuted to life after California's laws regarding the death penalty were changed.
Boxing legend, Muhammad Ali's draft evasion conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in June. The decision came four years after the "People's Champion" had refused to participate in the Vietnam War due to his Islamic faith. Despite citing religious reasons, Ali was denied status as a conscientious objector to the war and was subsequently convicted of refusing to be inducted into the armed forces. During the same year, Ali was stripped of his heavyweight boxing title and had his boxing license suspended.
In the American League...
On July 9th, the Oakland Athletics' Vida Blue tossed the longest shutout in American League history during a twenty inning, 1-0 triumph over the Anaheim Angels. The A's ace fanned seventeen batters in eleven innings while the Angels' Billy Cowan tied a Major League record by striking out six times. Both teams also combined to set a Major League record with forty-three K's.
The American League netted their only All-Star victory between 1962 and 1983 with a 6-4 victory over the Nationals. The outing appeared more like a home run derby though as Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, and Harmon Killebrew all hit round-trippers.
The Detroit Tigers proved the old adage that "less is more" after they tied a Major League record by using six different pinch hitters during the seventh inning while still losing 6-5 to the New York Yankees on September 5th.
In the National League...
On August 24th, Ernie Banks hit his fif-hundred twelfth and final home run off of the Cincinnati Reds' Jim McGlothin during a 5-4 win at Wrigley Field. The monumental blast moved Banks ahead of Mel Ott for an eighth place tie with Eddie Mathews on the all-time list.
The Pittsburgh Pirates started what is believed to be the first all-minority line-up on September 1st as Rennie Stennett, Gene Clines, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Manny Sanguillen, Dave Cash, Al Oliver, Jackie Hernandez, Dock Ellis and Bob Veale all take the field for the "Buccos".
At the World Series, Roberto Clemente and Steve Blass combined on both sides of the plate for a 2-1, Game 7 victory that granted the Pirates their first World Championship title since 1960. After the game, some 40,000 ecstatic fans rioted in downtown Pittsburgh resulting in over one-hundred injuries and thousands of dollars in property damage.
Around the League...
On New Year's Day, the BBWAA failed to elect anyone during the annual Baseball Hall of Fame election. With two-hundred seventy votes required, the closest nominees were Yogi Berra with two-hundred forty-two and Early Wynn with two-hundred forty.
Boston's Carl Yastrzemski signed what is believed to be the richest player contract in baseball history at the time. The three-year agreement agreed to pay the Red Sox slugger an accumulated salary of $500,000.
Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn determined that players from the Negro Leagues would be given a full membership into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and not honored in a separate wing as originally announced.
Sixteen baseball researchers at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown formed the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), with founder Robert Davids as president. Currently SABR boasts over 7,000 members worldwide and has continually dedicated itself to the accurate preservation of America's national pastime.