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The modern MLB logo was first used in 1969.
This article is about the 1969 Major League Baseball season only. For information on all of baseball, see 1969 in baseball.

The 1969 Major League Baseball season is the 69th since the initial co-existence of the American and National Leagues.

It was celebrated as the 100th anniversary of professional baseball, honoring the first professional touring baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. A special silhouetted batter logo was created by Jerry Dior[1] to commemorate the anniversary, and is still used to this day. It has served as inspiration for logos for other sports leagues in the United States—most notably the National Basketball Association, which used the silhouette of Jerry West to create their current logo, unveiled after the 1970-71 season as part of the 25th anniversary of their own founding.

It was the first season of what is now called the "Divisional Era," where each league of 12 teams was divided into two divisions. The winners of each division would compete against each other in a League Championship Series, initially best-of-five, to determine the pennant-holders who would face each other in the World Series.

In a year marked by the second expansion of the decade, the New York Mets and the Baltimore Orioles faced each other in the 1969 World Series. Having won the N.L. East Division with a league-best 100–62 record, and sweeping the N.L. West Division Champion Atlanta Braves in three games in the first National League Championship Series, the "Miracle Mets" became the first expansion team to win a pennant. They faced the A.L. East Division Champion Orioles, holders of the best record in baseball by far (109–53), who also swept the A.L. West Division Champion Minnesota Twins in three games in the first American League Championship Series. In one of the most incredible achievements in baseball history, the upstart Mets upset the heavily-favored Orioles and won the World Series title in five games, leading to bedlam on the field of Shea Stadium.

Contents

Expansion fever

After the addition of the Los Angeles Angels and Washington Senators to the American League in 1961, and the New York Mets and Houston Colt .45s (now Astros) to the National League in 1962, Major League Baseball called for a further four-team expansion at the 1967 Winter Meetings. However, there was a complication: Missouri Senator Stuart Symington was irate over the seemingly shady deal to permit Kansas City Athletics owner Charles O. Finley to move his team to Oakland, California, for the 1968 season. This happened even though Finley had just signed a new deal to play at Municipal Stadium at AL president Joe Cronin's behest, and Jackson County, Missouri, had just issued public bonds to build a new stadium, the future Kauffman Stadium.

Symington drew up legislation to remove baseball's anti-trust exemption, and threatened to push it through if Kansas City did not get a new team. The Office of the Commissioner complied, and the American League agreed to put one of its new franchises in Kansas City. Ewing Kauffman won the bidding for the new franchise and named it the Kansas City Royals, named after the local American Royal livestock show. The other AL team was awarded to Seattle, Washington. A consortium led by Dewey Soriano and William Daley, the latter of whom once tried to move the Cleveland Indians to Seattle, won the bidding for the Seattle franchise, and named it the Seattle Pilots, a salute to the city's aerospace industry.

In the National League, they gave one franchise to San Diego, California, and the other to Montreal, Quebec, resulting in the first Major League franchise located outside the United States. C. Arnholdt Smith, former owner of the AAA Pacific Coast League's San Diego Padres, won the bidding for the San Diego franchise and named it the San Diego Padres. Charles Bronfman, owner of Seagram, won the bidding for the Montreal franchise and named them the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals), in honor of the Expo 67 World's Fair that year. This was the final NL expansion until the 1993 season.

As part of the expansion, each league was to be split into two divisions of six teams, and each league would have a new playoff level—the best-of-five American League and National League Championship Series. The teams were originally to be fielded in 1971, but further pressure from Symington led to the expansion being hastened to take place in time for the 1969 season.

Both the Padres and Expos finished with 110 losses and at the bottom of their respective divisions. The Royals did better, finishing 69-93 and in fourth in the AL West. Even though the Pilots managed to avoid losing 100 games (they were 64-98, last in the AL West), financial trouble would lead to a battle for team control, ending with bankruptcy and the sale of the team to Bud Selig and their move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for the 1970 season. The legal fallout of the battle would lead eventually to the expansion for the 1977 season.

MLB statistical leaders

  American League National League
Type Name Stat Name Stat
AVG Rod Carew MIN .332 Pete Rose CIN .348
HR Harmon Killebrew MIN 49 Willie McCovey SFG 45
RBI Harmon Killebrew MIN 140 Willie McCovey SFG 126
Wins Denny McLain DET 24 Tom Seaver NYM 25
ERA Dick Bosman WSA 2.19 Juan Marichal SFG 2.10
SO Sam McDowell CLE 279 Fergie Jenkins CHC 273
SV Ron Perranoski MIN 31 Fred Gladding HOU 29
SB Tommy Harper SEP 73 Lou Brock STL 53

Regular season standings

American League
Rank Club Wins Losses Win % GB
East Division
1st Baltimore Orioles 109 53 .673    --
2nd Detroit Tigers 90 72 .566   19.0
3rd Boston Red Sox 87 75 .537   22.0
4th Washington Senators 86 76 .531 23.0
5th New York Yankees 80 81 .497 28.5
6th Cleveland Indians 62 99 .358 46.5
West Division
1st Minnesota Twins 97 65 .599    --
2nd Oakland Athletics 88 74 .543   9.0
3rd California Angels 71 91 .438 26.0
4th Kansas City Royals 69 93 .426 28.0
5th Chicago White Sox 68 94 .420 29.0
6th Seattle Pilots 64 98 .395 33.0
National League
Rank Club Wins Losses Win %   GB
East Division
1st New York Mets 100 62 .617    --
2nd Chicago Cubs 92 70 .568   8.0
3rd Pittsburgh Pirates 88 74 .543 12.0
4th St. Louis Cardinals 87 75 .537 13.0
5th Philadelphia Phillies 63 99 .389 37.0
6th Montreal Expos 52 110 .321 48.0
West Division
1st Atlanta Braves 93 69 .574    --
2nd San Francisco Giants 90 72 .556   3.0
3rd Cincinnati Reds 89 73 .549 4.0
4th Los Angeles Dodgers 85 77 .525 8.0
5th Houston Astros 81 81 .500 12.0
6th San Diego Padres 52 110 .321 41.0

Postseason

  League Championship Series NBC World Series NBC
                 
East  Baltimore Orioles 3  
West  Minnesota Twins 0  
    AL  Baltimore Orioles 1
  NL  New York Mets 4
East  New York Mets 3
West  Atlanta Braves 0  

Further reading

  • 1969: The Year Everything Changed by Rob Kirkpatrick. Skyhorse Publishing, 2009. ISBN 9781602393660.

See also

Notes

References

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