As if trying to duplicate their record-setting 1998 performance during which they won a total of 125 games didn’t present a daunting task in itself, the New York Yankees entered the 1999 campaign without their beloved manager Joe Torre in the dugout. After being diagnosed with prostate cancer during spring training, Torre missed the first six weeks of the season, with bench coach Don Zimmer replacing him at the helm in the interim. Undeterred by the temporary loss of their skipper, the Yankees held the fort in Torre’s absence, compiling a record of 21-15 under Zimmer. They played even better ball after Torre returned to the bench, posting a mark of 77-49 the rest of the way, en route to capturing their second straight A.L. East title with an overall record of 98-64. The Boston Red Sox finished second in the division, just four games back, earning a spot in the playoffs as the league’s wild-card representative by concluding the campaign with a record of 94-68.
Although the Red Sox lacked New York’s team depth, they managed to remain relatively close to the division champions throughout the year primarily because of their two great stars – Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez. Garciaparra led an offense that finished just ninth in the league in runs scored by hitting 27 home runs, knocking in 104 runs, scoring 103 others, and winning the batting title with a mark of .357. Martinez enabled the Red Sox to finish first in the league with a 4.00 team ERA by posting a mark of 2.07 that bettered the figure compiled by the runner-up in that category by 1.37 runs per-game. Martinez also led all A.L. hurlers with a record of 23-4 and 313 strikeouts, en route to winning the pitcher’s version of the Triple Crown and A.L. Cy Young honors.
Although the Yankees had no one of Martinez’s ilk, they featured the league’s deepest pitching staff, placing second in the circuit with a 4.13 team ERA. Orlando Hernandez led the club with 17 victories. David Cone won 12 games and finished second in the league to Martinez with an ERA of 3.44. Andy Pettitte posted 14 victories, as did Roger Clemens, who New York obtained from Toronto during the off-season for a package of three players that included David Wells. Meanwhile, Mariano Rivera compiled a 1.83 ERA, topped the circuit with 45 saves, and allowed only 43 hits in 69 innings of work.
The Yankees also had one of the league’s top offenses, finishing third in the A.L. rankings with 900 runs scored. Tino Martinez hit 28 homers and drove in 105 runs. Paul O’Neill batted .285 and knocked in 110 runs. Bernie Williams hit 25 home runs, drove in 115 runs, scored 116 others, and finished among the league leaders with a .342 batting average and 202 hits. Derek Jeter hit 24 homers, knocked in 102 runs, topped the circuit with 219 hits, and placed second in the league with 134 runs scored and a .349 batting average.
While the Yankees and Red Sox ended up representing the A.L. East in the playoffs, the third-place Toronto Blue Jays featured one of the league’s most formidable hitting tandems in first baseman Carlos Delgado and outfielder Shawn Green. Delgado hit 44 home runs, knocked in 134 runs, and scored 113 others. Green was equally productive, hitting 42 homers, driving in 123 runs, scoring 134 others, and batting .309.
Just as New York repeated as champions in the East, the Texas Rangers captured their second straight Western Division title by finishing the campaign 95-67, eight games ahead of the second-place Oakland Athletics. However, while the Yankees depended on their outstanding team balance to finish atop the standings in their division, the Rangers relied heavily on their powerful offense, which placed second in the league with 945 runs scored. Rafael Palmeiro finished among the league leaders with 47 home runs, 148 runs batted in, and a .324 batting average. Reigning A.L. MVP Juan Gonzalez homered 39 times, drove in 128 runs, scored 114 others, and batted .326. Rusty Greer hit 20 homers, drove in 101 runs, crossed the plate 107 times, and batted an even .300. Todd Zeile hit 24 home runs, knocked in 98 runs, and batted .293. Ivan Rodriguez batted .332 and established career highs with 35 homers, 113 runs batted in, and 116 runs scored, en route to earning A.L. MVP honors.
Although the Seattle Mariners finished third in the West, 16 games behind the first-place Rangers, their lineup included the dynamic duo of Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez. Junior led the A.L. with 48 home runs, and he also finished among the leaders with 134 runs batted in and 123 runs scored. Rodriguez hit 42 homers, knocked in 111 runs, and scored 110 others.
The Cleveland Indians continued their dominance of the A.L. Central, finishing first in the division for the fifth consecutive year. The Indians used their powerful offense to create a 21 ½-game margin between themselves and the second-place Chicago White Sox, concluding the campaign with a record of 97-65. Cleveland topped the circuit with 1,009 runs scored, becoming the first team since the 1950 Boston Red Sox to cross the plate more than 1,000 times in a season. Kenny Lofton batted .301 and scored 110 runs. Omar Vizquel batted .333, scored 112 runs, and stole 42 bases. Jim Thome hit 33 homers, knocked in 108 runs, and scored 101 others. Richie Sexson hit 31 long balls and knocked in 116 runs. Manny Ramirez finished among the league leaders with 44 home runs, 131 runs scored, and a .333 batting average, and he led the A.L. with 165 runs batted in and a .663 slugging percentage. Roberto Alomar hit 24 homers, knocked in 120 runs, batted .323, stole 37 bases, led the league with 138 runs scored, and won his eighth Gold Glove at second base. Ramirez and Alomar both finished in the top five in the league MVP voting.
Cleveland also had an improved pitching staff that featured three solid starters. Dave Burba won 15 games, Charles Nagy posted 17 victories, and Bartolo Colon led the Tribe with a record of 18-5.
However, Indian pitchers struggled mightily against the Red Sox in their first-round playoff matchup. After holding Boston’s lineup to only three runs in the first two contests en route to building a 2-0 series lead, Tribe hurlers allowed the Red Sox to cross the plate a total of 44 times in the final three games, as the Red Sox came storming back to win the series in five games. An injured Pedro Martinez proved to be the hero of the series. Entering Game Five in the fourth inning with the score tied 8-8, Martinez shut out the Indians on no hits the rest of the way, allowing the Red Sox to come away with a 12-8 win.
Martinez similarly dominated the Yankees when he faced them in the American League Championship Series. After New York swept Texas in their first-round playoff matchup, Yankee batters managed just two hits against Martinez over seven innings during Boston’s 13-1 Game Three victory. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, that turned out to be their only win of the ALCS, as the Yankees advanced to the World Series by eliminating them in five games.
The Fall Classic pitted New York against Atlanta for the second time in three seasons. After mounting a four-run rally in the eighth inning of Game One to overcome a 4-1 deficit, the Yankees easily took Game Two. New York came from behind again in the third contest, slowly chipping away at an early 5-1 Atlanta lead, before finally winning the game on a 10th inning home run by Chad Curtis. The Yankees then took Game Four, winning in the process their 12th straight World Series game and their 25th world championship.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• February 18 - The Yankees acquired Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for pitchers David Wells and Graeme Lloyd, and infielder Homer Bush.
• March 2 – The Veterans Committee elected Orlando Cepeda, Frank Selee, Smokey Joe Williams, and Nestor Chylak to the Hall of Fame.
• March 8 – Joe DiMaggio died from lung cancer.
• April 19 - Cal Ripken, Jr. went on the disabled list for the first time in his career because of irritation in his lower back.
• July 13 – Major League Baseball announced its All-Century Team prior to the start of the All-Star Game played at Boston’s Fenway Park. Several members of the team, including Bob Gibson, Mike Schmidt, Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, and Hank Aaron, took part in the festivities. Also in attendance was Ted Williams, who rode out onto the field in a cart for the first-pitch ceremony. Players from both teams surrounded the Red Sox legend in a spontaneous display of homage. The American League subsequently defeated the National League 4-1, with Boston’s Pedro Martinez earning All-Star MVP honors by striking out five of the six batters he faced.
• July 18 – Yogi Berra ended his 14-year feud with George Steinbrenner by making his first appearance in Yankee Stadium since the Yankee owner fired him as team manager early in 1985.
• July 18 – With Don Larsen in attendance at “Yogi Berra Day” in Yankee Stadium, David Cone hurled a 5-0 perfect game against the Montreal Expos.
• September 9 – Hall of Fame pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter died from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
• September 10 – Boston’s Pedro Martinez defeated New York’s Roger Clemens in a classic pitcher’s duel at Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox won the contest 3-1, with Martinez allowing the Yankees just one hit – a second-inning home run by Chili Davis. Martinez also struck out 17 Yankee batters.
• September 11 - Pitching against a reserve-filled Angels’ lineup, Minnesota’s Eric Milton hurled a no-hitter.
• November 1 - The Indians hired hitting coach Charlie Manuel as their new manager.
• November 17 - The Angels hired Mike Scioscia as their new manager.
• George Brett, Robin Yount, and Nolan Ryan all gained induction into the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.
• The Yankees allowed just nine runs to Atlanta in their World Series sweep of the Braves.
• New York's Mariano Rivera saved two games and won another, en route to earning World Series MVP honors.
• In March, the Orioles became the first major league team to visit Cuba since 1959. They defeated a team of Cuban amateurs 3-2 in 11 innings.
• On August 7, Tampa Bay's Wade Boggs collected his 3,000th hit - a home run off Cleveland's Chris Haney.
• Kansas City center fielder Carlos Beltran (22 home runs, 108 RBIs, 112 runs scored, .293 batting average) earned A.L. Rookie of the Year honors.
• Following the All-Star break, the Mariners moved into new Safeco Field.
• Detroit's Tiger Stadium closed down after 88 seasons.
• Baltimore reliever Jesse Orosco moved into first place on the all-time games-pitched list, with 1,090.
- Orlando Hernandez won the ALCS MVP
- Mariano Rivera won the Babe Ruth Award
- Pedro Martinez won the Cy Young
- Manny Ramirez won the Hank Aaron Award
- Jimy Williams won the Mgr of the year
- Ivan Rodriguez won the MVP
- Mariano Rivera won the Rolaids Relief
- Carlos Beltran won the Rookie of the Year
- Pedro Martinez won the Triple Crown
- Pedro Martinez won the TSN Pitcher of the Year
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- 1999 ALCS, 1999 ALDS1, 1999 ALDS2, 1999 World Series, Alex Rodriguez, American League, Andy Pettitte, Bartolo Colon, Bernie Williams (New York Yankees), Boston Red Sox, Cal Ripken, Jr., Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Chad Curtis, Charles Nagy, Charlie Manuel, Chili Davis, Cleveland Indians, Dave Burba, David Cone, David Wells, Derek Jeter, Don Zimmer, Eric Milton, George Steinbrenner, Graeme Lloyd, Homer Bush, Ivan Rodriguez, Jesse Orosco, Jim Thome, Joe Torre, Jorge Posada, Juan Gonzalez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Kenny Lofton, Manny Ramirez, Mariano Rivera, Mike Scioscia, New York Yankees, Nomar Garciaparra, Omar Vizquel, Orlando Hernandez, Pedro Martinez, Rafael Palmeiro, Richie Sexson, Roberto Alomar, Roger Clemens, Rusty Greer, Shawn Green, Texas Rangers, Tino Martinez, Todd Zeile, Wade Boggs, Yogi Berra