In 1994, players like Tony Gwynn and Matt Williams had their potentially record-breaking seasons cut short by the players strike. Here are some of the headlines from the 1994 baseball season:
Tribe Gets New Home
Cleveland unveiled beautiful Jacobs Field in 1994. Named after owner Richard Jacobs, the Indians' new home was deliberately designed to look like an old-time park, and for the first time in 40 years the Tribe also had the look of old. A perennial contender prior to the mid-1950s, Cleveland was in the process of making its first serious pennant bid since 1959 when the strike halted the Indians' playoff hopes. Jacobs Field was an integral part of the renaissance the city of Cleveland underwent in the mid-'90s and a contributing factor to renewed fan interest in the Tribe.
Jeff Bagwell Bags 1994 National League MVP
Jeff Bagwell, whose left wrist was broken by a pitch on August 10, had been having the best year of any major leaguer prior to the strike and his injury. Bagwell had been mustering himself for a drive to become the National League's first Triple Crown winner since Ducky Medwick in 1937. The Astros star had to content himself with the National League RBI title (116) and a .368 batting average, second in the National League.
Frank Thomas Wins American League MVP
Frank Thomas combined awesome power, a high average, and excellent strike-zone judgment on his way to his second straight American League MVP Award in 1994. He had hoped to collect a World Series championship ring as well. The Sox were locked in a tight three-way race with Cleveland and Kansas City for the top spot in the American League Central at strike time but counted on prevailing with the best pitching staff in the American League.
Paul O'Neill Bats .359 for NY
Thanks to the strike, Yankee Paul O'Neill became the first American Leaguer since Billy Goodman in 1950 to win a batting crown despite playing fewer than 100 games in the field. O'Neill was also the first player since Dale Alexander (1932) to bag an American League bat title with fewer than 400 at-bats. His .359 mark was the best in 40 years by a Yankee.
David Cone Captures 1994 Cy Young
After leading the majors in total strikeouts from 1990 through 1992, David Cone decided to concentrate on control and rely on his defense in 1994. As a result, he took home his first Cy Young Award. Taking command of his once-fiery temper, Cone had streaks of eight straight wins and 29 consecutive scoreless innings in 1994. He averaged seven hits, seven strikeouts, and less than three walks per nine innings. He was untouchable on May 22, when he tossed a one-hit shutout against the Angels.
Tony Gwynn's Quest Cut Short
Were it not for the strike in 1994, Tony Gwynn of the Padres might have been the first National Leaguer since 1930 to bat .400. Instead, Gwynn ended the season hitting .394. Matt Williams might also have become the first National Leaguer to hit 60 home runs, and a host of other senior loop records might have toppled as well. Craig Biggio and Larry Walker (44 doubles each) could have challenged Earl Webb's major-league record of 67. Only Hack Wilson's record of 190 RBI remained, as always, beyond assault.
John Valentin Turns Three
When he hit .316 in just his second full big-league season, Boston's John Valentin awakened observers to the fact that he might one day be a treasure. Valentin also displayed good power, finishing second on the Red Sox in slugging average. On July 8, 1994, Valentin became the second player in big-league history to perform an unassisted triple play and hit a home run in the same inning.
Matt Williams on Pace to Break HR Record
Matt Williams was a heavy favorite before the strike interruption to break the National League single-season home run record of 56. Whether he would also have broken Roger Maris's major league single-season mark we'll never know, as he wound up with 43 dingers on the shortened year. The strike-abbreviated season also contributed to Williams being the first National League player since 1973 to club 40 or more homers with fewer than 100 RBI.
Check out more headlines from the 1994 baseball season on the next page.