Juan Gonzalez Named 1996 American League MVP
Juan Gonzalez, who batted .314 with 47 homers and 144 RBI, was nevertheless a surprising American League MVP choice. After a slump-ridden September, Gonzalez seemingly lost the prize to Seattle's Alex Rodriguez, who set a swarm of season batting records for shortstops. Gonzalez's monster slugging performance in the division playoffs against the Yankees, albeit in a losing cause, made the award more palatable to fans -- if no less shocking.
Kirby Puckett Says Good-Bye to Baseball
Kirby Puckett announces his forced retirement from baseball after learning he has glaucoma. The longtime Twins star finished with over 2,000 hits and a .318 career batting average, second only to fellow former Twin Rod Carew among postexpansion-era players who are now retired.
Kevin Brown Posts a 1.89 ERA
In the 1996 National League Cy Young voting, Kevin Brown was picked No. 1 on two ballots and No. 2 on the remaining 26. Some experts claimed that Brown was the majors' most impressive performer in a season when offensive records fell by the truckload. His 17 wins and glossy 1.89 ERA (0.83 better than anyone else) enabled the Florida Marlins to make a late dash at a .500 finish before ending two games under the break-even mark.
Eddie Murray Hits 500th Homer
Eddie Murray reached his coveted 500th home run in 1996. He had the pleasure of hitting both his first and his 500th career homers in Baltimore livery. In between, he was with three other teams. Murray, who had collected his 3,000th hit in 1995, became only the third player in major league history (after Willie Mays and Hank Aaron) to reach both magical marks.
Juan Gonzalez Can't Save Texas
The Rangers won 6-2 at Yankee Stadium, then took an early lead again the following night on another Juan Gonzalez bomb before their bullpen faltered. The same pattern was repeated three games in a row, leading to the Rangers' early exit in their first-ever postseason appearance. As for Gonzalez, he homered in each of the four games, including two dingers in game two. He finished with a .438 batting average and 1.375 slugging mark.
1996 Braves Club Cardinals in NLCS
Cards catcher Tom Pagnozzi helplessly watched Javier Lopez score for the Braves in game six of the 1996 National League Championship Series. St. Louis took a stunning three-games-to-one lead over the defending champs, but then Atlanta really poured it on in the last three contests. The Braves won game five 14-0 (on 22 hits), game six 3-1, and game seven 15-0. Lopez wound up the series with 13 hits and a .542 average, while the Braves posted a 1.92 ERA to the Cards' 6.60 mark.
Momentum Shifts in Game Three
Braves rookie Andruw Jones upends Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter at the front end of an attempted double play in game two of the 1996 World Series. Atlanta won the fray 4-0, thereupon taking a seemingly commanding 2-0 lead in games. But Jeter, the American League Rookie of the Year, helped mount a comeback that saw the Yankees sweep the next four games.
1996 Yankees Pile Up Playoff Road Wins
A Yankee win was a familiar sight in the 1996 postseason. Skipper Joe Torre led a victorious charge out of the Yankees dugout 11 times over a three-week period. Just three of the Bombers' victories came at home, though, as Torre's men shattered all such postseason records by winning eight out of eight games on the road, including three in the 1996 World Series.
The next page highlights key events and details from the 1996 baseball season.
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