"We're businessmen," said Ken Singleton, designated hitter of the Baltimore Orioles. "We all come to work with our briefcases. When we open them up, a hero usually jumps out. Sometimes two, three...make that 25 heroes. It all depends on what we need." With manager Joe Altobelli shifting them around like a commodities broker moving pork-belly futures, this team of white-collar heroes folded, spindled and mutilated the Phillies in a workmanlike five-game World Series. And they did it without significant contributions from Singleton and shortstop Cal Ripken. Instead, Mike Boddicker and Scott McGregor wooed the crowds with stellar pitching, while the "Three Stooges"—Rich Dauer, Todd Cruz and Rick Dempsey—whoo-whooed them in Games 2, 3, 4 and 5. The Phils had parlayed a born-again pitcher (Cy Young winner John Denny) and spare parts from Cincy's old Big Red Machine into a pennant. The most ancient cogs, Perez, Pete Rose and Joe Morgan, were disassembled after the season, taking with them 8½ pages of the team's press guide. LA. rookie R.J. Reynolds, the butt of jokes when called up in September, squeezed home a run against Atlanta that helped smoke the Braves out of contention.
SAPPED BY A STICKY ISSUE
As the sap began to rise in Louisville Sluggers, George Steinbrenner decided to give manager Billy Martin a free hand for a change. Nevertheless, the Yankee season was filled with controversy. Martin was fined once, suspended twice and hired and fired for the third time, the latter even though the Yankees won 12 more games than they had in 1982. For his part, Steinbrenner was suspended once and fined three times. The final $250,000 assessment was brought on by The Boss's remarks after his team was tarred in July. It all began when Kansas City's George Brett made the last out of a game by hitting a home run. After the Royals protested, it was determined that Brett, who'd used an inch or so too much pine tar on his bat, was not out, just ejected. When play resumed 25 days later, the Royals' Dan Quisenberry notched the 33rd of his record 45 saves, requiring only 12 minutes to beat the Yankees 5-4. Meanwhile, Dave Winfield was creating more controversy by fatally beaning a gull in Toronto. "Murder most fowl!" charged the not-so-gullible cops. "He's no jail bird!" cried the Yankees. "This was the first time all year he's hit the cutoff man!" chirped Martin.
The fastball of San Francisco's Atlee Hammaker, who won the NL ERA crown, turned fat ball in the All-Star Game, which the junior circuit won for the first time in 12 years. (The AL hadn't won both the Series and an All-Star Game in 21 years.) Nolan Ryan broke Walter Johnson's career strikeout mark, only to have Steve Carlton eclipse him. Carlton later got his 300th win. "Eighty-five percent of this city is employed," declared Cubs manager Lee Elia. "The other 15% come out here and rip my team." By mid-season, Elia was unemployed himself.
February 8, 1984
Tony Perez's Wheeze Kids waylaid L.A., but then were bagged by Baltimore.
Clockwise from left: Dann Bilardello lets Chris Chambliss slide; Carlton Fisk and Jim Gantner play catch if catch can; Gary Allenson plays it safe; Steve Garvey shows Milt May it's better to give than to receive.
Coach Mark Cresse and L.A. played it close to the vest, edging Atlanta in the NL West.
Rich Dauer had an uplifting Series, fielding well and knocking in three runs in Game 4.
Vance Law and Scott Fletcher of Chicago stuck together like a couple of infield flies.
Julio Cruz (above) helped Chicago "win ugly" by revving up the defense; a platoon player in the regular season, Gary Matthews caught on in the Series.
Johnny Bench is a lead-pipe cinch for the Hall of Fame; Cooperstown-bound Carl Yastrzemski stepped out with a record 3,308 games.
Yankee Doodle Dandy Dave Righetti no-hit Boston.
Jim Dwyer's Orioles bailed out of World Series Game 1 but landed on their feet.
Dale Murphy didn't forget how to handle pitchers, grabbing his second straight MVP award.
Eddie Murray's Series stroke was unsteady until he hit two home runs in the finale.
LaMarr Hoyt and the White Sox looked darned good in the regular season but unraveled in the playoffs.
MVP Ripken was not a slap hitter.
Mike Schmidt never broke out of a Series slump, going 1-20, with six whiffs and no home runs.
Bowie Kuhn saved face by resigning the job he'd been dismissed from.