Rick Monday, 22, led all of baseball in April with a .453 average and edged baseball’s RBI leader Reggie Smith of Boston for Player of the Month honors in the American League. Though Smith leads the majors with 18 RBI, the honors went to the No. 1 selection from the first ever amateur draft in 1965, Rick Monday from Arizona State. Monday is one of three youngsters in the A’s lineup that has boosted Oakland into the first division. Sal Bando and Reggie Jackson, also from Arizona State, have been key contributors. Oakland pitchers should also be credited with the success in Oakland. Jim Nash opened the season with 26 consecutive shutout innings before allowing a pair of earned runs in a victory in Detroit. Nash finished the month 3-0 with a 0.62 ERA, but he finished second to Chicago’s Tommy John for Pitcher of the Month honors. John won all three of his April starts with a 0.35 ERA, allowing only one run in 26 innings and striking out 20 while walking six. Nash also struck out 20 in 29 innings and issued only one base on balls.
In the National League, Giant slugger Jim Ray Hart won his second consecutive Player of the Month award. Hart, who won the award last September, led the NL with 16 RBI. Hart batted .353 with six home runs. On the mound, a loss to younger brother, Joe, likely cost Atlanta knuckleballer Phil Niekro Pitcher of the Month laurels. Niekro was 3-1 with four complete games and two shutouts in four April starts. Niekro has a 0.77 league leading ERA, but the honors went to fireballer Bob Gibson of St. Louis. Hoot was a perfect 4-0 in his four starts with three complete games and a 2.06 ERA for the first-place Cardinals.