The 1963 baseball season was the year of southpaw sensation Sandy Koufax. The 27-year-old hurler had one of the greatest seasons in history, winning a "quadruple crown" of pitching with 25 victories, 306 strikeouts, 11 shutouts, and a 1.88 ERA. Koufax took the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards.
Koufax's marvelous hurling overshadowed the strong seasons of his Dodger teammates. Don Drysdale contributed 19 wins in 315 innings; relief ace Ron Perranoski, another 16 triumphs and 21 saves. On offense, outfielder Tommy Davis hit a league-high .326. Frank Howard smashed 28 homers in just 123 games. Maury Wills hit .302 and led the league with 40 stolen bases.
The most threatening rivals to the Los Angeles ballclub were the Cardinals. Featuring batsmen Bill White, Ken Boyer, Curt Flood, Tim McCarver, and 42-year-old Stan Musial (in his final year), the Cards led the league in scoring, hits, doubles, and triples. Inconsistent all season, St. Louis connected in September, winning 19 of 20 to come within a game of the first-place Dodgers.
The two teams went head-to-head in a critical late-season, three-game series in St. Louis. With Los Angeles winning the first two games of the series, the Cardinals blew a 5-1 lead in the seventh inning of the finale and fell 6-5 in 13 innings. The Dodgers took the league by 6 games.
San Francisco came in third, despite banner seasons from the Giants' Willie Mays (.314 average, 38 home runs, and 103 RBI), Willie McCovey (44 homers -- tied with the legendary Hank Aaron for the crown -- and 102 RBI), and Juan Marichal (25 triumphs -- tied with Koufax for the league-best -- and 2.41 ERA).
The Giants' old home, the Polo Grounds, saw its last season of play as the ballpark for the Mets. Despite losing 111 games, the Mets drew more than a million spectators.
The Yankees won their fourth consecutive American League pennant, beating the White Sox by 10½ games. Despite prolonged injuries to Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, the Bombers won the league, scoring the second-most runs and allowing the second-fewest runs. Solid pitching came from 34-year-old Whitey Ford (a league-best 24 wins, 2.74 ERA) and 24-year-old Jim Bouton (21-7, 2.53 ERA).
Carl Yastrzemski hit .321 in 1963.
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Other notable feats: Harmon Killebrew of Minnesota led the American League with 45 homers. Boston's Carl Yastrzemski hit .321 for the title, while teammate Dick Stuart racked up 118 RBI to top the loop. Milwaukee's Aaron paced the National League with 130 RBI. Cincinnati's Pete Rose, the Rookie of the Year, batted his first major league hit.
Due to baseball's recent expansions, many pitchers made the major leagues when they should have been throwing in the minors. To compensate, the strike zone was expanded in 1963. The extension allowed the best pitchers -- the Reds' Jim Maloney (23-7, 2.77 ERA, 265 Ks), the White Sox's Gary Peters (19-8, a league-best 2.33 ERA), the Twins' Camilo Pascual (21-9, 2.47), the Cubs' Dick Ellsworth (22-10, 2.10), the Braves' 42-year-old Warren Spahn (23-7, 2.60) -- to get even better. Another older pitcher, 43-year-old Early Wynn, finally won his 300th game.
Ford went up against Koufax in the first game of the 1963 World Series. Koufax's record-setting 15 strikeouts were the talk of the 5-2 Los Angeles victory. The Dodgers, aided by a homer courtesy of ex-Yankee Bill Skowron and 81/3 scoreless innings by pitcher Johnny Podres, took game two 4-1. Drysdale was the star of game three with a three-hit, nine-strikeout, complete game victory. The Dodgers finished the sweep the next day with a 2-1 Koufax triumph over Ford.
See the next section for headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 1963 baseball season.
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1963 Baseball Season HeadlinesThe 1963 baseball season was filled with extraordinary performances, including those from Sandy Koufax, Pete Rose, and Luis Aparicio. Here are some of the headlines from the 1963 baseball season:
1963 Mets Bad All Over
Rookie shortstop Al Moran batted .193 in 119 games. Choo Choo Coleman held the club's first-string catching job despite batting .178 with just nine RBI. With that kind of supporting cast, Roger Craig could do no better than a 5-22 record.
Casey Stengel's Wisdom Can't Help
Under Casey Stengel the Mets won 11 more games in 1963 than they had in their initial season. They still finished last in the standings (posting a .315 winning percentage) and in hitting, pitching, and fielding.
Carl Yastrzemski Takes Five American League Titles
Remembering the first time he saw Carl Yastrzemski (the heir to his left-field post with the Red Sox) in the batting cage, Ted Williams said, "He positively quivered waiting for the next pitch." Yastrzemski collected the most hits of any American League player during the 1960s. In 1963, Yaz led the circuit with 183 hits, a .321 batting average, a .419 on-base percentage, 40 doubles, and 95 walks.
Vada Pinson: Reds' One-Man Gang
Although Vada Pinson stood high in many National League offensive departments in 1963 (204 hits, 14 triples, 106 RBI), he received little help from his teammates. One exception was righthander Jim Maloney, who fireballed his way to 23 wins and 265 strikeouts that season, still a Reds record.
Pete Rose: 101 Runs, 41 RBI
As a rookie in 1963, Pete Rose led the Reds with 101 runs scored yet netted just 41 RBI. It was a pattern that would continue all during his career. No player who collected 3,000 hits -- let alone 4,000 -- had fewer career RBI than Rose. Only in 1986, his final season, did Rose knock in more runs than he scored.
Juan Marichal Kicks In 25 Wins
In 1963, Juan Marichal tied Sandy Koufax for the most wins in the majors (25). Marichal ranked high in virtually every National League pitching department -- 321 innings pitched, 248 strikeouts, a 2.41 ERA.
Ralph Houk Moves Upstairs
Ralph Houk moved up to the Yankees' front office after 1963. Had he remained there, he would have been the only manager to win three flags in his only three years as a helmsman.
Luis Aparicio Sparkles at Short
Luis Aparicio never got the kind of attention in his time that Ozzie Smith currently enjoys, but he was every bit as good a shortstop. Aparicio either holds or shares almost every major career fielding record for American League shortstops, as well as the major league mark for most games by a shortstop (2,599). In 1963, Aparicio topped the circuit with 40 stolen bases.
Elston Howard Catches 1963 American League MVP Award
Elston Howard was voted the Most Valuable Player in the American League in 1963. He batted .287 that year with 28 home runs and 85 RBI. Neither Mickey Mantle, who was hurt much of the season, nor Roger Maris got a single vote that year. Howard also finished third in the balloting in 1964, yet only in tenth place in 1961 (his best season).
Helpless Roger Craig Goes 5-22
Owing to a poor year in 1961, Roger Craig was left unprotected by the Dodgers and claimed by the Mets from the pool of players designed to stock the two new National League expansion teams. Consequently, he became the last pitcher in major league history to lose 20 or more games in two consecutive seasons. Craig posted a .185 winning percentage in 1963, going 5-22.
Steady Whitey Ford Wins 24
Whitey Ford has the top career ERA -- 2.74 -- of any pitcher active exclusively since the end of the dead-ball era for ten or more seasons. He was so consistently effective that his highest ERA in the 16 seasons he pitched was 3.24 in 1965. His lowest, a 1.64 mark, came in his final season. In 1963, Ford led the American League with 24 wins and a .774 winning percentage.
You can find even more headlines from the 1963 baseball season on the next page.
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More 1963 Baseball Season Headlines
Below are more headlines from the 1963 baseball season, including Hank Aaron's amazing performance and the World Series win for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Willie McCovey Returns with 44 HRs
Even though he won the 1959 National League Rookie of the Year Award, Willie McCovey was not altogether ready for the majors. He had to return to the Pacific Coast League the following year for more seasoning. The 1963 campaign was the first in which he held a regular job for the entire season. He tied with Hank Aaron for the home run crown that year, racking up 44 round-trippers.
Bob Allison Part of Twins' HR Trio
Twins right fielder Bob Allison belonged to the only outfield trio whose members each hit 30 or more home runs in 1963. Allison clubbed 35 dingers, left fielder Harmon Killebrew led the American League with 45, and rookie center fielder Jimmie Hall contributed 33.
Los Angeles Polishes Off 1963 Yanks
The Dodgers celebrate their third World Championship in nine years. LA's sweep of the 1963 World Series was so one-sided that the Yankees were held to just four runs in the four-game tournament, the lowest of any team in the fall classic since the 1905 Philadelphia Athletics.
Harmon Killebrew Clouts 45 HRs
Never an acclaimed fielder, Harmon Killebrew was nevertheless one of the most versatile players in recent years. He began as a second baseman, was converted to third sacker in his second season, and later also played regularly as both a first baseman and an outfielder. In 1963, Killebrew bested the American League with 45 homers.
Ken Boyer Keeps Cards in Pennant Race
Ken Boyer's bat and steady glove at third base was a significant reason the Cardinals were able to stay in the National League pennant race until the final week of the 1963 season, Stan Musial's last. Boyer hit .285 that season with 24 home runs and 111 RBI. The following year, the Cards won their first flag without Musial since 1934. Again, Boyer would be the big bat. His 119 RBI would lead the league in 1964 and would earn him the National League Most Valuable Player Award.
Sandy Koufax Quiets the Yankees
Sandy Koufax had a superb season in 1963. He tied for the National League-lead in wins with 25 and topped the circuit with 11 shutouts, 306 strikeouts, and a 1.88 ERA. Yet he said that he felt somewhat ambivalent before he pitched the first game of that season's World Series. "I felt that I had to show myself and my team and the Yankees too that they were just a team of baseball players, not a pride of supermen," he said.
Hank Aaron Misses Triple Crown
In 1963, Hank Aaron came the closest of any National League player since 1948 to winning the Triple Crown. He led in RBI with 130, tied Willie McCovey for the top spot in home runs with 44, and finished third in the batting race, just seven points behind the winner, with a .319 average.
Harry Bright Ks to End Game One
Yankees pinch hitter Harry Bright ends game one of the 1963 World Series by fanning. Bright's strikeout was the 15th K registered by Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax (a Series record at the time).
The next page highlights key events and details from the 1963 baseball season.
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1963 Baseball Season HighlightsDuring the 1963 baseball season all eyes were on LA Dodger pitcher Sandy Koufax. In 1963 he had 25 victories, 306 strikeouts, 11 shutouts, and a 1.88 ERA. He later led his team to defeat the Yankees in the 1963 World Series. Below, you will find the highlights from the 1963 baseball season:
- The Yanks cop fourth straight flag in the American League.
- The Dodgers triumph in the National League.
- The Dodgers sweep the Yanks. It is the first time New York is swept since 1922.
- Sandy Koufax wins two games in the 1963 World Series; Dodgers pitchers have 1.00 ERA.
- Dodger Tommy Davis leads all batters in 1963 World Series with a .400 BA.
- Dodger Bill Skowron comes back to haunt Yankees, hitting .385 in the 1963 World Series.
- Yankees skipper Ralph Houk, Casey Stengel's replacement, wins flags in each of his first three seasons as pilot.
- Ellie Howard is first black player to win an American League MVP.
Al Kaline has just 163
runs but leads the
- Al Kaline leads American League in runs produced with just 163.
- Sandy Koufax wins the 1963 National League MVP.
- Koufax is first unanimous choice for the Cy Young Award.
- Koufax sets a new modern National League record with 306 Ks.
- Koufax sets modern record for southpaws with 11 shutouts.
- Koufax leads majors with a 1.88 ERA.
- Carl Yastrzemski wins first American League bat crown (.321).
- Yaz leads American League in hits (183), doubles (40), walks (95), and OBP (.419).
- Tommy Davis repeats as the National League bat crown winner (.326).
- Roger Craig of the Mets ties National League single-season record when he loses 18 consecutive games.
- Warren Spahn breaks Eddie Plank's record for most career wins by a southpaw when he collects his 328th victory.
- The Mets lose a major league record 22 straight games on the road.
- White Sox Dave Nicholson fans 175 times, breaking the major league record by 33.
- Twins lead majors in runs (767) and hit 225 home runs -- the most homers in history by a non-pennant winner.
- Boston reliever Dick Radatz has 25 saves, a 15-6 record, and 162 Ks in 132-1/3 innings for a seventh-place team.
- Majors return to one All-Star Game per season; National League wins 5-3 at Cleveland.
- Cincinnati's Pete Rose wins the 1963 National League Rookie of the Year prize.
- On September 13, the three Alou brothers briefly play together in the outfield for the Giants in the same game.
- On July 31, Cleveland becomes first American League team to hit four consecutive homers -- all are off Angel Paul Foytack.
- Roger Craig has a 5-22 record for Mets and suffers nine shutout losses.
- Warren Spahn, at age 42, becomes the oldest 20-game winner in history when he goes 23-7 for Braves.
- Stan Musial retires as holder of National League record for hits with 3,630 (since broken).
- At time of retirement, Musial holds National League records for games (3,026), runs (1,949), and doubles (725).
- Musial continues to hold record for most career homers (475) by player who was never a league leader in homers.
- Musial leaves as the first major league player to play 1,000 or more games at two different positions -- first base and outfield.
- Early Wynn picks up his 300th win on July 13.
- Wynn retires with a 3.54 career ERA. -- highest by a 300-game winner.
- Sandy Koufax no-hits the Giants on May 11.
- Juan Marichal no-hits the Astros on June 15.
- Don Nottebart of Houston no-hits Phillies on May 17.
- Hank Aaron leads majors in runs (121), RBI (130), total bases (370), SA (.586), and runs produced (207).
- Aaron ties Willie McCovey for National League homer crown (44).
- Harmon Killebrew leads American League in homers (45) and SA (.555).
- On July 6, Juan Marichal beats Warren Spahn 1-0 in 16 innings on a homer by Willie Mays.
- The Hall of Fame inducts John Clarkson, Elmer Flick, Sam Rice, and Eppa Rixey.
- On March 30, Pete Rose, a nonroster player for the Reds, goes 2-for-2 in his first major league exhibition game.
- White Sox Gary Peters is American League Rookie of the Year.
- Peters has American League's best ERA (2.33).
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More 1963 Baseball Season Highlights
Below are more highlights of the 1963 baseball season, including great performances by Curt Flood, Whitey Ford, and others.
- Minnesota's Zoilo Versalles breaks Luis Aparicio's reign as American League's Gold Glove shortstop.
- Minnesota's Vic Power continues to be the only American League first baseman to win a Gold Glove.
- Cardinal Curt Flood wins first of seven consecutive Gold Gloves.
- Rogers Hornsby dies.
- Home Run Baker dies.
- The Pirates trade Bob Skinner to Reds for Jerry Lynch.
- The Tigers deal Jim Bunning and Gus Triandos to Phillies for Don Demeter and Jack Hamilton.
- Cleveland swaps Jim Perry to Twins for Jack Kralick.
- White Sox send Al Smith and Luis Aparicio to the O's for Hoyt Wilhelm and three other players.
- San Francisco trades Felipe Alou and three other players to Milwaukee for Del Crandall and two pitchers.
- Jimmie Hall hits 33 homers to set Twins rookie record.
- On June 9 in Houston, the Colt .45s beat the Giants in the first Sunday night game in Major League history.
- Dick Stuart is the first player to hit 30 or more homers in a season in both leagues, as he clubs 42 for Boston.
In the final game of the season, Houston's John Paciorek goes 3-for-3
with two walks, three RBI, and four runs scored in his first Major
- After going 3-for-3 in his debut, Paciorek never plays another Major League game.
- Vada Pinson tops majors with 204 hits and 14 triples.
- Zolio Versalles tops the American League in triples with 13.
- Eddie Mathews leads the majors in walks (124) and is the only National League player to have a .400 OBP.
- Albie Pearson of the Angels is second in the American League in OBP (.403), runs (92), and walks (92).
- Dick Stuart tops the American League in RBI (118) and total bases (319).
- Cardinal Dick Groat tops majors with 43 doubles.
- Maury Wills and Luis Aparicio again are stolen base kings, each with 40.
- Whitey Ford leads American League in wins (24), win pct. (.774), and innings (269).
- Stu Miller tops majors with 27 saves for Baltimore.
- Camilo Pascual again tops American League in Ks (202) and wins 21 for Twins.
- Chicago's Ray Herbert leads American League with seven shutouts.
- Juan Marichal ties Sandy Koufax for Major League lead in wins (25) and also tops majors in innings (321).
- Reliever Ron Perranoski leads majors in win pct. (.842) and has 21 saves for the Dodgers.
- Lindy McDaniel tops the National League with 22 saves for the Cubs.
- Warren Spahn tops the National League for the last time in CGs (22).
- The White Sox lead the American League in ERA with a 2.97 mark.
- LA leads the National League in ERA, strikeouts (1,095), and shutouts (24).
- Cards finish in second place after leading National League in runs (747).
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