MLB history from the year you were born
“America's pastime” provides more than just an opportunity to devour hot dogs and Cracker Jacks. Trips to the ballpark are cemented in many Americans' memories, but the game of baseball has also periodically acted as a time capsule of the past century.
In the 1940s, Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier in a monumental moment in U.S. civil rights. Later, Robinson's Brooklyn Dodgers headed west, just like thousands of other Americans.
In the 21st century, as technology became part of our everyday lives, the influence of new inventions infiltrated baseball diamonds. Baseball has always been a sort of breeding ground for science, whether it be an invention like AstroTurf, or in showing the darker sides of performance-enhancing drugs.
For many, baseball represents a certain nostalgia. New Yorkers coming of age in the 1950s can still hear the crack of the bat from Bobby Thomson's historic home run. (Those same New Yorkers, a few years later, might also remember the sting of when the beloved New York Giants left town for San Francisco). Baseball has also proven to be inspirational to many, like the children in the Dominican Republic who listened to the radio or saw newspaper clips of Juan Marichal's dominance, inspiring them to pursue their own versions of the American Dream.
Stacker compiled key moments from Major League Baseball's history over the past 100 years. Using a variety of sources from Major League Baseball (MLB) record books, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and audio and video from events, we've listed the iconic moments that shaped a sport and a nation. Read through to find out what happened in MLB history the year you were born.
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1919: Black Sox scandal
Eight members of the Chicago White Sox were found to have accepted money to intentionally lose the 1919 World Series. The “Black Sox” scandal was one of the biggest black eyes ever laid upon U.S. professional sports, and the effects of the events have been dramatized in major Hollywood films such as “Eight Men Out” and “Field of Dreams.” However, some baseball historians believe 1919 was not the first instance of players “throwing” games.
1920: MLB names its first commissioner
Kenesaw Mountain Landis became the first commissioner of baseball one year after the Black Sox scandal necessitated serious reform in Major League Baseball. A former federal judge, Landis's first official action was to ban all eight accused members of the scandal from baseball, forever. During his first years on the job, sweeping out bad elements from baseball became a primary focus for Landis, a native of Millville, Ohio.
1921: First radio broadcast of an MLB game
On Aug. 5, 1921, local Pittsburgh radio station KDKA aired the Pittsburgh Pirates' 8-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Radio soon became synonymous with baseball, where voices like Vin Scully, Mel Allen, and Bob Murphy charmed millions of listeners in the decades to come with soothing vocals and colorful descriptions of America's pastime.
1922: George Sisler's season for the ages
“Gorgeous” George Sisler was named the American League's most valuable player after terrorizing opposing pitchers for 142 games for the St. Louis Browns. Sisler ended the campaign with a .420 batting average, which is third-best in modern history. Sisler also swiped 51 stolen bases, notched 18 triples, and at one point during the season he hit safely in 41 consecutive games.
1923: New York Yankees win first World Series
After losing the previous two World Series to the New York Giants, the New York Yankees finally bested their crosstown rivals in six games. The 1923 title was the first for the Yankees, who would go on to win 26 more over the next 86 years and become the bane of the existence for baseball fans in Boston and Queens.
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1924: Rogers Hornsby sets record hitting mark
Baseball's live-ball era beginning in 1920 is often looked at as a starting point for what historians consider modern-day baseball. In 1924, Texas native Rogers Hornsby hit .424 for the season, setting the modern era record. In 1942, Hornsby was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1925: Rosin bags become legal
Pitchers are always looking for an extra edge. Myths have abounded for years that hurlers use everything from pine tar to other natural lubricants to put a little something extra on the ball. In 1925, the National League allowed the use of rosin bags, a seemingly innocuous aid that some pitchers believe help them grip a baseball better.
1926: Babe Ruth has a World Series to remember
On Oct. 6, 1926, Babe Ruth became the first player to smash three home runs in a World Series game. Some accounts claimed Ruth's last homer of the day traveled over 500 feet. The three home run World Series feat would not be repeated by another person until 1977, when Reggie Jackson did so for the New York Yankees, solidifying his nickname of “Mr. October.”
1927: Murderers' Row crushes the competition
The 1927 New York Yankees lineup—which earned the nickname Murderers' Row—was among the most feared to ever step foot on a diamond. Led by Lou Gehrig (47 home runs, 173 runs batted in) and Babe Ruth (60 HR, 165 RBI), the Yankees cruised to 110 wins and a World Series title. According to Major League Baseball official historian John Thorn, the nickname is either attributed to entombed villains or a dangerous New York City neighborhood.
1928: New York Yankees continue winning streak
They won nine games fewer than their vaunted 1927 season, but the 1928 New York Yankees were still one of the sport's most dominant teams. Winning 101 games, the Yankees once again swept the World Series. Babe Ruth matched his record from 1926, hitting three long balls in the Game Four clincher.
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