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1968 in Baseball
The following are the baseball events of the year 1968 throughout the world.
In Major League Baseball, the trend throughout the 1960s was of increased pitching dominance. After the record home run year by Roger Maris in 1961, the major leagues increased the size of the strike zone from the top of the batter's shoulders to the bottom of his knees. A significant "power shortage" culminated in 1968, with far fewer runs scored than in the early 1960s.
Hitting was anemic as Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox would be the only American League hitter to finish the season with a batting average higher than .300. Yastrzemski's batting average of .301 was the lowest batting average of any league batting champion. The American League's collective slugging average of .340 remains the lowest since 1915 (when the game was still in the so-called dead-ball era), while the collective batting average of .231 is the all-time lowest. As a result of the dropping offensive statistics, Major League Baseball Rules Committee took steps to reduce the advantage held by pitchers by lowering the height of the pitchers mound from 15 inches to 10 inches, and by reducing the size of the strike zone for the 1969 season. 1969 batting averages climbed back to their historical averages and never again would pitching have as large a statistical average over batting in the major leagues.
1968 was the final year when baseball had no divisions within the two leagues, with the only post-season competition being the World Series itself. Four expansion teams would join baseball for the season following in 1969. This was also the first season that the Athletics franchise played in Oakland, California, after their departure from Kansas City, Missouri.
February 6 - Voters in King County, Washington, approve by 62 percent a $40 million bond issue to build a domed, multipurpose stadium. The Kingdome, being built between 1972 and 1976, would operate from 1976 until its demolition in 2000.
February 13 - The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers execute a four-player trade, with Tom Haller one of the two players going to Los Angeles and Ron Hunt one of the two going to San Francisco. The trade is the first between the two clubs since their move to the West Coast, and also the first since the one that would have sent Jackie Robinson from the Brooklyn Dodgers to the New York Giants after the 1956 season, but he retired rather than report with his new team.
April 15 - At the Astrodome, the Houston Astros defeat the New York Mets 1-0 in a 24-inning, 6-hour, 6-minute marathon. In the bottom of the 24th, Bob Aspromonte's bases-loaded ground ball goes through the legs of Met shortstop Al Weis for an error (the only one committed by the Mets all game) that plates Norm Miller for the winning run. To date, the game is the longest to end in a shutout in terms of both innings and duration.
April 19 - Nolan Ryan of the New York Mets becomes the sixth pitcher in National League history to strike out the side on nine pitches. But Los Angeles wins 3-2 at New York's Shea Stadium.
May 2 - At Shea Stadium, pitcher John Boozer of the Philadelphia Phillies is ejected from a game without having thrown a pitch. His Phillies trailing the New York Mets by what will be the final score of 3-0, Boozer, after a 13-minute rain delay, enters the game in the seventh inning in relief of Woodie Fryman and repeatedly goes to his mouth while warming up in contravention of the anti-spitball rule that had been introduced this year. Home plate umpire Ed Vargo gives Boozer two warnings and awards three balls to batter Bud Harrelson--the last resulting in Boozer's ejection, as well as that of Phillie manager Gene Mauch.
June 28 - The Cubs took the Dodgers, 8-3 and 1-0 in front of 42,261 the largest Wrigley Field crowd in over 20 years. Randy Hundley caught both games of a doubleheader and drove in four of the Cubs nine runs.
July 1 - As a part of the season that will see him post a 1.12 ERA, Bob Gibson's streak of 47 and two-thirds inning of scoreless pitching is broken.
September 14 - Denny McLain becomes the first 30-game winner since Dizzy Dean in 1934 as the Detroit Tigers beat the Oakland Athletics, 5-4, at Detroit's Tiger Stadium. Reggie Jackson's home run in the 4th puts the A's ahead 2-0, but Norm Cash answers with a three-run shot. Jackson hits another in the 6th, but the Tigers push across two in the 9th to win. Al Kaline, pinch hitting for McLain, walks and scores the tying run. McLain, who posted a 31-6 record in the regular season, gives up six hits and strikes out 10.
September 18 - Sixteen hours after Perry's feat, Ray Washburn of the St. Louis Cardinals makes major league history by hurling a second consecutive no-hitter in the same park. Run-scoring hits by Mike Shannon and Curt Flood at Candlestick down the Giants, 2-0. This is the first time in history back-to-back no hitters have been pitched between the same two teams on two consecutive days.
September 22 - Minnesota Twinsutility playerCésar Tovar plays all nine positions, an inning each, against the Oakland Athletics. Duplicating the feat that Bert Campaneris performed three years earlier, Tovar tops Campy by starting as pitcher and allows no hits or runs, for a 0.00 earned run average. In the inning, the first man to face Tovar was Campaneris, who fouls out. Tovar then strikes out slugger Reggie Jackson. Tovar is charged with a walk and a balk in the scoreless inning; his other contributions to the 2-1 Minnesota win include a single, a walk, a stolen base and a run scored. He makes five putouts and an assist, with no fielding errors.
September 28 - Mickey Mantle plays in his 2,401st and final game, eight days after hitting his last home run ending his career with 536.
Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox goes 0-for-5 but maintains a .3005 batting average, to win his second straight American League batting crown with the lowest winning average. Yastrzemski is the league's only .300 hitter. Danny Cater of the Oakland Athletics ends second with a .290 average.
October 10 - In Game Seven of the World Series, Mickey Lolich of the Detroit Tigers, pitching on two days rest, wins his third game of the Series as he beats Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-1. Lolich brings Detroit its first World Championship since 1945. Lolich hurls a five-hitter, and is named Series MVP. Key moments came in the 6th inning when Lolich picks Lou Brock and Curt Flood off first base to keep the score 0-0. With the game scoreless in the 7th, the Tigers have two on and two out when Jim Northrup hits a line drive to center field. Gold-glover Flood misjudges the ball and starts in, allowing the ball to sail over his head for a triple. Northrup then scores on Bill Freehan's double for a 3-0 lead. Each team adds a 9th inning run to account for the 4-1 final score. It is the first time the Cardinals have lost a 7th game of a World Series. The Tigers become only the 3rd team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win the Series 4 games to 3 (the 1925 Pirates and 1958 Yankees are the first two). The Tigers become the last team to win the championship between two first-place teams from leagues without division play where the pennant is automatically awarded to the team with the best won-lost record in its league.
January 5 - Bill Black, 68, pinch hitter and second baseman in five games for the 1924 Chicago White Sox
January 9 - Ed Strelecki, 62, pitcher in 42 games for the 1928-1929 St. Louis Browns and 1931 Cincinnati Reds
January 11 - George Hunter, 80, outfielder and left-handed pitcher who appeared in 45 games for the 1909 Brooklyn Superbas
January 13 - Ernie Herbert, 80, pitcher in six games for the 1913 Cincinnati Reds and 29 games for the 1914-1915 St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League, then considered an "outlaw" circuit but now classified as a major league
January 13 - Marty Lang, 62, left-handed pitcher who had a two-game "cup of coffee" with 1930 Pittsburgh Pirates.
January 16 - Elias "Liz" Funk, 63, outfielder and pinch hitter in 123 career games for the 1929 New York Yankees, 1930 Detroit Tigers and 1932-1933 Chicago White Sox
January 23 - Patsy Flaherty, 91, left-handed spitball pitcher between 1899 and 1913 with Louisville, Pittsburgh, Boston and Philadelphia of the National League (NL) and Chicago of the American League (AL); led AL in games lost (25) in 1903, then posted a 19-9 mark for the NL Pirates the following season
January 26 - John Kobs, 69, head baseball coach of Michigan State University from 1925 through 1963; his Spartans teams won 576 games during his tenure
January 26 - Eddie Phillips, 66, catcher in 312 games for the Boston Braves, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees, Washington Senators and Cleveland Indians between 1924 and 1935; member of 1932 World Series champion Yankees
February 3 - Jake Pitler, 73, longtime (1947 to 1957) Brooklyn Dodger coach; former minor league manager; in his playing days, second baseman who appeared in 111 games for the 1917-1918 Pirates
February 7 - Ollie Marquardt, 65, second baseman in 17 games for the 1931 Boston Red Sox; later a successful minor league manager
February 11 - Dorothea Downs, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player
February 12 - Johnny Siegle, 93, outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds who played 39 games in 1905 and 1906
February 14 - Bill Lelivelt, 83, Dutch-born pitcher who appeared in five total games for the Detroit Tigers of 1909 and 1910
February 18 - Ben Egan, 84, backup catcher for Philadelphia (1908 and 1912) and Cleveland (1914-1915) of the American League who played in 122 career games
February 23 - Hank Schreiber, 76, infielder who played a total of 36 games over five abbreviated trials with five teams: the 1914 White Sox, 1917 Braves, 1919 Reds, 1921 Giants and 1926 Cubs
February 28 - Lena Blackburne, 81, weak-hitting infielder who played 228 games with five MLB clubs between 1910 and 1928; manager of the Chicago White Sox from July 6, 1928 through 1929; coach for 17 years with three teams, notably the Philadelphia Athletics; scout and minor league manager; originated the practice of rubbing special Delaware River mud on new baseballs to remove their slippery finish; in 1938, he formed a company, Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud, that as of 2020 still supplies the major and minor leagues with this product
March 4 - Duke Reilley, 83, outfielder for the 1909 Cleveland Naps who played in 20 games
March 18 - Heinie Meine, 71, nicknamed "The Count of Luxemburg", pitcher who played all but one of his 165 MLB games for the 1929-1934 Pittsburgh Pirates; tied for the National League lead in games won (19) in 1931
March 20 - Clyde "Hardrock" Shoun, 56, left-handed hurler in 454 games for the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Braves and Chicago White Sox between 1935-1944 and 1946-1949; on May 15, 1944, as a Red, he authored a no-hit, no-run game against the Braves
March 24 - Ovid Nicholson, 79, outfielder who went 5-for-11 (.455) in his six-game cup of coffee with the 1912 Pittsburgh Pirates
March 29 - Buddy Napier, 78, pitcher in 39 total games for the 1912 St. Louis Browns, 1918 Chicago Cubs and 1920-1921 Cincinnati Reds
March 30 - Bernie Hungling, 72, catcher for the Brooklyn Robins (1922-1923) and St. Louis Browns (1930) who appeared in 51 games
March 31 - Grover Lowdermilk, 83, pitcher who appeared in 122 games for six clubs between 1908 and 1920, chiefly the St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox
April 12 - Frank Sigafoos, 64, infielder who played 55 career games for the 1926 Philadelphia Athletics, 1929 Detroit Tigers, 1929 Chicago White Sox and 1931 Cincinnati Reds
April 17 - Bill Engeln, 69, National League umpire from 1952 to 1956
April 19 - Tommy Bridges, 61, six-time All-Star pitcher who won 194 games for the Detroit Tigers (1930-1943 and 1945-1946), including three 20-win seasons; posted a 4-1 World Series record and won rings in 1935 and 1945
April 29 - Terris McDuffie, 59, Negro league pitcher in a long career that spanned from 1930 through 1954, playing for several teams in different leagues across the United States, Canada and Latin America
May 3 - Ray Gardner, 66, shortstop who played 115 games for the Cleveland Indians in 1931-1932
May 15 - Bill Drescher, 46, catcher who appeared in 46 games for the New York Yankees from 1944 to 1946
May 26 - Chippy Gaw, 76, pitcher in six games for the 1920 Chicago Cubs
May 26 - Doc Ayers, 77, spitball pitcher who worked in 299 games for the Washington Senators and Detroit Tigers between 1913 and 1921
May 27 - Herman Bronkie, 83, third baseman and second baseman who played in only 122 games over seven seasons spread over 13 years for four teams, most notably for the 1919 and 1922 St. Louis Browns
May 27 - Rip Collins, 72, four-sport star at Texas A&M University and pitcher in the American League from 1920 to 1931; won 108 career games for the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Browns; member of the 1921 AL champion Yankees
May 27 - Charlie Jackson, 74, outfielder in one game for 1915 Chicago White Sox and 41 contests for 1917 Pittsburgh Pirates
June 10 - Curly Brown, 79, left-handed pitcher who made 28 total appearances for the 1911-1913 St. Louis Browns and 1915 Cincinnati Reds
June 11 - Dan Boone, 73, pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics, Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians who appeared in 42 games from 1920 through 1923
June 11 - Bill Regan, 69, second baseman for the Boston Red Sox (1926-1930) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1931), who became the first player in Red Sox history to hit two home runs in the same inning (1928), a mark only matched by one man, Ellis Burks, 62 years later
June 15 - Sam Crawford, 88, Hall of Fame right fielder for the Cincinnati Reds (1899-1902) and Detroit Tigers (1903-1917), a lifetime .309 hitter who hit a record 312 triples, led both leagues in home runs, and retired with the fifth-most RBI in history and 2,961 career hits
June 25 - Grant Bowler, 60, pitcher who worked in 17 contests for the Chicago White Sox in 1931 and 1932
June 25 - Dan Dugan, 61, left-handed pitcher who worked in 20 games for the White Sox in 1928 and 1929
June 29 - Paddy Driscoll, 73, second baseman who batted only .107 in 13 games for the 1917 Chicago Cubs, but became well-known as a player and coach in the National Football League for over forty years
July 1 - Dave Barbee, 63, outfielder who appeared in 116 career games for the 1926 Philadelphia Athletics and 1932 Pittsburgh Pirates
July 3 - Pat Simmons, 59, pitcher who played from 1928 to 1929 for the Boston Red Sox
July 4 - John Quinn, 70, American League umpire from 1935 to 1942
July 8 - Dusty Boggess, 64, National League umpire for 18 seasons (1944-1948 and 1950-1962) who worked in four World Series
July 9 - Hap Collard, 69, pitcher in 35 career games for the 1927-1928 Cleveland Indians and 1930 Philadelphia Phillies
July 15 - Eddie Kearse, 52, catcher who played in 11 games for 1942 New York Yankees
July 17 - Ken Sears, 51, catcher who appeared in 60 games for 1943 Yankees and seven more for 1946 St. Louis Browns; son of NL umpire Ziggy Sears
July 27 - Babe Adams, 86, pitcher who won 194 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates; the only member of their championship teams in both 1909 and 1925, he won three games in the 1909 World Series
July 27 - Jack Redmond, 57, catcher with 1936 Washington Senators who played in 22 games
July 27 - Howie Storie, 57, backup catcher who appeared in a dozen games with the Boston Red Sox in 1931 and 1932
July 29 - Bill Hart, 55, third baseman and shortstop who appeared in 95 games for the Brooklyn Dodgers during the wartime seasons of 1943 to 1945
August 3 - John Jenkins, 72, infielder and pinch hitter in five contests for 1922 Chicago White Sox
August 10 - Charlie Boardman, 75, pitcher in a total of seven games over three seasons (1913 to 1915) for the Philadelphia Athletics and St. Louis Browns
August 13 - Lefty Guise, 59, knuckleball-throwing pitcher who appeared in two September games for pennant-bound 1940 Cincinnati Reds
August 22 - Heinie Groh, 78, third baseman who played in 1,676 games for the New York Giants, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates between 1912 and 1927; led the National League in hits, runs and walks once each and in doubles twice, widely known for his "bottle bat"
August 23 - Dutch Henry, 66, left-handed pitcher who appeared in 164 career games between 1921 and 1930 for the St. Louis Browns, Brooklyn Robins, New York Giants and Chicago White Sox
August 24 - Dolly Stark, 70, NL umpire for 12 seasons (1928-1935 and 1937-1940) who worked in two World Series, and later became a broadcaster
August 26 - John Kroner, 59, infielder who played 223 total games for the 1935-1936 Boston Red Sox and 1937-1938 Cleveland Indians
August 29 - Paul Howard, 84, outfielder who played in six games for the 1909 Boston Red Sox
August 31 - Jay Kirke, 80, legendary minor-league hitter who batted .301 in 320 major-league games with the Detroit Tigers (1910), Boston Rustlers and Braves (1911-1913), Cleveland Naps and Indians (1914-1915), and New York Giants (1918)
September 3 - Tony DeFate, 68, infielder for both the St. Louis Cardinals (14 games) and Detroit Tigers (three games) in 1917
September 4 - Ernie Orsatti, 65, outfielder in 701 career games, all with the Cardinals (1927-1935); batted .306 lifetime; regular center fielder for the 1934 "Gashouse Gang"; appeared in four World Series (1928, 1930, 1931 and 1934), winning rings in 1931 and 1934
September 12 - Don Rudolph, 37, left-handed pitcher who appeared in 124 games for the Chicago White Sox (1957-1959), Cincinnati Reds (1959), Cleveland Indians (1962) and Washington Senators (1962-1964)
September 14 - Hans Lobert, 86, third baseman for five National League clubs from 1903 to 1917; later a coach (1934-1941 and 1943-1944), manager (of the 1942 Philadelphia Phillies), and scout (1945-1967)
September 25 - Ken Holloway, 71, pitcher who worked in 285 games for the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees between 1922 and 1930
September 26 - Bud Clancy, 68, first baseman who played in 522 contests over nine seasons between 1924 and 1934 for the Chicago White Sox, Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies
October 5 - Hal Bevan, 37, third baseman and pinch hitter in 15 career games for the Boston Red Sox (1952), Philadelphia (1952) and Kansas City Athletics (1955), and Cincinnati Reds (1961); despite his brief tenure with 1961 Reds, featured in relief pitcher Jim Brosnan's classic memoir, Pennant Race
October 16 - Ellis Kinder, 54, pitcher who fashioned a 102-71 record in 484 appearances for the St. Louis Browns (1946-1947), Boston Red Sox (1948-1955), St. Louis Cardinals (1956) and Chicago White Sox (1956-1957); excelled as both a starter (won 23 games in 1949) and reliever (led American League in saves in 1951 and 1953)
October 20 - Turner Barber, 75, outfielder who played in 491 games for the Washington Senators, Chicago Cubs and Brooklyn Robins between 1915 and 1923
October 21 - Jack Killilay, 81, pitcher in 14 games for the 1911 Boston Red Sox
October 23 - Jack Bliss, 86, catcher for St. Louis Cardinals who appeared in 251 games between 1908 and 1912
October 23 - Mike Kelly, 72, minor-league catcher, first baseman and manager who spent seven years as a major-league coach for the Chicago White Sox (1930-1931), Chicago Cubs (1934), Boston Bees (1938-1939) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1940-1941)
October 31 - Ralph Glaze, 87, pitcher in 61 games for the Boston Americans between 1906 and 1908; later a head football coach at several prominent U.S. colleges
October 31 - Hub Perdue, 86, pitcher who appeared in 161 career games between 1911 and 1915 for Boston and St. Louis of the National League
November 3 - Vern Stephens, 48, eight-time All-Star shortstop for the St. Louis Browns (1941-1947 and 1953), Boston Red Sox (1948-1952), Chicago White Sox (1953 and 1955) and Baltimore Orioles (1954-1955) who led or co-led the American League in RBI three times (1944, 1949 and 1950) and led the AL in home runs once (1945)
November 5 - Wally Mattick, 81, center fielder in 169 career games for the Chicago White Sox from 1912 to 1913, and briefly with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1918; father of Bobby Mattick
November 14 - "Wee Willie" Sherdel, 72, left-handed pitcher who won 165 games (losing 146) for the St. Louis Cardinals (1918-1930 and 1932) and Boston Braves (1931-1932); member of 1926 world champions
November 17 - Earl Hamilton, 77, pitcher who appeared in 410 games in MLB between 1911 and 1924, mostly with the St. Louis Browns and Pittsburgh Pirates; later a minor league team owner
November 20 - Fresco Thompson, 66, former second baseman who played 669 games between 1925 and 1934 for Pittsburgh, New York, Philadelphia and Brooklyn of the National League, then a minor league manager; in 1946, began a 23-year executive career with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers as assistant farm system director until his promotion to vice president and farm director in 1950; after almost 18 years in that job, he served as executive vp and general manager from June 4, 1968 until his death
November 24 - Dearie Mulvey, 70, co-owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1938 to 1950 and, with her husband, retained a 25 percent share in the Dodgers from 1950 until her death; daughter of Stephen McKeever
November 27 - Ed Fernandes, 50, catcher who appeared in 42 MLB games for 1940 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1946 Chicago White Sox.
December 4 - Emil Yde, 68, pitcher in 141 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1924-1927) and Detroit Tigers (1929); led National League in winning percentage (16-3, .842) and shutouts (four) as a rookie in 1924; member of 1925 World Series champions
December 6 - Fats Jenkins, 70, All-Star left fielder of the Negro leagues
December 8 - Benn Karr, 75, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox (1920-1922) and Cleveland Indians (1925-1927) who appeared in 177 career games
December 12 - Ty Tyson, 80, broadcaster and legendary early play-by-play voice of the Detroit Tigers, calling games on radio (1927-1942 and 1951-1953) and television (1947-1950)
December 17 - Hank Severeid, 77, catcher for the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators and New York Yankees between 1911 and 1926, hitting .289 in 1,390 games
December 22 - Benny Bengough, 70, catcher who played 411 games for the New York Yankees (1923-1930) and St. Louis Browns (1931-1932) and member of three World Series champions (1923, 1927 and 1928); later spent 20 years as a coach in the majors, 14 of them for the Philadelphia Phillies
December 24 - Johnnie Heving, 72, catcher for the St. Louis Browns, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Athletics between 1920 and 1932 who appeared in 399 career contests