1958 Baseball Season

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.

Jim Bunning
Jim Bunning of the Detroit
Tigers throws a no-hitter
in July of 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.

The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 1958 baseball season.

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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 Tops at DPs

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.

Check out more headlines from the 1958 baseball season on the next page.

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Below are more headlines from the 1958 baseball season, including Albie Pearson being honored as Rookie of the Year and Ernie Banks standing out among the struggling Cubs.

Albie Pearson Named 1958 ROTY

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 a Whiz on D

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.

The next page highlights key events and details from the 1958 baseball season.

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The 1958 baseball season saw the arrival of the Giants and the Dodgers in California. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (the new home of the Dodgers) saw a record 78,672 attendees on Opening Day. Below, you will find the highlights from the 1958 baseball season:
  • The Yanks reel off their fourth straight American League championship.

  • The Braves repeat as pennant-winners in the National League.

  • The Yanks take the 1958 World Series in seven games and are first team since 1925 Pirates to win after trailing three games to one.

  • Whitey Ford tops the American League in ERA (2.01) and shutouts (seven).

    Whitey Ford
    Whitey Ford leads the
    American League in ERA
    in 1958.

  • In the 1958 World Series, Bob Turley wins two of last three Yankees victories and saves the third, all in the space of four days.

  • Yankee Hank Bauer leads all 1958 World Series hitters with ten hits, four homers, and eight RBI.

  • Milwaukee's Billy Bruton has top BA among Series regulars (.412).

  • Warren Spahn wins two of three starts for Braves in the 1958 World Series, losing game six 4-3 in ten innings.

  • The Dodgers and Giants move to LA and San Francisco, respectively.

  • Ernie Banks is the 1958 National League MVP.

  • Boston's Jackie Jensen is the 1958 American League MVP.

  • Turley wins Cy Young Award and is second in American League MVP vote.

  • San Francisco's Orlando Cepeda is unanimous choice as the 1958 National League's top rookie.

  • Washington's Albie Pearson wins the 1958 American League ROTY and is the first winner from a last-place team.

  • Roy Campanella's career ends when he's left paralyzed by a car crash.

  • Phillie Richie Ashburn is the second player on a last-place team to win the National League bat title (.350).

  • Banks tops National League in homers (47), RBI (129), total bases (379), runs produced (201), and SA (.614).

  • Banks sets major league records for most homers and highest SA by a shortstop.

  • Spahn and Pittsburgh's Bob Friend tie for major league lead with 22 wins.

  • Ashburn ties the National League record by leading outfielders in chances for ninth time.

  • White Sox Billy Pierce loses perfect game when Washington's Ed Fitzgerald doubles with two out in the ninth.

  • Nellie Fox plays a major league record 98 consecutive games without fanning.

  • Ted Williams wins an American League bat crown (.328) at age 40.

  • American League wins All-Star Game 4-3 in Baltimore; game features no extra-base hits.

  • Gold Glove selections made for first time in both leagues.

  • 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.

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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.

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