The 1968 Major League Baseball season was contested from April 10 to October 10, 1968. It was the last season of the traditional two-league system before each of the leagues were split into divisions for the following season. It featured the most dominant pitching year of the modern era, and the first season of the Oakland Athletics (having moved from Kansas City after the 1967 season). The 1968 season was the last year of baseball's pre-playoffs era, in which the team that finished in first place in each league went directly to the World Series to face each other for the "World Championship." Following the addition of expansion teams in 1961 and 1962, the regular season was extended from 154 games to 162 games. In order to maintain a 162-game season, a playoff system was developed following the addition of expansion teams in 1969.
|1968 MLB season|
|League||Major League Baseball|
|Duration||April 10 – October 10, 1968|
|Top draft pick||Tim Foli|
|Picked by||New York Mets|
|Season MVP||AL: Denny McLain (DET)|
NL: Bob Gibson (STL)
|AL champions||Detroit Tigers|
|AL runners-up||Baltimore Orioles|
|NL champions||St. Louis Cardinals|
|NL runners-up||San Francisco Giants|
|Runners-up||St. Louis Cardinals|
|Finals MVP||Mickey Lolich (DET)|
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", Bob Gibson set a modern earned run average record of 1.12 and a World Series record of 17 strikeouts in Game 1, while 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. Don Drysdale of the L.A. Dodgers pitched 6 consecutive shutout games in May and June, ending with 58 2/3 scoreless innings. Mickey Lolich won three complete games in the World Series, the last player as of today 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 (since broken by Pedro Martinez in 2000 (.167)). Both MVPs for that year were pitchers.
In the American League and National League combined, 339 shutouts were recorded in 1,619 regular-season games. The St. Louis Cardinals alone pitched 30 shutouts, the most in the Majors. The 472 runs allowed by the Cardinals led the MLB that year and remains the lowest total ever recorded by any Major League team in a 162-game season.
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 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. The Chicago White Sox scored only 463 runs during the regular season and were shut out a league-high 23 times. Both those totals are still all-time records in the era of the 162-game season.
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. Four expansion teams joined the majors. 1969 batting averages returned to their historical averages and never again would pitching have as large a statistical average over batting in the major leagues.
|Boston Red Sox||86||76||.531||17|
|New York Yankees||83||79||.512||20|
|Chicago White Sox||67||95||.414||36|
|St. Louis Cardinals||97||65||.599||–|
|San Francisco Giants||88||74||.543||9|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||76||86||.469||21|
|New York Mets||73||89||.451||24|
The 1968 Atlanta Braves season was the third season in Atlanta and the 98th overall season of the franchise. The team went 81-81 in the final season of play before both the American and National Leagues were split into divisions the following season.1968 Baltimore Orioles season
The 1968 Baltimore Orioles season was a season in American baseball. The team finished second in the American League with a record of 91 wins and 71 losses, 12 games behind the AL and World Series champion Detroit Tigers. The team was managed by Hank Bauer, until he was replaced right after the All-Star break by Earl Weaver. The Orioles' home games were played at Memorial Stadium.
Following the season, it was announced that the American League, along with the National League, would be split into two divisions for the 1969 season in order to accommodate the admittance of two new franchises to each league. The Orioles were assigned to the new American League East division.1968 Boston Red Sox season
The 1968 Boston Red Sox season was the 68th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished fourth in the American League (AL) with a record of 86 wins and 76 losses, 17 games behind the AL and World Series champion Detroit Tigers.1968 California Angels season
The 1968 California Angels season involved the Angels finishing 8th in the American League with a record of 67 wins and 95 losses.1968 Chicago Cubs season
The 1968 Chicago Cubs season was the 97th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 93rd in the National League and the 53rd at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished third in the National League with a record of 84–78.1968 Chicago White Sox season
The 1968 Chicago White Sox season was the team's 68th season in the major leagues, and its 69th season overall. They finished with a record 67–95, good enough for eighth place in the American League, 36 games behind the first-place Detroit Tigers.1968 Cincinnati Reds season
The 1968 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. It consisted of the Reds finishing in fourth in the National League, with a record of 83–79, 14 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds were managed by Dave Bristol and played their home games at Crosley Field. The team had 5,767 at bats, a single season National League record.1968 Houston Astros season
The 1968 Houston Astros season was a season in American baseball. It involved the Astros finishing in tenth place in the National League, with a record of 72–90, 25 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. The Astros also hosted the 1968 MLB All-Star Game at the Astrodome, with the NL defeating the AL, 1–0.1968 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The 1968 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 39th playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball.
The game was held on July 9, 1968, at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas the home of the Houston Astros of the National League, making this the first All-Star Game to be played indoors. The game resulted in the National League defeating the American League 1–0. It is the only All-Star Game ever played without a run batted in (RBI).
This was the first night All-Star Game since 1944. Apart from the 1969 game (which was originally scheduled to be played at night but was postponed to the following afternoon due to rain), all subsequent All-Star Games have been played at night.1968 Major League Baseball draft
The 1968 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft took place prior to the 1968 MLB season. The draft saw the New York Mets take shortstop Tim Foli first overall.1968 Major League Baseball expansion draft
The 1968 Major League Baseball expansion draft was conducted to stock up the rosters of four expansion teams in Major League Baseball created via the 1969 Major League Baseball expansion and which would begin play in the 1969 season.
The expansion draft for the Montreal Expos and the San Diego Padres was held on October 14, 1968. The expansion draft for the Kansas City Royals and the Seattle Pilots was held on October 15, 1968.1968 Minnesota Twins season
The 1968 Minnesota Twins season was a season in American baseball. The team finished 79–83, seventh in the American League.1968 New York Mets season
The 1968 New York Mets season was the seventh regular season for the Mets. They went 73–89 and finished 9th in the National League. They were managed by Gil Hodges. They played home games at Shea Stadium.1968 New York Yankees season
The 1968 New York Yankees season was the 66th season for the team in New York, and its 68th season overall. The team finished above .500 for the first time since 1964, with a record of 83–79, finishing 20 games behind the Detroit Tigers. New York was managed by Ralph Houk. The Yankees played at Yankee Stadium. The 1968 season was notable for being Mickey Mantle's final season before he announced his retirement the following spring. The Yankees batted .214 as a team, the lowest total ever for the live-ball era (as of 2017).1968 San Francisco Giants season
The 1968 San Francisco Giants season was the Giants' 86th year in Major League Baseball, their eleventh year in San Francisco since their move from New York following the 1957 season, and their ninth at Candlestick Park. The team finished in second place in the National League with an 88–74 record, 9 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.1968 St. Louis Cardinals season
The 1968 St. Louis Cardinals season was the team's 87th season in St. Louis, Missouri and its 77th season in the National League. The Cardinals went 97–65 during the season, winning their second consecutive NL pennant, this time by nine games over the San Francisco Giants. They lost in 7 games to the Detroit Tigers in the 1968 World Series. The Cardinals would not return to postseason until 1982.
Following the season, Major League Baseball announced plans to split both the National and American Leagues into East and West divisions starting with the 1969 season in order to accommodate the inclusion of two new franchises to each league. The Cardinals were assigned to the new National League East division. Originally, the Cardinals were placed in the National League West division. However, the New York Mets, wanting to compensate for the loss of home games against the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, desired three extra games against the Cardinals, the two-time defending NL champions. The Cardinals were thus moved to the National League East division along with the Chicago Cubs, who wished to maintain their long-standing rivalry with the Cardinals. The Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds were correspondingly shifted to the National League West despite both being east of St. Louis and Chicago, a configuration maintained until 1993.1968 Washington Senators season
The 1968 Washington Senators season involved the Senators finishing 10th in the American League with a record of 65 wins and 96 losses.Catfish Hunter's perfect game
On May 8, 1968, Jim "Catfish" Hunter of the Oakland Athletics pitched the ninth perfect game in Major League Baseball history, defeating the Minnesota Twins 4-0 at Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum.
Hunter struck out 11 batters, including the last two batters he faced: Bruce Look and pinch-hitter Rich Reese. He also struck out Harmon Killebrew all three times the two future Hall-of-Famers faced each other. Only two batters got to a three-ball count: Tony Oliva in the second inning, who reached a 3-0 count before striking out, and pinch hitter Rich Reese, who fouled off five consecutive 3-2 pitches before striking out to end the game.Hunter relied mostly on his fastball during the game, only disagreeing with catcher Jim Pagliaroni's pitch-calling decisions twice. As a measure of his appreciation for his catcher's contribution to the perfect game, Hunter rewarded Pagliaroni with a gold watch that he had inscribed on back. Only 6,298 fans showed up for the evening contest.
The perfect game was the American League's first regular season perfect game since Charlie Robertson's perfect game in 1922, as well as the first no-hitter in the Athletics' Oakland history, which was in only its 25th game after the franchise had moved from Kansas City, Missouri, its home from 1955 to 1967. Bill McCahan had pitched the Athletics' last no-hitter in 1947; the franchise was then based in Philadelphia.
One of the best hitting pitchers of his time, Hunter also helped his own cause by batting in three of the four Oakland runs. In the bottom of the seventh inning, his bunt single scored Rick Monday to break a scoreless tie. One inning later, with the Athletics leading 2-0, he singled to score Pagliaroni and Monday.
As of 2017, Hunter is the youngest pitcher to pitch a modern-era perfect game, at 22 years, 30 days old.
1968 MLB season by team