1961 Baseball Season

1961 Baseball Season Headlines

Willie McCovey and
Willie McCovey and

During the 1961 baseball season, Hank Aaron led the Braves to their ninth division title in as many years, while Roger Maris hit 61 home runs to break Babe Ruth's single-season record. Here are some of the headlines from the 1961 baseball season:

1961 Cincinnati Reds Cruise to National League Flag

Although no match for the Yankees in the 1961 World Series, the Reds won the flag by a comfortable four-game margin. The following year, the Reds actually had a higher winning percentage yet could finish no better than third place.

Warren Spahn Wins 21 at Age 40

Age 40 in 1961, Warren Spahn won 21 games, tying for first place in victories in the National League; in 1963, after turning 42 years old, he won 23 games. His phenomenal durability caused Stan Musial to remark that he doubted Spahn would ever get into the Hall of Fame because it seemed Spahn would never stop pitching.

Joe Cunningham Nabs Liner in Stick

St. Louis left fielder Joe Cunningham spears a liner off Orlando Cepeda's bat in a 1961 game against the Giants at Candlestick Park. A few weeks later, the Stick, in its second year of existence, introduced a national TV audience to its infamous wind when Stu Miller was blown off the mound in an All-Star Game. Cunningham, a nondescript player for a dozen years, was actually a darn good hitter: He batted .345 in 1959 to finish second in the batting race. In 1961, he hit .286.

Hank Aaron Leads Proud Braves

The Braves were still in Milwaukee in 1961 and showed no signs of moving, as Hank Aaron spearheaded the club to its ninth first-division finish in the nine years it had been in Wisconsin. Aaron hit .327 that year with 39 doubles (tops in the loop), 34 home runs, and 120 RBI. The Braves' skein continued through the 1965 season, the club's last year in Milwaukee.

Orlando Cepeda No. 1 at First

The Giants had an enviable problem in the early 1960s: They had two great first basemen in Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey. (In 1961, Cepeda tallied 46 home runs and 142 RBI.) The Giants came up with a solution: They waited until Cepeda's value had been reduced by an injury and then traded him.

Charles Finley Lacks Horse Sense

By the close of the 1961 season, A's followers had already begun believing that new owner Charley Finley had about as much baseball sense as his mascot. The A's tied the expansion Senators for last place in the American League that year.

Roger Maris: 61 HRs a Nightmare

Roger Maris later revealed to writer Joe Reichler that his baseball career would have been a lot more fun if he had never hit those 61 home runs in 1961. About all that breaking Babe Ruth's record brought him, he said, was headaches. The controversy of the accomplishment centered on the fact that Ruth had nailed 60 home runs playing in 151 of his team's 155 games while Maris had 161 of 163 games to collect dingers.

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