On the field, the news was that baseball had returned to Milwaukee for the 1970 baseball season. The Pilots franchise ended its one-year stay in Seattle and became the Brewers.
Off the field, headlines were made by two players who sat out most of the year: Curt Flood pursued an antitrust lawsuit challenging baseball's reserve clause, which gives baseball owners the right to trade players against their wishes; and Denny McLain was suspended not once but twice for his involvement with gamblers. Additionally, Astros pitcher Jim Bouton was censured by commissioner Bowie Kuhn for writing Ball Four, his controversial memoir.
Bob Gibson (23-7, 3.12 ERA) won his second Cy Young Award for St. Louis, while Montreal's Carl Morton (18-11, 3.60 ERA) was 1970 Rookie of the Year. Hitters continued their resurgence as MVP Johnny Bench led the Reds to the 1970 World Series with a .293 average and league-highs in homers (45) and RBI (148). In Atlanta, Rico Carty's .366 average took the National League batting title.
In the American League, Boog Powell won MVP on a .297 average, 35 homers, and 114 RBI. Frank Howard of Washington led the league with 44 homers and 126 RBI. California's Alex Johnson took the batting title at .329. Yankee Thurman Munson (.302 average, six home runs, 53 RBI) was named 1970 Rookie of the Year. Jim Perry took Minnesota to its second straight division title, winning the Cy Young Award (24-12, 3.03 ERA). The Twins were led by third baseman Harmon Killebrew (.271 average, 41 homers, 113 RBI) and right fielder Tony Oliva (.325 average, 23 homers, 107 RBI).
Hank Aaron of Atlanta and San Francisco's Willie Mays each collected their 3,000th hits. New York's Tom Seaver struck out 19 Padres in a game -- ten in a row -- to tie one record and set another. Cleveland's Sam McDowell won 20 games and struck out a major league-high 304 batters. And 21-year-old rookie Vida Blue pitched a no-hitter for Oakland against Minnesota.
The Twins matched their 1969 American League Championship Series performance by being swept by the Orioles in three games. The O's batted .330 with six home runs, as they continued their quest to erase the memories of their loss to the Mets in the 1969 World Series. Mike Cuellar (24-8) and Dave McNally (24-9) led the way, tying Jim Perry for the league lead in wins.
The Reds took the field against Pittsburgh -- after winning their division by 14-1/2 games, leading in homers (191), and tying for first in batting (.270) -- and swept the Bucs in the 1970 NLCS on the strength of their pitching (1.29 team ERA).
The Reds were favored in the 1970 World Series against Baltimore. The O's, however, slugged ten home runs en route to a 4-1 Series win. The Reds were blown out twice 9-3, one of which featured a grandslam by McNally. The most memorable aspect of the 1970 World Series was the acrobatic fielding by Baltimore third baseman Brooks Robinson; which is not to downplay Robinson's performance at the plate (he hit .429 with two homers and six RBI).
Cincinnati's only win came in game four, on Lee May's three-run eighth-inning homer, and it broke the O's 17-game winning streak (the final 11 games of the regular season, the three playoff games, and the first three games of the Series). Cuellar shut down the Reds in game five with a 9-3 triumph.
Check out the next page for the 1970 baseball season's most memorable headlines.
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1970 Baseball Season Headlines
Gov. Jimmy Carter Honors Rico Carty
Georgia governor Jimmy Carter presented a silver bat to Rico Carty for winning the 1970 National League hitting title with a .366 average. Carty received the award prior to a Braves-Mets game in 1971, a season in which he was idled by leg injuries. He was never again an everyday player, except in the role of designated hitter.
Mike Cuellar Lands Job, Wins 24
Mike Cuellar knocked around organized ball for 12 years before landing with the Orioles in 1969. In 1970, he tied for the most wins in the majors (24) and topped the American League in win percentage (.750) and complete games (21).
Johnny Bench Posts Monster Stats
Had Johnny Bench not played other positions as well in 1970, he would have set major league records for the most home runs (45), RBI (148), and total bases (355) collected by a catcher. If he had been moved soon thereafter to another full-time position, he would probably have made well over 500 home runs.
The Orioles' Jim Palmer
tied for third place in
win percentage in 1970.
Jim Palmer High in All Departments
Jim Palmer won 20 games in 1970, tying for third place in the American League in win percentage (.667). He also tied for the circuit-lead in shutouts (five) and innings (305), finished second in ERA (2.71), placed third in complete games (17), and came in fourth in strikeouts (199). Palmer was a distant fifth, however, in the voting for the Cy Young Award.
Thurman Munson Named American League Rookie of the Year
Thurman Munson, the 1970 American League Rookie of the Year, hit .302 for the Yankees in his first full season. Cleveland's Ray Fosse, also in his fledgling year as a regular backstopper, batted .307 in the junior circuit that season. Sophomore catcher Manny Sanguillen of the Pirates hit .325, the second-best average in the National League.
Jim Perry Back on Top Again
Jim Perry was the elder member of the Perry brothers, the winningest siblings in history prior to the Niekros. Outstanding with Cleveland in his first two seasons, he won just 76 games over the next eight years before emerging again in 1969 as one of the best pitchers in the American League. In 1970, Perry tied for the circuit-lead in wins with 23 and snared the Cy Young Award.
A Green Blue Fires No-Hitter
Vida Blue won a pair of complete-game shutouts for the A's late in the 1970 season (one of which was a no-hitter), whetting appetites in Oakland for what the future of the rookie might hold. The A's registered 89 victories that year, the franchise's highest total since 1932. Charley Finley suddenly seemed as if he might be more than an inept cousin to Bill Veeck.
Frank "Hondo" Howard: 44 HRs, 126 RBI
Frank Howard acquired the nickname "Hondo" early in his athletic career. By 1970, however, he was more commonly known as "The Capital Punisher." He clubbed 237 round-trippers for the expansion Senators, a club record. He also set the mark for the most career home runs by a Washington player, original or expansion club. In 1970, Howard led the American League with 44 dingers, 126 RBI, and 132 walks.
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More 1970 Baseball Season Headlines
Below are more headlines from the 1970 baseball season, including league leaders and memorable moments from the 1970 World Series.
Brooks Robinson: A's for D in 1970 World Series
Brooks Robinson achieved recognition as perhaps the finest fielding third baseman after his stunning performance in the 1970 World Series. Some, however, felt he was not even the best hot-corner gloveman in the American League that year. The debate over whether Robinson or Graig Nettles was the better third sacker raged for the next half-decade.
Gaylord Perry, 23 Wins, Leads National League
Gaylord Perry led National League pitchers in several hurling departments in 1970 -- 23 wins (tied for first place), five shutouts, and 329 innings pitched. When he sagged to 16 wins the following year, he was traded to Cleveland for Sam McDowell. Perry went on to take the Cy Young Award in 1972, his first season with the Tribe; McDowell was nearly through that year.
Alex Tops American League in BA
Alex Johnson lived to get his cuts at the plate, and in batting practice he looked as if he ought to be the game's hitting king. There were days when he was. In 1970, for example, Johnson claimed the American League batting crown with a .329 average, beating out Carl Yastrzemski by a fraction of a point. Most of the time, though, Johnson frustrated his managers more than any other player of his era.
Billy Williams Scores 137 Runs
Billy Williams compiled 2,711 hits, 426 home runs, and 1,475 RBI over an 18-year career. In 1970, he led the National League with 137 runs scored and tied for first with 205 hits.Moe Drabowsky Beats Pete Rose to Bag
Relief hurler Moe Drabowsky scurried to the first-base bag in time to retire Pete Rose on a ground ball to first sacker Boog Powell. The 1970 World Series was Drabowsky's second fall appearance with Baltimore, which had reclaimed him earlier in the year after losing him in the 1969 expansion draft.Frank Robinson Tags Former Mates
Second baseman Tommy Helms of Cincinnati nabbed Frank Robinson at the keystone sack in the 1970 World Series. In his only postseason appearance against his former teammates, Robinson hit just .273 but rapped two pivotal home runs. One dinger came in game three, a contest which also featured a grandslam by Baltimore pitcher Dave McNally; the other round-tripper came in the game-five finale.
Lee May Wins Game Four
Tony Perez and Johnny Bench waited to greet Lee May after he homered with both of them aboard in the eighth inning of game four of the 1970 World Series. May's three-run blow gave the Reds a 6-5 win and averted a sweep by the Orioles. Reliever Eddie Watt, making his lone fall appearance in 1970, was the victim.
You can find additional highlights from the 1970 baseball season on the next page.
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1970 Baseball Season HighlightsWhile Curt Flood's lawsuit may have made news off the field, the 1970 baseball season featured plenty of newsworthy events on the field as well. You can read the highlights of the 1970 baseball season below:
- Pirates win the National League East flag with .549 win pct., lowest in major league history by winner to this juncture.
- Orioles give manager Earl Weaver his second consecutive American League flag.
- National League West champ Reds sweep Pirates in NLCS.
- Orioles sweep American League West champion Twins in ALCS.
- After two years of League Championship Series play, a losing team has yet to win a single game.
- Orioles win the 1970 World Series, beating Reds in five games.
- Baltimore's Brooks Robinson is 1970 World Series MVP with .429 BA and a host of brilliant fielding plays.
- Reds avert a sweep in 1970 World Series by winning game four on three-run homer by Lee May, who hits .389 with eight RBI in the Series.
- Boog Powell of Baltimore is American League MVP.
- Johnny Bench named National League MVP.
- Bob Gibson wins second Cy Young Award in National League, as he ties Gaylord Perry for National League lead in wins (23).
- Minnesota's Jim Perry is 1970 American League Cy Young winner, as he ties two others for American League lead in wins (24).
- The Perrys are the first brothers to ever top their respective leagues in wins.
- Orioles win 108 games, giving them a combined 217 victories over the last two years.
- Atlanta's Rico Carty leads major league with .366 BA.
- Angel Alex Johnson wins American League bat crown (.329) by fraction of a point over Carl Yastrzemski, who also bats .329.
- On April 22, Tom Seaver sets major league record when he fans ten Padres in a row and ties major league record by fanning 19 total.
- Cub Billy Williams sets new National League record when he plays in his 1,117th consecutive game.
- Willie Mays collects his 3,000th hit.
- National League wins its eighth straight All-Star Game, 5-4 in 12 innings at Cincinnati.
- Yankee Thurman Munson wins 1970 American League Rookie of the Year Award.
- Carl Morton of Expos is 1970 National League Rookie of the Year.
- Cincinnati's Wayne Granger sets new major league record with 35 saves.
- Giant Bobby Bonds fans 189 times to set major league record that still stands.
- Carty hits in 31 straight games.
- Three Rivers Stadium opens on July 16, Reds vs. Pirates.
- Riverfront Stadium opens on June 30, Braves vs. Reds.
- Conigliaro brothers, Tony and Billy, hit a sibling record 54 homers for Red Sox.
- The Seattle franchise is moved to Milwaukee just prior to the season; team name changed from "Pilots" to "Brewers."
- Hank Aaron gets his 3,000th hit.
Fergie Jenkins' 1970
- Vida Blue of Oakland no-hits Minnesota on Sept. 21.
- Fergie Jenkins sets a Cubs record with 274 strikeouts.
- Cardinal Vic Davalillo ties major league record with 24 pinch hits.
- Johnny Bench tops majors in homers (45) and RBI (148).
- Dock Ellis of Pittsburgh no-hits San Diego on June 12.
- Detroit's Cesar Gutierrez is first in the 20th century to go 7-for-7 when he does it on June 21 in 12-inning game.
- Clyde Wright of California no-hits Oakland on July 3.
- Bill Singer of LA no-hits Philadelphia on July 20.
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More 1970 Baseball Season Highlights
From Johnny Bench leading the Reds to the 1970 World Series to Vida Blue's complete game shutouts and much more, there was plenty of excitement in the 1970 baseball season. Find more of the season's highlights below:
- Tom Seaver tops National League in Ks (283) and ERA (2.81).
- Billy Williams tops major league in runs (137), total bases (373), and runs produced (224), and ties for major league lead in hits (205).
- Frank Howard leads American League in homers (44), RBI (126), and walks (132).
- O's have two 24-game winners (Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar) and also a 20-game winner (Jim Palmer).
- Royals end major league record skein of 23 consecutive losses to Orioles.
- Rookie Ray Fosse of Cleveland wins first of two consecutive Gold Gloves given to American League catchers.
- Fosse sustains career-threatening injury in home-plate collision with Pete Rose in All-Star Game when Rose bowls him over to score winning run.
- Cincinnati's Tommy Helms wins first of two consecutive Gold Gloves given to National League second basemen.
- Houston's Doug Rader wins first of five consecutive Gold Gloves as National League third baseman.
- White Sox Luis Aparicio wins the last of his nine Gold Gloves at shortstop.
- Mets center fielder Tommie Agee becomes the first outfielder to win a Gold Glove in each league.
- Paul Blair of the O's wins third of what will be eight consecutive Gold Gloves as American League outfielder.
- Major league umps refuse to work the LCS games and force a settlement that increases their salaries and benefits.
- Cleveland hits an American League record 133 homers at home.
- Official scorer's pay is raised from $30 to $35 per game.
- Average player's salary is up to $25,000.
- Ray Schalk dies.
- Jim Bouton's book about the 1969 season, Ball Four, is a smash success.
- KC's Amos Otis sets American League stolen base pct. record of .943 (33 in 35 attempts).
- Montreal's Bobby Wine sets National League record for shortstops by participating in 137 double plays.
- Yaz is last player to win All-Star MVP Award while playing for the game's losing team.
- Felix Millan of Atlanta goes 6-for-6 on July 6:
- Denny McLain is suspended for part of the season for being involved in a bookmaking operation.
- After the season, Tigers trade McLain and three other players to Washington for Joe Coleman, Ed Brinkman, Aurelio Rodriguez, and Jim Hannan.
- Red Sox trade Tony Conigliaro and two other players to the Angels for Ken Tatum, Jarvis Tatum, and Doug Griffin.
- Tom Egan of the Angels sets an American League record when he commits five passed balls on July 28.
- Bill Melton of the White Sox Ks ten consecutive times, a major league record for nonpitchers.
- Willie McCovey tops major league in SA (.612) and walks (137).
- LA's Wes Parker leads major league in doubles with 47.
- Dodger Willie Davis leads major league in triples (16).
- Bobby Tolan of the Reds tops majors with 57 steals; Bert Campaneris leads American League with 42.
- Yaz tops American League in runs (125), runs produced (187), total bases (335), OBP (.453), and SA (.592).
- Minnesota's Cesar Tovar leads American League in triples (13) and ties for lead in doubles (36).
- Tony Oliva leads American League in hits (204) and ties in doubles (36).
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