For the second straight year, the Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League behind Sandy Koufax, who led the league with 27 wins, a 1.73 ERA, and 317 strikeouts. The Baltimore Orioles -- especially Frank Robinson, the Triple Crown winner and American League MVP -- had a few surprises for the Dodgers in the fall classic.
Baltimore depended on a deep but average pitching corps, the sterling infield defense of Brooks Robinson and Luis Aparicio, and the "Big Three" in the middle of their lineup: the two Robinsons -- Frank, the ex-Red (.316 average, 49 homers, 122 RBI, all league-bests), and Brooks (.269 average, 23 homers, 100 RBI) -- and Boog Powell (.287 average, 34 homers, 109 RBI).
Minnesota finished second behind the hitting of Harmon Killebrew (.281 average, 39 homers, 110 RBI) and Tony Oliva (.307 average, 25 homers, 87 RBI) and the pitching of Jim Kaat, who had a 2.74 ERA and led the league with 25 wins.
Willie Morton hit 100 RBI (tied for fourth-best in the league), Al Kaline averaged .288 (third-best), and Denny McLain won 20 games (second-best), yet Detroit couldn't do any better than third.
Tommie Agee of the fourth-place White Sox was the American League's top rookie with a .273 average, 22 homers, and 86 RBI. Chicago also had three of the top five ERA leaders in Gary Peters (first with 1.98), Joe Horlen (second with 2.43), and Tommy John (fifth with 2.62), yet finished 15 games behind the Orioles.
While the Orioles coasted to the title, the Dodgers had to outlast San Francisco and Pittsburgh. The Giants had Willie Mays (.288 average, 37 homers, 103 RBI) and Willie McCovey (.295 average, 36 homers, 96 RBI) and a pitching staff anchored by Juan Marichal (25-6, 2.23 ERA) and Gaylord Perry (21-8, 2.99 ERA).
Roberto Clemente won
the MVP award for his
Although Roberto Clemente of Pittsburgh was the National League MVP with a .317 average, 29 homers, and 119 RBI, he didn't top any offensive categories. Teammate Matty Alou won the batting title with a .342 average. Willie Stargell (.315 average, 33 homers, 102 RBI) and Donn Clendenon (.299 average, 28 homers, 98 RBI) were also reliable Pirates.
Hank Aaron, in the Braves' first season in Atlanta, blasted 44 homers and knocked in 127 runs to lead the league. Aaron's teammate (and Matty's brother) Felipe Alou was second in batting at .327. Tommy Helms of Cincinnati (.284 average, 49 RBI) was Rookie of the Year.
The biggest worry for the Dodgers down the stretch was St. Louis rookie Larry Jaster, a 22-year-old who shut them out five consecutive times during the season. Koufax saved the day for Los Angeles when he returned on two days' rest to beat Philadelphia 6-3 in the season finale. San Francisco fell just 1½ games short; Pittsburgh, 3.
The 1966 World Series was concluded briskly. The Dodgers knocked out an uncharacteristically wild Dave McNally in the third inning of game one, when they scored to cut Baltimore's lead to 4-2. Moe Drabowsky shut them down the rest of the way, striking out 11, as the O's won 5-2. The Dodgers didn't score again in the Series, as Jim Palmer then Wally Bunker and McNally shut them out 6-0, 1-0, and 1-0 for the sweep.
Two homers, courtesy of Paul Blair and Frank Robinson, accounted for the only runs in games three and four. Robinson's round-tripper in the fourth inning of game four capped an amazing turnaround for the right fielder and won the Series for Baltimore.
You can find headlines and summaries of the most exciting stories from the 1966 baseball season on the next page.
To learn more about baseball, see:
- 1965 Baseball Season
- 1967 Baseball Season
- Baseball History
- How Baseball Works
- How the Baseball Hall of Fame Works
- How Minor League Baseball Teams Work
- Babe Ruth