Below are more headlines from the 1997 baseball season, including Eric Davis continuing to play even after a cancer diagnosis and Nomar Garciaparra's amazing rookie year.
Pedro Martinez Mows 'Em Down
Young Pedro Martinez of Montreal made a quantum leap in 1997 and became the game's top pitcher. Pacing the National League with a 1.90 ERA and 13 complete games, Martinez fanned 305 hitters and fashioned a 17-8 mark for an Expos team that finished 78-84. The financially strapped Montreal club responded to Pedro's great season by trading him to the Boston Red Sox.
Eric Davis Back from Illness
When Orioles outfielder Eric Davis was diagnosed in midseason with colon cancer, many thought he would retire. Davis, however, returned to active duty on September 15. He even clouted a home run in the Birds' playoff series loss against Cleveland. After the season, he was presented with the Baseball Writers Association's Tony Conigliaro Award for his courage and determination.
Denny Neagle Goes 20-5, 2.97
In his first full season for the Atlanta Braves, left-handed hurler Denny Neagle blossomed into one of the league's most effective pitchers. He set career highs in nearly every category, ending with a 20-5 mark and a fine 2.97 ERA. The 29-year-old, who got his big outs with a devastating change, also tossed 12 scoreless innings in the NLCS before undergoing shoulder surgery days later.
Tony Gwynn Wins National League Bat Crown
San Diego's amazing Tony Gwynn enjoyed his greatest season in 1997. Playing on bad knees at age 37, Gwynn led the majors by batting .372, added 49 doubles, and drove in 119 runs. He won his fourth straight batting crown (and eighth overall), rapped 220 hits, and even hit an inside-the-park grand slam against Los Angeles.
Jim Thome Jacks 40 Homers
When the Cleveland Indians acquired star third baseman Matt Williams from San Francisco, holdover Jim Thome took his glove across the diamond to first base and just kept on hitting. He slugged a career-best 40 homers, drove in 102, and led the American League by drawing 120 walks for the Tribe in 1997. Thome then added two homers in the 1997 World Series.
A Star Is Born in Beantown
Busting into the majors with one of the greatest rookie seasons in recent memory, Boston shortstop Nomar Garciaparra hit .306 with 44 doubles and 30 homers and paced the American League in at-bats, triples, and hits. An outstanding shortstop with good range and a rocket arm, the former first-round pick won favor both from fans and sports writers, who voted him a unanimous Rookie of the Year.
Chad Ogea's Two Series Wins Fall Short
Righty Chad Ogea of the Indians won two games in the 1997 World Series -- both victories, ironically, coming in Florida. Ogea (just 8-9 in the regular season) and the Tribe had vanquished the Yankees in a five-game Division Series and the Orioles in a six-game ALCS to reach the fall classic, but once again came away disappointed at Series time.
Deion Sanders Returns in Style
After taking the 1996 season off to concentrate exclusively on his football career, Deion Sanders returned to the Cincinnati Reds in 1997. Despite playing just 115 games (still a career high), Sanders finished second in the National League in stolen bases with 56. He batted .273 and led the injury-riddled Reds with 127 hits in what would be his final season as a major league baseball player.
Craig Counsell Scores Winning Run
Craig Counsell a 26-year-old rookie, took over at second base for Florida late in the 1997 season and batted .299 in 51 games to help spark the club's surprising 1997 World Championship.
The next page highlights key events and details from the 1997 baseball season.