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Timeline of American and National League Baseball for the Year In Review section. Project expanded to include the National League (1900-1876), Federal League (1915-1914), Players League (1890), Union Association (1884) and American Association (1891-1882).

MLB Timeline by Michael Aubrecht
Written for's Year In Review section.
Sources: Baseball-Almanac, The Baseball Timeline, The Baseball Library, The Baseball Chronicle,,

Off the field…

On October 17th as 60,000+ Giants and A's fans inside Candlestick Park anxiously awaited the start of Game 3 of the World Series, an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale shook the San Francisco area killing sixty-seven people and causing nearly $10 billion in damages.

U.S. Armed Forces invaded Panama after General Manuel Noriega, clamped down on the country's already limited democracy. After taking control of the region and holding a siege over Noriega's compound, U.S. troops arrested the self-proclaimed military dictator and brought him to the United States to face charges of drug trafficking.

The super-tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground off the coast of Alaska spilling eleven million gallons of oil into the Prince Willliam Sound. About 730 miles of coastline and wildlife was affected by the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history and Exxon spent over $1 billion in trying to clean up the damage.

In the American League…

On June 27th, Frank Robinson's Baltimore Orioles went up against Cito Gaston's Toronto Blue Jays for the first meeting in major league history between two black managers. The Orioles went on to dominate the outing 16-6.

Seattle Mariners' rookie Ken Griffey Jr. debuted as the youngest major league player at age 19 and hit the first pitch he saw for a double off of the Oakland Athletics' Dave Stewart. His father, Ken Griffey Sr., was still with the Cincinnati Reds making them the first father and son to play in the majors simultaneously.

Texas Ranger Nolan Ryan set the all-time strikeout record after sitting down the Oakland Athletics' Rickey Henderson with a 95-mph fastball for his 5,000th career "K". The 42-year old ace started the contest needing 6 and finished with 7 despite losing 2-0.

In the National League…

On June 3rd, in the first game of a double header, the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers battled for twenty-two innings in a seven hour, fourteen minute marathon that set the all-time record for the longest night game in National League history. After Houston won 5-4 shortly after midnight, both teams struggled into the early hours of the morning for another thirteen innings ending with a second Astros' victory (7-6).

San Francisco Giants' pitcher, Dave Dravecky snapped his own arm while delivering a pitch in the sixth-inning against the Montreal Expos. The injury resulted in a stress fracture of the humerus, which was attributed to arm surgery that he had in 1988 due to cancer. Dravecky was pitching a shutout at the time and was given credit for the final 3-2 decision. Soon after, he retired with a 64-57 win-loss record.

Howard Johnson, of the New York Mets, hit his 30th homerun on August 20th matching the 30 stolen bases that he had tallied to date. The tying statistic made him only the third, two-time member of the 30-30 club along with Bobby Bonds and Willie Mays.

Around the league…

Sports Illustrated magazine printed details of Pete Rose's rumored gambling activities including allegations of hand signaling from the dugout in Riverfront Stadium to several betting associates. A few months later, the FBI reported possessing several betting sheets with the Reds' manager's handwriting and fingerprints on them. In August after a thorough investigation, the baseball commissioner's office found him guilty of betting on the games and forced Rose to sign an agreement banning him entirely from major league baseball.

Donnie Moore, the 35 year-old former pitcher for the Anaheim Angels, shot his wife, then killed himself after battling severe depression attributed to the home run he yielded to the Red Sox's Dave Henderson in the 1986 American League Championship Series.

On September 1st, Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti died at age 51 of an apparent heart attack while vacationing at his summer cottage in Martha's Vineyard. He became only the second major league baseball commissioner to die while serving office along with Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Two modern baseball classics hit the big screen as "Field of Dreams" and "Major League" debuted at the box office. The first starred Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta and James Earl Jones in a film version of the W.P. Kinsella novel "Shoeless Joe" and the second featured Tom Berenger, and Charlie Sheen who took a more "tongue-in-cheek" approach to Cleveland Indian's baseball.

Off the field…

Vice President and Republican candidate George Bush Sr. defeated Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis in the presidential race to become the 41st President of the United States.

The investment firm of Kohlberg-Kravis-Roberts paid nearly $30 billion dollars for the R.J. Reynolds-Nabisco Company, which had merged in 1985, in the largest leveraged buyout ever. The investment deal went on to become the subject of a best-selling novel and television movie entitled "Barbarians at the Gate".

Undefeated heavyweight boxing champion "Iron Mike" Tyson's problems outside boxing started to gain prominence after his marriage to Robin Givens ended admidst a media circus. The highly publicized divorce set in motion a series of bizarre events that not only dimished his skills in the ring, but ultimately ended his career after repeated acts of reckless behavior and criminal violence.

In the American League…

The Anaheim Angels signed University of Michigan pitcher Jim Abbott, who was a member of the U.S. Olympic baseball team despite being born without a right hand.

Minnesota Twins reliever Jeff Reardon became the first pitcher in major league history with 40 saves in both leagues after finishing off the Chicago White Sox 3-1 on September 17th. In 1985, Reardon recorded 41 saves with the National League's Montreal Expos.

The Oakland Athletics' Jose Canseco became the first player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season. His 39th and 40th bases as well as his 41st homer came in a 9-8, fourteen-inning marathon against the Milwaukee Brewers on September 23rd.

In the National League…

On August 30th Kent Tekulve, the side-arm reliever of the Philadelphia Phillies, pitched two innings for a 7-5 victory over the San Francisco Giants in his 1000th game. Only one other player in baseball history, Hoyt Wilhelm, had reached the 1000 milestone to date.

Tom Browning, of the Cincinnati Reds, tossed the first perfect nine-inning game in the National League in 23 years against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Riverfront Stadium. The young lefty threw 102 pitches and finished with a 1-0 victory and 7 strikeouts.

The Los Angeles Dodgers' Orel Hershiser broke Don Drysdale's major league record after pitching 10 shutout innings against the San Diego Padres extending his string to 59. Hershiser had begun his streak with 4 shutout innings against the Montreal Expos. Then he beat the Atlanta Braves 3-0, the Cincinnati Reds 5-0, the Braves again 1-0, the Houston Astros 1-0 and the San Francisco Giants 3-0.

Around the league…

Chicago's Board of Alderman finally approved the addition of lights at Wrigley Field. After a vote of 29-19, the members repeal the anti-noise laws that had kept the Cubs' ballpark as the only major league stadium without lights. The decision resulted in the introduction of night games to the other half of the "Windy City" and the promise of the 1990 All-Star Game at Wrigley.

Willie "Pops" Stargell became the only player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988. The team captain / outfielder / first baseman played twenty-one years for the Pittsburgh Pirates and hit .282 with 475 home runs and 1,540 runs batted in. He led the National League in slugging average in 1974 with .646, led the Senior Circuit in home runs twice and played in 2 World Series while batting .315.

In December, major league baseball signed a four-year, $1.05 billion dollar television deal with the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) making it one of the largest agreements (to date) between the sport of baseball and the business of broadcasting.

The game-winning RBI was dropped as an official statistic by the rules and regulations committee.

Off the field…

U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the I.N.F. (Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces) treaty marking the beginning of the end of the Cold War. As a result, Soviets were able to quicken the pace of what was known as "glasnost" (openness and reform), which ultimately caused the end of the Soviet empire.

The largest stock-market drop in Wall Street history occurred on October 19, otherwise known as "Black Monday" when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 508.32 points, losing 22.6% of its total value. That fall far surpassed the one-day loss of 12.9% that began the great stock market crash of 1929 and foreshadowed the Great Depression.

The Iraqi Air Force attacked the U.S.S. Stark, a United States Navy ship in the Persian Gulf, initiating an ongoing hostile relationship that would eventually result in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

In the American League…

A high school outfielder named Ken Griffey Jr. was selected by the Seattle Mariners as their first overall pick in the 1987 Amateur Draft.

After hitting a meager .220 with 15 homers for the Oakland Athletics, 41-year old Reggie Jackson finally retired. "Mr. October" had played 21 years in the major leagues and totaled 563 homeruns, 1,702 RBIs and a .262 batting average. He also held the all time record for strikeouts with 2,597 and the best slugging average in World Series play with .755.

At an exhibition game in Toronto, the Blue Jays became the first team ever to hit 10 home runs in a single game as they bombed the Baltimore Orioles 18-3. The previous team record was originally set by the Yankees in 1939 and equaled by several other teams over the years. The combined 11 homers in the contest also tied a two-team major league record.

In the National League…

The New York Mets' Dwight "Doc" Gooden entered a 28-day drug rehabilitation program at the Smithers Alcoholism Treatment Center. The 1985 Cy Young Award winner had tested positive for cocaine use and would not return to start the season until June 5th.

On April 18th, Mike Schmidt, of the Philadelphia Phillies, launched a 3-run blast over the wall at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium for his 500th career home run. The historic shot put the All-Star third baseman in the company of just 13 other players in major league history.

The Cincinnati Reds' Eric Davis set two National League records in April and May with 3 grand slam homeruns in a single month as well as 19 homeruns in 2 months.

Around the league…

The Major League Players Association filed a grievance accusing the owners of acting together to restrict player's salaries. The association cited the lack of offers to free agents from 1985-1987, which resulted in them returning to their original teams. In a study from the 1985 season, it was estimated that free agents lost between $70 and $90 million dollars.

The "Rookie of the Year Award" was renamed "The Jackie Robinson Award" in both the American and National Leagues.

On October 17th, the Minnesota Twins welcomed the St. Louis Cardinals to the Metrodome for the first World Series game ever played indoors. The home team dominated the visitors 11-1 in front of a capacity crowd of 55,171.

Major league attendance reached an all-time high in 1987 with a combined 52,029,664 people going out to the ballparks.

Off the field…

After a Libyan-sponsored terrorist attack against Americans in West Germany, U.S. military warplanes attacked various targets in Libya. As a result, the Libyans scaled back their support for terrorist activities against all Western targets.

The Reagan Administration confirmed that it had been selling arms to Iran in an effort to obtain the release of American hostages in Lebanon as part of the "Iran-Contra Deal". Money from the sales was used to help the Contras fighting the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.

Tragedy struck the NASA Space Program after the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded seventy-three seconds after take-off, killing all seven astronauts on board. The crew included the first "civilian" ever accepted into the astronaut program, a teacher named Christa McAuliffe. The accident was later blamed on faulty o-rings in the shuttles main booster rocket.

In the American League…

On April 26th, Red Sox ace Roger Clemens struck out 20 Seattle Mariners setting a major league record for most K's in a single game.

Vincent "Bo" Jackson, a Heisman Trophy winner who chose baseball over football, played 25 games for the Kansas City Royals as an outfielder and designated hitter, batting .207 with 2 homeruns. The Auburn All-American turned down a $7 million dollar deal from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a much smaller $1 million dollar contract with the Royals because he said he liked baseball best.

The "Curse of the Bambino" remained in effect as the Boston Red Sox fell victim to the "Amazin' Mets". In Game 6, with what appeared to be the final out, the Mets' Mookie Wison tapped a soft grounder down the first base line that somehow found its way between Bill Buckner's legs. The costly error gave New York the 6-5 victory and extended the Series to a Game 7.

In the National League…

On May 31st, a young rookie outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates named Barry Bonds tapped a double off the Los Angeles Dodgers' Rick Honeycutt for his first official major league hit.

Bob Horner, of the Atlanta Braves, hit 4 homeruns in a single game against the Montreal Expos. Despite tying the major league record for solo blasts, Horner's team lost 11-8 to the visiting Canadian franchise.

45 year-old Pete Rose banged out 5 hits for the 10th time in his career (setting a National League record) as the Cincinnati Reds took on the San Francisco Giants on August 11th. "Charlie Hustle" also reached a record 4,256 career at-bats during his last appearance in a major league line-up.

Around the league…

In an effort to set an example, Commissioner Peter Ueberoth suspended seven players for drug abuse. All seven decided to contribute 10 percent of their seasonal salary to drug abuse programs, serve 100 hours of community service and be subjected to random drug testing. The seven include Keith Hernandez of the New York Mets, Dale Berra of the New York Yankees, Joaquin Andujar of the Oakland Athletics, Jeffrey Leonard of the San Francisco Giants, Lonnie Smith of the Kansas City Royals, Enos Cabell of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Dave Parker of the Cincinnati Reds.

Bret Saberhagen sued Rawlings over a misrepresented endorsement deal. As many other players were being paid $50,000+ as part of their compensation, the Kansas City Royal pitcher was given 2 free gloves per season as his contract.

A free baseball promotion night at Arlington Stadium backfired as hundreds of fans targeted the Texas Rangers and umpires after the visiting Milwaukee Brewers rallied for a 10-2 win.

The Chicago Cubs were forced to fire their 28-year old ball girl, Marla Collins, after she posed nude for Playboy Magazine. Despite fan support the young lady was terminated for "behavior unbecoming an employee" of the franchise.

Off the field…

TWA Flight 847 was hijacked by a group of Shi'ite terrorists who were identified as members of Islamic Jihad, a group of various fundamentalists, operating in Lebanon and other Middle East countries. The militant Muslims held 153 people (including women and children) hostage while demanding the release of their brothers in arms. One passenger, U.S. Navy Diver Robert Stethem was executed and his body was dumped onto the tarmac. After several unsuccessful negotiations, Israel agreed to release 31 of its Shi'ite prisoners and the hostages were freed in return.

The wreck of the RMS Titanic (which sunk in 1912 killing 1,522 passengers and crew after striking an iceberg) was finally discovered by a joint U.S.-French expedition who located the remains of the "unsinkable" ocean liner 350 miles southeast of Newfoundland in 13,000 feet of water.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev held a Summit Meeting in Geneva to discuss improving relations between the U.S.S.R. and the United States and to help decrease the risk of nuclear war. In the end, both agreed not to attempt to achieve military superiority and banned the development of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.

In the American League…

The Milwaukee Brewers' Rollie Fingers recorded his 217th American League career save breaking the record originally set by "Sparky" Lyle. The victory gave "The Mustache" a major league record of 325 saves overall. He retired at the end of the season capping off a brilliant 17-year career with a 114-188 record, a 2.90 ERA and 341 saves.

On August 4th, 39 year-old Anaheim Angel Rod Carew became only the 16th player in major league history to join the 3,000 hit club.

Major league baseball's oldest stadium, Chicago's Comiskey Park, celebrated its 75th anniversary with 11 fans in attendance who were present at it's opening in 1910. The Seattle Mariners spoiled the festivities with a 3-1 win over the White Sox.

In the National League…

Dwight "Doc" Gooden of the New York Mets became the first National League pitcher to reach 200 strikeouts in each of his first two seasons as well as the youngest 20-game winner in baseball history. The previous mark was set by Bob Feller in 1939, but Gooden managed to beat him by one month.

Nolan Ryan, of the Houston Astros, struck out Danny Heap, of the New York Mets, to become the first pitcher ever to reach 4,000 strikeouts. The Texas ace went on to sit down 10 more batters as the Astros won 4-3 in twelve innings.

Fifty-seven years to the day after Ty Cobb played in his last game, Pete Rose, of the Cincinnati Reds, knocked his 4,192nd career hit breaking "The Georgia Peach's" record. Newly approved owner Marge Schott presented Rose with a shiny red Corvette bearing the license plate PR 4192.

Around the league…

Newly appointed Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth reinstated Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle after Commissioner Bowie Kuhn had banned the Hall of Famers from association with major league baseball for being employed by companies with ties to legal gambling in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Pittsburgh Associates reached an agreement in principle with the Galbreath family to purchase the sinking Pirates franchise. As a result the team was able to stay afloat in the "Steel City" thanks to the combined financial commitments of Pittsburgh's most influential corporations including Carnegie Mellon University, the Aluminum Company of America, Mellon Bank, PNC Financial, PPG Industries, USX Corporation and Westinghouse Electrical Company.

Sports Illustrated magazine pulled off a major April Fool's Day joke by publishing a story about a 168 mph pitching Tibetan Buddhist monk named Sidd Finch who was the New York Mets latest rookie phenomenon. Despite the April 1 date on the article and byline by George Plimpton, many fans believed the story was real and were disappointed after discovering that Finch was a fake.

Baseball's Championship Series was altered from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven format in an effort to generate up to $9 million dollars in additional revenues.

Off the field…

Republican President Ronald Reagan was reelected after defeating Democratic candidate Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro, who was the first female Vice Presidential candidate to represent a major party.

Doctor's replaced the ailing heart of an infant girl known as "Baby Fae" with that of a baboon's at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California. Although she died 21 days later of organ failure, doctors discovered that she hadn't rejected the heart as many had expected. That gave hope to the doctors and inspired continued research to find a cure for neonatal heart disease.

James Huberty gunned down 21 children and adults in a McDonalds restaurant in San Ysidro, California before being shot dead by the police at the scene. The incident was one of the worst mass murders in U.S. history.

In the American League…

On May 9th, Harold Baines hit a 420-foot homerun in the 25th inning to give the White Sox a 7-6 victory over the visiting Milwaukee Brewers. The 8 hour and 6 minute marathon set an all-time record for the most innings ever played in an American League game as well as the longest game ever in the major leagues.

Sparky Anderson's Detroit Tigers echoed the glory days of Cobb as they dominated the American League with a 104-58 record and 187 homeruns. Lance Parrish hit 33 homers and 98 RBIs while batting .237, Kirk Gibson added 27 round-trippers and 91 RBIs plus a .282 average and Alan Trammell led the team with the top average of .314. Jack Morris anchored the Tigers' pitching staff with a 19-11 record and Guillermo Hernandez tallies 32 saves in 33 opportunities.

On the 17th Anniversary of his first round-tripper, Reggie Jackson launched a Bud Black fastball into the right field stands for his 500th career homer. He was the 13th player ever to reach that mark following Willie McCovey in 1978. Unfortunately, "Mr. October" and his Anaheim Angels fell 10-1 to the visiting Kansas City Royals.

In the National League…

Pete Rose, then with the Montreal Expos, played in his 3,309th major league game on June 29th beating Carl Yastrzemski's record as well as his former team the Cincinnati Reds (7-3).

At Fulton County Stadium, the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres erupted in a 10-minute brawl over a pitching duel that resulted in 16 major ejections by the officials. Several major league umpires stated that it was the worst disgrace ever witnessed on a baseball diamond and that it clearly set the game back 50 years in the minds of many fans.

The Chicago Cubs finally won their first title (of any kind) since 1945 after they beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 for the National League East.

Around the league…

Due to a strike by the major league umpires, the first game of the National League Championship Series was called by college replacement officials. The labor dispute was predominately over a pool of $340,000 that the regulars wanted distributed to all umps, including those that were not working the post-season.

"The Natural," an instant classic based on the novel by Bernard Malamud, debuted on the big screen with Robert Redford starring as Roy Hobbs, an aging slugger with the New York Knights. The climatic finale is still considered one of the greatest scenes ever filmed on a baseball diamond.

Al Schacht, better known as "The Clown Prince of Baseball" died on July 14th at the age of 91. The former Washington Senators pitcher turned top hat jester had entertained the crowd before 25 World Series and 18 All-Star Games.

Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth warned the city of Chicago that he would move all future playoff games involving the Cubs to St. Louis unless outdoor lights were installed at Wrigley Field.

Off the field…

Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space (onboard the Space Shuttle Challenger) as a mission specialist on STS-7, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 18th.

Over 200 American soldiers, acting as Peace-keepers, were killed in Lebanon after a truck loaded with explosives crashed into the U.S. Marine compound at a Beirut Airport. The Marines, who had been in Beirut as part of a multi-national force to promote peace in Lebanon, had become the target of Syrian-supported extremists. The terrorist-style attack resulted in swift U.S. military retaliation and the withdrawal of all American forces from that region.

The U.S. military invaded Grenada in an effort to ensure the safety of 1,100 American citizens who were stuck on the island against the rule of General Hudson Austin and Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard. Both were avowed Marxists who had placed Prime Minister Maurice Bishop under house arrest and threatened to turn the region into another Cuba. Under the guise of an invitation by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, U.S. troops intervened and took control of the island. Unfortunately, sixteen Americans were killed and seventy-seven were injured in the military action.

In the American League…

One of baseball's most modern controversies occurred as the New York Yankees took on the Kansas City Royals in what would be penned as "The Great Pine Tar Incident". As Goose Gossage was attempting to protect a 4-3 advantage, George Brett hit a 2-run homer putting his team in the lead. That was until home plate umpire Tim McClelland called him out for having more than 18 inches of pine tar from the end of his bat. The game was immediately protested by Royals skipper Dick Howser and was postponed until several weeks later when they went on to win anyway 5-4.

On July 10th, the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox played the longest 9-inning game in American League history at 4 hours and 11 minutes. Milwaukee prevailed 12-9 thanks to the arm of Jim Slaton.

The revolving door at the New York Yankees clubhouse continued to spin when Billy Martin was fired as the Bronx Bombers skipper and was replaced by fellow teammate Yogi Berra. Both were hired, fired and rehired repeatedly by George Steinbrenner several times each.

In the National League…

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Fernando Valenzuela set a major league record (off the field) as he became the first player ever to be awarded a $1 million dollar a year contract due to arbitration.

On April 5th, the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants went head-to-head at Candlestick Park in a 16-13 slugfest that set a new record for the highest scoring Opening Day game in over 50 years.

After twenty-one years and 5,923 innings, Walter Johnson set the all-time career strikeout record of 3,508 in 1927. Fifty-six years later, his record was surpassed twice in the same month. First, Nolan Ryan, of the Houston Astros, achieved the mark after 16 years and 3,357 innings. Then Steve Carlton, of the Philadelphia Phillies, topped them both at 3,511.

Around the league…

Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle to end all associations with major league baseball after "The Mick" became involved in a sports promotion capacity with a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Willie Mays was also targeted with a similar action due to his associations with legalized gambling.

Major league baseball sold its rights for one year to both ABC and NBC for a combined $1.2 billion dollars. Each team received $7 million dollars as a result of the deal in which ABC contributed $575 million for regular season prime time and Sunday afternoons and NBC paid $550 million for 30 Saturday afternoon games. Both networks agreed to continue rotating all post-season and All-Star Game coverages.

New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was given a $50,000 fine and a one-week suspension after making derogatory remarks about major league umpires. White Sox president Jerry Reinsdorf was also given a $500 fine after making remarks of his own about the outspoken owner at the All-Star Game.

Steve Howe, then on suspension with the LA Dodgers, continued to battle his drug addictions after being banned for an entire season by the Commissioners Office. Bowie Kuhn refused to allow the troubled pitcher to return to major league baseball until he was proven to be drug-free. Earlier in the season, after completing 30 days of rehabilitation, he was fined $53,867 in salary for missed games in what was the largest fine ever levied to date.

Off the field…

The Vietnam Veterans' War memorial was dedicated in Washington, bearing 58,000 names of US servicemen and women who were killed during one of America's most unpopular wars. "The Wall" was designed by Maya Ying Lin, an architecture student at Yale University and has become one of the most revered and appreciated public memorials in the United States.

Princess Grace of Monaco, a former Hollywood actress, was killed in a terrible accident after her car careened off the winding roads of France leading to Monaco. An investigation later revealed that she had suffered a mild stroke, which caused her to lose control of her vehicle.

Barney B. Clark, a sixty-one-year-old retired dentist, had his diseased heart replaced by the "Jarvick 7" the world's first permanent artificial heart. Dr. William C. DeVries at the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City performed the successful transplant operation and Clark survived for 112 days before finally succumbing to complications caused by the implant.

In the American League…

During an inter-league exhibition game between the Oakland Athletics and the San Diego Padres, A's pitcher Steve McCatty stepped up to the plate swinging a children's toy bat on the instructions of manager Billy Martin, who was upset that his club was not allowed to use a DH in spring training games at National League ballparks. Jim Quick, the home plate umpire, refused to allow the 15" bat and McCatty was called out on three strikes.

The largest crowd ever to see a baseball game in the state of Minnesota (52,279) turned out for the inaugural game at the brand-new indoor Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Seattle Mariners put a damper on the festivities though after beating the Twins 11-7.

The Detroit Tigers' Larry Herndon hit three homeruns in an 11-9 win over the Oakland Athletics (following a round-tripper in his final at bat against the Minnesota Twins) to become the 14th player in major league history to hit four home runs in consecutive plate appearances.

In the National League…

On Saturday, July 31st, Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Manny Trillo misplayed a Bill Buckner grounder in the 7th during a 2-0 win over the Chicago Cubs. The error ended Trillo's "e-free" streak at 89 games and 479 consecutive chances stopping him just two games short of Joe Morgan's record of 91.

On August 4th, Joel Youngblood became the first major league player to play for two different teams in two different cities on the same day. The New York Mets outfielder started the afternoon by going 1-for-2 off the Cubs' Fergie Jenkins at Wrigley Field. Following the contest he was traded to the Montreal Expos and flew to Philadelphia in time to enter the 6th inning of a night game at Veterans Stadium. The well-traveled Hall of Famer then went 1-for-1 off fellow inductee Steve Carlton in a 5-4 loss.

Veteran first baseman Willie Stargell's number 8 was officially retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 6th, better known as "Willie Stargell Day" at Three Rivers Stadium. "Pops" twice led the National League in home runs, with a career high 48 in 1971 and his 475 home runs were 15th all-time when he retired following the season. After his playing career, he went on to coach for the Pirates in 1985, and the Atlanta Braves from 1986-88.

Around the league…

Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson became the 12th and 13th players elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA in their first year of eligibility. Aaron fell just nine votes shy of becoming the first-ever unanimous selection and his 97.8 election percentage was 2nd only to Ty Cobb's 98.2 percent in the Hall's 1936 inaugural election.

37-year-old Steve Carlton won the National League Cy Young Award for the 4th time, a record unmatched by any pitcher in the history of the major leagues to date. The Philadelphia Phillies veteran lefthander led the NL in wins (23), innings (2952/3), strikeouts (286), and shutouts (6). He was a previous winner in 1972, 1977, as well as 1980 and joined Walter Johnson and Willie Mays as the only player to be voted the prestigious award 10 or more years apart.

An up-and-coming shortstop / third baseman named Cal Ripken, Jr. finished his debut season with a .264 average as well as 28 home runs for the Baltimore Orioles and was named American League Rookie of the Year.

At a November major league owners meeting in Chicago, members voted not to renew Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's contract, which was due to expire in August. The American League owners voted in favor of Kuhn 11-3 and the National League 7-5, but the 18 votes left him 2 shy of the three-fourths majority required for reelection.

Off the field…

Pope John Paul II was shot in an assassination attempt by Turkish-born Mehmet Ali Agca. Although wounded badly, he made a quick recovery and soon thereafter resumed his regular travel schedule. The attack gave birth to the infamous "Pope Mobile," a modified Range Rover with the back converted to a large box made of bullet-proof glass which allowed him to ride along, but also stand up and wave to the crowds.

President Ronald Reagan was also shot and gravely wounded by a lone gunman, John Hinckley who was quoted as attempting to impress the actress Jodi Foster. Although the president recovered fully, his press secretary, Jim Brady was wounded in the head and has remained partially paralyzed to this day. Hinckley remains committed to a mental institution.

Sandra Day O'Connor was sworn in as the first female judge on the Supreme Court after being nominated by President Reagan. The courts 102nd appointee served as an Arizona assistant attorney general from 1965 to 1969, when she was appointed to a vacancy in the Arizona Senate. In 1974, she ran successfully for trial judge, a position she held until she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1979.

In the American League…

In the first game of an April 19th doubleheader, the Oakland Athletics set a major-league mark for most consecutive wins at the start of the season after running their record to 11-0 with a 6-1 win over the Seattle Mariners.

On Friday, May 15th, Cleveland Indians pitcher Len Barker (the 1980 AL strikeout leader) fanned 11 batters on the way to a 3-0 triumph over the Toronto Blue Jays for the 9th perfect game in 20th century history.

The Milwaukee Brewers' Rollie Fingers became the first relief pitcher ever to win the American League MVP Award, edging the Oakland A's Rickey Henderson 319-308. The lanky right-hander with the handlebar mustache went on to become one of the greatest relief artists in all of baseball, lasting 17 years and compiling the record for most career saves (341) as well as World Series saves (7).

In the National League…

Philadelphia ace Steve Carlton struck out the side (Tim Raines, Jerry Manuel, and Tim Wallach) in the first inning of a 6-2 Phillies victory over the Montreal Expos on April 29th to become the first lefthander in major league history (and 6th pitcher overall) to record 3,000 career strikeouts.

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Fernando Valenzuela became the first rookie ever to win a Cy Young Award after edging the Cincinnati Reds Tom Seaver 70-67 for National League honors. He also became the first rookie since the Cleveland Indians' Herb Score in 1955 to lead his league in strikeouts with 180.

Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt won his second consecutive National League MVP Award, joining Ernie Banks and Joe Morgan as the only NL players to win the citation back-to-back. The perennial Philadelphia All-Star hit .316 with 31 home runs and added 91 RBIs despite the abbreviated season.

Around the league…

The Executive Board of the Players' Association voted unanimously to strike on May 29th due to the unresolved issue of free-agent compensation. The deadline was extended briefly, however, after the Players' Association's unfair labor complaint was heard by the National Labor Relations Board.

At 12:30 A.M on June 12th, union chief Marvin Miller announced the player's strike beginning the longest labor action to date in American sports history. By the time the season finally resumed on August 10th, 706 games (38 percent of the major league schedule) had been canceled.

Due to the 2-month strike, major league owners elected to split the 1981 season into two halves, with the first-place teams from each half in each division meeting in a best-of-five divisional playoff series. As a result, the Oakland A's, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, and Los Angeles Dodgers were guaranteed playoff spots as first-half league champions.

Seattle Mariners manager Maury Wills was suspended for two games after ordering the grounds crew to enlarge the batter's boxes by one foot prior to its game with the Oakland Athletics. The request was in response to the A's complaint that Seattle's Tom Paciorek frequently stepped out of the box while hitting.

Off the field…

Former Beatle John Lennon was shot dead by Mark David Chapman who opened fire outside the musician's New York City apartment. The 40-year-old was hit several times as he entered the Dakota, his luxury apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side, opposite Central Park. He was later rushed in a police car to St Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center, where he died of 4 gunshot wounds to the back. Chapman, a disturbed individual who identified with Holden Caulfield, the irked hero of JD Salinger's cult novel "Catcher in the Rye" still remains in jail to this day.

87 million American TV viewers wondered "Who Shot J.R.?" as America's hottest prime-time series, a slick soap opera depicting the private lives and public connivances of the somewhat dysfunctional, oil-rich Ewing family ended with one of the most shocking season finales ever produced on television. Eight months later the show earned the second largest audience share in television history with a record 53.3 rating. The final tally: 41 million of the nearly 78 million households in the U.S. tuned in and the answer was…

A failed US military rescue mission called "Operation Desert One" was attempted several months after Shiite Muslim militants had attacked and seized the Embassy in Teheran, taking 52 Americans hostage. The attack upon the American Embassy occurred after the Shah of Iran was overthrown and power was seized by the Ayatollah Khomeini. The American hostages were subjected to 444 days of brutal conditions including mock executions and unfortunately their rescue attempt (ordered by President Jimmy Carter) failed miserably in the Iranian desert resulting in the deaths of eight Americans.

In the American League…

Both Dwayne Murphy and Rickey Henderson stole home in the first inning of an Oakland 'A's 6-3 win over the Kansas City Royals to tie a major league record originally set in the American League by the Minnesota Twins (1969) and in the National League by St. Louis Cardinals (1925).

The Cleveland Indians tied a major-league record on June 1st after hitting four sacrifice flies in a single game thanks to Ron Hassey, Dave Rosello, Gary Alexander, and Dell Alston. Despite their selfless efforts, the Indians went on to lose 8-7 to the Seattle Mariners.

Despite missing 45 games with injuries, George Brett was named the American League's MVP. The 27-year-old third baseman's .390 average was the highest in the major leagues since the Boston Red Sox's Ted Williams' .406 in 1941. He also added 24 home runs and 118 RBIs to lead the Kansas City Royals to their first AL pennant.

In the National League…

The Cincinnati Reds' Cesar Geronimo experienced déjà vu at the plate, as he became the 3,000th career strikeout of the Houston Astros' Nolan Ryan. Ironically, he was also Bob Gibson's 3,000th career strikeout victim six seasons earlier.

Pitcher Steve Carlton, then with the Philadelphia Phillies, fanned 7 St. Louis Cardinals in a July 6th, 8-3 win, crowning him as the major leagues' left-handed strikeout king with 2,836 K's.

Ron LeFlore, of the Montreal Expos, stole his 62nd base on July 28th, during the 7th inning of a 5-4 win against the Cincinnati Reds, but was tagged out after stepping off the bag while trying to read the scoreboard that was noting the first stolen base occurrence 115 years earlier.

Around the league…

Henry Aaron refused an award from Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn honoring him for hitting his 715th home run in protest of major league baseball's treatment of retired black ballplayers.

The National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the umpires' union after they demanded that the National League release its umpire evaluations, particularly those of the replacement officials who were retained after filling in for striking umps in 1979.

On May 23rd, five hours after the midnight deadline passed, the players and owners averted a strike by announcing a new 4-year basic agreement. The new deal raised the minimum player's salary from $21,000 to $30,000 and increased the clubs' contributions to the players' pension fund.

On August 20th, Pittsburgh Pirate centerfielder Omar Moreno stole his 70th base of the season off the Houston Astros, becoming the first player in the 20th century with three consecutive 70-steal seasons. Moreno swiped 71 in 1978, 77 in 1979, and finished 1980 with a career-high 96.

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All essays researched and written by Michael Aubrecht.
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