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Series Wrapup

Story

Buoyed by their return to a remodeled and refurbished Yankee Stadium, as well as their off-season acquisitions of Mickey Rivers, Willie Randolph, Ed Figueroa, and Dock Ellis, the New York Yankees advanced to the postseason for the first time in 12 years in 1976.  The Yankees captured their first A.L. East title, finishing the regular season with a record of 97-62, 10 ½ games ahead of the second-place Baltimore Orioles.  

The American League’s most well-balanced ball club, the Yankees posted a league-leading 3.19 team ERA, and they also placed second in the circuit with 730 runs scored, 120 home runs, and a .269 team batting average.  Catfish Hunter anchored New York’s pitching staff, winning 17 games and finishing among the league leaders with 298 innings pitched and 21 complete games.  Ed Figueroa led the team with 19 victories and a 3.02 ERA.  Dock Ellis gave the Yankees a third reliable starter, compiling a record of 17-8 and an ERA of 3.19.  Bullpen ace Sparky Lyle led the league with 23 saves.

On offense, New York unveiled a more aggressive brand of baseball under manager Billy Martin, who replaced the fired Bill Virdon four months into the previous campaign.  After stealing only 102 bases as a team in 1975, the Yankees swiped 163 bags in their first full year under Martin.  Mickey Rivers and Willie Randolph symbolized the club’s more aggressive approach on offense.  Rivers led New York with 43 stolen bases and a .312 batting average, and he also finished second on the team with 95 runs scored.  Randolph placed second to Rivers on the club with 37 steals.  Veteran left-fielder Roy White swiped 31 bases, batted .286 and led the league with 104 runs scored.  Chris Chambliss hit 17 homers, drove in 96 runs, and batted .293.  Graig Nettles supplied much of the power, leading the league with 32 home runs, while also knocking in 93 runs and scoring 88 others.  Thurman Munson earned A.L. MVP honors by batting .302, hitting 17 home runs, finishing second in the league with 105 runs batted in, and placing among the leaders with 186 hits.  

While the Yankees made their first postseason appearance in 12 years, the Kansas City Royals advanced to the playoffs for the first time in their eight-year history.  Kansas City ended Oakland’s five-year reign as A.L. West champs by capturing the division title with a record of 90-72.  The A’s finished a close second, only 2 ½ games back, while the Twins came in third, just five games off the pace.

Oakland remained a very solid team, finishing fifth in the junior circuit with 686 runs scored, while also posting the third-lowest team ERA in the league (3.26).  Joe Rudi, Sal Bando, Bill North, and Vida Blue all had solid seasons for the defending champions.  Rudi scored 94 runs, Bando hit 27 home runs and drove in 84 runs, and North scored 91 runs and led the league with 75 stolen bases.  Meanwhile, Blue won 18 games and led the Oakland staff with a 2.35 ERA, 298 innings pitched, and 20 complete games.  But, with Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson playing for other teams, the A's found themselves unable to overcome Kansas City's combination of speed, timely hitting, and solid pitching.  

Although the Royals hit only 65 home runs as a team, they finished fourth in the league in runs scored.  They also placed second in the circuit with 218 stolen bases, and they finished right behind the Yankees with a team ERA of 3.21.

Dennis Leonard led Kansas City's pitching staff with 17 wins, 259 innings pitched, and 16 complete games.  On offense, diminutive shortstop Fred Patek placed among the league leaders with 51 stolen bases.  First baseman John Mayberry led the club with 95 runs batted in.  Centerfielder Amos Otis hit 18 home runs, drove in 86 runs, scored 93 others, batted .279, stole 26 bases, and led the league with 40 doubles.  Splitting his time between the outfield and designated hitter, Hal McRae placed a close second in the A.L. batting race with a mark of .332.   Finishing just ahead of his teammate was Royals third baseman George Brett, who won the first of his three batting titles with a mark of .333.  Brett also scored 94 runs and topped the circuit with 215 hits, 14 triples, and 298 total bases, en route to earning a second-place finish in the league MVP balloting.

Facing each other for the first of three consecutive times in the ALCS, the Yankees and Royals engaged in a classic best-of-five playoff matchup.  The teams split the first four contests, setting the stage for a decisive Game Seven at Yankee Stadium.  New York took a 6-3 lead into the top of the eighth inning, but Brett evened the score with a three-run homer off Yankee reliever Grant Jackson into the lower right-field stands.  The score remained knotted at six until Chris Chambliss hit Mark Littell’s first pitch of the bottom of the ninth inning over the right field wall, barely out of the reach of a leaping Hal McRae.  The homer put New York in the World Series for the first time in 12 years, sending Yankee Stadium into a frenzy.

The celebration turned out to be short-lived, though, since New York proved to be no much for the powerful Cincinnati Reds in the Fall Classic.  Cincinnati swept the Yankees in four straight games, outscoring them 22 to 8, and outhitting them .313 to .222.  Johnny Bench earned Series MVP honors for the Reds by hitting two homers, driving in six runs, and batting .533.  Thurman Munson was New York’s lone bright spot, collecting nine hits in 17 times at-bat, for a .529 batting average.

Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:

• January 15 - Seattle was awarded with the American League's 13th franchise, to begin play in 1977.

• April 2 - The Oakland Athletics traded prospective free agents Reggie Jackson and Ken Holtzman to the Orioles for outfielder Don Baylor and pitchers Mike Torrez and Paul Mitchell.

• April 15 – The Yankees christened newly remodeled Yankee Stadium with an 11-4 win over the Minnesota Twins in front of 52,613 fans.  Bob Shawkey, winner of the 1923 Stadium opener, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.  Minnesota’s Dan Ford hit the first home run in the renovated ballpark.  

• May 20 - At Yankee Stadium, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees engaged in an ugly on-field brawl that began when Lou Piniella barreled over Carlton Fisk while trying to score in the bottom of the sixth inning.  Both benches cleared after Piniella and Fisk subsequently battled one another at home plate.  After the fighting apparently ended, Bill Lee and Graig Nettles exchanged words, leading to another altercation that resulted in Lee separating his shoulder and missing most of the season.

• July 20 - Hank Aaron hit the 755th and last home run of his career, connecting off Dick Drago of the California Angels.

• November 9 - The Oakland Athletics released Billy Williams, ending his career with 2,711 hits, 426 home runs, 1,475 RBIs, and a .290 batting average.

• November 29 - Free agent Reggie Jackson signed a five-year deal with the New York Yankees worth $3.5 million.

• December 4 - Aurelio Rodríguez of the Detroit Tigers became the first American League third baseman since 1959 to beat out Brooks Robinson for the Gold Glove Award.

• December 6 - The Boston Red Sox traded Cecil Cooper to the Milwaukee Brewers for George Scott and Bernie Carbo.

• Detroit’s Mark “The Bird” Fidrych (19 wins, 2.34 ERA, 24 complete games) earned A.L. Rookie of the Year honors.

• Baltimore’s Jim Palmer compiled an ERA of 2.51 and led the league with 22 wins and 315 innings pitched, en route to winning his third A.L. Cy Young Award.  

• Oakland established a new major league record by stealing 341 bases.

• In June, Charley Finley tried to sell Joe Rudi, Rollie Fingers, and Vida Blue, but commissioner Bowie Kuhn vetoed the deals.

• George Brett edged out teammate Hal McRae for the batting title in his last at-bat of the season when Minnesota outfielder Steve Brye seemed to deliberately misplay Brett’s fly ball.  McRae subsequently accused Brye and/or Minnesota manager Gene Mauch of racism.

• Hank Aaron retired as baseball’s all-time leader in home runs (755), runs batted in (2,297), and total bases (6,856).

• Blue Moon Odom and Francisco Barrios of Chicago pitched a combined no-hitter vs. Oakland on July 28.

• On September 12, Chicago’s 54-year-old Minnie Minoso became the oldest player to get a hit in a major league game.

• Three members of the A's, Bill North (75), Bert Campaneris (54), and Don Baylor (52), stole more than 50 bases.

• The Hall of Fame inducted Robin Roberts, Bob Lemon, Roger Connor, Fred Lindstrom, Cal Hubbard, and Oscar Charleston.

• Danny Thompson died of leukemia.

• Hall of Famers Earle Combs, Max Cary, and Red Faber all passed away.

• Detroit's Ron LeFlore hit safely in 30 consecutive games.

• Detroit's Bill Freehan retired with a .993 career fielding average - a record for catchers.

• Baltimore's Lee May hit 25 home runs and led the American League with 109 runs batted in.

• Oriole teammate Reggie Jackson knocked in 91 runs, finished second in the league with 27 home runs, and topped the circuit with a .502 slugging average.

• Nolan Ryan led the league with 327 strikeouts.

Batting

TM G AB R H RBI AVG 2B 3B HR SB CS TB OBP SLG OPSLG GIDP SF SH
BAL 2104 5457 619 1326 576 .222 213 28 119 150 61 1952 .314 .317 .632 119 35 57
BOS 2003 5511 716 1448 664 .199 257 53 134 95 70 2213 .331 .309 .702 127 59 55
CAL 2199 5385 550 1265 511 .198 210 23 63 126 80 1710 .317 .270 .598 130 48 92
CHA 2053 5532 586 1410 538 .207 209 46 73 120 53 1930 .295 .283 .589 104 55 79
CLE 2091 5412 615 1423 567 .261 189 38 85 75 69 1943 .346 .337 .684 143 60 67
DET 2046 5441 609 1401 566 .223 207 38 101 107 59 1987 .325 .309 .664 157 50 46
KCA 2189 5540 713 1490 656 .236 259 57 65 218 106 2058 .331 .309 .656 103 71 71
MIN 2111 5574 743 1526 691 .256 222 51 81 146 75 2093 .357 .339 .696 121 49 93
ML4 2103 5396 570 1326 536 .223 170 38 88 62 61 1836 .318 .305 .623 112 48 78
NYA 1985 5555 730 1496 682 .209 231 36 120 163 65 2159 .329 .279 .645 94 46 50
OAK 2210 5353 686 1319 625 .200 208 33 113 341 123 1932 .381 .281 .663 91 58 58
TEX 2038 5555 616 1390 574 .259 213 26 80 87 45 1895 .369 .340 .710 141 45 72

Pitching

Team G W L IP SO BB BF H HR ERA ER R GC SH SV WP BK
BAL 333 88 74 1470 678 489 6137 1396 80 53.310 541 598 59 14 23 37 3
BOS 357 83 79 1458 673 409 6153 1495 109 40.900 571 660 49 9 27 33 1
CAL 339 76 86 1476 992 553 6185 1323 95 79.050 551 631 64 13 17 27 2
CHA 327 64 97 1447 802 600 6246 1460 87 76.030 684 745 54 5 22 40 6
CLE 396 81 78 1432 928 533 6025 1361 80 56.200 554 615 30 10 46 41 7
DET 325 74 87 1432 738 550 6130 1426 101 52.350 616 709 55 12 20 45 4
KCA 410 90 72 1473 735 493 6132 1356 83 58.900 525 611 41 9 35 29 5
MIN 383 85 77 1457 762 610 6235 1421 89 51.830 603 704 29 9 23 61 12
ML4 363 66 95 1434 677 567 6139 1406 99 82.770 581 655 45 8 27 53 6
NYA 315 97 62 1457 674 448 5966 1300 97 42.780 516 575 62 13 37 39 3
OAK 394 87 74 1459 711 415 6108 1412 96 47.850 528 598 39 13 29 40 2
TEX 358 76 86 1472 773 461 6209 1464 106 72.330 567 652 63 15 15 46 9

Fielding

Team ID G TC PO A E Fld% InOuts SB CS CS% PB
BAL 2644 7669 5616 1906 147 .978 17630 127 65 1.00 7
BOS 2482 7572 5606 1805 161 .966 17495 115 60 0 8
CAL 2718 7570 5529 1871 170 .956 17728 191 88 0 15
CHA 2567 7464 5487 1826 151 .970 17376 151 82 1.00 5
CLE 2569 7258 5367 1754 137 .975 17183 163 72 0 10
DET 2429 7554 5349 2005 200 .966 17177 140 71 1.00 7
KCA 2671 7631 5586 1886 159 .971 17670 146 66 0 9
MIN 2598 7593 5538 1860 195 .958 17506 157 81 0 11
ML4 2596 7485 5544 1762 179 .964 17221 144 69 0 17
NYA 2433 7592 5584 1859 149 .958 17461 110 67 2.00 16
OAK 2686 7557 5538 1847 172 .972 17511 126 63 1.00 11
TEX 2547 7646 5614 1858 174 .961 17662 120 82 1.00 11

West

team W L Att Rk SOP
Kansas City Royals 90 72 1680265 1 735
Oakland Athletics 87 74 780593 2 711
Minnesota Twins 85 77 715394 3 762
Texas Rangers 76 86 1164982 4 773
California Angels 76 86 1006774 4 992
Chicago White Sox 64 97 914945 6 802

Central

East

team W L Att Rk SOP
New York Yankees 97 62 2012434 1 674
Baltimore Orioles 88 74 1058609 2 678
Boston Red Sox 83 79 1895846 3 673
Cleveland Indians 81 78 948776 4 928
Detroit Tigers 74 87 1467020 5 738
Milwaukee Brewers 66 95 1012164 6 677

Awards

Silver Slugger

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Tagged:
1976 AL Batting Champ Controversy, 1976 ALCS, 1976 World Series, American League, Amos Otis, Aurelio Rodriguez, Bernie Carbo, Bert Campaneris, Bill Freehan, Bill Lee, Billy Martin, Billy North, Billy Williams, Carlton Fisk, Catfish Hunter, Cecil Cooper, Charles Finley, Chris Chambliss, Dan Ford, Danny Thompson, Dennis Leonard, Dick Drago, Dock Ellis, Don Baylor, Ed Figueroa, Freddie Patek, George Brett, George Scott, Graig Nettles, Grant Jackson, Hal McRae, Hank Aaron, Jim Palmer, Joe Rudi, John Mayberry, Kansas City Royals, Ken Holtzman, Lee May, Lou Piniella, Mark Fidrych, Mark Littell, Mickey Rivers, Mike Torrez, New York Yankees, Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Ron LeFlore, Roy White, Sal Bando, Sparky Lyle, Thurman Munson, Vida Blue, Willie Randolph

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