TheBaseballPage.com

Series Wrapup

Story

The two-time defending world champion New York Yankees suffered through a demoralizing 1979 campaign during which they lost their beloved captain Thurman Munson in a plane crash.  The loss of Munson, coupled with a hand injury suffered by relief ace Goose Gossage during a clubhouse altercation with teammate Cliff Johnson, prevented the Yankees from mounting a serious challenge for their fourth consecutive A.L. East title.  Instead, the Baltimore Orioles returned to the top of the division standings for the first time in five years by compiling baseball’s best record – a mark of 102-57 that put them eight games ahead of the second-place Milwaukee Brewers in the final standings.  The Boston Red Sox finished third in the division, 11 ½ games back, while the Yankees came in fourth, 13 ½ games off the pace.
 
Both the Brewers and the Red Sox featured more potent offenses than the Orioles.  Gorman Thomas, Cecil Cooper, and Sixto Lezcano all had big years for Milwaukee.  Thomas knocked in 123 runs and led the league with 45 home runs.  Cooper hit 24 homers, drove in 106 runs, and batted .308.  Lezcano went deep 28 times, knocked in 101 runs, and batted .321.

The tandem of Jim Rice and Fred Lynn led Boston’s potent attack.  Rice followed up his fabulous 1978 campaign by placing among the league leaders with 39 homers, 130 runs batted in, 117 runs scored, and a .325 batting average.  Lynn posted equally impressive numbers, also hitting 39 home runs, while driving in 122 runs, scoring 116 others, and leading the league with a .333 batting average and a .637 slugging average.

Although the Orioles placed third in the American League with 181 home runs, they lacked the offensive firepower of their two closest rivals.  The Birds finished just eighth in the junior circuit with 757 runs scored, and their team batting average of .261 left them 11th in the rankings.  Eddie Murray and Ken Singleton were the club’s top two offensive threats.  Murray hit 25 home runs, drove in 99 runs, scored 90 others, and batted .295.  Singleton hit 35 homers, knocked in 111 runs, scored 93 others, batted .295, and compiled a .405 on-base percentage, en route to earning a second-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting.

The thing that enabled the Orioles to separate themselves from Milwaukee and Boston in the A.L. East was their superior pitching.  Baltimore’s staff compiled a league-leading 3.26 team ERA that no other team in the junior circuit even approached.  Mike Flanagan anchored the starting rotation, earning A.L. Cy Young honors by leading the league with 23 wins and five shutouts, while also compiling a 3.08 ERA and throwing 266 innings and 16 complete games.  Dennis Martinez chipped in with 15 victories and a league-leading 292 innings pitched and 18 complete games.

While the Orioles had a relatively easy time finishing first in the A.L. East, the California Angels found the going much tougher in the junior circuit’s other division.  The Angels outlasted three other teams in the closely-contested A.L. West, to capture their first division title.  California finished the regular season with a record of 88-74, just three games ahead of the Kansas City Royals, who failed to advance to the postseason for the first time in four years.  The Texas Rangers finished third, five games back, while the Minnesota Twins came in fourth, six games off the pace.

The Angels used the league’s top offense to win their first division crown.  Although California placed ninth in the circuit with a team ERA of 4.34, their 866 runs scored led all American League teams.  Brian Downing scored 87 runs and finished third in the league with a .326 batting average.  Bobby Grich hit 30 home runs, drove in 101 runs, and batted .294.  Carney Lansford hit 19 homers, batted .287, and scored 114 times.  Dan Ford hit 21 home runs, knocked in 101 runs, scored 100 others, and batted .290.  Don Baylor earned A.L. MVP honors by batting .296, hitting 36 home runs, and topping the circuit with 139 runs batted in and 120 runs scored. 

However, Baltimore’s superior pitching proved to be too much for the Angels to overcome in the ALCS.  The Orioles captured their first pennant in eight years by defeating the Angels in four games.  Nevertheless, the Series was a competitive one, with two of the contests being decided by a single run, and a third going into extra innings. 

The Orioles subsequently built a three-games-to-one lead against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series, before their National League counterparts came storming back to win the final three games.  Willie Stargell led the charge for the Pirates, earning Series MVP honors by batting .400, hitting three homers, driving in seven runs, and scoring seven others. 

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

• February 3 – The Minnesota Twins traded Rod Carew to the California Angels for Ken Landreaux, Dave Engle, Paul Hartzell and Brad Havens.

• June 12 – The Detroit Tigers hired Sparky Anderson as their new manager.

• July 12 – The Detroit Tigers won the first game of a scheduled doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox, 4–1, on Disco Demolition Night at Chicago's Comiskey Park.  Thousands of young fans swarmed onto the field between games, damaging the field and causing mayhem throughout the stadium.  The White Sox were forced to forfeit the second game.

• July 24 – Boston's Carl Yastrzemski hit his 400th home run off Oakland Athletics pitcher Mike Morgan during a 7-3 Red Sox win over Oakland at Fenway Park.

• August 2 – The Chicago White Sox replaced Don Kessinger as their manager with rookie skipper Tony La Russa.

• August 2 – Yankee captain Thurman Munson lost his life in a plane crash.

• August 3 – Over 51,000 mourners attended a memorial service for Thurman Munson at Yankee Stadium.

• August 6 – Hours after attending a funeral service in Canton, Ohio for team captain Thurman Munson, the Yankees returned to New York City and defeated the Baltimore Orioles 5–4 at Yankee Stadium.  Bobby Murcer, one of Munson’s closest friends, provided the heroics in the nationally televised contest, driving in all five Yankee runs with a three-run home run in the seventh inning and a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth.

• September 12 – Carl Yastrzemski recorded his 3,000th career hit, making him the first American League player to reach both 3,000 hits and 400 home runs.

• Kansas City’s George Brett became the first player since Willie Mays in 1957 to surpass 20 homers, 20 triples, and 20 doubles in the same season.  Brett finished the year with 23 home runs, 42 doubles, and a league-leading 20 triples.  He also batted .329, knocked in 107 runs, scored 119 others, stole 17 bases, and led the league with 212 hits.   

• New York’s Ron Guidry finished 18-8 with a league-leading 2.78 ERA.

• Minnesota’s John Castino (.285 batting average) and Toronto’s Alfredo Griffin (.287 batting average) shared A.L. Rookie of the Year honors.

• Billy Martin replaced Bob Lemon as Yankee manager 64 games into the season. 

• The Hall of Fame inducted Willie Mays, Warren Giles, and Hack Wilson.

• Ranger third baseman Buddy Bell won the first of six consecutive Gold Gloves.

• Kansas City's Willie Wilson led the American League with 83 stolen bases.

• Walter O'Malley died.

• Nolan Ryan led the American League with 223 strikeouts in his last season with California.

• New York’s Tommy John placed second in the American League with 21 wins, a 2.97 ERA, 276 innings pitched, and 17 complete games.

 

Batting

TM G AB R H RBI AVG 2B 3B HR SB CS TB OBP SLG OPSLG GIDP SF SH
BAL 2143 5371 757 1401 717 .216 258 24 181 99 49 2250 .354 .339 .727 143 54 42
BOS 2076 5538 841 1567 805 .245 310 34 194 60 43 2527 .369 .375 .784 158 59 42
CAL 2038 5550 866 1563 808 .226 242 43 164 100 53 2383 .346 .318 .694 136 56 79
CHA 2205 5463 730 1505 680 .251 290 33 127 97 62 2242 .345 .373 .719 151 45 58
CLE 2123 5376 760 1388 707 .248 206 29 138 143 90 2066 .381 .363 .745 122 60 70
DET 2109 5375 770 1446 729 .250 221 35 164 176 86 2229 .361 .386 .747 140 52 56
KCA 2162 5653 851 1596 791 .266 286 79 116 207 76 2388 .351 .383 .735 114 76 57
MIN 2244 5544 764 1544 714 .247 256 46 112 66 45 2228 .378 .348 .764 116 53 142
ML4 1912 5536 807 1552 766 .301 291 41 185 100 53 2480 .385 .444 .829 130 50 72
NYA 2096 5421 734 1443 694 .238 226 40 150 65 46 2199 .324 .347 .683 148 63 50
OAK 2027 5348 573 1276 541 .212 188 32 108 104 69 1852 .313 .299 .627 131 46 75
SEA 2182 5544 711 1490 676 .306 250 52 132 126 52 2240 .397 .421 .819 158 54 61
TEX 2239 5562 750 1549 718 .254 252 26 140 79 51 2273 .352 .369 .721 135 59 78
TOR 2010 5423 613 1362 562 .207 253 34 95 75 56 1968 .304 .300 .604 131 38 65

Pitching

Team G W L IP SO BB BF H HR ERA ER R GC SH SV WP BK
BAL 326 102 57 1436 786 467 5897 1279 133 30.220 522 582 52 10 30 36 5
BOS 358 91 69 1432 731 463 6120 1487 133 66.870 641 711 47 9 29 31 3
CAL 371 88 74 1436 820 573 6213 1463 131 74.140 692 768 46 9 33 53 5
CHA 395 73 86 1410 675 618 6117 1365 114 107.940 647 748 28 9 37 50 7
CLE 402 81 80 1434 781 570 6236 1502 138 68.350 729 805 28 5 32 44 5
DET 381 84 76 1424 802 547 6111 1429 167 88.630 677 738 25 2 37 51 4
KCA 401 85 77 1450 640 536 6242 1477 165 79.280 717 816 42 7 27 40 2
MIN 376 82 80 1445 721 452 6157 1590 128 70.600 667 725 31 3 33 39 7
ML4 365 95 66 1439 580 381 6106 1563 162 76.930 646 722 61 12 23 48 1
NYA 377 89 71 1430 731 455 6001 1446 123 76.650 613 672 43 8 37 45 1
OAK 405 54 108 1431 726 654 6436 1606 147 64.810 759 860 41 3 20 72 4
SEA 379 67 95 1437 736 571 6314 1567 165 95.340 736 820 37 5 26 43 2
TEX 379 83 79 1436 773 532 6092 1371 135 71.150 617 698 26 5 42 37 2
TOR 357 53 109 1417 613 594 6220 1537 165 91.190 763 862 44 6 11 64 7

Fielding

Team ID G TC PO A E Fld% InOuts SB CS CS% PB
BAL 2672 7346 5409 1792 145 .968 17215 88 58 0 10
BOS 2503 7436 5384 1890 162 .971 17175 116 41 0 20
CAL 2523 7325 5531 1636 158 .963 17231 138 51 0 12
CHA 2721 7441 5367 1868 206 .967 16908 135 66 0 17
CLE 2605 7347 5515 1673 159 .953 17187 146 47 0 16
DET 2605 7249 5316 1797 136 .971 17079 97 65 0 24
KCA 2607 7530 5557 1810 163 .973 17379 75 59 0 15
MIN 2778 7615 5406 2049 160 .974 17328 77 71 1.00 5
ML4 2420 7580 5506 1930 144 .972 17276 97 60 1.00 10
NYA 2590 7553 5398 2010 145 .977 17186 83 55 0 15
OAK 2552 7439 5482 1756 201 .973 17154 117 86 0 15
SEA 2703 7550 5473 1915 162 .955 17255 152 58 0 7
TEX 2717 7420 5368 1904 148 .979 17243 90 58 1.00 8
TOR 2507 7521 5404 1928 189 .971 17002 85 56 0 8

West

team W L Att Rk SOP
California Angels 88 74 2523575 1 820
Kansas City Royals 85 77 2261845 2 640
Texas Rangers 83 79 1519671 3 773
Minnesota Twins 82 80 1070521 4 721
Chicago White Sox 73 87 1280702 5 675
Seattle Mariners 67 95 844447 6 736
Oakland Athletics 54 108 306763 7 726

Central

East

team W L Att Rk SOP
Baltimore Orioles 102 57 1681009 1 786
Milwaukee Brewers 95 66 1918343 2 580
Boston Red Sox 91 69 2353114 3 731
New York Yankees 89 71 2537765 4 731
Detroit Tigers 85 76 1630929 5 802
Cleveland Indians 81 80 1011644 6 781
Toronto Blue Jays 53 109 1431651 7 613

Awards

Silver Slugger

More From Around the Web

This day in baseball history

September 30

  • 1999

    The largest regular-season crowd in Candlestick Park history ...

  • 1998

    On September 30, 1998, former major leaguer Dan Quisenberry ...

  • 1992

    On September 30, 1992, George Brett of the Kansas City Royal ...

More Baseball History
Tagged:
1979 ALCS, 1979 World Series, Alfredo Griffin, American League, Baltimore Orioles, Billy Martin, Bob Lemon, Bobby Grich, Bobby Murcer, Brian Downing, Buddy Bell, California Angels, Carl Yastrzemski, Carney Lansford, Cecil Cooper, Cliff Johnson, Dan Ford, Dennis Martinez, Don Baylor, Don Kessinger, Eddie Murray, Fred Lynn, George Brett, Gorman Thomas, Jim Rice, John Castino, Ken Singleton, Mike Flanagan, Nolan Ryan, Rich Gossage, Rod Carew, Ron Guidry, Sixto Lezcano, Sparky Anderson, Thurman Munson, Tommy John, Tony LaRussa, Willie Wilson

Comments

    Be respectful, keep it clean.
Login or register to post comments

Share US

Share |