February 28 – Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees ends his holdout after one day. Mantle agrees to a salary of $72,000 and a bonus of $2,000. He had been asking the Yankees for $85,000 after batting .304 with 42 home runs and 97 RBI in 1958.
April 11 – On Opening Day, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale hits a home run, becoming the only pitcher to hit more than one career homer in opening games. Drysdale's historic blast doesn't prevent the Dodgers from losing their game, 6–1, to the Chicago Cubs.
April 22 – The Chicago White Sox defeat the Kansas City Athletics 20–6 at Municipal Stadium. The White Sox score 11 of those runs in a wild seventh inning in which they collect only one hit.Ray Boone and Al Smith lead off the inning by reaching on errors. Johnny Callison then collects the hit, a single that scores Boone; on the play, Smith scores and Callison reaches third on a Roger Maris error. Eight of the next nine runs score on ten bases on balls; Callison is hit by a pitch to force in the remaining run.
May 20 – The New York Yankees lose to the Detroit Tigers 13–6 at Yankee Stadium, the loss dropping the New Yorkers to last place in the American League—their first time in the cellar since May 23, 1940. The Yankees had won nine pennants over the previous ten years, as well as winning 103 games in 1954, the one year in that stretch when they didn't win the pennant (that year, they finished second to the Cleveland Indians, who won 111). The Yankees will battle back this year but finish in 3rd place, 15 games behind the pennant-winning White Sox.
June 30 – The St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs are involved in a bizarre play at Wrigley Field in which two balls are in play at the same time. With one out in the fourth inning, Stan Musial is at the plate with a 3–1 count. The next pitch from the Cubs’ Bob Anderson evades catcher Sammy Taylor and rolls to the backstop. Home plate umpire Vic Delmore calls ball four on Musial, much to the chagrin of Anderson and Taylor, both of whom argue that Musial had foul tipped the ball. With the ball still in play and Delmore arguing with both Anderson and Taylor, Musial attempts to run for second. Meanwhile, Cubs third baseman Alvin Dark runs to the backstop and retrieves the ball despite it having ended up in the hands of field announcer Pat Pieper. However, Delmore unknowingly pulls out a new ball and gives it to Taylor. Anderson sees Musial attempting to advance to second and throws the ball to second baseman Tony Taylor, only for it to sail into the outfield. At the same time, Dark throws the original ball to shortstop Ernie Banks. Musial sees Anderson's ball go over Tony Taylor's head and attempts to advance to third, unaware that Dark's throw has reached Banks, who tags Musial. After a delay, Musial is declared out. Both teams play the game under protest; the Cardinals drop theirs after defeating the Cubs 4–1.
September 28–29 – The L.A. Dodgers and Milwaukee Braves finish the NL regular schedule in a tie and the Dodgers defeat the Braves in a best-of-three playoff series 3–2 and 6–5 (12) to reach the World Series.
October 8 – The Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the Chicago White Sox, 9–3, in Game 6 of the World Series to win their second World Championship, and first since moving to Los Angeles, four games to two. The Dodgers have an 8–0 lead after 4 innings and hold on despite Ted Kluszewski's 3-run home run. The round-tripper gives the slugger a new 6-game RBI record of 10. Chicago's Chuck Essegian hits his second pinch HR to establish a new record, later equalled by Bernie Carbo of the Boston Red Sox in 1975. This was the first pennant for the White Sox since the Black Sox scandal, 40 years earlier. It marked the first Championship for a West Coast team. It was the first ever World Series in which no pitcher for either team pitched a complete game. Dodgers pitcher Larry Sherry was named MVP.
Branch Rickey launched another effort to form a third major baseball circuit, the Continental League. Rickey says that the cities of Buffalo, Montreal, Atlanta and Dallas-Ft. Worth are still in the running for the remaining two franchises.
January 14 – John Ganzel, 84, player-manager who played at first base for five major league teams in seven seasons and for several minor league clubs in 14 seasons, managing also the 1908 Cincinnati Reds and during 16 seasons in the minors, while being credited as the first player to hit one home run in the New York Yankees franchise history as a member of the 1903 New York Highlanders.
April 17 – Fred Brainard, 67, corner infielder and shortstop for the New York Giants in a span of three seasons from 1914–16, who later played and managed for the Newark Bears of the International League.
May 3 – Willy Fetzer, 74, three-sport college athlete and head coach during more than a decade, who also played professional baseball with the Philadelphia Athletics of the American League in 1906, and six seasons in Minor League Baseball spanning 1905–1910.
May 25 – Dave Brain, 80, English-born third baseman and shortstop whose career spanned only seven years, playing for seven poor clubs and hitting a subpar .252/.292/.363 batting line in 679 games, but saving himself from anonymity by leading the National League with 10 home runs in 1907, to become an early home run king.
July 16 – Bob Coleman, 68, player, coach and manager whose career included managing in Minor League Baseball for 35 seasons between 1919 and 1957, while serving as a backup catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians in parts of three seasons spanning 1913–1916, later coaching with the Boston Red Sox in 1926 and 1928 and the Detroit Tigers in 1932, starting the 1943 season as the interim replacement for Casey Stengel as manager of the Boston Braves, then finishing the year as a coach following Stengel's return, and managing full time from 1944–1945, before returning to the minors and win eight pennants and four championships with the Evansville Braves of Class-B Three-I League, retiring with the most victories (2,496) of any manager in Minor League history, before being surpassed by Stan Wasiak (2,530).
July 21 – Bill Hoffer, 88, 19th century pitcher who played for the Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Blues in a span of six seasons between 1895 and 1901, going 31-6 in his rookie season and leading the National League in W-L% (.838), while the Orioles won the pennant, and followed up with two more good seasons, posting a 25-7 record and a best W-L% (.781) in 1896 and 22-11 in 1897, as Baltimore won the pennant again in 1896 and finished a close second place in 1897.
December 11 – Doc Marshall, 84, backup catcher who played for seven teams over parts of four seasons from 1904–1909, being a member of the 1908 Chicago Cubs club that won the National League pennant, but he did not play in the World Series.
The 1959 Asian Baseball Championship was the third continental tournament held by the Baseball Federation of Asia. The tournament was held in Tokyo, Japan for the first time. It was the second time Japan had won the tournament, and was the second of what would be three consecutive Asian Championship wins in a row. South Korea (2nd), Taiwan (3rd) and Philippines (4th) were the other participants.
The eleventh edition of the Caribbean Series (Serie del Caribe) was played in 1959. It was held from February 10 through February 15 with the champions teams from Cuba (Almendares), Panama (Coclé), Puerto Rico (Santurce) and Venezuela (Oriente). The format consisted of 12 games, each team facing the other teams twice. The games were played at UCV Stadium in Caracas, Venezuela, which boosted capacity to 35.000 seats, and the first pitch was thrown by Edgar Sanabria, by then the President of Venezuela.
The 1959 Claxton Shield was the 20th annual Claxton Shield, it was held in Melbourne, Victoria. It was originally scheduled for Perth, Western Australia, but when teams hinted at pulling out of the Shield that year due to travel costs, the venue was moved. The participants were South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland. The series was won by South Australia, claiming their fifth Shield title.
The 1959 Little League World Series took place from August 25 through August 29 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The Hamtramck National Little League of Hamtramck, Michigan, defeated the West Auburn Little League of Auburn, California, in the championship game of the 13th Little League World Series. Hamtramck became the first team from the United States to win a championship since foreign teams were allowed to participate beginning in 1957. As of 2019, Hamtramck is the only team from Michigan to win the Little League World Series.
This was the first year that the LLWS was played at Howard J. Lamade Stadium. Two-time defending champion Monterrey, Mexico, was ruled ineligible to compete due to violations of player residency requirements.
The 1959 Pan American Games were the first Pan American Games held in the United States and the third ever. They were held at Comiskey Park and Wrigley Field in Chicago from August 27 through September 7. They were the only Pan Am Games (through 2015) won by Venezuela.
Venezuela went 6-1 to claim the title. The team was managed by José Antonio Casanova and featured future big leaguer Dámaso Blanco. Infielder José Flores led the event with three triples while Manuel Pérez Bolaños was 2-0 on the mound, as was 18-year-old Luis Peñalver, about to embark on a 19-year Minor League career, mostly in AAA.
Puerto Rico won Silver, thanks to a 5-1 record. Irmo Figueroa led the competition in average (.500) while Carlos Pizarro had the most hits (12). R. Vazquez led in RBI (10) and tied for the home run lead with 2.
United States won Bronze at 4-3; their 3-2 win over Cuba helped them lock up the Medal. An A. Hall, presumably Alan Hall, tied for the homer lead with two. Charles Davis had the best ERA (0.69). Lou Brock was 1 for 10.
Cuba had a very disappointing tourney, going 2-4 and failing to take a medal, a contrast with the upcoming state-sponsored Fidel Castro era teams that breached the amateur code and won 10 Pan Am Games Gold Medals in a row. Urbano Gonzalez hit .353 and Pedro Chavez was 5 for 9.
Mexico was 5th at 3-2. Roberto Coto led the event with 5 doubles. Mauro Ruiz went 2-0, the only non-Venezuelan to post that record.
Costa Rica had one of their best events ever, going 3-3 to finish 6th. They were followed by Nicaragua (7th, 2-4) and Dominican Republic (8th, 2-3). Brazil pulled up the rear, losing all six of their games.
On May 26, 1959, at Milwaukee County Stadium, Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched a perfect game for 12 innings against the Milwaukee Braves, but lost the game in the 13th. His perfect game bid was broken up in the bottom of the 13th by a throwing error; he would lose the no-hitter, and the game with it, on a Joe Adcock hit (a baserunning mistake caused it to be changed from a 3-run home run to a 1-run double) later in the inning.
Braves starter Lew Burdette, despite giving up eight hits through nine innings, was pitching a shutout of his own. Three times, the Pirates came close to scoring the winning run for Haddix. In the third inning, a baserunning blunder by Don Hoak negated three consecutive singles; in the ninth, Bill Virdon, after reaching base on a hit with one out, advanced to third on Rocky Nelson's single; however, Bob Skinner grounded back to Burdette the threat. In the 10th inning, with the Pirates still not having scored, pinch-hitter Dick Stuart flied out to center fielder Andy Pafko on a ball that came within a few feet of a two-run home run. The Pirates also recorded hits in the 11th, 12th and 13th innings, but left a runner on base in the latter two innings.
Félix Mantilla, who entered the game in the 11th after Del Rice had pinch-hit for Johnny O'Brien, was the Braves' first hitter in the 13th inning. He hit a ground ball to third baseman Hoak, who fielded the ball cleanly but threw wide to first, pulling Nelson off the base. Mantilla was then sacrificed to second by Eddie Mathews. Haddix, his perfect game bid gone but his no-hit bid still intact, then intentionally walked Hank Aaron to set up a double play situation for Adcock, who had already grounded out twice earlier in the game, striking out the other two times. Adcock hit a fly ball to deep right-center field, just beyond the reach of right fielder Joe Christopher, who was making his Major League debut (he replaced Román Mejías in right field after Stuart had pinch-hit for Mejías), for an apparent home run, the ball landing between the outfield fence and another fence behind it, in front of a line of pine trees. Mantilla rounded third and touched home plate for the winning run; however, in the confusion, Aaron saw the ball hit the second fence but did not realize it had carried over the first and, thinking that the game had ended when Mantilla scored the winning run, rounded second and headed for the dugout. Adcock rounded the bases, running out his home run. First base umpire Frank Dascoli ruled that the final score was 2-0; he was overruled by National League president Warren Giles, who changed Adcock's home run to a double and declared that only Mantilla's run counted for a final score of 1-0. In addition to Stuart being used as a pinch-hitter, two other Pirate regulars did not play in this game: Dick Groat, who would win the 1960 National League Most Valuable Player Award, was mired in a slump and had been benched, and Roberto Clemente was sidelined with a sore shoulder.
In 1989, during a banquet attended by players from both teams commemorating the game's 30th anniversary, Milwaukee pitcher Bob Buhl told Haddix that the Braves' bullpen had stolen Smoky Burgess' signs, the Pittsburgh catcher exposing them due to a high crouch. From their bullpen, the Braves pitchers repeatedly repositioned a towel to signal for a fastball or a breaking ball, the only two pitches Haddix used in the game. If a fastball was coming, the towel was made visible to the batter; if a breaking pitch was coming, the towel was out of sight. Despite this assistance, the usually solid Milwaukee offense managed only the one hit. All but one Milwaukee hitter, Aaron, took the signals. Haddix's 12 2/3-inning complete game, in which he struck out eight batters against the team that had just won the previous two National League pennants (including winning the 1957 World Series), and featured one of the top offensive lineups in the Major Leagues, is considered by many to be the best pitching performance in Major League history. Pirate second baseman Bill Mazeroski would say, "Usually you have one or two great or spectacular defensive plays in these no-hitters. Not that night. It was the easiest game I ever played in." In 1991, Major League Baseball changed the definition of a no-hitter to "a game in which a pitcher or pitchers complete a game of nine innings or more without allowing a hit." Under this new definition, Haddix's masterpiece was one of 12 extra-inning no-hitters to be struck from the record books. Haddix's response was, "It's O.K. I know what I did." Haddix's near-perfect game is immortalized by the Baseball Project, whose song, Harvey Haddix, appears on their debut album, 2008's Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails.
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