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1959 Baseball News and Highlights

On October 19 the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed appeals to halt plans by Los Angeles to deed Chavez Ravine land for a $12 million, 52,000-seat stadium for the Dodgers.

Branch Rickey, former official of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers, and St. Louis Cardinals, was named by the new Continental League to be its first president.

Branch Rickey
Branch Rickey

The New York City Board of Estimate approved a $170,000 appropriation on October 22 for preliminary plans for a $15 million stadium at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens for the new Continental League's New York club.

Former Dodgers star Zach Wheat was chosen for enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Major Leagues

On March 10, William Veeck, as head of a syndicate, bought a 54 per cent controlling interest in the Chicago White Sox from Dorothy Comiskey Rigney for $2.7 million.

The Washington Senators beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-2 in the opening game of the 1959 season, on April 9.

All-Star Games

For the first time in Major League Baseball history, two All-Star Games were played in one year.

The National League defeated the American League, 5-4, in the 26th Major League All-Star Game, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on July 7. Johnny Antonelli of the San Francisco Giants was the winning pitcher, and Whitey Ford of the New York Yankees the loser. Eddie Mathews of the Milwaukee Braves hit a home run for the winners, and Al Kaline of the Detroit Tigers hit one for the losers.

The second All-Star Game was played in the Los Angeles Coliseum on August 3, and this time the American League defeated the National League, 5-3. Jerry Young of the Baltimore Orioles was the winning pitcher, Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers got the loss. Two of the American League runs were scored off a homer by New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra. Rocky Colavito of the Cleveland Indians and Frank Malzone of the Boston Red Sox also hit homers for the American League, and Jim Gilliam of the Dodgers and Frankie Robinson of the Cincinnati Reds homered for the National League.

Final Standings

  W L Pct GB
Chicago White Sox 94 60 .610 ---
Cleveland Indians 89 65 .578 5
New York Yankees 79 73 .513 15
Detroit Tigers 76 78 .494 18
Boston Red Sox 75 79 .487 19
Baltimore Orioles 74 80 .481 20
Kansas City Athletics 66 88 .429 28
Washington Senators 63 91 .409 31
  W L Pct GB
Los Angeles Dodgers 88 68 .564 ---
Milwaukee Braves 86 70 .551 2
San Francisco Giants 83 71 .539 4
Pittsburgh Pirates 78 76 .506 9
Chicago Cubs 74 80 .481 13
Cincinnati Reds 74 80 .481 13
St. Louis Cardinals 71 83 .461 16
Philadelphia Phillies 64 90 .416 23

The Chicago White Sox clinched the American League pennant by beating the Cleveland Indians, 4-2, at Cleveland on September 21. It was the first pennant for the White Sox in 40 years, the longest drought in American League history.

The White Sox celebrate their clinching of the American League pennant.
the White Sox clinch the pennant

For the third time in 84 years the National League found it necessary to have a play-off to determine its champion, as both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Milwaukee Braves had ended the regular season with 86-68 records. The two teams met first in Milwaukee's County Stadium and next in the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Dodgers won two straight games, with the game on September 29 giving them the National League championship.

World Series

Between October 1 and 8, the Dodgers won the World Series 4 games to 2 over the White Sox. The series set a total attendance record of 420,784 as well as an individual game attendance record. Receipts reached a record total of $2,626,073.44, and the players' pool set a record mark of $892,365.04. Dodgers players received $11,231.18 each and each White Sox player received $7,275.17.

Dodgers Manager Walter Alston (left) and coach Charlie Dressen celebrate their team's winning of the
World Series.

Dodgers celebrate World Series win

Game 1 ended in an 11-0 victory for the White Sox, thanks in part to two home runs by Ted Kluszewski.
Games 2, 3, and 4 were taken by the Dodgers, 4-3, 3-1, and 5-4, respectively, with relief pitcher Larry Sherry playing a major part in all three games.
Game 5 saw the White Sox stay alive in the Series with a 1-0 shut-out of the Dodgers that required the combined pitching talents of Bob Shaw, Billy Pierce, and Dick Donovan.
Game 6, and the Series win, went to the Dodgers, thanks to a six-run fourth inning (for a final score of 9-3).

A World Series record was set by Dodger Chuck Essegian when he became the only player to that time to get two pinch-hit home runs. Ted Kluszewski and Gil Hodges (of the Dodgers) led their teams in batting during the Series, each getting nine hits in 23 appearances for marks of .391. The ptching star of the Series was Larry Sherry, who pitched a total of 12-2/3 innings, gave up only eight hits and one run, and had an earned-run average of 0.71.

Individual Performance Leaders

Early Wynn of the White Sox won the Cy Young Award on October 29. He topped the Majors with a total of 22 wins.

The Baseball Writers Association voted its Most Valuable Player Awards to Ernie Banks (Chicago) in the National League and Nellie Fox in the American League.

Rookie of the Year Awards went to Bob Allison (Washington) in the American League and Willie McCovey (San Francisco) in the National League.

On May 26 pitching history was made when Pittsburgh Pirate southpaw Harvey Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings only to lose the game by giving up two hits in the 13th.

Home Runs Harmon Killebrew (Washington) and Rocky Colavito (Cleveland) -- 42   Ernie Banks (Chicago) and Ed Mathews (Milwaukee) -- 45*
Batting Harvey Kuenn (Detroit) -- .353   Hank Aaron (Milwaukee) -- .355
Runs Batted In Jackie Jensen (Boston) -- 112   Ernie Banks -- 143
Earned-Run Average Hoyt Wilhelm (Baltimore) -- 2.19   Sam Jones (San Francisco) -- 2.82
Win-Loss Record Bob Shaw (Chicago) -- 18-6   Sam Jones, Warren Spahn (Milwaukee), and Lew Burdette (Milwaukee) -- 21-15

*Banks ended up with home run crown for 1959 thanks to a homer in the first National League play-off game, giving him 46 homers in 1959.

In the Year 1959
Frankie Robinson
Hank Aaron

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This page was last updated on August 30, 2017.