Mains: The Year of the Pitcher, 50 years ago

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on April 16, 2018:

Heading into the 1968 season, there were three big trends facing Major League Baseball.

First, the prior 1967 season had been thrilling, with three American League clubs in contention for the pennant until the season’s final day. However, teams scored only 3.77 runs per game, the fewest since the deadball 1918 season. Sportswriter Vito Stellino noted that this was “a trend that is starting to worry baseball officials since low-scoring games bore the fans who like a lot of action.”

Second, perhaps reflecting the lack of scoring, MLB attendance fell by nearly a million patrons from 1966 to 1967, from 25.2 million to 24.3 million. The National Football League, prodded by the success of the upstart American Football League, was growing in popularity. The AFL’s marquee player, Jets quarterback Joe Namath, had made headlines, setting a professional record by passing for over 4,000 yards in 1967. (And this was when teams played a 14-game schedule.) The National Pastime was losing ground to the gridiron.

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Originally published: April 16, 2018. Last Updated: April 16, 2018.