In the American League, the White Sox, finally forced to play, slid slowly down in the standings under the dead weight of woeful hitting that produced just 35 runs in its first 12 games, by far the worst batting record in either league. The Yankees' Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, between them, had scored more runs than the entire fleet-footed White Sox squad.
Mantle, of course, was the most valuable player in baseball through the opening round of games and by far the most exciting. Hampered by a tender hamstring muscle in his thigh, he nevertheless played in every one of the Yankees' games and, more than that, played up to the marvelous potential that has been freely predicted for him ever since he first arrived in the major leagues five seasons ago. He fielded beautifully, ranging far and wide in the outfield and making strong, accurate throws that intimidated and often caught base runners.
But it was Mantle's hitting that generated the intense excitement. He drove out long, amazingly long home runs, followed them with perfectly placed bunts, smacked line-drive doubles, beat out infield hits, raced around to score from first base on singles. He was hitting well over .400 and led his league in batting percentage, hits, runs, runs batted in, home runs and in having his home-run pace compared to that of Babe Ruth in Ruth's record 60-homer season in 1927. ( Ruth had six homers in his first 16 games, Mantle nine. Ruth hit his ninth in his 29th game.)
And so, as the White Sox despite good pitching sank under the pressure of poor hitting, the Yankees despite generally mediocre pitching (except for the redoubtable Whitey Ford, who won his first four starts) rose with the lift of their hitting.
The pattern seemed clear, at least for the moment. In the National League it was a free-for-all. In the American it was New York against the world.
The Tigers rapped 77 hits in 7 games, a resounding pace of 11 per game, yet lost 5 of the 7 and fell into last place.... Cardinal Pitchers Poholsky (8 IP), Collum (1/3) and Kinder (2/3) joined to pitch rare three-man shutout (2-0) over Braves.... Orioles' Bill Wight went 5 innings against Indians, lost. His record: 4 starts, total of 8 innings pitched, 4 losses.