Despite losing both Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris for extended periods of time with injuries, the New York Yankees captured their fourth straight American League pennant in 1963, finishing the regular season with a record of 104-57, 10 ½ games in front of the second-place Chicago White Sox. The Minnesota Twins finished third, 13 games off the pace.
The losses of Mantle and Maris hurt New York’s offense considerably. Mantle appeared in only 65 games and accumulated just 172 at-bats. Maris played in only 90 games and came to the plate a total of just 312 times. As a result, the Yankees scored 103 fewer runs than they tallied one year earlier. Nevertheless, they remained the most well-balanced team in the American League, finishing second in the circuit with 714 runs scored, 188 home runs, a .252 team batting average, and a 3.07 team earned run average.
Whitey Ford anchored New York’s deep pitching staff, leading all A.L. hurlers with a record of 24-7 and 269 innings pitched. He also compiled an outstanding 2.74 ERA, en route to earning a third-place finish in the league MVP voting. Ralph Terry followed up his exceptional 1962 campaign with another solid season, posting 17 victories and a 3.22 ERA, while finishing second to Ford with 268 innings pitched and leading the league with 18 complete games. Jim Bouton compiled a record of 21-7 and finished among the league leaders with a 2.53 ERA, six shutouts, and 249 innings pitched. In his first full season, Al Downing went 13-5, with a 2.56 ERA and 171 strikeouts in only 175 innings of work
Joe Pepitone, Tom Tresh, and Elston Howard led New York on offense. Pepitone hit 27 home runs and knocked in 89 runs. Tresh hit 25 homers and finished third in the league with 91 runs scored. In addition to establishing himself as New York’s on-field leader in the absence of Mantle and Maris, Howard hit 28 home runs, drove in 85 runs, and batted .287, en route to earning A.L. MVP honors.
Mantle and Maris returned to the Yankees in time to participate in the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their presence hardly mattered, though. Dodger pitchers dominated Yankee batters throughout the Series, surrendering a total of only four runs to New York during the four-game sweep. Sandy Koufax hurled two complete-game victories, while Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres baffled New York’s lineup in the other two contests. The sweep marked the first time ever the Yankees were eliminated from the Fall Classic in four straight games.
Although the Yankees represented the American League in the World Series, they had neither the league’s top offense nor its best pitching staff. The third-place Minnesota Twins possessed the junior circuit’s most potent offense, finishing first in the league with 767 runs scored, 225 home runs, and a .255 team batting average. Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, and rookie centerfielder Jimmie Hall paced the Minnesota attack. Although Killebrew batted just .258, he knocked in 96 runs and led the league with 45 home runs and a .555 slugging percentage. Allison hit 35 homers, drove in 91 runs, batted .271, and topped the circuit with 99 runs scored. Hall slugged 33 homers, knocked in 80 runs, and scored another 88.
Meanwhile, the runner-up Chicago White Sox featured a pitching staff that compiled a league-best 2.97 team ERA. Left-handers Gary Peters and Juan Pizarro served as Chicago’s top two starters. A.L. Rookie of the Year Peters finished 19-8 with a league-leading 2.33 ERA. Pizarro posted a record of 16-8 and placed second to his teammate with a 2.39 ERA.
The sixth-place Detroit Tigers and seventh-place Boston Red Sox had arguably the league’s two best all-around players. Al Kaline hit 27 home runs, knocked in 101 runs, and batted .312 for the Tigers. Carl Yastrzemski also had an outstanding year for the Red Sox, topping the circuit with a .321 batting average, 183 hits, 40 doubles, 95 walks, and a .419 on-base percentage.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• July 13 – Early Wynn of the Cleveland Indians earned his 300th career win.
• Chicago White Sox third baseman Pete Ward finished second to teammate Gary Peters in the A.L. Rookie of the Year voting. Ward hit 22 homers, drove in 84 runs, and batted .295.
• By winning the A.L. MVP Award, Elston Howard became the first black player to attain the honor.
• Chicago’s Dave Nicholson established a new major league record by striking out 175 times.
• Despite pitching for seventh-place Boston, reliever Dick Radatz saved 25 games, posted a record of 15-6, and struck out 162 batters in 132 1/3 innings of work.
• The Veterans Committee voted John Clarkson, Elmer Flick, Sam Rice, and Eppa Rixey into the Hall of Fame..
• Rogers Hornsby died.
• Frank “Home Run” Baker died.
• By hitting 42 home runs for Boston, Dick Stuart became the first player to hit 30 or more homers in a season in both leagues. Stuart also led the American League with 118 runs batted in and 319 total bases.
• Luis Aparicio led the league with 40 stolen bases.
• Baltimore’s Stu Miller led the majors with 27 saves.
• Minnesota’s Camilo Pascual won 21 games and led all A.L. hurlers with 202 strikeouts.
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- 1963 World Series, Al Downing, Al Kaline, American League, Bob Allison, Camilo Pascual, Carl Yastrzemski, Dave Nicholson, Dick Radatz, Dick Stuart, Don Drysdale, Early Wynn, Elmer Flick, Elston Howard, Eppa Rixey, Frank Baker, Gary Peters, Harmon Killebrew, Jim Bouton, Jimmie Hall, Joe Pepitone, John Clarkson, Johnny Podres, Juan Pizarro, Los Angeles Dodgers, Luis Aparicio, Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees, Pete Ward, Ralph Terry, Roger Maris, Rogers Hornsby, Sam Rice, Sandy Koufax, Stu Miller, Tom Tresh, Whitey Ford