1968 Baseball’s Opening Day and Dr. King

The_Lorraine_Motel,_site_of_the_Martin_Luther_King_assassination_and_the_National_Civil_Rights_Museum.

From Sport in American History by Jonathan Mercantini author Who Shall Rule at Home?: The Evolution of South Carolina Political Culture, 1748–-1776:

The 1968 baseball season was scheduled to start on April 8. Not every team was slated to play on Opening Day  half a century ago; but 1968 was one of the most dramatic years in the history of America and of baseball. It was a year of assassinations, political protests, and social upheaval. Although the baseball season is now well underway, one need not look hard to find similarities to today with a nation divided on ideological lines. And sports would intersect with politics throughout that tumultuous year.

In baseball, 1968 was the year of the pitcher. Bob Gibson finished the 1968 season with a remarkable 1.12 ERA. Denny McClain of the Tigers became the last pitcher to win thirty games in a season. The overall American League batting average was .230 and batting champion Carl Yastrzemski was the only AL player to hit over .300 for the season. Gibson’s Cardinals would face McClain’s Tigers in a taut seven game World Series, won by the Tigers. 1968 would be the last post-season with one playoff round, as baseball created Eastern and Western Divisions and added a League Championship Series for the 1969 season.

The start of the 1968 season was delayed by two days, as teams, like the rest of the country, mourned the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was shot and killed on the evening of Thursday, April 4, 1968.

Read the rest of the article at Sport in American History

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Categories: African American History, Sports History

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