1977 Baseball Season

Mix an arrogant slugger, a tempestuous manager, and an impatient owner, and you've got the Yankees 1977 baseball season. Prior to 1977, free agent Reggie Jackson left the Baltimore Orioles and joined the Yankee roster.

During the season, Reggie fought with Yankees manager Billy Martin, who clashed with owner George Steinbrenner, who didn't get along with anyone. Yankeeland quickly became known as the "Bronx Zoo."

At the start of 1977, it looked like the Yankees would breeze to the playoffs. They won 97 in 1976, and now they added Jackson, Don Gullett, Mike Torrez, and Bucky Dent -- not to mention rookie phenom Ron Guidry.

Jackson had a big year in 1977 with a .286 average, 32 homers, and 110 RBI. The new pitchers performed well too, as Gullett went 14-4, Torrez went 14-12, and Guidry finished 16-7.

But the Yanks' season wasn't easy. New York won the American League East with 100 victories, but had to weather serious challenges from Baltimore and Boston, which both finished 2-1/2 games behind.

In the American League West, Kansas City won 102 games and took the division by 8 games over Texas. Dennis Leonard (20-12) and Paul Splittorff (16-6) anchored a solid staff, and George Brett (.312, 22 homers, 88 RBI) continued to establish himself as a star.

The hitter that everyone was talking about, however, was Minnesota's six-time batting champion, Rod Carew. The first baseman threatened to become the first man since Ted Williams to hit over .400 in a season. Carew finished at .388 on 239 hits, 100 RBI, and was voted the league's MVP.

In the National League, the big news was the trade of Tom Seaver to Cincinnati. The 32-year-old righthander posted a 14-3 record with the Reds, 21-6 overall.

Tom Terrific's teammate, George Foster, posted some of the biggest numbers of the generation -- .320 average, 52 homer, 149 RBI -- and earned the 1977 National League MVP Award.

Tom Seaver
Tom Seaver was traded
from the Mets to the
Reds in 1977.

Foster's Reds finished 10 games behind the Dodgers. Steve Garvey (.297 average, 33 homers, 115 RBI), Reggie Smith (.307 average, 32 homer), Ron Cey (30 homers, 110 RBI), and Dusty Baker (.291 average, 30 homers) did the damage. The Dodgers became the only team in history to boast four players with at least 30 homers.

In the National League East, Lou Brock of the Cardinals swiped 35 bases to break Ty Cobb's base-stealing record, but St. Louis finished well in back of Philadelphia. Phillie Steve Carlton (23-10) won his second Cy Young Award, and Greg Luzinski (.309 average, 39 homers, 130 RBI) carried the 101-61 Phillies to their second straight divisional title.

In the National League Championship Series, Los Angeles downed Philly in four games, with Baker blasting two key homers. Garry Maddox made a valiant attempt on the part of the Phillies, hitting .429 before Dodger Tommy John wrapped it up by pitching a one-run seven-hitter in game four.

The American League Championship Series went down to the last inning of game five. New York burned Kansas City pitchers for three runs in the top of the ninth to win the deciding game 5-3.

The 1977 World Series between Los Angeles and New York became Jackson's private stage. In the sixth and final game, Mr. October launched three homers on three successive pitches to join another Yankee, Babe Ruth, as the only other player to hit three round-trippers in one Series game. Jackson batted .450 and belted a record five homers for the Series.

See the next page for headlines and summaries of the major stories of the 1977 baseball season.

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In 1977, Andre Dawson and Bruce Sutter gave amazing rookie performances. Here are some of the headlines from the 1977 baseball season:

Cardinal Ted Simmons Bats .318

Ted Simmons solidified his reputation as one of the best hitting catchers in 1977, batting .318 with 21 homers and 95 RBI. As one of the resident intellectuals of baseball, Simmons began collecting art and antiques while with the Cardinals; he eventually was elected as a trustee of the St. Louis Museum of Art.

Ron Cey Tallies 30 HRs, 110 RBI

Ron Cey achieved career-high totals in homers (30) and RBI (110) in 1977 as he helped the Dodgers to the pennant. The squat third baseman was extremely quick and was solid defensively.

Billy Martin Wins His Only World Series Ring

Billy Martin, the most temperamental of baseball figures, won several World Championships as a player and just one as a manager. The Yankees won the crown for Martin in 1977, his second full season at the helm. His volatile nature compelled him to change uniforms six times in his 16-year career as manager.

Steve Carlton Takes the 1977 National League Cy Young Award

Steve Carlton (23-10, 2,64 ERA, 17 CG) copped his second National League Cy Young Award in 1977. After a newspaper allegedly misquoted him, Carlton refused to grant interviews for nearly a decade. The lefty stuffed cotton in his ears when on the mound to block out noise and maximize concentration.

1977 New York Mets Cut Tom Seaver

On June 15, 1977, Mets general manager M. Donald Grant traded Tom Seaver to the Reds for Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Pat Zachry, and Dan Norman. Seaver won 189 games for the Mets in 10 years. Despite the swap, Seaver still won 21 games between his two teams in 1977. The Mets came in last that season, 37 games back.

Rookie Bruce Sutter Saves 31 for 1977 Chicago Cubs

Long before the split-finger fastball became common, Bruce Sutter was the only pitcher throwing the difficult pitch. As the Cubs stopper, Sutter dazzled the National League and was close to unhittable for a half-dozen years. In 1977, Sutter was 7-3 with 31 saves (second in the loop). He allowed just 69 hits in 107 innings. He fanned 129 batters while walking a mere 23. His ERA? A paltry 1.35.

Phil Niekro Puts Up a Mixed Year

Phil Niekro lost 20 games in 1977 to tie for first in defeats in the National League; in addition, he topped the loop in hits allowed (315), runs allowed (166), and walks (164). Niekro also spearheaded the circuit in innings pitched (330), strikeouts (262), complete games (20), and -- naturally for a knuckleballer -- wild pitches (17). Niekro got a lot of his mileage out of his trademark toss, pitching in the majors until age 48.

Andre Dawson Named 1977 National League Rookie of the Year

In 1977, Andre Dawson became the second Expo to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award, as he batted .282 while smacking 19 homers and driving in 65 runs. Despite being overshadowed by catcher Gary Carter, the outfielder called "Awesome" became the greatest all-around player in the history of the franchise.

Bobby Murcer: 27 HRs, 89 RBI

The Cubs were Bobby Murcer's third major league address. The friendly confines of Wrigley Field were ideal for his compact left-handed swing, as he totaled 27 homers and 89 RBI in 1977, his last great season. Murcer broke into broadcasting after retiring in 1983.

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Below are more highlights of the 1977 baseball season, including standout seasons from Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, and Nolan Ryan:

Nolan Ryan Racks Up 341 Ks

Named Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News, Nolan Ryan compiled a 19-16 record in 1977 while leading the American League in strikeouts with 341 (almost 100 more than the runner-up), walks (204), and wild pitches (21).

The pitching sensation also bred a disease dubbed the "Ryan flu" -- a malady which caused batters to sit out games in which they were to face Nolan. Batters simply couldn't touch Ryan's 100-mph fastball. In 1977, Ryan yielded fewer hits than walks (204-198) -- an extreme rarity in baseball.

Rod Carew Peaks at .388

In the 36 years since Ted Williams hit .406, only Williams himself and Rod Carew had approached the lofty .400 plateau. Both got as high as .388 (Williams in 1957, Carew in 197777). Carew compiled an American League-best 239 hits, 16 triples, and 128 runs scored.

By permanently moving from second base to first in 1976, Carew became one of only a handful of players to play 1,000 games at two different positions.

Ron Guidry Posts 16-7 Mark

Ron Guidry threw a baseball harder than anyone weighing 160 pounds should be allowed. His "Louisiana Lightning" pitch yielded a 16-7 record in 1977, his first full season in the majors. At the conclusion of his career 11 years later, Guidry had accumulated 170 triumphs, fourth on the all-time Yankee list.

Steve Garvey's Streak Ends

In 1977, Steve Garvey blasted 33 homers during a season in which he fell below 200 hits and a .300 average for the first time in four years. It was this kind of slugging that kept his teammates from openly criticizing the image-conscious first baseman who many thought was a phony and a politician.

George Foster Fires 52 Homers

In 1977, George Foster became the first batter since Willie Mays in 1965 to whack 50 or more homers, as he blasted 52 dingers (31 of those round-trippers were hit on the road, which set a major league record for righties). Even more impressive is Foster's accumulation of a .320 average and 149 RBI. He captured the MVP Award for his efforts.

Albert Lyle Takes 1977 American League Cy Young Award

Albert "Sparky" Lyle was one of the game's great characters. His flaky exterior belied an inner strength that helped him capture the 1977 American League Cy Young Award, becoming the first reliever to cop the title. His 26 saves ranked second in the circuit that season, and his record was 13-5.

Jim Rice Is Sensational

Jim Rice enjoyed a spectacular season in 1977. Rice batted .320 with 39 homers (tops in the American League) and 114 RBI (third in the circuit). His .593 slugging average and 382 total bases placed first in the junior circuit. He hit three homers in one game that season.

Reggie Jackson on Fire in 1977 World Series

Reggie Jackson whacked three homers to put the Yankees out of reach in the sixth and decisive game of the 1977 World Series. His third home run, a solo shot in the eighth inning, rocked Yankee Stadium and wowed TV viewers. No one since Babe Ruth had ever hit three homers in a World Series game.

Teammate Chris Chambliss also blasted his lone home run of the Series in that game. Jackson wrapped up the affair with a .450 average, five homers, and eight RBI.

Willie Randolph, Billy Russell Flop in 1977 World Series

Willie Randolph gave a dismal performance in the 1977 World Series, batting only .160. He did, however, manage to outhit Billy Russell by six points, as the Yankees beat the Dodgers in six games.

Find more highlights from the 1977 baseball season on the next page.

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Despite fighting within the New York Yankees -- mostly involving Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin, and George Steinberner -- the Yanks managed to beat the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series. Below are some of the highlights from the 1977 baseball season:

  • Dodgers win the National League flag.

  • Yankees repeat as American League champs.

  • National League East champ Phils again put up little resistance in League Championship Series, bowing in four games.

  • Yanks again edge KC in five games in American League Championship Series, as New York rallies for three in the ninth to win game five 5-3.

  • Yankees best Dodgers in six games in the 1977 World Series.

  • Reggie Jackson leads all World Series hitters with a .450 BA and five home runs, including three in game six.

  • Mike Torrez fashions two CG wins for New York in Series.

  • Billy Martin wins his only World Championship as manager.

    Joe Sewell
    Joe Sewell was inducted
    into the Baseball
    Hall of Fame in 1977

  • The Hall of Fame inducts Ernie Banks, Joe Sewell, Al Lopez, Amos Rusie, Martin Dihigo, and John Henry Lloyd.

  • Cincinnati’s George Foster is the 1977 National League MVP, as he leads the majors with 52 homers and 149 RBI.

  • Foster leads the National League in runs (124), total bases (388), and runs produced (221).

  • Rod Carew wins the American League MVP after hitting .388, top BA in majors since expansion.

  • The American League swells to 14 teams, taking on two new franchises -- Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners.

  • Steve Carlton wins the 1977 National League Cy Young Award, as he leads majors with 23 wins.

  • Yankee Sparky Lyle becomes first reliever to win the American League Cy Young Award.

  • Nolan Ryan fans a major league high 341 batters in 299 innings.

  • Boston’s Jim Rice leads the American League in homers (39), SA (.593), and total bases (382).

  • Dodgers become only team in history with four 30-homer men -- Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Dusty Baker, and Reggie Smith.

  • The Mets, frustrated by salary disputes with star pitcher Tom Seaver, trade him to Cincinnati for four players.

  • The National League wins All-Star Game 7-5 at Yankee Stadium.

  • Chicago’s Chet Lemon sets an American League record for outfielders with 512 putouts.

  • Montreal’s Andre Dawson edges New York’s Steve Henderson by one vote for 1977 National League Rookie of the Year honors.

  • Baltimore’s Eddie Murray beats out Oakland’s Mitchell Page for the 1977 American League Rookie of the Year.

  • Jim Colborn of Kansas City no-hits Texas on May 14.

  • Dennis Eckersley of Cleveland no-hits California on May 30.

  • Bert Blyleven of Texas no-hits California on Sept. 22.

  • Merv Rettenmund of Padres sets a new major league record with 86 plate appearances as a pinch hitter.

  • On April 10, Cleveland and Boston combine to score a major league record 19 runs in one inning.

  • On July 4, Red Sox beat Toronto 9-6 on the strength of eight homers.

  • KC’s Hal McRae leads the major league with 54 doubles.

  • Pirate Dave Parker tops the National League in batting (.338), hits (215), and doubles (44).

  • Pirate John Candelaria tops the major league with 2.34 ERA and .800 win pct.

  • Carew leads the major league with 239 hits, 128 runs, and .452 OBP, and the American League in triples (16) and runs produced (214).

  • Royals are the first expansion team in history to top majors in wins, as they net 102.
For more highlights of the 1977 baseball season, continue to the next page.

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Below are more highlights of the 1977 baseball season, including stellar performances, big trades, and the retirement of Brooks Robinson:

  • LA sends Bill Buckner, Ivan DeJesus, and Jeff Albert to the Cubs for Rick Monday and Mike Garman.

  • Pittsburgh ships Tony Armas, Rick Langford, Doc Medich, and three other players to Oakland for Phil Garner and two other players.

  • The American League revises its schedule: each team now plays divisional opponents only 13 times each per year.

  • Gene Richards of San Diego goes 6-for-7 in 15 innings on July 26.

  • The Cubs swap Bill Madlock and Rob Sperring to the Giants for Bobby Murcer and two other players.

  • Detroit’s Mark Fidrych hurts his knee in a spring training game; the injury alters his delivery and he is never again much of a factor.

  • Rangers swap Willie Montanez to Mets for Jon Matlack and John Milner.

  • Minors are stabilized at 17 leagues and 121 teams.

  • Danny Frisella of Atlanta is killed in a dune buggy accident.

  • Bucky Harris dies.

  • Ernie Lombardi dies.

  • Olympic Stadium opens on April 15, Phils vs. Montreal.

  • American League teams combine for more than 10,000 runs scored, the first time a major league tops that mark.

  • Padre Gene Tenace sets a major league record for walks by a catcher with 125.

  • Brooks Robinson retires as holder of many career fielding records, including top FA for a third baseman and most games played at third base.

  • Robinson retires after a major league record 23 years with the same team.

  • On June 24, Don Money of Milwaukee makes an American League record 12 assists by a second baseman in a nine-inning game.

  • St. Louis’ Garry Templeton leads the major league with 18 triples.

  • Boston’s Ted Cox starts a major league career with six straight hits.

  • Minnesota’s Larry Hisle tops the American League in RBI (119).

  • Ranger Toby Harrah leads the American League in walks (109).

  • Smith has National League’s top OBP (.432) and is third in slugging (.576).

  • Jim Palmer, KC’s Dennis Leonard, and Minnesota’s Dave Goltz tie for American League lead in wins with 20.

  • Palmer paces the American League in innings (319) and ties Ryan for most CGs in the major league (22).

  • California’s Frank Tanana has the American League’s top ERA (2.54).

  • Phil Niekro tops the National League in Ks (262) and CGs (20).

  • Ryan leads the major league in fewest hits allowed per game with 5.96 -- nearly a hit per game less than any other major league pitcher.

  • Rollie Fingers of San Diego tops the major league with 35 saves.

  • Boston’s Bill Campbell leads the American League with 31 saves.

  • Seaver tops the National League with seven shutouts; Tanana likewise tops the American League with seven shutouts.

  • Kansas City’s Paul Splittorff has best win pct. in the American League (.727), as he goes 16-6.

  • Twins lead the major league with .282 team BA, as Carew hits .388 and teammate Lyman Bostock bats .336.

  • Frank Taveras of Pittsburgh tops majors with 70 steals.

  • Phils win 101 games for second year in a row to tie own club record.

  • Tommy John of LA, out all of 1975 after elbow reconstruction surgery, rebounds to win 20 games for first time in his career.

  • The expansion Seattle Mariners finish sixth in the American League West, ahead of Oakland, only two years after the A’s won their fifth straight division flag.

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