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1964 Major League Baseball Season Set to Begin

Apr. 11, 1964 - The opening of the baseball season, a tradition as entrenched in American life as various spring festivals were in a dozen ancient cultures, is here again, but with several distinct signs that even traditional ceremonies are subject to new eras.

The 64th American League campaign will open tomorrow at Washington with the Los Angeles Angels facing the Senators, two clubs whose existence dates back only three years.

At Cincinnati at the same time, the Reds will make their customary early start against the Houston Colts to begin the 89th National League season. The Reds, the direct descendants of the first professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869, will be facing a team even newer than the Angels and the Senators.

Tuesday, in eight other cities, the remaining 16 teams will swing into action, including the world champion Dodgers in Los Angeles and the American League champion Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Friday, when the “second openers” take place in cities that provided visiting teams for the first set, attention will be focused on Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadow, where the New York Mets will open America’s newest big-league ballpark.

And before the season is half over, in July, a revolutionary step of incalculable consequences will be taken in California: both the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants will begin showing their games on pay television in private homes. The eventual development of this program may lead to riches — and to strife between players and management over division of the spoils.

The Yankees are once again overwhelming favorites for the American League pennant, which they’ve won four times in a row (under two managers), 13 times in the last 15 years, and 28 times since 1921 — or 65% of the time the last 43 years.

The Yankees expect the Minnesota Twins, with their home run power but shaky defense and thin pitching, to cause them the most trouble. Virtually on a par with the Twins and with one another are the Detroit Tigers, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Chicago White Sox.

In the National League, where the overthrow of the defending champions has been the rule for two decades, expert opinion is appropriately divided. The Dodgers, if good health can be assumed, are rated slight favorites, but the Giants, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Reds all have persuasive supporters. The young Philadelphia Phillies and the strengthened Milwaukee Braves are also viewed as having an outside shot at the pennant.

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