Though down one strike, the baseball season saw record attendance and dramatic division races as interest in the game took off. So did flying Tiger Lance Parrish (right), who set an American League record for home runs by a catcher by hitting 32. And Milwaukee's Robin Yount set a standard for shortstops, afield and abat, missing an AL batting title by an eyelash (.3307 to Willie Wilson's .3316) and breezing to the league MVP award. The Cardinals beat Harvey Kuenn's wall-banging Brewers in a seven-game Series by taking the last two at home. All season long Manager Whitey Herzog made sure that Redbirds flew around the park and that baseballs didn't fly out of it. Cardinal pitchers were last in strikeouts, but yielded the fourth-fewest home runs; their hitters were last in homers, although Leftfielder Lonnie Smith came within a chirp of becoming the first player since Ty Cobb to attain 70 RBIs and 70 stolen bases in a season; he had 69 and 68. Card Shortstop Ozzie Smith used a six-fingered glove to save, by Herzog's guess, a run every two or three games. Starter Joaquin Andujar didn't lose after Aug. 6, and Bruce Sutter used his split-fingered fastball to save 36 games, coming in from the bullpen to salvage Game 7 of the Series. And Catcher Darrell Porter drove off with the car as the Series MVP. Great pitching had stopped great hitting, and one of baseball's hoariest clichés was served.
In a year in which the National League Cy Young winner (Steve Carlton, .218) outhit the NL home-run champ (Dave Kingman, .204), little negatives lurked behind some of the top performances. California's Gene Mauch extended one record—for seasons managed with no pennant to show for it—to 23; his rightfielder, Reggie Jackson, set another with his 1,966th career whiff. On his way to breaking Lou Brock's single-season stolen-base mark, Rickey Henderson of the A's also set a record for times caught stealing (42). Milwaukee's Pete Vuckovich became the AL Cy Young winner with the highest ERA (3.34) in history. Seattle's Gaylord Perry got his 300th victory—but got tossed from a game and suspended for 10 days for throwing a doctored pitch. An appeal denied, Perry put his spittin' image before TV cameras for a lie-detector test-and passed.
Reggie (below) set a major league K mark; the Cardinals' George Hendrick (below, right) bowled over Atlanta; MVP Yount (above, right) was the first AL shortstop since Kuenn to get 200 hits.
No one could take the Cards' quick Shortstop Ozzie Smith laying down.
Henderson used raw speed, not guile, to shatter Brock's mark. In the same game the Flying A copped his record 119th, he swiped three more.
A Giant monster named Joe Morgan, not the Phillie Phanatic, devoured Tom Lasorda's Dodgers; Herzog's (right) Cards were better than billed; things looked up for the Angels and Bob Boone (below) longer than for their brethren up the freeway.
Perry the Mariner was ancient, unlike lithe Willie McGee (below), who stroked two Series homers, and Steve sax (right), the Dodgers' fourth straight rookie of the year.
Though in contention early, the Mets could soon be kissed off again.
Ted Simmons and Sal Bando two-stepped cheek-to-cheek...
...after Milwaukee beat Baltimore 10-2 on the season's final day. The win ended the O's late-summer rush and had the Brewers frothing.
Earl Weaver hailed the fans at his farewell.
Tommy John called it correctly, but the Angels would double-clutch agaist Milwaukee.
Toronto's Buck Martinez tried to butt in on a safe call (above); it was no accident that Kirkland, Wash. won the little league world series behind Cody Webster
JUST TAKE IT FROM THE TOP
Men of great vision—and others apparently blind as a bat—directed the fortunes of the baseball season. Each league champion owed much of its success to its manager. The Brewers hopped to the fore after a tobacco-chewing peg leg named Harvey Kuenn took over. St. Louis Manager Whitey Herzog deployed a team founded on pitching, speed and defense. The Yankees had three managers, all lemons. The A's loosed Rickey Henderson on the base paths—he stole a single-season record 130—but some thought his manager, Billy Martin, had loosed some screws, the way he overworked his pitchers. Gene Mauch won something, finally—but resigned at the season's end. "The Angels are like the American League All-Star team and that's their problem," said Kansas City's Dan Quisenberry. 'The AL All-Stars always lose." Quiz's manager, Dick Howser, and Coach Rocky Colavito got into trouble for using Marquis of Quisenberry rules during a run-in with some K.C. cops.
The underachieving Expos gave Jim Fanning such headaches he had to be hospitalized; San Diego and Seattle overachieved, thanks to the savvy of padrefamilias Dick Williams and the quiet style of Rene Lachemann. The Braves' Joe Torre psyched Atlanta out of two long losing slumps and led them to the half-pennant. Cincinnati's John McNamara, who had guided the Reds to baseball's best record the previous season, was fired in July; Cincinnati came within a game of this year's worst mark. Earl Weaver milked the three no-names in his leftfield platoon for 40 homers and 117 RBIs. He nearly won the division before bidding the Orioles a dewy-eyed adieu.
As for ado, there was much: Philly's Steve Carlton, who didn't win a game until April 25, got his fourth Cy Young; the Brewers' Pete Vuckovich replaced teammate Rollie Fingers as the AL's premier pitcher; Seattle's Gaylord Perry won the 300th game in a career marked by a lot more spit than polish; and Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers kept gagging 'em with his screwball. And, oh yes, the Cubs didn't finish last.
Is that "E" for eagle-eyed? The Chicken checks the ump after a fowl call in San Diego.