Major League Baseball Season Recap 1958

World Series – New York Yankees AL over Milwaukee Braves NL 4 games to 3

World Series MVP – Bob Turley
Babe Ruth Award – Elston Howard

Awards –
Major League Cy Young Award Bob Turley

American League
MVP Awards – NL Ernie Banks AL Jackie Jensen
Major League Rookie of The Year –
NL Rookie of The Year – Albie Pearson AL Rookie of The Year – Orlando Cepeda

All-Star Game – July 8th – A.L. 4 over N.L. 3, played at Memorial Stadium (AL)
AL Starter Bob Turley  NL Starter Warren Spahn MVP

 

1958 Baseball Season Recap

In the 1950s the Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee, the Browns from St. Louis to Baltimore, the Athletics from Philadelphia to Kansas City, and for the 1958 baseball season — in the most shocking moves of all — the Dodgers and the Giants from New York to California.

Ebbets Field was leveled (the Polo Grounds stood for several additional years), as the Dodgers made a home of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Giants set up shop at Seals Stadium in San Francisco. A record 78,672 attendees saw the Giants down the Dodgers on Opening Day at the Coliseum; the teams went on to pull in 167,204 supporters for the three-game series. The Dodgers drew 1,845,556 fans by year’s end. Both teams would soon build new stadiums.

As the Dodgers dropped to a humiliating seventh place, tragedy struck. A car accident in New York left three-time Dodger MVP Roy Campanella permanently paralyzed. Old mainstays Pee Wee Reese and Carl Erskine saw limited action and Don Newcombe was traded. Duke Snider, who hit 40 home runs in 1957, managed only 15 in 1958.

Milwaukee took the pennant again, this time on a 92-62 record. Hank Aaron had another outstanding year with 30 homers and a .326 average, but the keys were Warren Spahn (a league-high 22 wins) and Lew Burdette (20-10). The surprising Pirates — with solid years from pitcher Bob Friend (22-14) and third baseman Frank Thomas (35 home runs, 109 RBI) — finished strong and wound up in second, 8 games back.

Rookie of the Year Orlando Cepeda racked up 25 homers and 96 RBI, Willie Mays hit .347, and Stu Miller turned in a league-best 2.47 ERA to spur San Francisco to third. Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks led the league with 47 homers and 129 RBI and was named MVP, even though Chicago finished fifth. Richie Ashburn won the batting crown at .350 for the last-place Phillies.

The Yankees won the American League flag, their eighth in nine seasons of the decade. Leading the way were Mickey Mantle (a league-high 42 homers), Bob Turley (the junior loop’s first Cy Young Award-winner with a 21-7 record), and Whitey Ford (the ERA leader with 2.01). New York outdistanced the second-place White Sox by 10 games. Although the Red Sox placed third, the 40-year-old Ted Williams won the batting crown again with a .328 average. Teammate Jackie Jensen was awarded the MVP title for 35 homers and a circuit-topping 122 RBI.

The Yankees, winners of six of the last nine World Series, met the Braves with an axe to grind — Milwaukee had dropped the Yanks in seven games in ’57. Revenge, however, didn’t come easy. The Braves stormed to a 3-1 lead with wins of 4-3 and 13-5 in games one and two and a 3-0 whitewashing in game four.

Things looked bleak for New York’s only team. With their backs to the wall in game five, they started Turley, who had been shelled in the opener. The righthander responded with a masterpiece five-hitter, and the Yanks beat Burdette 7-0.

The Braves still held an advantage going into the final two games. With game six tied two-all after nine innings, the Yanks scored twice in the top of the tenth on a homer by Gil McDougald and three singles. The Braves rallied in the bottom half, scoring once and having the tying run on third when Casey Stengel brought Turley in from the bullpen. He retired Frank Torre for the final out.

The Yanks took game seven with four runs in the eighth (three on Bill Skowron’s homer). Turley, the star of the 1958 World Series, pitched the final 6-2/3 innings as New York defeated the Braves 6-2 to become the first team since 1925 to win a World Series after being down three games to one.

 

In 1958, Ted Williams won the batting title at age 40, and Roy Campanella suffered a tragic accident that ended his baseball career. Here are some of the headlines from the 1958 baseball season:

Luis Aparicio and White Sox second sacker Nellie Fox took part in 207 twin killings between them in 1958, tops among keystone combinations in the American League.

Billy Bruton Hits .412 in the 1958 World Series

A knee injury shelved Billy Bruton for much of the 1957 and 1958 seasons. He was almost fully recovered, however, by the end of the latter campaign, hitting the Braves’ first home run in the 1958 World Series. He went on to rack up a .412 batting average, the best among Series regulars. Two years later, Bruton had his finest season.

Ted Williams, 40, Cops 1958 BA Title

In 1958, Ted Williams became the oldest player ever to win a batting title, hitting .328 at 40 years of age. There were, however, subtle signs that he was slipping. He fanned 11.9 times per every 100 at-bats, the highest ratio of his career to that point, and collected fewer walks (98) than he had in any full season since 1940.

Orlando Cepeda Tops 1958 Rookie List

Orlando Cepeda was only one of the many brilliant rookies the Giants unveiled in the late 1950s. Arriving in 1958 along with Jim Davenport, Felipe Alou, Willie Kirkland, and Leon Wagner, Cepeda hit .312 and led the National League with 38 doubles as a recruit. It was only the beginning of what would for years be a steady flow of young talent running through San Francisco.

Car Wreck Paralyzes Roy Campanella

Injured in an auto accident in January of 1958, Campanella was pinned in the wreckage. He suffered two fractured vertebrae and was permanently paralyzed below the waist. His career was over before the Dodgers played their first game in Los Angeles.

Jim Bunning Throws a No-No

Jim Bunning won 20 games for the Tigers in 1957, his first full season in the majors, then pitched 14 more years without ever reaching that circle again. In 1958, Bunning finished with a 14-12 record and a 3.52 ERA-though he did manage a no-hitter on July 20. During the early to mid-1960s, he collected 19 victories, one short of the coveted figure, four times in five seasons.

Albie Pearson Named 1958 Rookie of the Year

Albie Pearson was the smallest Rookie of the Year honoree in history. The 5′ 5″-recruit hit .275 in 1958, collecting 25 doubles, five triples, 63 runs scored, and 64 walks. A bad case of the sophomore jinx reduced Pearson to a benchwarmer by his third season. Expansion then saved his career. Drafted by the Los Angeles Angels, he turned into one of the American League’s best leadoff hitters in the early 1960s.

Richie Ashburn Gold Glove before there were gold gloves

Richie Ashburn was one of the best fielding flycatchers of all time. Six of the ten highest season putout totals in history by an outfielder were achieved by him. In 1958, Ashburn took the batting title with a .350 average and topped the loop in on-base percentage with a .441 mark, hits with 215, triples with 13, and walks with 97.

Del Crandall Scores in the 1958 World Series

Del Crandall scores the second run of game four of the 1958 World Series on a single by Warren Spahn. Crandall caught every inning of the fall classic for the Braves. Spahn won two games and nearly copped a third, which would have given the Braves their second consecutive championship. The Braves, however, lost the game 4-3 in ten innings.

Ernie Banks Powers Hapless Cubs

Ernie Banks played with the Cubs for ten years before the club had a season in which it finished above .500. In 1958, as Chicago finished at .468, Banks led the National League in home runs with 47 and RBI with 129. Even with his efforts, however, the team was so poor during most of those ten seasons that Jimmy Dykes remarked, “Without him, the Cubs would finish in Albuquerque.”

Bob Friend’s 22 Wins Lead National League

Bob Friend tied for the National League wins lead in 1958 with 22 victories. Three years earlier, he had been the first pitcher from a last-place team to cop an ERA crown. In 1959 and again in 1961, he topped the National League in losses. When he retired, Friend posted a .461 career win percentage, the lowest of any pitcher involved in 400 or more decisions.

 

On April 15, the Giants defeat the Dodgers in the first West Coast game in major league history.

On Sept. 20, Oriole Hoyt Wilhelm wins first game as a starting pitcher when he no-hits the Yankees.

On June 15, 18-year-old Von McDaniel of the Cards debuts with two-hit shutout of Dodgers.
For more 1958 baseball season highlights, see the next page.

To learn more about baseball, see:

1957 Baseball Season
1959 Baseball Season
Baseball History
How Baseball Works
How the Baseball Hall of Fame Works
How Minor League Baseball Teams Work
Babe Ruth
More 1958 Baseball Season Highlights

Below are more highlights from the 1958 baseball season, including Mickey Mantle’s amazing stats and a record low in errors by the Reds:

Willie Mays leads National League in runs (121) and steals (31).

Richie Ashburn tops majors in hits (215), triples (13), and BA (.350), and leads the National League in walks (97) and OBP (.441).

Rookie Orlando Cepeda tops National League in doubles (38), and hits .312 with 25 homers and 96 RBI.

Giant Stu Miller leads the National League in ERA (2.47).

Mickey Mantle leads the American League in homers (42), runs (127), runs produced (182), total bases (307), and walks (129).

Reds make just 100 errors to set a new major league record.

Yankee Ryne Duren tops the American League with 20 saves and fans 87 in 75-2/3 innings.

Turley leads the American League in wins (21) and win pct. (.750), and ties in CGs (19).

Warren Spahn tops National League in CGs (23) and innings (290), and ties for lead in win pct. (.667).

On August 14, Cleveland’s Vic Power steals home twice in a game; he steals a total of three bases all season.

Sam Jones of St. Louis becomes the first National League pitcher to fan 200 or more batters since 1941, as he Ks 225.

The Braves set an major league record when they’re caught stealing just eight times all year (in only 34 attempts.)

The A’s post their highest win pct. while in Kansas City-.474.

Pittsburgh’s Dick Stuart, “Dr. Strangeglove,” leads the National League first basemen in errors despite playing only 64 games in the field.

Lee MacPhail, son of Larry, becomes Baltimore’s GM and president.

Gwen Verdon and Tab Hunter star in Damn Yankees.

Cards trade Wally Moon and Phil Paine to LA for Gino Cimoli.

KC trades Woodie Held and Vic Power to Cleveland for Roger Maris, Dick Tomanek, and Preston Ward.

Washington sends Pete Runnels to Boston for Norm Zauchin and Albie Pearson.

Detroit ships Billy Martin and Al Cicotte to Cleveland for Don Mossi, Ray Narleski, and Ossie Alvarez.

Washington sends Eddie Yost and two other players to Detroit for Reno Bertoia and two others.

Pittsburgh’s Elroy Face leads the National League in saves with 20.

Milwaukee’s Carlton Willey heads the National League in shutouts with just four.

Cleveland’s Rocky Colavito leads the majors in SA (.620) and is
second in homers (41) and RBI (113).

Fox tops the American League in hits with 187.

Detroit’s Harvey Kuenn leads the majors in doubles with 39.

Luis Aparicio again leads the American League in steals (29).

Chicago’s Early Wynn tops the American League in Ks with 179.

Every team in the National League bats between .251 and .266.

Year In Review : 1958 American League

Off the field…

The United States launched its first satellite “Explorer I” into orbit around the earth. The launch was in response to the Soviets who had successfully launched their first satellite “Sputnik” one year earlier.

U.S. Troops landed in Lebanon for the first time after President Eisenhower ordered approximately five-thousand U.S. Marines deployed to help maintain order after a revolt in Iraq resulted in the ouster of the pro-Western Lebanese government.

Pan Am introduced the first 707 trans-Atlantic jet service on October 27, when its first 707 airliner, christened the “Clipper America”, took off for Paris, France from New York.

In the American League…

Cleveland Indian Vic Power became the first American League player since 1927 to steal home twice in the same game. The crafty first baseman first stole home in the eighth inning, then again in the tenth giving the Indians a 10-9 win over the Detroit Tigers.

Boston’s Ted Williams hit the 17th grand slam of his career (along with a three-run home run) during an 11-8 win over the Detroit Tigers on July 29th. The bases-loaded-round-tripper tied the Red Sox slugger for 2nd place with Babe Ruth and moved him within six of the all-time leader, Lou Gehrig.

On August 28th, Nellie Fox of the Chicago White Sox set an unbelievable Major League mark for consecutive games without striking out after completing his 98th outing without a single “K”.

In the National League…

Tragedy struck the Los Angeles Dodgers after catcher Roy Campanella was involved in a serious auto accident on Long Island. Although he survived suffering a broken neck, his spinal column was nearly severed and his legs were permanently paralyzed.

On May 11th, the St. Louis Cardinals set a National League record by using ten pinch hitters during a regulation double-header. Despite walking fourteen batters in game one, The “Redbirds” managed to top the Chicago Cubs 8-7 and followed in game two with another 6-5 win. Despite the lengthy line-up, Stan Musial remained the Cardinals biggest threat at the plate and posted a home run and four singles to come within two hits of three-thousand. Amazingly, the Cards would tie their own record two months later against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 13th.

Milwaukee Braves ace Warren Spahn became the first lefty to win twenty or more games, nine times, after beating the St. Louis Cardinals 8-2 on September 13th. (Eddie Plank and Lefty Grove, each won twenty games, eight times).

Around the league…

Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick announced that the players and coaches (rather than the fans) would elect their line-ups for the All-Star Game.

“Teddy Ballgame” aka Ted Williams, signed a whopping $135,000 contract extension with the Boston Red Sox making him the highest paid player (to date) in the history of Major League Baseball. Later that season he became only the 10th player ever to get one-thousand extra-base hits.

Decades before the premiere of ESPN or the YES Network, the New York Yankees announced that they would televise an unprecedented one-hundred forty games during the 1958 season. The Philadelphia Phillies followed several days later agreeing to broadcast seventy-eight games in the New York City area.

Starting this season, all American League hitters were required to wear batting helmets.
“Do you have any observations with reference to the application of the antitrust laws to baseball?” – Senator Keauver “My views are just about the same as Casey’s (Stengel).” – Mickey Mantle

On June 26, 1958, the Cleveland Indians fired manager Bobby Bragan for performance issues and replaced him at the helm with Joe Gordon. During the announcement the General Manager, Frank Lane, said to Bragan, “Bobby, I don’t know how we’re going to get along without you, but starting tomorrow we’re going to try.”

On July 9, 1958, Senator William Langer asked Casey Stengel if the New York Yankees were going to continue monopolizing the World Championship. The legendary response from Stengel was, “I got a little concern yesterday in the first three innings when I saw the three players I had gotten rid of and I said when I lost nine what am I going to do and when I had a couple of my players. I thought so great of that did not do so good up to the sixth inning I was more confused, but I finally had to go and call on a young man in Baltimore that we don’t own and the Yankees don’t own him, and he is doing pretty good, and I would actually have to tell you that I think we are more the Greta Garbo type no from success.”

In 1958 Vic Power of the Cleveland Indians stole ONLY two bases. Both of those steals occurred on the 14th of August and both were from third to home plate including one during the tenth inning that scored the winning run versus the Detroit Tigers.


Fred Hanley

Braves to be better in 1958

Bypassing the customary Willie Mays-Roberto Clemente on-field rivalry, Willie plays directly to Roberto’s constituents as he makes his bid for the Nobel Peace Prize. Bob Stevens of the San Francisco Chronicle explains: “The second largest crowd in Forbes Field history, 35,797 booing partisan fans, saw cool Willie Mays stop a free-for-all in the opening game. Even in the lair of the Pirates and despite their double defeat, Mays was the hero of the hour. In the middle of a player melee precipitated by a recurrence of a beanball feud that first broke out when Pittsburgh visited San Francisco, Willie tackled a near-berserk Orlando Cepeda to keep him from causing havoc with a bat.” The mêlée stems from a May 7th meeting between the teams and culminates in today’s 5th inning free-for-all with Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh charging P Ruben Gomez and being fended off by the Giant headhunter, now taking his turn at bat. Understandably concerned is Gomez’s fellow Puerto Rican. Stevens continues: “Among the first to his Puerto Rican countryman’s aid was 200-pounder Cepeda, eyes flashing and fists swinging at anything in sight in his lunge to get at Murtaugh. Unable to reach his immediate objective, Cepeda broke free from the milling athletes and picked up the lead-filled bat the batters swing to loosen up before going to the plate. He barely got a hand on it when from nowhere came Mays, head down and charging as hard as he could. Willie slammed into his first baseman, flattened him and pinned him until other players could help restrain the maddened Cepeda in his quest for blood. With Orlando subdued, the abortive riot broke up and Murtaugh was sent to the showers. No Giants were tossed from the contest, even though many people figured that they started the war May 7 in San Francisco when Curt Raydon and Marv Grissom began head-hunting. Mays was given a tremendous hand by the filled stands…”

Mays out at home

Mays out at home