The most memorable event of professional baseball’s 100th anniversary was the Miracle Season of the New York Mets (100-62) who rebounded from a ninth-place finish the year before to finish eight games ahead of the Chicago Cubs. They then went on to beat the heavily-favored Baltimore Orioles in an incredible five-game World Series behind the stellar pitching of Jerry Koosman (two wins) and hard-hitting Don Clendenon (three home runs, .357).
The 1969 season was the first year that both leagues had 12 teams. In what is now referred to as the beginning of the “Divisional Era,” each league was divided into two divisions of six teams each.
It was the season that also saw new franchises. The AL put one of its new clubs (the Royals) in Kansas City, and the other AL team (the Pilots) was awarded to Seattle. In the NL, one franchise was awarded to San Diego, CA (the Padres); the other team (the Expos) went to Montreal becoming the first MLB franchise outside the United States.
And, in an effort to counteract a trend of low-scoring games, it was a year two new rules were adopted: The strike zone was reduced to between the batter’s armpits and the top of his knees; and the height of the pitching mound was reduced from 15 to 10 inches.
Harmon Killebrew led the majors with 49 homers and 140 RBI and was voted American League MVP; Willie McCovey was named National League MVP after leading the league with 45 homers and 126 RBIs; Pete Rose won the batting title with a .348 BA; Tom Seaver (2.21 ERA and NL Cy Young Award-winner) topped the majors with 25 wins; and Denny McLain led the American League with nine shutouts and 24 wins to repeat as the AL Cy Young winner.
Rookie manager and former Red Sox great Ted Williams piloted the expansion Senators to 86 wins, the club’s highest number of triumphs while in the nation’s capital; and Yankees center fielder Mickey Mantle, idol to millions and known for his remarkable power, speed, and everyman personality, announced his retirement from baseball.
Replay your favorite teams from this memorable year with SherCo Classic or Plus GrandSlam Baseball.