Dugout Wizards got off to a rip-roaring start with an unforgettable 1964 season that saw tight pennant races in both leagues capped by a seven-game World Series for the ages.
In the American League three teams topped 100 victories (New York, Minnesota and Baltimore) while a fourth (Chicago) won 93 ballgames in arguably the best pennant race in AL history. That race was ultimately won by the Yankees, capturing their fifth-straight pennant with a 104-58 campaign under new manager Yogi Berra. The Twins and Orioles both went into the season’s final weekend with a shot at the flag, with the Twins falling just short with 103 wins and the O’s finishing with 101 wins.
Baltimore’s Boog Powell won the Most Valuable Player award for the junior circuit with a stellar .346 average, 53 homers and 125 RBIs. New York’s Whitey Ford was the AL Cy Young Award winner with a 26-4 record and 1.84 ERA for the league champions. The top rookie was Detroit’s Gates Brown who posted a solid freshman campaign that saw him hit .278 with 24 homers and 18 stolen bases for the Tigers.
In the National League, the Phillies came home on top with their first pennant since the days of the 1950 Whiz Kids. Led by rookie Dick Allen’s monster hitting (.299 average, 32 doubles, 13 triples and 21 homers) that saw him grab Rookie of the Year honors, and the league’s second-best pitching staff featuring a pair of 20-game winners in Jim Bunning (22-11, 2.72) and Chris Short (20-9, 2.28), Philly’s all-around excellence was just a shade better than the Milwaukee Braves, who finished one game behind the Phils. With the Dodgers’ top pitching keeping LA in the hunt until the last week of play, the NL race was every bit as tight as that in the AL.
MVP honors for the NL went to the ever-stellar Willie Mays of the Giants. The Say Hey Kid continued to pad his Hall of Fame resume with a .360 average and league-leading 45 homers in just 386 at-bats.His average would also have led the loop had he had enough ABs to qualify – as it was Joe Torre of the Braves was the batting champ with a .347 average. Sandy Koufax turned in another excellent season, going 20-5 with a 1.53 ERA (tops in baseball) and posting 8 shutouts for the Dodgers.
The World Series saw the Yankees and Phils go back-and-forth for seven games with the New Yorkers ultimately taking the prize in game seven.