Exactly 167 daysafter Washington's Pedro Ramos threw the first pitch to Boston's Don Buddin,the 1958 baseball season slipped into the past tense. Herewith is a selectionof the season's top performers and its most dramatic moment.
The hitter: ErnieBanks
This was a good year for the good hitters. The lifetime .300 men—Williams,Musial, Aaron, Ashburn, Mays, Mantle, Kaline, Minoso and Kuenn—all hit over.300. The power hitters hit with power; Sievers, Jensen and Thomas each drovein 100 runs and hit 30-plus home runs. So did Cerv and Colavito. There wereexciting batting title races in both leagues. Mays and Ashburn in the National,Williams and the unexpected Runnels in the American fought it out through theclosing weeks and down to the final day. But none of these had quite as stronga year as Ernie Banks. The willowy shortstop of the Chicago Cubs led bothleagues in home runs and runs batted in, led the National League in runs scoredand compiled a batting average comfortably over .300. It was largely thanks toBanks that the Cubs escaped their predicted fate—last place.
The pitcher: BobTurley
Starting the season off with seven straight wins (including four shutouts), BobTurley helped push the Yankees to such a huge lead that the American Leaguerace was over before he lost a game. And when the season ended, he was theleague's only 20-game winner. In the National League the Braves' incomparablelefty-righty combination of Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette won 40 games betweenthem. Spahn, a 20-game winner for the ninth time, provided Milwaukeeearly-season impetus with an 8-1 record while Burdette insured the pennant bywinning 13 games after the All-Star break. This was the season that Bob Friendfinally won 20 games for the Pirates, Sam Jones of the Cards struck out themost National League batters in 17 years, an injured Herb Score again failed towin more than two games, Robin Roberts came back after a dismal 1957 season,and Don Newcombe didn't.
The manager:Danny Murtaugh
For a manager to finish out the season this year was almost as much of a featas winning the pennant. Well, Casey Stengel and Fred Haney won the pennants, asexpected, but before the races were over, Fred Hutchinson, (replaced this weekby Solly Hemus), Birdie Tebbetts, Bobby Bragan, Jack Tighe and Mayo Smith wereall out job-hunting. For some, though, it was a happy season. Bill Rigney'ssixth-place New York Giants moved to San Francisco and became pennantcontenders—until August anyway. Cookie Lavagetto of the Senators and HarryCraft of the Athletics did surprisingly well with meager material. But it wasDanny Murtaugh and his Pirates who showed the biggest improvement. Tied forlast in 1957, the Pirates were still seventh at midseason this year, but thenplayed .667 ball the rest of the way to finish a surprisingly close second.Note: Murtaugh is one manager who will be back next year.
The rookie:Orlando Cepeda
Orlando Manuel Cepeda, a husky 21-year-old from Puerto Rico, made himself knownthis season as a very good reason why pitchers should not walk Willie Mays.Batting behind Willie, the big first baseman hit well over .300, drove innearly 100 runs (most by a rookie since Ted Williams in 1939) and was a bigreason why San Francisco made such a good run at the pennant. Albie Pearson,Washington's second-ranking golfer, did well despite an avalanche of preseasonpublicity. The 5-foot-5 centerfielder hit a solid .275, which for the Senatorsis the world. The National League had three fine young pitchers in CarltonWilley, Ray Semproch and George Witt, but none caused as much excitement asRyne Duren. Duren's faulty vision, which at times led him to mistake a batter'sear for the heart of the plate, helped him as much as his nerve-shattering fastball. His relief work for the Yankees was superb.
The moment:Musial's 3,000th
It was just a slap double to left field, but almost with the crack of the batphotographers began to emerge from various parts of the stands and sprintacross the infield to second base. There stood Stan Musial, who had just madehis 3,000th hit, only the eighth player in history to do so. While the umpirestolerantly delayed the game, St. Louis Manager Fred Hutchinson came out andshook his player's hand. Then he called for a pinch runner, and Musial trottedoff to a standing ovation. There were other great moments: Wilhelm's no-hitteragainst the Yanks and Bunning's against the Red Sox and, of course,California's first major league pitch.
X-RAY FOR THE1958 SEASON
[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
BANKS LED THE MAJORS IN HOMERS
TURLEY WON 20 GAMES FOR YANKEES
MURTAUGH WAS A SURPRISING SECOND
CEPEDA KNOCKED IN OVER 90 RUNS