This Baseball’s Greatest Hits video special covers the star players and team of the decade of the 1960’s…..including Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Mickey Mantle, Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, Al Kaline et al…..and teams like the St Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees.
Early in the 1960’s, 1950’s-style baseball was still in charge….as the Yankees continued to win pennants….while home whites and road grays remained in vogue….and Ted Williams, Warren Spahn and Stan Musial were still producing.
But America of the 1960’s evolved into a decade of quick change….if not a complete metamorphosis….when America’s internal and external problems….with a counterculture that spawned as a result, made major league baseball, the bastion of tradition for over 60 years….feel odd and out-of-place through the decade.
Answering to immense pressure, each league reluctantly expanded from eight teams to ten early in the decade….and more contentedly added two more in 1969 to reach a total 12….while the relocations of the Dodgers and Giants to the West Coast at the end of the 1950’s were just the beginning of an inevitable trend that would reach all corners of America and beyond….for by the end of the decade, the U.S. Northeast….which had been the long-anchoring region of baseball….saw its geographic power diluted with new or relocated teams in San Diego, Seattle, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Oakland, Houston and even Montreal in neighboring Canada.
Early in the 1960’s, the individual achievements of the batter impressively ruled….which was highlighted undoubtedly by Roger Maris’ successful 1961 pursuit of Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record. Alarmed by such wowing numbers….while being swayed by commissioner Ford Frick….who pained to see the breaking of the sacred record held by his old friend Ruth….as the owners decided to cut down on offense by enlarging the strike zone in 1963. The change succeeded in lowering batting averages and scoring so successfully that it made for great pitching feats….but fans who were more interested in high-scoring affairs, turned lukewarm, and attendance stagnated through the decade of the 1960’s….thus providing more harm for baseball’s already awkward image. The trend reached its peak in 1968 when American League teams batted a collective .230…..as a year later, the strike zone was corrected back to its old dimensions….and giving batters some of their teeth back.
But for those who liked their baseball low in scoring, there was a plethora of pitching brilliance throughout the decade to please them….from the stunning dominance of Sandy Koufax….to the fiery fastball of Bob Gibson….to the spitball theatrics of Gaylord Perry….and at decade’s end, to the arrival of Tom Seaver….who led his upstart New York Mets to a stunning World Series triumph that captivated America’s interest and gave the grand old game a much needed shot in the arm.
So, any way you cut the pie, this video seen herewith is simply “pure gold” in our treasure chest of vintage memories here at ImaSportsphile.