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Best of the best
Les Woodcock
October 06, 1958
Exactly 167 days after 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 selection of the season's top performers and its most dramatic moment.
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October 06, 1958

Best Of The Best

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TEAM PERFORMANCE

TEAM LEADERS

 

Batting

 
 

Season

This Week
(9/21-9/28)

Homers Week

Season

Week

Homers Season

Runs Produced Season

Pitching Season

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Milwaukee

92-62

.597

..

3-2

.600

5

Aaron

.326

Schoendienst

.353

Mathews

31

Aaron

174

Spahn

22-11

Pittsburgh

84-70

.545

8

0-5

.000

2

Skinner

.321

Virdon

.333

Thomas

35

Thomas

163

Friend

22-14

San Francisco

80-74

.519

12

3-3

.500

3

Mays

.347

Mays

.500

Mays

29

Mays

188

Antonelli

16-13

Cincinnati

76-78

.494

16

1-3

.250

1

Lynch

.312

Pinson

.500

Robinson

31

Robinson

142

Purkey

17-11

St. Louis

72-82

.468

20

2-4

.333

6

Musial

.337

Musial

.375

Boyer

23

Boyer

168

Jones

14-13

Chicago

72-82

.468

20

4-2

.667

4

Banks

.313

Thomson

.360

Banks

47

Banks

201

Hobbie

10-6

Los Angeles

71-83

.461

21

3-3

.500

4

Furillo

.290

Lillis

.571

2 with

22

Neal

130

Podres

13-15

Philadelphia

69-85

.448

23

6-0

1.000

3

Ashburn

.350

Ashburn

.593

Anderson

23

Anderson

154

Roberts

17-14

AMERICAN LEAGUE

New York

92-62

.597

..

3-3

.500

6

Mantle

.304

Mantle

.435

Mantle

42

Mantle

182

Turley

21-7

Chicago

82-72

.532

10

3-4

.429

2

Fox

.300

Landis

.375

Lollar

20

Fox

131

Pierce

17-11

Boston

79-75

.513

13

6-1

.857

12

Williams

.328

Williams

.591

Jensen

35

Jensen

170

Delock

14-8

Cleveland

77-76

.503

14½

4-2

.667

10

Power

.312

Colavito

.429

Colavito

41

Power

162

McLish

16-8

Detroit

77-77

.500

15

3-4

.429

4

Kuenn

.319

Boiling

.387

Harris

20

Kaline

153

Lary

16-15

Baltimore

74-79

.484

17½

5-2

.714

4

Boyd

.309

Boyd

.300

Triandos

31

Triandos

108

Portocarrero

15-11

Kansas City

73-81

.474

19

3-3

.500

6

Cerv

.305

Chiti

.412

Cerv

38

Cerv

159

Garver

12-11

Washington

61-93

.396

31

0-8

.000

2

Sievers

.295

Bridges

.300

Sievers

39

Sievers

155

Ramos

14-18

Exactly 167 days after 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 selection of the season's top performers and its most dramatic moment.

The hitter: Ernie Banks
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 drove in 100 runs and hit 30-plus home runs. So did Cerv and Colavito. There were exciting batting title races in both leagues. Mays and Ashburn in the National, Williams and the unexpected Runnels in the American fought it out through the closing weeks and down to the final day. But none of these had quite as strong a year as Ernie Banks. The willowy shortstop of the Chicago Cubs led both leagues in home runs and runs batted in, led the National League in runs scored and compiled a batting average comfortably over .300. It was largely thanks to Banks that the Cubs escaped their predicted fate—last place.

The pitcher: Bob Turley
Starting the season off with seven straight wins (including four shutouts), Bob Turley helped push the Yankees to such a huge lead that the American League race was over before he lost a game. And when the season ended, he was the league's only 20-game winner. In the National League the Braves' incomparable lefty-righty combination of Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette won 40 games between them. Spahn, a 20-game winner for the ninth time, provided Milwaukee early-season impetus with an 8-1 record while Burdette insured the pennant by winning 13 games after the All-Star break. This was the season that Bob Friend finally won 20 games for the Pirates, Sam Jones of the Cards struck out the most National League batters in 17 years, an injured Herb Score again failed to win 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 feat as winning the pennant. Well, Casey Stengel and Fred Haney won the pennants, as expected, but before the races were over, Fred Hutchinson, (replaced this week by Solly Hemus), Birdie Tebbetts, Bobby Bragan, Jack Tighe and Mayo Smith were all out job-hunting. For some, though, it was a happy season. Bill Rigney's sixth-place New York Giants moved to San Francisco and became pennant contenders—until August anyway. Cookie Lavagetto of the Senators and Harry Craft of the Athletics did surprisingly well with meager material. But it was Danny Murtaugh and his Pirates who showed the biggest improvement. Tied for last in 1957, the Pirates were still seventh at midseason this year, but then played .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 known this 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 in nearly 100 runs (most by a rookie since Ted Williams in 1939) and was a big reason why San Francisco made such a good run at the pennant. Albie Pearson, Washington's second-ranking golfer, did well despite an avalanche of preseason publicity. The 5-foot-5 centerfielder hit a solid .275, which for the Senators is the world. The National League had three fine young pitchers in Carlton Willey, Ray Semproch and George Witt, but none caused as much excitement as Ryne Duren. Duren's faulty vision, which at times led him to mistake a batter's ear for the heart of the plate, helped him as much as his nerve-shattering fast ball. 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 bat photographers began to emerge from various parts of the stands and sprint across the infield to second base. There stood Stan Musial, who had just made his 3,000th hit, only the eighth player in history to do so. While the umpires tolerantly delayed the game, St. Louis Manager Fred Hutchinson came out and shook his player's hand. Then he called for a pinch runner, and Musial trotted off to a standing ovation. There were other great moments: Wilhelm's no-hitter against the Yanks and Bunning's against the Red Sox and, of course, California's first major league pitch.

X-RAY FOR THE 1958 SEASON

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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