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1984 Baseball Season

The best teams of the 1984 baseball season had previously posed little threat of contention. The San Diego Padres, who closed the year as National League West winners, had just one winning season in their 15-year existence.

Neither the Cubs nor Mets, who duked it out in the National League East, had challenged for the pennant in over a decade. And the Tigers, who became 1984 World Series Champions, hadn't been to the playoffs since 1972.

The most exciting player was Met rookie Dwight Gooden, 19, who fanned five straight batters in the All-Star Game. Gooden finished 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA and a league-leading 276 strikeouts, a rookie record. He kept the Mets in a race with the Cubs, who had their ace, Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe. Picked up in a trade with Cleveland, Sutcliffe went 16-1.

Ryne Sandberg
Cubs' second baseman
Ryne Sandberg was the
1984 National League MVP.

The Cubs also had MVP Ryne Sandberg, a slick-fielding, heavy-hitting second baseman. The Cubs trailed the Mets by 4½ games at the end of July, then rallied to beat them in seven of their next eight games. Chicago won the division by 6½. The Padres, with 92 victories, won the National League West. They featured a strong pitching staff and batting champion Tony Gwynn (.351).

Dale Murphy and Mike Schmidt shared the National League home run title with 36, while Montreal's Gary Carter tied Schmidt in RBI with 106. Cardinal Joaquin Andujar was the National League's only 20-game winner, while teammate Bruce Sutter led the league with 45 saves.

The Tigers were the premier team of 1984, going 104-58. Their pitching was solid, with Jack Morris, Dan Petry, and Milt Wilcox all winning at least 17 games (Morris even pitched a no-hitter in April against Chicago). Reliever Willie Hernandez won both the Cy Young and MVP Awards, posting 32 saves in his first 32 opportunities.

The Detroit offense, powered by Kirk Gibson, Lance Parrish, Alan Trammell, and Chet Lemon, led the league in homers (187) and runs scored (829). Their up-the-middle defense, with Parrish, Trammell, Lemon, and Lou Whitaker, was the best in baseball. With this attack, the Tigers opened the season 35-5, easily capturing the division.

In the West, Kansas City edged out the Angels and Twins, despite winning only 84 games. The Royals' only standout player was Dan Quisenberry, who notched 44 saves.

Yankees Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield led the league in batting much of the season, with Mattingly taking the title on the season's final day (.343). Boston outfielder Tony Armas led the league in homers with 43 and RBI with 123, while Seattle rookie Alvin Davis posted 27 homers and 116 RBI. Angel Mike Witt pitched a perfect game September 30 against Texas.

The American League playoffs were a yawner, as Detroit swept the Royals. In the National League, however, an exciting series was taking shape. In the opener, the Cubs hammered the Padres 13-0, thanks to five homers (including one by pitcher Sutcliffe).

In game two, Steve Trout and Lee Smith combined to win 4-2, and Chicago was only one victory from its first World Series in 39 years. That victory never came, as the Padres won three straight at Jack Murphy Stadium and captured the flag.

The 1984 World Series was a formality. Detroit rolled through the Padres' starting pitching and won the 1984 World Series four games to one. To show how dominant Detroit was in 1984, check out this stat: Including the postseason, the Tigers were 100-0 when leading after eight innings.

Find headlines and summaries of the major stories from the 1984 baseball season on the next page.

To learn more about baseball, see: