In 1997, Mark McGwire hit 58 home runs, and Barry Bonds had great stats -- again. Here are some of the headlines from the 1997 baseball season:
Larry Walker Cops 1997 MVP Award
Larry Walker did it all for the Colorado Rockies in 1997. The oft-injured Walker managed to stay healthy and (not coincidentally) enjoyed his finest season. He hit for power (a league-leading 49 homers) and average (.366), drove in 130 runs, stole 33 bases, drew 78 walks, and even threw out 12 baserunners from right field. As his reward, Walker took home the National League's Most Valuable Player trophy.
Mark McGwire Blasts 58 Homers
A July 31 deal sent Mark McGwire from the Oakland Athletics to the grateful St. Louis Cardinals. McGwire had already hit 34 homers for Oakland and added 24 more in 51 games with the Redbirds, becoming an instant fan favorite in the Mound City. His 58 total homers tied the mark set by Jimmie Foxx in 1932 for the most ever by a righthanded hitter.
Ken Griffey Jr.: 56 HRs, MVP Award
Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. batted .304 with 56 home runs and 147 RBI (both of which led the American League) in 1997 to become the 13th man to win unanimous selection as his league's Most Valuable Player. Griffey had the best season of his career, leading the Mariners to the playoffs. Unfortunately for Seattle fans, Seattle lost to Baltimore in the Division Series as Junior was just 2-for-15.
Mike Piazza Raps .362, 40 HRs
Cementing his reputation as the top offensive catcher in baseball history, Dodger Mike Piazza rapped 201 hits in 1997 and batted .362. He added 40 homers and 124 RBI. In another season, Piazza might well have piled up the awards. But for the second straight year, he finished second in National League MVP voting -- this time behind Larry Walker of the Rockies.
Craig Biggio Rings Up 146 Runs
Craig Biggio, Houston's scrappy second baseman, had one of the all-time great run-scoring campaigns in 1997. Crossing the plate 146 times during the club's division-winning season, Biggio scored more runs than any National League player since Hall of Famer Chuck Klein tallied 152 in 1932. How did Biggio do it? Batting .309 with 84 walks, 22 homers, 37 doubles, and 47 steals didn't hurt, and batting ahead of Jeff Bagwell helped too.
Roger Clemens Wins 1996 Triple Crown
Just one year after being called "washed up" by some in Boston, Roger Clemens won his fourth American League Cy Young Award -- for the Blue Jays. Clemens won the pitching "Triple Crown," leading the American League in strikeouts, wins, and ERA, becoming the first American League hurler to do so since Detroit's Hal Newhouser in 1945. Oddly, Clemens was 21-4 against the junior circuit but 0-3 against National League clubs.
Tino Martinez Steps It Up
First baseman Tino Martinez of the Yankees, always an outstanding defensive player, enjoyed a breakout 1997 season. Finishing second in the American League with 44 homers and 141 RBI, he set a new major league record by knocking in 34 runs in April. He led the Yankees in most key offensive categories as the club won the American League wildcard berth.
Barry Bonds Piles Up BBs, SBs
The seemingly mechanical superstar, Barry Bonds of San Francisco enjoyed another monster year in 1997, hitting .291 with 145 walks and 40 home runs. He also swiped 37 bases. It was the 33-year-old Bonds's fifth season of 30 homers and 30 steals, matching the mark held by another star Giants outfielder -- his father, Bobby Bonds.
Check out more headlines from the 1997 season on the next page.