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1968 Major League Baseball season

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1968 MLB season
LeagueMajor League Baseball
DurationApril 10 – October 10, 1968
Number of games162
Number of teams20
TV partner(s)NBC
Top draft pickTim Foli
Picked byNew York Mets
Regular season
Season MVPAL: Denny McLain (DET)
NL: Bob Gibson (STL)
AL championsDetroit Tigers
  AL runners-upBaltimore Orioles
NL championsSt. Louis Cardinals
  NL runners-upSan Francisco Giants
World Series
ChampionsDetroit Tigers
  Runners-upSt. Louis Cardinals
World Series MVPMickey Lolich (DET)
 MLB seasons

The 1968 Major League Baseball season was contested from April 10 to October 10, 1968. It was the final year of baseball's pre-expansion era, in which the teams that finished in first place in each league went directly to the World Series to face each other for the "World Championship."

The playoff system was developed and debuted in 1969; with the addition of four expansion teams, both leagues were divided into two six-team divisions, with the winners competing in the League Championship Series.

It also featured the most dominant pitching year of the modern era, and was the first season for the Athletics in Oakland (having moved from Kansas City after the 1967 season).

The rookie minimum salary, $7,000 in 1967, was increased to $10,000 in 1968.[1]

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The Year of the Pitcher

In Major League Baseball, the trend throughout the 1960s was of increased pitching dominance, caused by enforcing a larger strike zone (top of armpit to bottom of knee) beginning in 1963. The delicate balance of power between offense and defense reached its greatest tilt in favor of the pitcher by 1968.

During what later became known as "the year of the pitcher",[2] Bob Gibson of the Cardinals led the National League with 268 strikeouts, but also setting a modern earned run average record of 1.12 (a record regarded to be unbreakable today) and a still-standing World Series record of 17 strikeouts in Game 1, while their World Series opponent Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers won 31 regular season games, the only player to reach the 30 win milestone since Dizzy Dean in 1934. His teammate Mickey Lolich won three complete games in the World Series, the last player to ever do so. Don Drysdale of the L.A. Dodgers pitched six consecutive shutout games in May and June, ending with 58+23 scoreless innings – a record that stood until being beaten by Orel Hershiser in 1988. Juan Marichal of the San Francisco Giants led the National League with 26 wins and 30 complete games. Luis Tiant of the Cleveland Indians had the American League's lowest ERA at 1.60 and allowed an opponents batting average of only .168, a major league record (since broken by Pedro Martínez in 2000).[3] He also led the AL with 9 shutouts. Both MVPs for that year were pitchers.

339 shutouts were recorded in 1,619 regular-season games.[4][5] The St. Louis Cardinals alone pitched 30 shutouts, the most in the majors. The 472 runs they allowed remains the lowest total ever recorded by any major league team in a 162-game season.

Ray Washburn of the Cardinals pitched a no-hitter against the Giants for a 2–0 victory on September 18 at Candlestick Park. The day before, Gaylord Perry pitched a no-hitter with a 1–0 Giants victory over the Cardinals. It was the first time in baseball history that no-hitters had been thrown in consecutive games and also that back-to-back no-hitters occurred in the same series.

Hitting was anemic. Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox had the lowest batting average of any league champion when his .301 was good enough for the American League batting title. The AL's collective slugging average of .339[6] remains the lowest since 1915 (when the game was still in the so-called dead-ball era), while the collective batting average of .230 is the all-time lowest.[7] The Chicago White Sox scored only 463 runs during the regular season and were shut out a league-high 23 times. The shutout record was eclipsed in 1972 by the Texas Rangers, who were blanked 26 times in 154 games.

After the season, the Rules Committee, seeking to restore balance, restored the pre-1963 strike zone and lowered the height of the pitching mound from 15 to 10 inches (38 to 25 cm). Four expansion teams joined the majors, and batting averages in 1969 returned to their historical averages; the large statistical advantage of pitching over batting in the major leagues during 1968 has not been seen since.

Rule changes

The 1968 season saw the following rule changes regarding the spitball and moistened balls:[8][9][10]

  • While on the pitcher's mound, the pitcher is banned entirely from bringing his pitching hand into contact with his mouth or lips. If this occurs, the pitcher can avoid penalty by stepping off the rubber and prepare to pitch again
  • If the violation occurred, a ball is awarded to the batter in the pitch count if nobody is on base. If there are runners on base, a balk is called. If the moistened ball is hit and the batter reaches first base, an error, or hit-by-pitch occurs, the violation is ignored. Any ball in play to the detriment of the batter will not count, and the at-bat continues. Previously, the penalty for a spitball was an immediate ejection. Repeat offenders were to be fined by the league.
  • The pitcher can no longer spit on the non-pitching hand.

Awards and honors

Statistical leaders

  American League National League
Type Name Stat Name Stat
AVG Carl Yastrzemski BOS .301 Pete Rose CIN .335
HR Frank Howard WSH 44 Willie McCovey SF 36
RBI Ken Harrelson BOS 109 Willie McCovey SF 105
Wins Denny McLain DET 31 Juan Marichal SF 26
ERA Luis Tiant CLE 1.60 Bob Gibson STL 1.12
SO Sam McDowell CLE 283 Bob Gibson STL 268
SV Al Worthington MIN 18 Phil Regan LAD/CHC 25
SB Bert Campaneris OAK 62 Lou Brock STL 62




World Series
AL Detroit Tigers 4
NL St. Louis Cardinals 3

Home field attendance

Team name Wins Home attendance Per game
Detroit Tigers[11] 103 13.2% 2,031,847 40.4% 25,085
St. Louis Cardinals[12] 97 -4.0% 2,011,167 -3.8% 24,829
Boston Red Sox[13] 86 -6.5% 1,940,788 12.3% 23,960
New York Mets[14] 73 19.7% 1,781,657 13.8% 21,728
Los Angeles Dodgers[15] 76 4.1% 1,581,093 -5.0% 19,520
Houston Astros[16] 72 4.3% 1,312,887 -2.6% 16,208
New York Yankees[17] 83 15.3% 1,185,666 -5.9% 14,459
Minnesota Twins[18] 79 -13.2% 1,143,257 -22.9% 14,114
Atlanta Braves[19] 81 5.2% 1,126,540 -18.9% 13,908
Chicago Cubs[20] 84 -3.4% 1,043,409 6.8% 12,725
California Angels[21] 67 -20.2% 1,025,956 -22.1% 12,666
Baltimore Orioles[22] 91 19.7% 943,977 -1.2% 11,800
Cleveland Indians[23] 86 14.7% 857,994 29.4% 10,593
Oakland Athletics[24] 82 32.3% 837,466 15.3% 10,090
San Francisco Giants[25] 88 -3.3% 837,220 -32.6% 10,336
Chicago White Sox[26] 67 -24.7% 803,775 -18.5% 9,923
Cincinnati Reds[27] 83 -4.6% 733,354 -23.5% 8,943
Pittsburgh Pirates[28] 80 -1.2% 693,485 -23.5% 8,562
Philadelphia Phillies[29] 76 -7.3% 664,546 -19.8% 8,204
Washington Senators[30] 65 -14.5% 546,661 -29.1% 6,749


Television coverage

NBC was the exclusive national TV broadcaster of MLB, airing the weekend Game of the Week, the All-Star Game, and the World Series.

See also


  1. ^ "Majors raise pay for all rookies". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. February 22, 1968. p. 20.
  2. ^ "1968 – The Year of the Pitcher" Sports Illustrated, August 4, 1998.
  3. ^ "MLB Stats | MLB Team Stats | MLB Leaders".
  4. ^ "1968 American League Season Summary".
  5. ^ "1968 National League Season Summary".
  6. ^ "MLB Stats | MLB Team Stats | MLB Leaders".
  7. ^ Charlie Finley: The Outrageous Story of Baseball's Super Showman, p.123, G. Michael Green and Roger D. Launius. Walker Publishing Company, New York, 2010, ISBN 978-0-8027-1745-0
  8. ^ "MLB Rule Changes | Baseball Almanac". Retrieved June 3, 2024.
  9. ^ "New Spitball Rule Is Eased, With Complications". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 3, 2024.
  10. ^ "Spitball Rule Is Revised Again, Eliminating Balk and Providing for Fines; A SUSPECT PITCH TO BE CALLED BALL Violation Will Be Ignored if Hitter Gets to First Base Safely on Hit or Error". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 3, 2024.
  11. ^ "Detroit Tigers Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  12. ^ "St. Louis Cardinals Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  13. ^ "Boston Red Sox Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  14. ^ "New York Mets Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  15. ^ "Los Angeles Dodgers Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  16. ^ "Cleveland Indians Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  17. ^ "New York Yankees Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  18. ^ "Minnesota Twins Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  19. ^ "Atlanta Braves Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  20. ^ "Chicago Cubs Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  21. ^ "Los Angeles Angels Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  22. ^ "Baltimore Orioles Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  23. ^ "Cleveland Indians Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  24. ^ "Oakland Athletics Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  25. ^ "San Francisco Giants Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  26. ^ "Chicago White Sox Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  27. ^ "Cincinnati Reds Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  28. ^ "Pittsburgh Pirates Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  29. ^ "Oakland Athletics Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  30. ^ "Texas Rangers Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  31. ^ "Ejected While Warming Up". Retrieved November 29, 2014.

External links

This page was last edited on 3 June 2024, at 15:58
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