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
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- Babe Ruth
1966 Baseball Season Headlines
In 1966, Sandy Koufax led the Los Angeles Dodgers to the World Series for the final time in his career, while Roberto Clemente took home the 1966 National League Most Valuable Player award. Read some of the headlines of the 1966 baseball season below:
Brooks Robinson, Clete Boyer Best at Third
Brooks Robinson and Clete Boyer were the best defensive third basemen in the American League during the decade of the 1960s. Robinson hit .269 in 1966, with 23 home runs and 100 RBI. Boyer, the younger brother of Cardinals star Ken, was hampered by a weak bat. He hit above .251 just once in his 16 seasons in the majors. In 1966, he batted .240 with 14 homers.
Sandy Koufax Wins 27, Bows Out
Forced to retire following the 1966 World Series because of a bum elbow, Sandy Koufax set or tied five records by pitchers in their final seasons. Among them were most wins (27), Ks (317), and innings (323).
Don Drysdale Wins When It Counts
Don Drysdale collected a 13-16 record for the Dodgers in 1966, one of the poorest seasons ever by a pitcher on a pennant-winning club. He was nevertheless named by manager Walter Alston to start the first game of the 1966 World Series. Knocked out early by the Orioles, Drysdale returned to pitch brilliantly in the final contest, allowing four hits and one run.
Willie McCovey Cracks 36 Homers
Willie McCovey, Willie Mays, Jim Ray Hart, and catcher Tom Haller hit a total of 133 home runs for the Giants in 1966 (McCovey tallied 36 home runs and 96 RBI for a .295 average that season). The rest of the club accounted for just 48 round-trippers, however, and the team as a whole hit .248, the next-to-lowest average in the National League.
Boog Powell: 34 HRs, 109 RBI
In 1966, Boog Powell placed third in the American League in home runs with 34 and RBI with 109. He also fanned 125 times, a career-high. Powell was one of the few sluggers during the 1960s and 1970s who walked nearly as often as he struck out.
Hank Aaron's Home Runs Keep Braves Afloat
Thanks to Hank Aaron, the Braves continued their skein of consecutive first-division finishes in 1966, their initial year in Atlanta. Aaron tallied 44 home runs (best in the National League) and 127 RBI (best in the majors) that year. The streak was in jeopardy in late August, however, before manager Bobby Bragan was replaced by Billy Hitchcock.
You can find additional headlines from the 1966 baseball season on the next page.
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More 1966 Baseball Season Headlines
Below are more headlines for the 1966 baseball season, including Frank Robinson's record-setting 122 scores.
Tommy John Finds Home in Chicago
Tommy John was part of the price the Indians had to pay in order to reobtain slugger Rocky Colavito following the 1964 season. With Cleveland, John was 2-11 and looked to be another in a long line of promising young Tribe hurlers who ultimately flopped. With the White Sox in 1966, he was 14-11 and tied for the American League-lead in shutouts with five. Some 20 years later, he had 286 career wins.
Roberto Clemente Nearly Perfect
Roger Angell wrote that Roberto Clemente performed "at close to the level of absolute perfection, playing to win but also playing the game almost as if it were a form of punishment for everyone else on the field." Clemente sparked the Pirates to a near pennant in 1966, hitting .317 with 29 home runs and 119 RBI.
Sandy Koufax Bids Farewell
A tearful Sandy Koufax announced his retirement from baseball on November 18, 1966, in Beverly Hills, California. In his last major league appearance -- game two of the 1966 World Series -- the Dodgers were blanked 6-0 and made six errors, three of them in one inning by center fielder Willie Davis. Koufax posted a 1.50 ERA for the game.
Paul Blair Blossoms
Paul Blair was one of three standout rookie outfielders the Orioles came up with in the mid-1960s. But unlike Sam Bowens and Curt Blefary, who arrived in 1964 and 1965, Blair did not regress after his rookie campaign in 1964. In 1966, he batted .277, scored 35 runs, and nailed a dinger to win game three of the fall classic.
Red Barber Axed for Telling the Truth
For years the voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Red Barber joined the Yankees' broadcasting team after the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. However, when he told it like it was as a television camera panned the empty seats in Yankee Stadium late in the 1966 season, he was swiftly axed.
Wally Bunker Blanks LA
Wally Bunker unleashed the first pitch of game three of the 1966 World Series to Dodgers leadoff hitter Maury Wills. Andy Etchebarren was the Baltimore catcher and Chris Pelekoudas was the plate umpire. Bunker, who logged just three complete games and no shutouts during the regular season, checkmated the Dodgers 1-0 that day.
Jim Kaat Sets Twins Mark
Jim Kaat was an atypical southpaw -- he had excellent control -- in addition to being an extraordinary fielder and a decent hitter. He topped American League hurlers in several departments in 1966, including complete games (19) and fewest walks per game (1.62). His circuit-high 25 victories that season are still a record for the Twins.
Frank Robinson Scores 122 Times
Frank Robinson was nearly as fine a baserunner as he was a hitter. He ranks tenth on the all-time list in runs, topping the National League in tallies twice before coming to the Orioles in 1966. When Robinson crossed the plate 122 times in his first year with the Birds, he set a new club record that still stands. He also topped the American League that season in slugging average (.637), on-base percentage (.415), and total bases (367).
You can find additional highlights from the 1966 baseball season on the next page.
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1966 Baseball Season Highlights
The 1966 baseball season saw the tearful farewell of the legendary Sandy Koufax (forced into retirement due an arthritic elbow), as well as record-setting plays by baseball greats like Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson, and Willie Mays. You'll find some of the highlights of the 1966 season, below:
- The Dodgers repeat as National League champs.
- The Orioles take their first flag since move to Baltimore.
- The Orioles sweep the 1966 World Series.
- The Dodgers are blanked for a Series record 33 consecutive innings after scoring two runs in game one.
- Jim Palmer, Wally Bunker, and Dave McNally shut out the Dodgers in succession in the 1966 World Series.
- In the 1966 World Series, Paul Blair and Frank Robinson win back-to-back 1-0 games for Orioles with home runs.
- The Dodgers bat .142 in the 1966 World Series.
- At age 20, Jim Palmer becomes the youngest pitcher in history to hurl a World Series shutout, as he wins 6-0 in game two.
- Frank Robinson earns the American League MVP Award after winning the Triple Crown (.316 BA, 49 homers, 122 RBI).
- Robinson leads the American League in runs (122), total bases (367), runs produced (195), OBP (.415), and slugging (.637).
- Roberto Clemente cops the 1966 National League MVP Award.
- An arthritic elbow forces Sandy Koufax to retire after 1966 season.
- In his final season, Koufax tops the majors with 27 wins, 27 CGs, 317 Ks, 323 innings, and 1.73 ERA.
- The Yankees tumble into the cellar for the first time since 1912.
- Prior to the season, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale stage the first dual holdout by teammates in major league history.
- Marvin Miller is elected president of the Major League Players Association.
- The Yankees fire broadcaster Red Barber after he calls attention on television to a sparse crowd in Yankee Stadium.
- Pitcher Tony Cloninger of the Braves hits two grandslams in game on July 3.
- The Braves move to Atlanta; their first game in Dixie is vs. the Pirates on April 12 at Fulton County Stadium.
- Willie Mays plays 150 or more games for a major league record 13th consecutive year.
- Pittsburgh's Matty Alou leads the National League in BA (.342); brother Felipe Alou of Atlanta is second (.327).
- Tony Oliva tops the American League in hits in each of his first three seasons in the majors, as he collects 191 in 1966.
- Cards rookie Larry Jaster ties for the National League lead in shutouts with five, and all five are achieved vs. the Dodgers.
- Sandy Koufax wins his third unanimous Cy Young Award in the last four years.
- Koufax tops the National League in ERA a record fifth consecutive time, and he wins the 1966 title by 49 points.
- Sonny Siebert of Cleveland no-hits Washington on June 10.
- First game in Anaheim Stadium -- White Sox vs. Angels on April 19.
- First game in Busch Stadium -- Braves vs. Cards on May 16.
- Jack Aker's 32 saves for Kansas City set a new major league record.
- California pitcher Dean Chance fans 54 times in 76 at-bats for the Angels.
- The National League wins the All-Star Game 2-1 at St. Louis.
- Felipe Alou leads the National League in runs (122) and total bases (355), and leads the majors in hits (218).
- Hank Aaron paces National League in homers (44), and majors in RBI (127) and runs produced (200).
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More 1966 Baseball Season Highlights
Below are more highlights of the 1966 baseball season, including outstanding performances by Bill White, Luis Aparicio, Ron Santo, and others.
- Juan Marichal wins 25 for San Francisco, topping the majors in win pct. (.806).
- The American League has only two hitters above .288 -- Frank Robinson (.316) and Tony Oliva (.307).
- Jim Kaat leads the American League with 25 wins, 305 innings, and 19 CGs.
- Pirates Gene Alley and Bill Mazeroski participate in a major league keystone record 289 combined DPs.
- Alley and Maz both win Gold Gloves for the first of two consecutive years.
- The Mets finish a heady ninth as the Leo Durocher-led Cubs fall into the National League basement.
- Cincinnati's Tommy Helms is the 1966 National League Rookie of the Year.
- Chicago's Tommie Agee is named the 1966 American League Rookie of the Year.
- Phillie Bill White wins the last of seven consecutive Gold Gloves as a National League first baseman.
- Angel Bobby Knoop wins the first of three consecutive Gold Gloves as an American League second baseman.
- The Phils trade Fergie Jenkins and two other players to the Cubs for Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl.
- Giants trade Orlando Cepeda to the Cards for Ray Sadecki.
The Giants traded first
baseman Orlando Cepeda
to the Cardinals in 1966.
- Yanks trade Clete Boyer to Atlanta for Bill Robinson and Chi-Chi Olivo.
- Dodgers trade Tommy Davis to the Mets for Ron Hunt and Jim Hickman.
- Knoop sets record for American League second basemen with 144 Ks.
- On May 1, Knoop participates in a single-game record six DPs by a second baseman.
- Bill Mazeroski performs a major league record 166 DPs by a second baseman.
- Donn Clendenon sets National League record for first basemen by participating in 182 double plays.
- Luis Aparicio leads American League shortstops in FA for a record eighth straight year.
- On August 12, Art Shamsky of the Reds enters the game as a pinch hitter and hits three homers.
- St. Louis' Tim McCarver becomes the only National League catcher ever to top loop in triples (13).
- Yanks fire Johnny Keane after a 4-16 start, bringing Ralph Houk out of the front office to replace him.
- The Yanks finish last to ruin Houk's perfect record of three flags in three years as a manager.
- Yankee workhorse Mel Stottlemyre goes 12-20.
- On August 26, Orioles Vic Roznovsky and Boog Powell hit the first back-to-back pinch homers in American League history.
- Frank Delahanty, the last surviving member of the five baseball-playing Delahanty brothers, dies at 83 years of age.
- Cub Ron Santo's National League record streak of 364 consecutive games played at third base comes to an end.
- Santo tops National League in walks (95) and OBP (.417).
- Phillie Johnny Callison tops majors with 40 doubles.
- Phillie Richie Allen tops the National League in SA (.632), and is second in homers (40).
- St. Louis' Lou Brock replaces Maury Wills as the National League steals king (74).
- Bert Campaneris replaces Aparicio as the American League theft leader (52).
- Dodger Phil Regan leads the National League in saves with 21.
- Carl Yastrzemski tops the American League in doubles with 39.
- Knoop leads the American League in triples (11), and tops American League second basemen in every major fielding department.
- Harmon Killebrew tops the majors with 103 walks and is second in homers (39) and RBI (110).
- Siebert (16-8) is the only American League pitcher to win as many as two-thirds of his decisions.
- Chicago's Gary Peters wins American League ERA crown again (1.98).
- Detroit's Denny McLain is second in the American League with 20 wins and 14 CGs.
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