1968 in baseball

The following are the baseball events of the year 1968 throughout the world.

List of years in baseball

The Year of the Pitcher

In Major League Baseball, the trend throughout the 1960s was of increased pitching dominance.[1][2] After the record home run year by Roger Maris in 1961, the major leagues increased the size of the strike zone from the top of the batter's shoulders to the bottom of his knees.[3] A significant "power shortage" culminated in 1968, with far fewer runs scored than in the early 1960s.[1]

Pitchers including Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals and Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers dominated hitters, producing 339 shutouts in 1968, almost double the number of shutouts thrown in 1962.[1] Individually, Gibson set a modern earned run average record of 1.12, the lowest in 54 years, and set a World Series record of 17 strikeouts in Game 1. McLain won 31 regular season games, the only player to reach the 30 win milestone since Dizzy Dean in 1934.[4] Mickey Lolich won three complete games in the World Series, the last player as of 2015 to do so. Luis Tiant of the Cleveland Indians had the American League's lowest ERA at 1.60 and allowed a batting average of only .168, a major league record.[1] Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers threw a record 58 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, and Catfish Hunter of the Oakland Athletics was the first American League pitcher to record a perfect game since Don Larsen in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.[1]

Hitting was anemic as Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox would be the only American League hitter to finish the season with a batting average higher than .300.[1] Yastrzemski's batting average of .301 was the lowest batting average of any league batting champion. The American League's collective slugging average of .340 remains the lowest since 1915 (when the game was still in the so-called dead-ball era), while the collective batting average of .231 is the all-time lowest. As a result of the dropping offensive statistics, Major League Baseball Rules Committee took steps to reduce the advantage held by pitchers by lowering the height of the pitchers mound from 15 inches to 10 inches, and by reducing the size of the strike zone for the 1969 season.[5] 1969 batting averages climbed back to their historical averages and never again would pitching have as large a statistical average over batting in the major leagues.

1968 was the final year when baseball had no divisions within the two leagues, with the only post-season competition being the World Series itself. Four expansion teams would join baseball for the season following in 1969. This was also the first season that the Athletics franchise played in Oakland, California, after their departure from Kansas City, Missouri.


Major League Baseball

Other champions

Awards and honors

MLB statistical leaders

  American League National League
AVGCarl Yastrzemski BOS.301Pete Rose CIN.335
HRFrank Howard WAS44Willie McCovey SF36
RBIKen Harrelson BOS109Willie McCovey SF105
WinsDenny McLain DET31Juan Marichal SF26
ERALuis Tiant CLE1.60Bob Gibson STL1.12
KsSam McDowell CLE283Bob Gibson STL268
SBBert Campaneris OAK62Lou Brock STL62

Major league baseball final standings




  • February 6 – Voters in King County, Washington, approve by 62 percent a $40 million bond issue to build a domed, multipurpose stadium. The Kingdome, being built between 1972 and 1976, would operate from 1976 until its demolition in 2000.
  • February 13 – The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers execute a four-player trade, with Tom Haller one of the two players going to Los Angeles and Ron Hunt one of the two going to San Francisco. The trade is the first between the two clubs since their move to the West Coast, and also the first since the one that would have sent Jackie Robinson from the Brooklyn Dodgers to the New York Giants after the 1956 season, but he retired rather than report with his new team.






  • September 14 – Denny McLain becomes the first 30-game winner since Dizzy Dean in 1934 as the Detroit Tigers beat the Oakland Athletics, 5–4, at Detroit's Tiger Stadium. Reggie Jackson's home run in the 4th puts the A's ahead 2–0, but Norm Cash answers with a three-run shot. Jackson hits another in the 6th, but the Tigers push across two in the 9th to win. Al Kaline, pinch hitting for McLain, walks and scores the tying run. McLain, who posted a 31–6 record in the regular season, gives up six hits and strikes out 10.
  • September 15 – The St. Louis Cardinals clinch the National League pennant with a 7–4 win at the Astrodome over the host Houston Astros. Roger Maris hits his 275th, and last, regular-season home run off Don Wilson in the 3rd inning, and Curt Flood racks up five hits.
  • September 17 – Gaylord Perry of the San Francisco Giants hurls a no-hitter at Candlestick Park as the Giants edge the visiting St. Louis Cardinals and Bob Gibson, 1–0. Ron Hunt's first-inning home run (the second of the only two he will hit on the season and one of only 11 Gibson will allow in 30423 innings) backs Perry, who evens his record at 14–14.
  • September 18 – Sixteen hours after Perry's feat, Ray Washburn of the St. Louis Cardinals makes major league history by hurling a second consecutive no-hitter in the same park. Run-scoring hits by Mike Shannon and Curt Flood at Candlestick down the Giants, 2–0. This is the first time in history back-to-back no hitters have been pitched between the same two teams on two consecutive days.
  • September 22 – Minnesota Twins utility player César Tovar plays all nine positions, an inning each, against the Oakland Athletics. Duplicating the feat that Bert Campaneris performed three years earlier, Tovar tops Campy by starting as pitcher and allows no hits or runs, for a 0.00 earned run average. In the inning, the first man to face Tovar was Campaneris, who fouls out. Tovar then strikes out slugger Reggie Jackson. Tovar is charged with a walk and a balk in the scoreless inning; his other contributions to the 2-1 Minnesota win include a single, a walk, a stolen base and a run scored. He makes five putouts and an assist, with no fielding errors.
  • September 28 – Mickey Mantle plays in his 2,401st and final game, eight days after hitting his last home run ending his career with 536.
  • September 29


  • October 2 – For the first time in history, two soon-to-be-named MVPs oppose each other in Game One of the 1968 World Series. St. Louis Cardinals' Bob Gibson is nearly untouchable with a Series-record 17 strikeouts and a 4–0 win over Denny McLain and the Detroit Tigers. Detroit manager Mayo Smith moves Gold Glove outfielder Mickey Stanley to shortstop, improving his offense by opening a spot for Al Kaline.
  • October 10 – In Game Seven of the World Series, Mickey Lolich of the Detroit Tigers, pitching on two days rest, wins his third game of the Series as he beats Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals, 4–1. Lolich brings Detroit its first World Championship since 1945. Lolich hurls a five-hitter, and is named Series MVP. Key moments came in the 6th inning when Lolich picks Lou Brock and Curt Flood off first base to keep the score 0–0. With the game scoreless in the 7th, the Tigers have two on and two out when Jim Northrup hits a line drive to center field. Gold-glover Flood misjudges the ball and starts in, allowing the ball to sail over his head for a triple. Northrup then scores on Bill Freehan's double for a 3–0 lead. Each team adds a 9th inning run to account for the 4–1 final score. It is the first time the Cardinals have ever lost a 7th game of a World Series. The Tigers become only the 3rd team to rally from a 3–1 deficit to win the Series 4 games to 3 (the 1925 Pirates and 1958 Yankees are the first two). The Tigers become the last team to win the championship between two first-place teams from leagues without division play where the pennant is automatically awarded to the team with the best won-lost record in its league.
  • October 21 – After two seasons with the Boston Red Sox, All-Star catcher Elston Howard announces his retirement.









  • January 26 – Eddie Phillips, 66, catcher for the Boston Braves, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees, Washington Senators, and Cleveland Indians between 1924 and 1935
  • February 7 – Ollie Marquardt, 65, second baseman for the 1931 Boston Red Sox; later a successfully minor league manager
  • February 11 – Dorothea Downs, (?), All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player
  • February 26 – Rip Collins, 72, a four-sport star at Texas A&M University, who pitched in the American League for the New Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Browns from 1920 to 1931, and also was a member of the 1921 AL champion Yankees team
  • February 29 – Lena Blackburne, 81, infielder, manager and coach in almost a 30-year baseball career, who also originated the idea of rubing mud on new baseballs to remove their slippery finish
  • March 30 – Bernie Hungling, 72, catcher for the Brooklyn Robins and St. Louis Browns between 1922 and 1930


  • April 19 – Tommy Bridges, 61, 6-time All-Star pitcher who won 194 games for the Detroit Tigers, including three 20-win seasons and a 4–1 World Series record
  • April 26 – John Kroner, 57, second baseman for the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians in the 1930s
  • April 29 – Terris McDuffie, 57, Negro League pitcher in a long career that spanned from 1930 through 1954, playing for several teams in different leagues across the United States, Canada and Latin America
  • May 5 - Chippy Gaw, 76, pitcher for the 1920 Chicago Cubs
  • May 26 – Doc Ayers, 78, spitball pitcher for the Washington Senators and Detroit Tigers
  • June 11 – Dan Boone, 73, a pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics, Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians from 1920 through 1923
  • June 11 – Bill Regan, 69, second baseman for the Boston Red Sox, who became the first player in the team's history to hit two home runs in the same inning (1928), a mark only matched by Ellis Burks 62 years later
  • June 15 – Sam Crawford, 88, Hall of Fame right fielder for the Tigers, a lifetime .309 hitter who hit a record 312 triples, led both leagues in home runs, and retired with the 5th-most RBI in history


  • July 3 – Pat Simmons, 59, pitcher who played from 1928 to 1929 for the Boston Red Sox
  • July 8 – Dusty Boggess, 64, NL umpire for 18 seasons from 1944 to 1962 who worked in four World Series
  • July 27 – Babe Adams, 86, pitcher who won 194 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates; the only member of their championship teams in both 1909 and 1925, he won three games in the 1909 World Series
  • August 22 – Heinie Groh, 78, third baseman for the New York Giants and Cincinnati Reds who led the NL in hits, runs and walks once each and in doubles twice, widely known for his "bottle bat"
  • August 24 – Dolly Stark, 70, NL umpire for 12 seasons (1928–1935, 1937–1940) who worked in 2 World Series, later became broadcaster.
  • August 29 – Paul Howard, 84, outfielder for the 1909 Boston Red Sox
  • September 3 – Tony DeFate, 68, Infielder for both the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers in 1917.
  • September 14 – Hans Lobert, 86, third baseman for five National League clubs from 1903 to 1917, and later a coach, manager and scout between 1920 and 1944
  • September 25 – Ken Holloway, 71, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees between 1922 and 1930
  • September 26 – Bud Clancy, 68, first baseman who played from 1924 through 1934 for the Chicago White Sox, Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies


  • October 21 – Jack Killilay, 81, pitcher for the 1911 Boston Red Sox
  • November 3 – Vern Stephens, 48, 8-time All-Star shortstop who led the AL in RBI three times and in home runs once
  • November 5 – Wally Mattick, 81, center fielder for the Chicago White Sox from 1912 to 1913, briefly with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1918
  • November 17 – Earl Hamilton, 77, pitcher with the St. Louis Browns and Pittsburgh Pirates, later a minor league team owner
  • December 4 – Emil Yde, 68, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers
  • December 6 – Fats Jenkins, 70, All-Star left fielder of the Negro Leagues
  • December 8 – Benn Karr, 75, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians in the 1920s
  • December 17 – Hank Severeid, 77, catcher for the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators and New York Yankees between 1911 and 1926, hitting .289 in 1,390 games
  • December 24 – Johnnie Heving, 72, a catcher for the St. Louis Browns, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Athletics between 1920 and 1932


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "1968: Year of the Pitcher". thisgreatgame.com. Archived from the original on December 24, 2011. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  2. Rushin, Steve (July 19, 1993). "The Season Of High Heat". Sports Illustrated: 1. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  3. "Expanded strike zone unveiled". The Press-Courier. Associated Press. March 8, 1963. p. 9. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  4. "Denny McLain becomes a 30-game winner". history.com. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  5. "McLain Says Lower Mound Will Take Toll of Pitchers". The Telegraph-Herald. Associated Press. January 14, 1969. p. 13. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  6. Detroit Tigers 14, Cleveland Indians 3. Game played at Cleveland Stadium. Baseball Reference. Box Score and Play by Play. Retrieved on June 24, 2017.
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