The Atlanta Braves were the talk of the early 1982 baseball season, when they won their first 13 games. A mediocre team 1980-1981, few thought Atlanta would make a pennant run in 1982. The manager Joe Torre's record was no winner, either. The Mets, from whom he was fired in the off-season, had never finished higher than fifth under Torre.
But Torre's 1982 Braves led the league in runs and homers, hung tough in the pennant race, and made the playoffs for the first time since 1969. Atlanta center fielder Dale Murphy won the MVP, with 36 homers and 109 RBI.
Another exciting club was Harvey Kuenn's Milwaukee Brewers, a.k.a. "Harvey's Wallbangers." The Brewers were loaded with menacing hitters, including Robin Yount (.331 average, 29 homers, 114 RBI), Paul Molitor (.302, 19 homers, 136 runs), Cecil Cooper (.313, 32 homers, 121 RBI), Ted Simmons (23 homers, 97 RBI), Ben Oglivie (34 homers, 102 RBI), and Gorman Thomas (39 homers, 112 RBI).
The Brewers also featured Cy Young winner Pete Vuckovich, who went 18-6, and Rollie Fingers, who saved 29.
Milwaukee didn't coast to the American League East title -- the regular season went down to the final series. The Orioles, four games out of first, beat the Brewers three straight times at Memorial Stadium.
If the Orioles had won again, a one-game playoff would have decided the division-winner. It never came to that, though, as Don Sutton beat Jim Palmer in game 162 and Milwaukee took the American League East.
Prior to 1982, free agent Reggie Jackson left the Yankees to join the Angels. With four former MVPs now on its squad (Jackson, Don Baylor, Fred Lynn, and Rod Carew), California won the West Division by 3 games over Kansas City.
Whitey Herzog's speedy Cardinals edged out the Phillies to win the National League East, thanks in part to Ozzie Smith (obtained from San Diego), Lonnie Smith (picked up from Philadelphia), and rookie Willie McGee. Steve Carlton won another Cy Young Award, going 23-11.
Dave Kingman of the Mets led the league with 37 homers, though he hit .204 and was a butcher in the field. Al Oliver of Montreal took the batting title with a .331 average and also led the league in RBI, hits, doubles, and total bases.
With the Reds' dismissal of Ken Griffey, Ray Knight, George Foster, and Dave Collins in the off-season, its dynasty collapsed and the team fell into the cellar.
A couple of infielders, Baltimore's Cal Ripken and Los Angeles' Steve Sax, were named Rookies of the Year. Sax represented the fourth straight year a Dodger won the award.
In the National League Championship Series, St. Louis flattened Atlanta in three games. Atlanta mustered only one extrabase hit -- a double -- in the Series. In the junior circuit playoffs, the Brewers beat the Angels in five, coming back from a two-game deficit. California, though, featured the best hitter in Lynn, who batted .611 (11-for-18).
The 1982 World Series had its share of exceptional performances. In game one, Molitor became the first player to get five hits in a Series game, as Milwaukee won 10-0. Yount had four hits in that same game, then repeated the feat four games later. Game three was a showcase for McGee, who not only cracked two homers, but made a circus catch at the center-field wall.
The 1982 World Series went to game seven. Milwaukee built a 3-1 lead, but the Cardinals scored three in the sixth and two in the eighth to win it 6-3.
Find even more highlights from the 1982 baseball season on the next page.
To learn more about baseball, see:
- 1981 Baseball Season
- 1983 Baseball Season
- Baseball History
- How Baseball Works
- How the Baseball Hall of Fame Works
- How Minor League Baseball Teams Work
- Babe Ruth