1949 Baseball Season

Ted Williams won his second MVP Award during the 1949 baseball season, batting .343 with 150 runs, 159 RBI, and 43 home runs. Barely nosed out for the batting title by Detroit's George Kell, Williams led all American League hitters in on-base average at .490 and slugging at .650. The Boston offense improved around him.

George Kell regularly hit over .300.
Throughout his career,
George Kell regularly
hit over .300.

Dom DiMaggio, Vern Stephens, and Johnny Pesky were third, fourth, and fifth in runs. Stephens tied Williams with 159 RBI and was second in home runs with 39. And Williams, DiMaggio, Al Zarilla, and Stephens were first, third, fourth, and fifth in doubles. The Red Sox won 96 games and scored the most runs in the major leagues, 896, yet they lost the pennant by 1 game to the Yankees.

Rookie manager Casey Stengel did it with mirrors, as none of the Yankees' three best hitters -- Joe DiMaggio, Tommy Henrich, or Phil Rizzuto -- led the American League in any major hitting category. Only Henrich, with the third-best slugging mark of .526, appeared in the top five.

Stengel overcame injuries to DiMaggio (who missed half of the season with a heel injury and a case of pneumonia), Yogi Berra, and even late-season acquisition Johnny Mize with deft platooning and substituting. Among everyday players, only shortstop Rizzuto was steady.

The Yanks featured solid pitchers in 21-10 Vic Raschi, 17-6 Allie Reynolds, and super reliever Joe Page, who went 13-8 with 27 saves and a 2.60 ERA in 60 appearances. However, no Yankee made the top five in ERA, and only Raschi (fourth place) cracked the top five in wins.

Still, the Yankees gutted it out. With two days to go in the season and New York trailing Boston by 1 game, a sick DiMaggio doubled and singled and Johnny Lindell smacked a key homer to lead New York to a 5-4 victory and a tie for the pennant. On the season's last day, the Yanks clinched the pennant 5-3, thanks to Jerry Coleman's three-run double.

The race for the National League flag was also decided by a single game, as St. Louis and Brooklyn fought all season long before the young Dodgers came out on top. The Cardinals featured their usual recipe of Stan Musial and tough pitching. Musial hit .338 and chalked up 41 doubles, 128 runs, and 123 RBI. Cardinals ace Howie Pollet went 20-9 with a 2.77 ERA, and five other St. Louis hurlers won in double figures.

Burt Shotton took over the Dodger reins as Leo Durocher went off to manage the Giants. Shotton's philosophy was to let the new recruits -- and the veterans -- show their stuff at various stations. He put Duke Snider, for example, in center field. The rookie responded by batting .292 with 23 home runs and 92 RBI.

Brooklyn's Jackie Robinson, now moved to his natural position at second base, put on an MVP performance, hitting .342 to lead the league, scoring 122 runs, and surpassing Musial in RBI 124 to 123. Robinson also cracked 38 doubles and 12 triples.

Teamed with fellow former Negro Leaguers Don Newcombe (who went 17-8) and Roy Campanella (who hit 22 homers), as well as Carl Furillo, Pee Wee Reese, and Gil Hodges, Robinson gave Brooklyn the National League's best offense.

For the first two games of the 1949 World Series, the Dodgers and Yankees were like two heavyweight fighters feeling each other out. Reynolds won game one 1-0, and Preacher Roe evened things up in game two by the same score.

Then the veteran New Yorkers began to land telling blows. In game three, the Yankees rallied for three in the ninth to win 4-3. In game four, Ed Lopat beat Newcombe 6-4. In game five, New York scored ten runs in the first six innings to win 10-6.

The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 1948 baseball season.

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1949 Baseball Season Headlines

In 1949, Jackie Robinson won the National League MVP award, and Joe DiMaggio excelled in spite of injuries. Here are some of the headlines from the 1949 baseball season:

Ted Williams Tops the 1949 American League in Runs, RBI

Ted Williams was never known for his base running, but he was not a load on the base paths, either. Even though he pilfered the fewest sacks of any great hitter, he was perennially among the leaders in runs scored. In 1949, he scored 150 runs -- to go along with his 159 RBI (both American League-bests).

Pee Wee Reese Heads Dodger Infield

The Brooklyn Dodgers infield crew looked solid in 1947. By 1949, however, only shortstop Pee Wee Reese was still with Brooklyn at the same station.

Jackie Robinson Hits Zenith

In 1949, Robinson hit .342, scored 122 runs, knocked in 124 more, and was named National League MVP. Robinson also stole 37 bases in '49, the most by any National League player between 1930 and 1956.

Joe DiMaggio Hangs Tough

Idled by an ailing heel, DiMaggio played in only half of the Yankees' games in 1949. His production, however, continued to be so extraordinary that writers maintained he would again have denied Williams an MVP Award if he had played a full season.

Bob Lemon is Sweet with 22 Wins

Bob Lemon never had a spectacular season, but he sure was consistent. From 1948 through 1956, Lemon didn't win more than 23 games in a season, yet averaged 21 wins per year. In that period, he led the league in complete games five times and innings pitched four times. He went 22-10 in 1949.

Ralph Kiner Has Career Year

Ralph Kiner had his finest overall season at the plate in 1949, as he smacked 54 home runs and drove in 127 runs. The Pirates usually just tried to ignore his fielding. Enos Slaughter said he could score on a fly ball to Kiner hit 30 feet behind third base.

Check out more headlines from the 1949 baseball season on the next page.

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More 1949 Baseball Season Headlines

Below are more headlines from the 1949 baseball season, including Roy Campanella playing every inning and Joe DiMaggio's struggle with injury.

Joe DiMaggio Dives in the 1949 World Series

DiMaggio swings away in the 1949 World Series. DiMaggio, so exceptional in all phases of the game, so consistently productive in every season he played, flopped in the 1949 World Series. Joltin' Joe hit just .111, collecting two hits in 18 at-bats.

The Yankees, however, won the 1949 World Series in five games. DiMaggio missed the first half of the 1949 season due to an injured foot. However, he was awesome in the second half. Despite totaling just 272 at-bats on the year, he hit .346 with 67 RBI.

Campy Catches Full 1949 World Series

Campanella nips Yankees hurler Ed Lopat at the plate in the 1949 World Series. Campanella shared the Dodgers' catching load with incumbent Bruce Edwards as a rookie in 1948; but by spring of 1949, the job was his. In five World Series with Brooklyn, Campanella caught every inning of every game.

Pee Wee Reese Tops the 1949 National League in Runs

It's hard to imagine that the great Dodgers teams of the 1940s and '50s would have a captain named "Pee Wee," but it's true. Pee Wee Reese spearheaded the Dodgers to seven pennants. A slick-fielding shortstop, he led the National League in runs with 132 in 1949.

Mel Parnell Tops the 1949 American League in Victories

Mel Parnell's superb season in 1949 (25-7) contributed heavily to his .621 career win percentage, one of the highest ever by a pitcher who never played on a pennant-winner. Parnell battled control problems throughout his ten-year stint with the Red Sox. He walked 134 batters in '49.

The next page highlights key events and details from the 1949 baseball season.

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1949 Baseball Season Highlights

The 1949 baseball season saw a number of firsts such as the first $100,000 contract in major league history and the first appearance of black players in an All-Star Game. Below, you will find the highlights from the 1949 baseball season:

  • The Dodgers edge the Cards by 1 game in National League.

    Casey Stengel’s triumph was the first time a club of his finished in the first division.
    Casey Stengel’s nickname
    was the "Old Perfessor."

  • The Red Sox lose second American League flag in row by 1 game when they lose last two games of season to Yankees.
  • The Yankees win the 1949 World Series in five games.
  • Yankee Tommy Henrich homers in the bottom of the ninth of game one of the 1949 World Series, winning the game 1-0.
  • The Dodgers win game two of the Series 1-0 on a Preacher Roe shutout.
  • No one in the 1949 World Series collects more than six hits.
  • Williams tops the American League in homers (43), ties for lead in RBI (159).
  • Williams loses the 1949 Triple Crown when he finishes a fraction behind Detroit's George Kell in batting, as both hit .343.
  • Williams tops the American League in runs (150), doubles (39), total bases (368), SA (.650), OBP (.490), and walks (162).
  • Jackie Robinson tops the National League in hitting (.342) and steals (37).
  • Mel Parnell of the Red Sox tops the majors with 25 wins.
  • Parnell leads the American League in innings (295) and CGs (27).
  • Ellis Kinder of Boston wins 23, giving the club 48 wins by top tandem, easily the best in the majors.
  • Ralph Kiner wins his fourth consecutive National League homer crown with 54, threatening the National League record.
  • Ted Williams is the last major league player until 1999 to produce 250 or more runs in a season.
  • Boston's Vern Stephens ties Ted Williams for the American League RBI lead with 159, a major league record for shortstops.
  • New York Yankee Joe Page sets a new major league record with 27 saves.
  • Dale Mitchell of Cleveland hits 23 triples, the most by any player since 1930.
  • The American League wins a wild All-Star Game 11-7 at Brooklyn.
  • This marks the first appearance of black players in an All-Star Game.
  • Joe DiMaggio signs the first $100,000 contract in major league history.
  • The Browns use nine different pitchers, one in each inning, in the season finale vs. White Sox.
  • Bob Lemon's seven homers tie the American League record for most homers by a pitcher during a 154-game schedule.
  • The A's perform a major league record 217 double plays.
  • New York's Dave Koslo tops the National League in ERA (2.50) and is the first leader without a shutout.

Take a look at the next section for more highlights from the 1949 baseball season.

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More 1949 Baseball Season Highlights

Check out more highlights of the 1949 baseball season, including a 34-game hitting streak by Dom DiMaggio and Dan Newcombe being voted Rookie of the Year:

  • The A's and Phils both finish above .500 for the first time since 1913.
  • The Cards have only 17 stolen bases, a record low for a National League team.
  • Boston's Dom DiMaggio has a 34-game hitting streak.
  • The Red Sox collect a major league record 835 walks.
  • Ralph Kiner hits 25 homers on the road, a new National League record.
  • Stan Musial tops the National League in hits (207), doubles (41), total bases (382), and OBP (.438), and ties in triples (13).
  • Kiner paces National League in RBI (127), walks (117), and SA (.658).
  • Warren Spahn tops the National League in wins (21), innings (302), CGs (25), and Ks (151).
  • Ted Williams and Vern Stephens combine for 499 runs produced, most since 1932 by pair of teammates.
  • Roy Sievers of the Browns wins the American League Rookie of the Year honor.
  • The Cards finish second, 1 game back of Brooklyn, after losing four games in the final week.
  • Phillie Eddie Waitkus is shot and nearly killed in a Chicago hotel room by a female admirer.
  • Brooklyn's Pee Wee Reese leads the National League in runs (132).
  • Dale Mitchell leads the American League in hits (203).
  • Ellis Kinder leads the American League in win pct. (.793) and ties for top in shutouts (six).
  • Cleveland rookie Mike Garcia leads the American League in ERA at 2.35.
  • Detroit's Virgil Trucks tops the majors in Ks with 153.
  • The Yankees yield an American League record 812 walks.
  • Brooklyn's Don Newcombe is voted National League Rookie of the Year.
  • On July 6, Cincinnati's Walker Cooper goes 6-for-7 and hits three homers in a nine-inning game.
  • A record 59 minor leagues begin season, and the minors attract a record 40 million fans.
  • The A's trade Nellie Fox to the White Sox for Joe Tipton.
  • The Reds send Hank Sauer and Frankie Baumholtz to the Cubs for Harry Walker and Peanuts Lowrey.
  • The Braves ship Al Dark and Eddie Stanky to the Giants for Sid Gordon, Willard Marshall, and two others.
  • The Cards sell Murry Dickson to the Pirates for $125,000.
  • Jimmy Stewart stars as Monty Stratton in The Stratton Story.
  • Howie Judson of the White Sox loses 14 games in a row.
  • Paul Calvert of Washington also loses 14 games in a row.
  • Rookie Alex Kellner of the A's wins 20 games.

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