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1965 Baseball Season

The seeds of parity were sown in the 1965 baseball season, as the collapse of the Yankees after decades of domination was followed by the first-ever rookie draft (Rick Monday was the No. 1 pick of the Kansas City A's). After a one-year hiatus, the Dodgers again won the 1965 World Series, establishing themselves as potential heirs to the Yankee throne.

Sandy Koufax had another dominating year, leading the National League in wins (26), strikeouts (382 -- a major league record), and ERA (2.04), and winning his second Cy Young Award. His perfect game against the Cubs in September was the fourth no-hitter of his career. With the aid of Don Drysdale's 23 wins, Los Angeles' pitching was strong enough to offset its weak offense -- which fourth-place Cincinnati outscored 825-608 while finishing 8 games back. (Los Angeles second baseman Jim Lefebvre seized the league's Rookie of the Year Award with a .250 BA, 12 home runs, and 69 RBI.)

The broad-based attack of the Reds included league RBI champ Deron Johnson (.287 average, 32 homers, 130 RBI) and Frank Robinson (whose season of a .296 average, 33 homers, and 113 RBI earned him a trade to the Orioles).

Willie Mays took MVP honors for batting .317 with a league-leading 52 home runs (including a record-breaking 17 round-trippers in August) and Willie McCovey knocked in a second-best 39 homers as San Francisco finished 2 games behind Los Angeles. Roberto Clemente won his second straight batting title and third overall with a .329 average. The Houston Astrodome opened with much fanfare -- but the hometown fans had little to cheer as their team lost 97 games to finish ninth.

Wresting the American League crown from the Yankees (who finished sixth) were the Twins. Minnesota won 102 games with the help of batting champion Tony Oliva (.321 average-his second title in two years in the majors), MVP Zoilo Versalles (.273 average, 19 homers, 77 RBI), and Jim Grant (a league-high 21 victories).

Curt Blefary of Baltimore took top rookie honors with a .260 average, 22 homers, and 70 RBI. Ninth-place Boston hit the most homers in the league, courtesy of home run king Tony Conigliaro, who hammered 32.
Rocky Colavito's league-best 108 RBI and Sam McDowell's circuit-leading 2.18 ERA got Cleveland to fifth place.

Jim Maloney of the Reds nearly pitched two no-hitters: On June 14, the 25-year-old righty struck out 18 Mets (tying a league record) then gave up a homer in the ll th to lose 1-0. On August 19, he set down the Cubs in ten innings to win it 1-0.

Although San Francisco's Juan Marichal won 22 games with a 2.14 ERA, the pennant race headlines concentrated on Marichal's encounter with Dodgers catcher John Roseboro. Marichal clobbered Roseboro in the head with his bat after Roseboro returned a pitch to the mound close to the pitcher's head. The Giants won that day, beating Koufax. Although the Giants led the Dodgers and Reds by 3½ games on September 17, they finished 2 games behind LA. The Dodgers had their third pennant in seven years.

The Los Angeles hitters came alive in the 1965 World Series after Minnesota took the first two games at home. Koufax and Claude Osteen hurled shutouts as LA swept the Twins at home, 4-0, 7-2, and 7-0. After Minnesota won game six behind Grant, Koufax returned to shut out the Twins 2-0, the only game of the 1965 World Series won by the visiting team.

The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 1965 baseball season.

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