The Greatest Baseball Team in History Introduction

About a computer analysis of 8 of the best baseball teams of all-time to determine the greatest team in history.

What Was the Greatest Baseball Team in the Last Half Century?

Whenever baseball fans meet, one question always arises and one argument always ensues--which of the great baseball teams was the greatest in modern times?

There can never be a definitive answer, because all of the players were subject to human frailties upon occasion, because the teams were at their peaks in different years or even eras, and because the rules, the ball, and the size of the parks have changed. Still, in these days of technological advances, an almost definitive answer may be found, and in 1970 the National Broadcasting System sought to find such an answer.

In 1970, NBC set out to obtain a consensus of opinion on the 8 best baseball teams of the last 50 years. First, a panel of experts selected 2 teams--the 1951 New York Giants and the 1969 New York Mets--as candidates. To choose 6 additional teams, NBC held a national popularity poll among baseball fans. More than 7,000 fans submitted their choices in writing. Then the panel of experts--Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, major league public relations director Joe Reichler, NBC telecaster Curt Gowdy--screened the fans' 40 favorite teams to pick 6 more of the greatest ones.

The teams selected to join the 1951 New York Giants and 1969 New York Mets were the following: the 1927 New York Yankees; the 1929 Philadelphia Athletics; the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers; the 1942 St. Louis Cardinals; the 1961 New York Yankees; the 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers.

Among other teams that ranked high in the balloting, but could not be included in the tournament, were the 1931 and 1934 St. Louis Cardinals; the 1936 New York Yankees; the 1954 Cleveland Indians; the 1957 Milwaukee Braves; the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates; the 1966 and 1969 Baltimore Orioles; the 1967 Boston Red Sox; and the 1968 Detroit Tigers.

Once the 8 best teams had been selected, their complete records were fed into a computer by Computer Research in Sports, Inc., of Princeton, N.J. Then the 8 teams were paired off, and their scientifically computerized records were pitted against one another. The winners of the 1st 4 games met in 2 semifinal computerized matches, and the 2 finalists met in the big championship game.

What emerged, finally, was a scientific answer to the persisting question--which was the best baseball team in the world between 1920 and 1970?

Now, through special permission of NBC Sports, New York, The People's Almanac is reproducing the complete results of this All-Great Baseball Tournament.

But 1st, a look at the players on the 8 top teams--

The tournament was studded with outstanding baseball names. The 1927 Yankees easily led the field in votes garnered. That was the "Murderers Row" team of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, Tony Lazzeri, and the year Ruth hit 60 home runs.

The Yankees of 1961 captured the imagination of the sports world as Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle made their assault on Ruth's home-run record.

The 1955 Dodgers were the 1st of a long list of Brooklyn pennant winners to capture a World Series crown. And they did it against their archrivals, the New York Yankees. Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges, and Don Newcombe led that club.

Another Dodger team was prominently mentioned in the balloting, but this group had a different look and a different home. The 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers had such standouts as 25-game-winner Sandy Koufax, 19-game-winner Don Drysdale, Tommy Davis (the league's leading batter for the 2nd straight year), Maury Wills, and Frank Howard.

The 1929 Athletics boasted Hall of Fame's Jimmy Foxx, Lefty Grove, Al Simmons, and Mickey Cochrane. Simmons led the league with 157 runs batted in, and Grove posted a league leading, earned-run average of 2.81 as Philadelphia won 104 games.

The 1942 Cardinals registered a 106-48 won-lost slate and had the National League's 2nd and 3rd leading hitters in Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial. Mort Cooper was the top mounds-man with a 22-7 record.

Now, Play Ball!

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