Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

1970 Baseball Season


On the field, the news was that baseball had returned to Milwaukee for the 1970 baseball season. The Pilots franchise ended its one-year stay in Seattle and became the Brewers.

Off the field, headlines were made by two players who sat out most of the year: Curt Flood pursued an antitrust lawsuit challenging baseball's reserve clause, which gives baseball owners the right to trade players against their wishes; and Denny McLain was suspended not once but twice for his involvement with gamblers. Additionally, Astros pitcher Jim Bouton was censured by commissioner Bowie Kuhn for writing Ball Four, his controversial memoir.

Bob Gibson (23-7, 3.12 ERA) won his second Cy Young Award for St. Louis, while Montreal's Carl Morton (18-11, 3.60 ERA) was 1970 Rookie of the Year. Hitters continued their resurgence as MVP Johnny Bench led the Reds to the 1970 World Series with a .293 average and league-highs in homers (45) and RBI (148). In Atlanta, Rico Carty's .366 average took the National League batting title.

In the American League, Boog Powell won MVP on a .297 average, 35 homers, and 114 RBI. Frank Howard of Washington led the league with 44 homers and 126 RBI. California's Alex Johnson took the batting title at .329. Yankee Thurman Munson (.302 average, six home runs, 53 RBI) was named 1970 Rookie of the Year. Jim Perry took Minnesota to its second straight division title, winning the Cy Young Award (24-12, 3.03 ERA). The Twins were led by third baseman Harmon Killebrew (.271 average, 41 homers, 113 RBI) and right fielder Tony Oliva (.325 average, 23 homers, 107 RBI).

Hank Aaron of Atlanta and San Francisco's Willie Mays each collected their 3,000th hits. New York's Tom Seaver struck out 19 Padres in a game -- ten in a row -- to tie one record and set another. Cleveland's Sam McDowell won 20 games and struck out a major league-high 304 batters. And 21-year-old rookie Vida Blue pitched a no-hitter for Oakland against Minnesota.

The Twins matched their 1969 American League Championship Series performance by being swept by the Orioles in three games. The O's batted .330 with six home runs, as they continued their quest to erase the memories of their loss to the Mets in the 1969 World Series. Mike Cuellar (24-8) and Dave McNally (24-9) led the way, tying Jim Perry for the league lead in wins.

The Reds took the field against Pittsburgh -- after winning their division by 14-1/2 games, leading in homers (191), and tying for first in batting (.270) -- and swept the Bucs in the 1970 NLCS on the strength of their pitching (1.29 team ERA).

The Reds were favored in the 1970 World Series against Baltimore. The O's, however, slugged ten home runs en route to a 4-1 Series win. The Reds were blown out twice 9-3, one of which featured a grandslam by McNally. The most memorable aspect of the 1970 World Series was the acrobatic fielding by Baltimore third baseman Brooks Robinson; which is not to downplay Robinson's performance at the plate (he hit .429 with two homers and six RBI).

Cincinnati's only win came in game four, on Lee May's three-run eighth-inning homer, and it broke the O's 17-game winning streak (the final 11 games of the regular season, the three playoff games, and the first three games of the Series). Cuellar shut down the Reds in game five with a 9-3 triumph.

Check out the next page for the 1970 baseball season's most memorable headlines.

To learn more about baseball, see: