After dominating the baseball world the previous year, the New York Yankees had a far more difficult time capturing the American League pennant in 1962. Although the Yankees won their third straight flag by finishing the regular season with a record of 96-66, they received a stiff challenge from the Minnesota Twins, who placed second in the league, just five games behind the A.L. champions. In only their second year of existence, the surprising Los Angeles Angels came in third, 10 games off the pace.
The Yankees failed to ascend to quite the same heights they reached during that magical 1961 campaign. They won 13 fewer games and hit 41 fewer home runs. Nevertheless, New York still featured the American League’s best offense, topping the circuit with 817 runs scored, a .267 team batting average, and a .426 team slugging percentage. The Yankees also finished a close second in home runs (199) and on-base percentage (.337).
Elston Howard and Bill Skowron both had solid years on offense, combining for 44 home runs and 171 runs batted in. In addition to playing a stellar third base, Clete Boyer had his finest offensive season in pinstripes, hitting 18 homers, driving in 68 runs, scoring 85 others, and batting .272. Tom Tresh earned A.L. Rookie of the Year honors by hitting 20 home runs, knocking in 93 runs, scoring 94 others, and batting .286. Roger Maris followed up his record-setting 1961 campaign by hitting 33 homers and driving in 100 runs. Bobby Richardson earned a second-place finish in the league MVP voting by batting .302, placing among the league leaders with 99 runs scored and 38 doubles, and topping the circuit with 209 hits. Finishing just ahead of Richardson in the balloting was Mickey Mantle, who won his third trophy even though he appeared in only 123 games and accumulated just 377 official at-bats. Mantle hit 30 home runs, knocked in 89 runs, scored 96 others, finished second in the league with a .321 batting average, and topped the circuit with 122 walks, a .486 on-base percentage, and a .605 slugging percentage.
The Yankees remained the junior circuit’s most well-balanced ball club, also finishing second in the league with a team ERA of 3.70. Ralph Terry had the finest season of his career, leading all A.L. hurlers with 23 victories and 299 innings pitched, while also compiling a 3.19 ERA. Whitey Ford posted a record of 17-8 and placed among the league leaders with a 2.90 ERA and 258 innings pitched.
The Yankees entered the World Series against the San Francisco Giants hoping to capture their 20th world championship. The Giants proved to be a worthy foe, splitting the first six contests with New York, to set the stage for a decisive Game Seven. After splitting their first two decisions in the Series, Ralph Terry and Jack Sanford matched up against one another for a third time, battling each other right down to the wire in one of the most closely-contested Game Sevens in the history of the Fall Classic. With the Yankees clinging to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, Giants slugger Willie McCovey stepped to the plate with two men out and the tying and winning runs in scoring position. After lofting a long fly ball just foul down the right field line, McCovey drove a vicious line drive directly at Bobby Richardson, who made the grab for the Series-clinching out.
Although the Yankees represented the American League in the World Series, the second-place Minnesota Twins demonstrated that they were likely to present a serious threat to New York’s reign as league champions in the near future. The Twins finished right behind the Yankees with 798 runs scored and 185 home runs, and their pitching staff featured two of the league’s top hurlers. Camilo Pascual finished 20-11, with a 3.32 ERA and a league-leading 18 complete games, five shutouts, and 206 strikeouts. Jim Kaat tied his teammate for the league lead with five shutouts, and he also placed among the leaders with 18 wins, a 3.14 ERA, 269 innings pitched, 16 complete games, and 173 strikeouts. Meanwhile, the trio of Rich Rollins, Bob Allison, and Harmon Killebrew paced the Twins on offense. Rollins batted .298, drove in 96 runs, and scored 96 others. Allison hit 29 homers, drove in 102 runs, and scored 102 others. Killebrew led the league with 48 home runs and 126 runs batted in.
Leon Wagner also had a big year for the surprising Angels, earning a fourth-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting by hitting 37 home runs and knocking in 107 runs. Rocky Colavito posted equally impressive numbers for the fourth-place Detroit Tigers, who finished just ½ game behind the Angels in the standings. Colavito hit 37 homers and drove in 112 runs.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• January 23 – The members of the BBWAA selected Bob Feller and Jackie Robinson for the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.
• January 28 – The Veterans Committee voted Edd Roush and Bill McKechnie into the Hall of Fame.
• May 5 - Bo Belinsky of the Angels threw a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles.
• June 26 - Earl Wilson of the Red Sox no-hit the Angels.
• July 10 – At newly opened D.C. Stadium, John F. Kennedy became the only U.S. president ever to throw the ceremonial first pitch at an All-Star Game, as the National League defeated the American League, 3–1, in the first All-Star Game of 1962.
• July 30 – Home runs by Leon Wagner, Pete Runnels, and Rocky Colavito powered the American League past the National League 9–4 in the second All-Star Game of 1962, played at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
• August 1 - Bill Monbouquette of Boston tossed a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox.
• August 26 - Jack Kralick of Minnesota no-hit the Kansas City Athletics.
• September 12 - Washington's Tom Cheney struck out 21 Baltimore Orioles in a 16-inning game that he won by a score of 2-1.
• Harmon Killebrew established a new major league record (since broken) by striking out 142 times.
• Boston's Pete Runnels posted a batting average of .326, en route to winning his second American League batting crown.
• Bill Fischer of Kansas City pitched a major league record 84-1/3 consecutive innings without issuing a walk.
• Detroit's Norm Cash set a major league record that still stands for the largest drop in batting average (118 points) by a defending league batting champion.
• Chicago’s Nellie Fox played in 150 or more games for an American League record 11th consecutive season.
• Eddie Yost retired with a record 28 homers leading off a game (since broken).
• Detroit’s Hank Aguirre led all A.L. hurlers with a 2.21 ERA.
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- 1962 World Series, Al Kaline, American League, Bill Fischer, Bill McKechnie, Bill Monbouquette, Bill Skowron, Bo Belinsky, Bob Allison, Bob Feller, Bobby Richardson, Brooks Robinson, Camilo Pascual, Clete Boyer, Earl Wilson, Edd Roush, Eddie Yost, Elston Howard, Hank Aguirre, Harmon Killebrew, Jack Kralick, Jack Sanford, Jackie Robinson, Jim Gentile, Jim Kaat, Leon Wagner, Mickey Mantle, Nellie Fox, New York Yankees, Norm Cash, Pete Runnels, Ralph Terry, Rich Rollins, Rocky Colavito, Roger Maris, San Francisco Giants, Tom Cheney, Tom Tresh, Whitey Ford, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey