1979 Baseball Season Headlines
Willie Stargell led the motley Pirates to victory in the 1979 World Series. Here are some of the headlines from the 1979 baseball season:
Larry Bowa Makes Marks on Field
In 1979, Larry Bowa established a major league record for highest career fielding percentage for a shortstop (1,000 or more games) with a .982 mark. He also set the single-season fielding mark at .991. Some critics, however, consider these marks to be tainted and claim that Bowa was helped by a generous official scorer in Philadelphia who rarely credited fielders with errors.
Willie Stargell Posts Glittering Year
The leader of the Pirate "Fam-a-lee," Willie Stargell was an inspiration to his teammates both on and off the field. As team captain, Willie dispensed "Stargell Stars" to his teammates for great plays and key hits. Sharing 1979 National League MVP honors with Keith Hernandez, Stargell hit .281 with 32 home runs and 82 RBI. He was also named MVP in both the Championship Series and the World Series that season.
Carl Yastrzemski Reaches a Milestone
American League history was made in 1979 as Carl Yastrzemski, the captain of the Red Sox, became the only player in the junior circuit to hit 400 home runs and gather 3,000 hits. Prior to Yastrzemski, the only player to come close to the milestone was former Tiger right fielder Al Kaline, who retired in 1974 with 399 home runs and 3,007 hits.
Phil Niekro Breaks Even
A player whose name became synonymous with the Braves franchise in the 1970s, Phil Niekro was the winner of the 1979 Lou Gehrig Award, which honored his exemplary character and plentiful contributions to the Atlanta community. A pitcher whose name became synonymous with the knuckleball, the 40-year-old Niekro won 21 games and lost 20 in 1979.
Joe Torre Stuck in Cellar
In his first three years as manager (1977-1979), Joe Torre guided the Mets to three consecutive last-place finishes. The former slugger's three-year won-lost record totaled 178-263.
Thurman Munson Dies in Crash
Baseball lost a fiery competitor, one destined for the Hall of Fame, when Thurman Munson died in the crash of his private jet in Canton, Ohio, on August 2, 1979. The Yankee captain/catcher was in his prime, having just turned 32 years of age. His 11-year career totals boast a .292 batting average, 113 home runs, and 701 RBI.
Dave Kingman Slugs 48 HRs
In 1979, Dave Kingman became known as the new "Mayor of Waveland Avenue" in honor of his National League-leading 48 home runs, many of which landed on front yards and door stoops in the Wrigleyville region of Chicago. Kingman's 115 RBI and loop-high .613 slugging average that year also earned him the nickname of "Kong." Kingman tied a major league record by smacking five homers in two consecutive games in 1979.
Ron Guidry Mows Down Hitters
Although Ron Guidry didn't match in 1979 what he had accomplished the previous season, the cagey southpaw did sport a record of 18-8 while leading the American League with a 2.78 ERA. Guidry, who would continue on into the 1980s, could "bring it" with the best of them.
Fred Lynn Reaches His Peak
In the year that followed his fullest season (150 games in 1978), oft-injured Fred Lynn enjoyed his greatest performance. Leading the American League with a .333 batting average and a .637 slugging mark, he smacked 39 home runs and drove in 122 runs.
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