Mariners Open Pricey Safeco Field
The Mariners' new home, Safeco Field, opened for business on July 15, 1999. Sadly for the local fans, the game went to the visiting Padres 3-2. Safeco featured a retractable roof, considered a necessity in Seattle because of the city's wet weather. The park, friendlier to pitchers than the cozy Kingdome had been, cost $517 million to build -- $100 million more than originally estimated. That was just another unpleasant part of a 1999 season in which the Mariners finished a disappointing 79-83.
David Cone Achieves Perfection
Yankees pitcher David Cone tossed a perfect game on July 18, 1999. Getting extra bite on his slider, Cone threw 68 strikes and only 20 balls. Before the game, ironically, Yogi Berra caught a ceremonial first pitch from Don Larsen. They were the battery that had combined for a perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
Mike Hampton Pitches, Hits Way to 22-4
With his 22-4 record and 2.90 ERA, Houston lefty Mike Hampton propelled the Astros to their third straight National League Central crown in 1999. Hampton paced the league in wins, ranked third in ERA, and helped his own cause with great defense and a .311 batting average. He finished second in Cy Young voting to former teammate Randy Johnson.
Jeff Bagwell: 42 Homers, 143 Runs
With his strong, quick hands, Jeff Bagwell hammered 42 home runs in 1999, leading Houston to the National League Central title. His great instincts for the game were reflected in his other numbers. He walked 149 times, third most in league history, and -- despite mediocre speed -- swiped 30 bags. On base a National League-high 331 times, he ended up scoring 143 runs, another league high. Bagwell became only the seventh member of the 40-homers/30-steals club, and he finished runner-up to Atlanta's Chipper Jones in National League MVP voting.
Sammy Sosa Slams 60 Again
On September 18, 1999, Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa connected for his 60th homer of the season against Milwaukee's Jason Bere at Wrigley Field. He thus became the first player ever to bash 60 homers twice. But as in 1998, Sammy eventually lost the four-bagger crown to Cardinals star Mark McGwire, who connected for 65.
Pedro Martinez Breezes to Cy Young Award
Pedro Martinez, Boston's overpowering right-hander, collected his second Cy Young Award in 1999. The National League's recipient in 1997, Martinez in 1999 led the American League in wins (23), winning percentage (.854), strikeouts (313), and ERA (2.07), almost single-handedly carrying Boston to the playoffs. During the season, he fanned 15 batters twice and 16 once, and he fired a one-hitter in which he struck out 17.
Roger Clemens Earns His Ring
Roger Clemens, who had played 15 seasons for the Red Sox and Blue Jays without winning a championship ring, was 14-10 for the Yankees in 1999 despite a career-worst 4.60 ERA. In game four of the fall classic, Clemens tossed 7-2/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits.
The next page highlights key events and details from the 1999 baseball season.
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