A ROYAL END TO A LONG PHILLIE DROUGHT
It was an extraordinary season. George Brett made it to the brink of .400 (page 66), all four division titles changed hands, Kansas City won its first pennant, and the Philadelphia Phillies won their first Series—but only after beating Houston in an extraordinary National League playoff, four of the five games going into extra innings. Oh, those Astros. Their season appeared to be over on July 30 when stopper J. Rodney Richard (10-4, 1.89 ERA) suffered a stroke, but they battled Los Angeles to a dead heat in the National League west and then won the division title in a one-game playoff. Earlier, the players and owners had narrowly averted a strike over compensation for teams losing free agents-by postponing a possible showdown until spring 1981.
The Royals' Hal McRae flung himself into a .297 season and a .375 world Series.
Mike Schmidt was league and Series MVP.
February 12, 1981
The Phillies' high-strung Dallas Green was ejected by Eric Gregg and vilified by his players, but became only the third rookie manager to win a Series.
In their fourth attempt, the Royals finally won a pennant from the Yankees; afterward, first-year Manager Jim Frey led a long-awaited celebration.
The Series' penultimate out: Phillie Catcher Bob Boone bobbled Frank White's pop-up, but the ever-opportunistic Pete Rose was there to catch it.
Hot year at the hot corner: despite injuries. Angel Carney Lansford played 151 games; Yankee Craig Nettles handled everything that came his way except hepatitis—he missed 67 games.
John Castino beat the soph jinx, fielding well and hitting .302 for the Twins, Pirate Bill Madlock also gloved an ump's face while disputing a third strike. The result: a 15-day suspension.
Reggie Jackson hit .300 but was no longer Mr. October.
The Expos' Warren Cromartie and Rodney Scott fell just short of a foul fly and a flag.
An up-and-down year for K.C.'s Darrell Porter: he beat drugs but was thrown out at home twice in the Series.
"Billy [Martini] Baseball" lifted the A's to second.
Pitchers plugging hitters (here Met Elliott Maddox) was old hat; batters fighting back was news.