Eight weeks of the 1981 baseball season were canceled due to players' strikes. Once baseball resumed, it was under an unpopular "split-season" format; because of this system, the two teams with the best records -- the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals -- didn't even make the playoffs.
Besides all of the turmoil, the season was also known for great performances by players like Fernando Valenzuela, Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton. Below, you will find the highlights from the 1981 baseball season:
- Players' strike cancels eight weeks of the 1981 baseball season.
- Strike settlement results in first split-season campaign in majors since 1892.
- Owing to split-season format, the team with baseball's best record, Cincinnati, doesn't qualify for postseason play.
- In the National League East, first-half winner Phils are beaten by second-half winner Expos in five-game division playoff.
- In the National League West, first-half winner LA bests second-half winner Houston in five games.
- Dodgers beat Expos in National League Championship Series, as Rick Monday wins game five 2-1 with a ninth-inning homer.
- In the American League East, first-half winner New York tops second-half winner Milwaukee in five games.
- In the American League West, first-half winner Oakland sweeps second-half winner KC, which made the playoffs with a 50-53 overall record.
- Yanks sweep A's in American League Championship Series.
- Dodgers win 1981 World Series in six games after losing opening two games in New York.
- Yankees bullpen flops in Series, especially George Frazier (0-3).
- LA's Fernando Valenzuela wins the 1981 National League Rookie of the Year and Cy Young, as he tops the National League in innings (192), CGs (11), shutouts (eight), and Ks (180).
- Rollie Fingers is named 1981 American League MVP and Cy Young winner.
- Mike Schmidt is named the 1981 National League MVP.
- Dave Righetti wins the American League Rookie of the Year.
- Pete Rose tops the major league in hits (140) to become the only 40-year-old player ever to accomplish this.
- Rose collects his 3,631st hit, breaking Stan Musial's National League record.
- Steve Carlton becomes first left-hander to collect 3,000 career strikeouts.
- On September 20, Minnesota's Gary Gaetti, Kent Hrbek, and Tim Laudner all homer in their first major league game.
- Schmidt leads the majors in home runs (31), RBI (91), total bases (228), slugging (.644), runs produced (138), and OBP (.439).
- Schmidt leads the National League in walks (73) and runs (78).
- The National League wins its tenth straight All-Star Game, 5-4 in Cleveland.
- Charley Finley sells A's to Levi's jeans magnates.
- Bill Veeck sells White Sox for second time in his life.
- The Cubs are sold to the Chicago Tribune Co.
- Len Barker of Cleveland pitches a perfect game vs. Toronto on May 15.
- Nolan Ryan throws a major league record fifth no-hitter on Sept. 26 vs. LA.
- Charlie Lea of Montreal no-hits San Francisco on May 10.
- Rochester and Pawtucket of the International League play 3 3-inning game -- longest in OB history -- over a two-day period.
- Expo Tim Raines sets a major league rookie record with 71 steals despite abbreviated season (record since broken).
Continue to the next page for more headlines from the 1981 baseball season.
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