The 1978 baseball season revolved around the American League East. For the final ten weeks of the season, the Red Sox and Yankees were involved in a wild, exciting race, full of memorable moments on and off the field.
Through mid-July, it was all Red Sox. They were enjoying a 13-1/2 game lead over the Brewers and had outstanding performances from a host of players, especially Jim Rice. Rice was on his way to an MVP season, in which he would bat .315 with 46 homers and 139 RBI.
Even better for Red Sox rooters, the Yankees were in the midst of intense turmoil. Reggie Jackson had been suspended for five games by manager Billy Martin, and a week later Martin was forced to resign after making derogatory remarks about Jackson and owner George Steinbrenner.
Amid the pandemonium, the Yankees began to play good baseball, arriving at Fenway in early September down by only 4 games. The Yankees went on to rock the Sox 15-3, 13-2, 7-0, and 7-4 in what became known as the "Boston Massacre."
There were exciting moments in other parks as well. Pete Rose got his 3,000th career hit, and ran a 44-game hitting streak through June and July. His efforts couldn't carry the Reds, though, as they fell 2½ games short of the Dodgers in the National League West.
The Phillies, led by Greg Luzinski's 35 homers, edged out the Pirates to capture their third straight National League East title.
The Royals, led by manager Whitey Herzog, won the American League West. Herzog had his team on the run, as they led the league with 216 stolen bases. Even George Brett had a career-high 23 thefts.
Back in Boston, the battle between the Sox and Yanks was reaching its climax. Tied after the regulation 162 games, the teams played a single game at Fenway to determine the division champ.
The Red Sox went into the seventh inning with a 2-0 lead, but then Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent swatted a three-run homer into the left-field netting. The Yanks never relinquished the lead.
Set against the dramatic one-game playoff, postseason play paled in comparison. The Yankees beat the Royals for the third year running, three games to one. Game three featured three home runs by Brett, but Thurman Munson belted a two-run homer to win the game 6-5. A Roy White solo shot in game four secured the American League flag for the Yanks.
The Dodgers also won their playoffs three to one, beating Danny Ozark's Phillies. A tenth-inning single by shortstop Bill Russell drove in the winning run in the final game and put the Dodgers back in the World Series, setting the stage for a rematch of the 1977 Series.
Although the conclusion was a repeat of last year's World Series -- the Yankees beat the Dodgers in six games -- the storyline was different. After the Dodgers won the first two contests, the Yankees shut them down the rest of the way.
The left side of the Yankees' infield was spectacular in the fall classic. Anyone who watched game three will never forget the amazing defensive might of Graig Nettles, who made several diving stops. Cy Young winner Ron Guidry, 25-3 during the regular season, went the distance in game three to earn the win.
The Yankees wrapped it up in game six. Dent, the 1978 World Series MVP, banged out three hits, lifting the Bombers to a 7-2 victory and to their 22nd World Title.
Find headlines and summaries of major stories from the 1978 baseball season on the next page.
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