The 1950’s
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The 1950’s

Two things characterized baseball in the ’Fifties: new markets and home runs. The markets (Dallas, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Washington, D.C.) were filled by expansion teams and a restless franchise that fled its longtime home, while the home runs were provided by a young crop of free-swinging behemoths. Both developments served to keep baseball moderately healthy during a decade of difficult challenges.

Attendance had boomed in the immediate aftermath of WWII but went into a steep decline in some Eastern markets in the ’50’s. Television brought baseball into people’s living rooms, which was good for attracting new fans but not always good for enticing them to visit the ballpark; many teams responded by blacking out all or the majority of their home games.

Night baseball had become a mixed blessing as well; scheduling games during times when most people were off work had the desired affect in the previous two decades, but by the 1950’s many teams were playing in old, crumbling ballparks located in neighborhoods many people felt were no longer safe to navigate after dusk. The Buffalo Beavers, unable to persuade the city to spring for a new park in a less crime-ridden section of town, sought and received permission from the league to relocate to Texas and become the Dallas Wranglers in 1955. The Philadelphia Quakers took advantage of a more receptive city council and opened up Quaker Stadium a year later. Over these same two years the Kansas City Bulls, Washington Rough Riders, Milwaukee Dairymen, and Twin Cities Northmen began life playing in attractive, brand new facilities.

The dramatic increase in home runs during the 1920’s had been accompanied by a clear increase in attendance, but the even more explosive home run boom of the 1950’s produced hazier results. Perhaps the power increase served to prevent attendance in the older venues from decreasing even more than it did. In any event, the sluggers who challenged or broke existing home run records almost annually during this decade became the game’s most popular stars.


The AABC was now the ABL—the American Baseball League—the streamlined name being a further indication that the two leagues were becoming more and more two halves a larger whole. Nominally, however, they were still separate entities, and each retained the right to make decisions without the other’s support, but the days of non-cooperation already seemed a thing of the past by 1950.

All four divisional races were still highly competitive as late as the All-Star break, but Pittsburgh pulled away soon after and held a double-digit lead over Philadelphia in the NBL East by mid-July; the Industrials eventually finished 12 games ahead of second-place Buffalo. In the NBL West Detroit was still within five games of Chicago in early September, but the Traders, compiling the best record in baseball at 102-60, ultimately bested the Wolverines by 11 games. Seattle took advantage of a hot second half to blow past San Francisco and end the Seagulls’ four-year reign atop the ABL West, topping them by 13 games, while in the East a tight three-team race between Baltimore, Boston, and Toronto lasted into late August before the Lords fell back to the pack. The Terriers topped the Hurons by a single game to repeat as division champions.

The All-Star Game was played at Beaver Park in Buffalo, and was another win for the Nationals, 5-1. It was the Senior Circuit’s third win in four meetings.

To say that 1950 was a hitter’s year is to understate the situation significantly, particularly in the NBL, where Chicago and St. Louis both hit 165 home runs, an all-time record for a team. On the other hand, perhaps it wasn’t so much good hitting as it was bad pitching: the league ERA was the highest ever at 4.87, and Brooklyn set an all-time league mark for most walks allowed (912) while compiling the second-worst ERA (6.29) for a team in history. The ABL’s ERA was a comparatively modest 4.25.

Fred Crumley of Philadelphia thrilled NBL fans with a record-setting campaign that saw him set new marks for home runs with 57 and runs batted in with 168; John Warlick of Buffalo was the batting champion at .397. Jim Spencer of Boston took the Triple Crown in the ABL, winning the batting title at .368 and topping the loop in homers with 42 and RBI with 144. Detroit’s Ray Barker posted the best ERA in the NBL, 2.81, while Swanee Law of St. Louis was the loop’s top winner with 23 victories, and Chuck Hathaway of Cleveland paced the circuit in strikeouts with 141. Tom Green of New York won the ERA crown in the Junior Circuit with a 2.51 mark; Ben McHargue of Boston led in wins with 27 and Los Angeles’ Percell Russell was the strikeout king with 179. Crumley and Warlick were their league’s respective Most Valuable Players while McHargue (27-5, 2.65) and the Traders’ Joe Shannon (20-10, 3.29) were the Royal Ricketts Award honorees. It was the sixth time Shannon took home the trophy.

Boston swept Seattle to win the ABL flag, while Chicago and Pittsburgh battled for seven games, all of them close, before the Industrials finally triumphed, ending the Traders’ three-year stranglehold on both the NBL pennant and the world title. Pittsburgh carried its momentum into the World Series, taking the first two contests on the road, but the Terriers stormed back to win the next four straight. It was Boston’s third world title and first since 1913. While the Terriers had only spent the last two seasons of their 75-year history in the Junior Circuit, their victory enabled to the ABL to lay claim to its first world championship.

The Hall of Fame increased its membership to 30 by adding four new honorees: pitchers Phil Cartlidge and Tom Sanders and second basemen Al Bruning and Jim Lee.

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St. Louis won 97 games—second most in the majors—and still finished 12 games behind the Chicago Traders juggernaut which cruised to its fifth straight NBL West title. The loop’s Eastern Division featured a much tighter affair, as Philadelphia clipped New York by a single game. Seattle overcame a sluggish start to skate past San Francisco in the ABL West, and Boston repeated in the ABL East, outlasting Baltimore and New York in a close race.

Los Angeles’ Tom McNeese singled home Willie Terry of Montreal to give the ABL an exciting 3-2 walk-off win in the All-Star Game at Toronto Park, the upstart league’s second victory in five tries.

Pittsburgh’s Herman Carter (.337) and Baltimore’s Joe Armstrong (.339) were their league’s respective batting champions, while Mel Trench of Chicago and Dave Bacon of Seattle each blasted 44 round-trippers to pace the majors. Trench’s 145 RBI was tops in the NBL; Baltimore’s Witness York drove in 132 to lead the Junior Circuit. Chicago’s Joe Shannon had his usual stellar campaign, leading the Senior Circuit in ERA at 2.24, while Swanee Law of St. Louis paced that league in victories with 25 and Tony Williams of Buffalo fanned 168 to take the strikeout title. New York’s Tom Green was the ABL’s ERA champ, posting a 2.25 mark, while Ben McHargue of Boston and Percell Russell of Los Angeles shared the lead in victories with 21 apiece. Seattle’s Hank Tobey led the loop in strikeouts with 191. Shannon (22-9/2.24 ERA/126 K) and Russell (21-18/2.33 ERA/183 K) were their league’s Royal Ricketts Award honorees; York (43 HR/132 RBI/.297 AVG) and New York’s Bob Jones (28 HR/74 RBI/.298 AVG) were the two leagues’ Most Valuable Players.

Both League Championship Series went the full seven games, with Boston repeating their 1951 triumph over Seattle and Chicago outlasting the Quakers. The Terriers were defending a World Championship but entered the Fall Classic as underdogs to the mighty Traders, and things looked grim when they dropped Game One 13-0. Undaunted, Boston nipped Chicago in three straight one-run affairs before knocking them out for the count with a 19-5 shellacking in the finale. Left fielder Jim Spencer, who went 4-for-4 in the decisive Game Five, hit .392 in the series to earn MVP honors.

The Hall of Fame added three new members: third baseman Gene Metcalf, pitcher Toothbrush Terrigan, and second baseman Billy Petersen. The membership was now up to 33.

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Tight races in three of the four divisions resulted in exciting down-to-the-wire finishes, and with all four division winners lacking any recent postseason experience, the season seemed to represent a changing of the guard. Detroit, winners of 102 games, took the NBL West flag by a slim 2 games over Chicago, ending the Traders’ five-year hold on the division title. The Senior Circuit’s Eastern Division was equally contentious, as Buffalo raced past New York in late September to win by the same 2-game margin. The one race that was won handily was the ABL East, as Baltimore topped Toronto by 13 games. That loop’s other division featured the best race; Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle traded the lead throughout the summer until the Seagulls dropped out in late September. The Pobladores and Emeralds were tied after 162 games, necessitating a one-game playoff that was won by Los Angeles.

It was the first-ever division title for the Pobladores, but since the L.A. club had only been in existence since 1946, the other three victors all ended longer droughts. Buffalo’s most recent postseason appearance had been in 1935, a World Series loss to Pittsburgh. Detroit had last seen the postseason in 1905, losing the Fall Classic to New York. Baltimore’s lone postseason appearance was in the last century, as the team then known as the Crabbers represented the American Base Ball Association in the 1891 World’s Series, bowing to the Chicago Haymakers in 8 games.

Perhaps it was appropriate, then, that the team that had waited the longest earned the biggest prize; after Detroit took care of Buffalo in seven games and Baltimore dispatched Los Angeles in six, the Lords defeated the Wolverines four games to two to take their first-ever world title.

Fred Crumley’s 3-run 7th inning homer gave the Nationals a 3-2 win in the All-Star Game, played this season at Cleveland‘s Lakefront Stadium. It was the NBL’s fourth win in six years.

Herman Carter of Pittsburgh hit .355 to lead the NBL in batting, while San Francisco’s Roy Caputo only needed a .309 average to win the same title in the ABL. But while the NBL was clearly the high-average league (outhitting the ABL .256 to .246), the Junior Circuit boasted most of the power, hitting nearly 250 more home runs than the Seniors. Matt Garrison of the Chicago Hawks led the Juniors in both home runs with 46 and RBI with 135, while Carter’s 29 homers and Brooklyn’s Ron Boccia’s 109 RBI were sufficient to pace the Nationals. Tony Williams of Buffalo was a Triple Crown winner in the NBL, leading the loop in ERA (1.87), wins (24), and strikeouts (177); he also threw a perfect game in one of his nine shutouts. It was a more democratic affair among the ABL pitching leaders, as Los Angeles’ Percell Russell topped the loop in ERA at 2.14, San Francisco’s Ray Hayes led in victories with 22, and Seattle’s Hank Tobey was the strikeout king with 199.

Harry Osborn of Cleveland (19 HR/78 RBI/.319 AVG.) was the NBL Most Valuable Player; Baltimore’s Witness York (37 HR/97 RBI/.300 AVG.) won the award in the ABL. Williams was the obvious choice for the NBL’s Royal Ricketts Award, while Hayes took home the trophy in the ABL.

The Hall of Fame welcomed right fielder Rupert Allen and pitchers Steven Fry and Leander McNaughton as its 34th, 35th, and 36th members.

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Two races were close, with Chicago outdistancing Detroit by a single game in the NBL West and Boston holding off Baltimore by the same margin in the ABL East. The ABL West race was over early, as Seattle cruised to its third divisional title in four years; in the NBL East Brooklyn suddenly blossomed into a contender about two months into the season and had surged past Buffalo by the first week of September, ultimately winning the race by a comfortable four games.

Chicago had little trouble with the upstart Bluebirds in the NBL Championship Series, winning in five, while Boston fell behind Seattle two games to none before stunning the Emeralds by taking the next four in a row. Unfortunately for the Terriers, turnabout was fair play; after going up three games to none in the World Series, they were unable to prevent a miracle comeback by the Traders, who won four straight to capture their 14th World Championship.

The Senior Circuit also flexed its muscles in the All-Star Game, winning 7-3 in Los Angeles to go 5-2 in the mid-summer classic since 1947.

Brooklyn’s Tuck Wilson (.357) and Baltimore’s Joe Armstrong (.332) won batting titles, while Cincinnati’s Allan Houston and Baltimore’s Witness York hit 43 and 40 home runs to pace their respective circuits. Houston also led the NBL in RBI with 124 while Houston’s Rusty Long drove in 113 to lead the Americans. San Francisco’s Ray Hayes took the Junior Circuit’s ERA title with a 1.88 mark while New York’s Rick Sumner posted a 2.40 to top all NBL challengers. St. Louis’ Swanee Law, Detroit’s Les Nash, and Buffalo’s Tony Williams all won 22 games to share the lead for victories in the Senior Circuit, while Hayes was the sole 20-game winner in the ABL. The strikeout kings were Williams with 175 and Montreal’s Steve Van der Pas with 185.

The Most Valuable Player in the NBL was New York’s Bob Jones (31 HR/92 RBI/.305 AVG.). Seattle’s Scat Batkin (35 HR/110 RBI/.329 AVG.) won the award in the ABL. Williams (22-11/2.70 ERA/175 K) and Hayes (20-3/1.88 ERA/113 K) were repeat winners of the Royal Ricketts Award.

Two Pittsburgh Industrials stars of the 1920’s and 1930’s, pitcher Birdie Deaton and second baseman Mel Hunt, joined the Hall of Fame, whose membership now numbered 38.

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New Yorkers dreamed of a Subway Series as the Knickerbockers cruised to the NBL East title and the Empires fought off challenges from Boston and Toronto to eke out the ABL East crown, but both Big Apple entries failed to advance past the League Championship Series. Detroit won the NBL West with relative ease while Chicago fans, long accustomed to seeing the Traders in the postseason, were instead treated to the first divisional title for the Hawks, who held off late surges by Seattle and Los Angeles in the ABL West.

The 96-win Knicks and 94-win Wolverines were somewhat evenly matched, so Detroit’s victory in seven games was not a major surprise, but the same couldn’t be said of the ABLCS, as the underdog Hawks, the only playoff team to win fewer than 90 games this year, dispatched the Empires in six. The surprises continued as Chicago took care of the heavily-favored Wolverines in five in the World Series. It was the fourth title for the Junior Circuit, but the first for an original AABC team.

The All-Star Game was held at Knickerbocker Stadium; Boston’s Harry Osborn belted a two-run homer helped the Juniors win 4-1, their third victory in the mid-summer series.

Joe Shannon (26-10/2.34 ERA/128 K) was now an ABL Houston Driller, but he remained a Royal Ricketts contender, winning the award for an incredible eighth season, Mike Myers (20-15/2.69 ERA/129 K) of Buffalo won the NBL award. The MVP trophies went to Baltimore’s Witness York (39 HR/125 RBI/.345 AVG.) and Cleveland’s Scat Batkin (24 HR/79 RBI/.329 AVG.). The Knicks’ Heywood Post (.342) was the NBL batting champ, while York won the title in the ABL. Brooklyn’s Ron Boccia led the Senior Circuit in home runs and RBI with 44 and 134 respectively, while the Hawks’ Matt Garrison hit 48 and knocked in 136 to lead the Juniors. Myers and Toronto’s Sam Partridge (2.26) paced their respective circuits in earned run average. Shannon led the ABL in victories, while New York’s John Ambrose and St. Louis’ Swanee Law each won 21 to lead the NBL. The strikeout kings were Law (156) and Toronto’s Kent Albrecht (165).

Jumpin’ Joe Gallagher, the great Buffalo Beavers star of the 20’s and 30’s, was inducted as the 39th member of the Hall of Fame.

After much negotiation the leagues agreed to an expansion schedule that would add teams in Kansas City and Washington D.C. in 1955 and Milwaukee and Minneapolis-St. Paul in 1956. Dallas had been expected to receive an expansion franchise but instead the NBL owners gave permission to Buffalo to relocate to the Lone Star state. The Beavers had called the Nickel City home since 1879.

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The divisional races took a back seat to Barry Sheridan’s pursuit of a new single-season home run record, even after it became clear that the Cincinnati outfielder was going to far surpass the mark of 57 set by Fred Crumley just five years prior. Sheridan finished with a seemingly-impossible 72 round-trippers but had to settle for second in the chase for the single-season RBI mark, falling 18 short of Crumley’s record 168.

There were close races in three of the divisions. The New York Knickerbockers went 106-56 and ran away with the NBL East, much to the frustration of 100-win Cleveland and 91-win Brooklyn, both of whom outdistanced or equaled the win totals of the other 19 major league teams. The NBL West went down to the wire, as a Dallas team that had held first place for most of the season gave way to the Chicago Traders. In the ABL Seattle and the New York Empires each went 91-71 to win their respective divisions by three games.

Washington and Kansas City made their respective NBL debuts with varying degrees of success. The Rough Riders started hot and led the East for a few weeks before fading from contention, but they remained competitive and finished with a surprising 84-78 record. The Bulls’ performance was more typical of an expansion team, but even though they lost 100 games they managed to finish six games better than Pittsburgh to avoid the worst record in baseball.

The All-Star Game at Baltimore required 12 innings before a winner could be determined. Although the ABL Hawks’ Jim Griffin was named MVP, the NBL won, 7-4, their sixth win in nine tries in the Midsummer Classic.

New Yorkers finally got their long-awaited Subway Series after the Knicks cruised past Chicago in five games and the Empires dispatched the Emeralds in six. The Knicks were heavy favorites in the Fall Classic and did not disappoint, taking the first three games. The Empires made it a series with wins in Games Four and Five but ultimately could not prevent their rivals from Upper Manhattan from capturing the world title for the 15th time.

Batting crowns went to Scat Batkin of Cleveland (.364) and Dave Bacon of Seattle (.341); Chicago’s Matt Garrison hit 46 homers lead the ABL while his 148 RBI clocked in just behind Sheridan’s 150 as the third-highest figure to date. Sheridan (72 HR/150 RBI/.340 AVG.) won a close vote over Batkin (47 HR/114 RBI/.364 AVG.) to take the NBL Most Valuable Player Award; Witness York (45 HR/109 RBI/.293 AVG.) of Baltimore took home the ABL MVP trophy for the third time.

Herb Hinton (2.48) of New York led the NBL in ERA; Seattle’s Juan Buenrostro (1.79) paced the ABL. Eduardo Rodriguez of Chicago and Skip Shannon of Cleveland each won 24 games to pace the Senior Circuit while Houston’s Joe Shannon was victorious 25 times to lead the Juniors. Tony Williams (177 K) of Dallas and Sam Partridge (171 K) of Toronto led their respective circuits in strikeouts. Williams (15-14/ 3.03/177 K) won his third Royal Ricketts Award, a feat that would be the envy of nearly any pitcher except Joe Shannon (25-9/2.43/169 K), who won his ninth.

The Hall of Fame welcomed Emmet Carlin and Dutch Eagle as its 40th and 41st members.

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Major League Baseball completed its two-year expansion project by adding the Minneapolis/St. Paul-based Twin Cities Northmen to the ABL West and the Milwaukee Dairymen to the NBL East while switching Detroit from the NBL East to the ABL East. Both leagues now boasted two six-team divisions.

All four divisions featured tight races that were still undecided entering the regular season’s final weekend. An unprecedented five teams won over a hundred games. The Chicago Traders were the only division winners that failed to crack the 100-win mark, winning 93 and besting Cincinnati by three games in the NBL West. Cleveland and New York fought to the bitter end in the NBL East; the Knicks won their 103rd game on the final day of the season, but were eliminated when the Bobcats won their 104th the same day. New York’s Junior Circuit entry fared better, as the 102-win Empires edged Baltimore by three games in the ABL East. In the ABL West Los Angeles raced to 104 wins only to find themselves three behind 107-win San Francisco when the dust settled.

The expansion Dairymen led the NBL West for much of the season and finished with a very respectable 86-76 record, but elsewhere, expansion had the effect of watering down the overall talent, resulting in almost as many 100-loss seasons as 100-win seasons. Kansas City (50-112), St. Louis (59-103), Houston (62-100) and Pittsburgh (62-100) all wound up on the wrong side of the century mark.

The ABL walloped the NBL 14-7 in the All-Star Game, held in Cleveland this year, but the NBL retained the edge in the series, with six wins in ten games.

Cleveland’s Stan Patterson hit .344 to win the NBL batting title; San Francisco’s Harry Osborn hit .310 to take the crown in the ABL. Barry Sheridan repeated as the NBL home run champ with 53 roundtrippers, while Baltimore’s Armando Landa launched 61 to pace the ABL. Landa also led the ABL in RBI with 143, while Brooklyn’s Ron Boccia drove in 140 to lead the Senior Circuit. Washington’s Chuck Porter posted a 2.07 ERA, the best in the NBL, while Toronto’s Sam Partridge turned in a 2.14 mark to pace the ABL. Three ABL pitchers—Jim Meier of Los Angeles and Marvin Cooper and Joe Shannon of San Francisco—posted 23 victories to share in their league’s lead, while Skip Shannon of Cleveland had the NBL lead all to himself with 29 triumphs. Skip also paced the NBL in strikeouts with 210 while Toronto’s Kent Albrecht fanned 205 to pace the ABL.

Scat Batkin (30 HR/107 RBI/.320 BA) of Cleveland was the NBL MVP; Los Angeles’ Hamilton Craft (41 HR/111 RBI/.304 BA) was awarded the trophy in the ABL. The Knicks’ Herb Hinton (25-8/2.94 ERA/192 K) and the Seagulls’ Shannon (23-12/2.44 ERA/141 K) were the Royal Ricketts Award honorees, and a new award—Rookie of the Year—made its debut with Cincinnati’s Dennis Fulton and the Chicago Hawks’ Bill Ray earning the honors in their respective leagues.

Cleveland was a heavy favorite to win the NBL Championship Series over Chicago, and the Bobcats did not disappoint, taking the series in five games. San Francisco, a slight favorite over New York in the ABL, took six games to dispatch the Empires. The World Series featured teams that had combined for 211 wins during the regular season. The Seagulls prevailed, four games to two, to earn their first world championship.

The Hall of Fame welcomed Clay Baldwin, John Grace, Valentine Voss, and Wiley Woodcock to its ranks, bringing the total membership to 45.

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The Knickerbockers were the only 1956 division champion to repeat, building a comfortable lead over Cleveland in the NBL East by early September. New York’s other finalists from the previous season, the Empires, won 98 games but finished a distant second to 106-win Toronto in the ABL East, while defending champion San Francisco hit the century mark for the second straight season but still couldn’t keep pace with 102-win Los Angeles in the ABL West. Chicago’s Traders stayed in the NBL West race for most of the campaign but finished a distant third, as Dallas outlasted Cincinnati to take the division crown.

The ABL’s 9-7 victory in the All-Star Game at Chicago’s Union Field marked the first time the Junior Circuit was victorious in back-to-back contests, but the NBL still held a 6-5 edge in the all-time series.

Chicago’s Doug Roten hit .329 to capture the NBL batting title, while 40-year-old Robert Bolen of Detroit hit .347 between stints on the trainer’s table to earn the ABL crown. Cincinnati’s Barry Sheridan hit 52 round-trippers to top all NBL sluggers in home runs for the third consecutive season; Bobby Douglas of Toronto beat Sheridan’s total by one dinger to pace the ABL . Sheridan and Philadelphia’s Gary Trent each knocked in 120 runs to tie for the NBL lead, as Douglas drove in 153 to the Juniors.

Dallas’ Mike Myers won 23 games, most in the Senior Circuit, while the ageless Joe Shannon of San Francisco added an ABL-best 28 victories to his ever-increasing career total. Washington’s Chuck Porter repeated as the NBL ERA champion with a 2.62 mark as Seattle’s Juan Buenrostro posted a 2.18 mark to earn his second ABL ERA crown. New York’s Herb Hinton and Toronto’s Kent Albrecht fanned 173 and 213 to pace their respective circuits in strikeouts.

Cleveland’s Scat Batkin (40 HR/115 RBI/.320 BA) and Los Angeles’ Ham Craft (41 HR/96 RBI/.293 BA) repeated as Most Valuable Player award winners. Myers (23-10/2.79 ERA/156 K) won the NBL Royal Ricketts Award while Sam Partridge (24-5/2.24 ERA/210 K) of Toronto took home the same trophy in the ABL. The Rookies of the Year were Washington’s Gene McLaughlin and the Chicago Hawks’ Greg Gray.

All three postseason series went six games. Dallas shocked the heavily-favored Knicks in the NBL Championship Series, while Los Angeles, a slight underdog to Toronto, prevailed in the ABL. The Pobladores then defeated the Wranglers for their first World Championship, the second consecutive title for a West Coast team.

Two new members of the Hall of Fame were inducted, pitcher Chuck Munson and right fielder Billy Shea. The membership now numbered 47.

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For the first time ever in the two-league, four-division era, all four postseason entrants won their divisions by comfortable margins; the closest race took place in the ABL East, which the Hurons won by seven games. Defending champion Los Angeles coasted to a 110-win season, reaching the century mark for the third consecutive campaign, while Cleveland posted 101 victories and Cincinnati and Toronto tallied 97 apiece.

With such an impressive slate of participants, the postseason seemed well-equipped to compensate for what the regular season lacked in drama. But the ever-unpredictable nature of the grand old game asserted itself, as Cleveland swept Cincinnati in a surprisingly brief all-Ohio showdown in the NBL and Los Angeles had little trouble dispatching Toronto in five in the ABL. The Bobcats then stunned the Pobladores in a quick five-game World Series, ending a 54-year title drought in the Forest City. It was Cleveland’s second World Championship.

Dallas’ Bluff Park was the site of the 12th ABL/NBL All-Star Game, which saw the Junior Circuit pull even with the old guard in the all-time series with a convincing 8-4 victory.

The NBL featured a historically-competitive batting race, with the Knickerbockers’ Bob Jones winning the title by hitting .335, one point better than Cincinnati’s Walt McCamish, who finished one point higher than teammate Ralph King, who finished one point higher than teammate Witness York, who finished one point higher than Washington’s Mel Yoder. King won the home run crown with 48, Gary Trent of Philadelphia won the RBI crown with 147, and York (30 HR/94 RBI/.332 BA) won his fifth Most Valuable Player Award.

At 2.76, Brooklyn’s Damon Rutherford picked up the NBL ERA title, a feat his Hall of Fame father achieved 12 times. Philadelphia’s Jose Chapa led the loop in wins with 21 while teammate Paul Wiley paced the circuit in strikeouts with 211. Wiley (18-12, 3.08 ERA, 211 K) was the league’s Royal Ricketts award recipient.

In the ABL, the batting crown went to Baltimore’s Charlie Free, who hit .346. Los Angeles’ Hamilton Craft was the leader in both home runs (49) and RBI (126) while coasting to his third consecutive Most Valuable Player Award. The pitching leaders in the Junior Circuit were Tony Williams of Los Angeles who posted a 2.09 ERA, Joe Shannon of San Francisco who won 28 games, and Mark Johnson of Detroit who fanned 219 batters. The ageless Shannon accepted his 11th Royal Ricketts Award.

Danny Prentice of Kansas City won a close vote over Brooklyn’s Dave Pecci for the NBL Rookie of the Year Award, while Jim Oakley of Detroit was a near-consensus choice for the same honor in the ABL.

The Hall of Fame welcomed its 48th inductee, longtime Philadelphia keystone sacker Billy Garrett.

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Cincinnati (103-59) and Toronto (97-65) had little trouble repeating as champions of the NBL West and ABL East, respectively, while the Knickerbockers (103-59) fended off a late surge by both Cleveland (99-63) and Philadelphia (99-63) to secure the NBL East. Los Angeles (96-66) appeared poised to coast to its third straight ABL West title, building a 15-game lead over San Francisco in July. As late as August 23 the lead was still a seemingly rock-solid 13, but on that day the Seagulls began a remarkable 32-7 run which included two wins in three games at L.A. in mid-September and a dramatic sweep of the Pobladores at Mission Field to race three games ahead with three games remaining. San Francisco (98-64) won the division by two games.

The Seagulls’ miracle season did not extend past the League Championship Series, however, although it took Toronto seven games to finish them off. Cincinnati earned its first World Series berth since 1922 by knocking off the Knicks in six games, and the Packers seemed destined to bring the Queen City its first World Championship since 1908 as they took the first three games of the Fall Classic. But in this year of miracle comebacks, the Hurons played the final card, shutting down Cincinnati’s sluggers and outscoring them 22-5 in the final four games. It was Toronto’s first championship and the first for a franchise based outside of the United States.

It was a memorable year for Torontonians; they also hosted the All-Star Game, and witnessed a fourth-consecutive ABL victory as Seattle’s Tom Howard doubled home the game-winner in the 10th inning. For the first time, the Junior Circuit took the lead in the all-time series, 7-6.

Scat Batkin of Cleveland won the NBL Triple Crown, albeit by tying for the league lead in hitting. Philadelphia’s Jim Horrigan matched Batkin’s .343 batting average, but no one approached his 46 homers or 138 runs batted in. The top pitching marks in the Senior Circuit were Doug Leonard’s 2.31 ERA and Jose Chapa’s 24 wins and 199 strikeouts. Unsurprisingly, Batkin was the league’s Most Valuable Player and Chapa the Royal Rickets Award honoree.

In the Junior Circuit, Harry Osborn of San Francisco won the batting crown at .332, Dwight Reppe of Boston was the home run champion with 52, and Hard John Horvath paced the loop in RBI with 118. Toronto’s Sam Partridge posted a 2.01 ERA to top all challangers, while San Francisco’s Joe Shannon notched the most victories with 24 and Detroit’s Mark Johnson fanned 280 batters to pace the circuit. Osborn won the ABL’s Most Valuable Player Award as Partridge took home the ABL Royal Ricketts Award.

There were three new Hall of Fame inductees. Second baseman Winslow Beaver and third basemen Alan Weston were unanimous first-ballot choices, and fellow first ballot honoree Tom Green became the first African-American in the Hall as well as the first inductee to play the bulk of his big league career in the ABL. The Hall’s walls were now adorned with 51 plaques.

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