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1977 Baseball Season


Mix an arrogant slugger, a tempestuous manager, and an impatient owner, and you've got the Yankees 1977 baseball season. Prior to 1977, free agent Reggie Jackson left the Baltimore Orioles and joined the Yankee roster.

During the season, Reggie fought with Yankees manager Billy Martin, who clashed with owner George Steinbrenner, who didn't get along with anyone. Yankeeland quickly became known as the "Bronx Zoo."

At the start of 1977, it looked like the Yankees would breeze to the playoffs. They won 97 in 1976, and now they added Jackson, Don Gullett, Mike Torrez, and Bucky Dent -- not to mention rookie phenom Ron Guidry.

Jackson had a big year in 1977 with a .286 average, 32 homers, and 110 RBI. The new pitchers performed well too, as Gullett went 14-4, Torrez went 14-12, and Guidry finished 16-7.

But the Yanks' season wasn't easy. New York won the American League East with 100 victories, but had to weather serious challenges from Baltimore and Boston, which both finished 2-1/2 games behind.

In the American League West, Kansas City won 102 games and took the division by 8 games over Texas. Dennis Leonard (20-12) and Paul Splittorff (16-6) anchored a solid staff, and George Brett (.312, 22 homers, 88 RBI) continued to establish himself as a star.

The hitter that everyone was talking about, however, was Minnesota's six-time batting champion, Rod Carew. The first baseman threatened to become the first man since Ted Williams to hit over .400 in a season. Carew finished at .388 on 239 hits, 100 RBI, and was voted the league's MVP.

In the National League, the big news was the trade of Tom Seaver to Cincinnati. The 32-year-old righthander posted a 14-3 record with the Reds, 21-6 overall.

Tom Terrific's teammate, George Foster, posted some of the biggest numbers of the generation -- .320 average, 52 homer, 149 RBI -- and earned the 1977 National League MVP Award.

Tom Seaver
Tom Seaver was traded
from the Mets to the
Reds in 1977.

Foster's Reds finished 10 games behind the Dodgers. Steve Garvey (.297 average, 33 homers, 115 RBI), Reggie Smith (.307 average, 32 homer), Ron Cey (30 homers, 110 RBI), and Dusty Baker (.291 average, 30 homers) did the damage. The Dodgers became the only team in history to boast four players with at least 30 homers.

In the National League East, Lou Brock of the Cardinals swiped 35 bases to break Ty Cobb's base-stealing record, but St. Louis finished well in back of Philadelphia. Phillie Steve Carlton (23-10) won his second Cy Young Award, and Greg Luzinski (.309 average, 39 homers, 130 RBI) carried the 101-61 Phillies to their second straight divisional title.

In the National League Championship Series, Los Angeles downed Philly in four games, with Baker blasting two key homers. Garry Maddox made a valiant attempt on the part of the Phillies, hitting .429 before Dodger Tommy John wrapped it up by pitching a one-run seven-hitter in game four.

The American League Championship Series went down to the last inning of game five. New York burned Kansas City pitchers for three runs in the top of the ninth to win the deciding game 5-3.

The 1977 World Series between Los Angeles and New York became Jackson's private stage. In the sixth and final game, Mr. October launched three homers on three successive pitches to join another Yankee, Babe Ruth, as the only other player to hit three round-trippers in one Series game. Jackson batted .450 and belted a record five homers for the Series.

See the next page for headlines and summaries of the major stories of the 1977 baseball season.

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