As good as Philadelphia's Mike Schmidt had been in the 1970s, some Philly fans still considered him an underachiever by the 1980 baseball season. Although he had taken three consecutive National League home run crowns and traveled to the playoffs three times, he had not claimed an MVP or a league pennant.
The 1980 baseball season proved to be a different kind of year for the 31-year-old Schmidt. He set career-highs with 48 homers and 121 RBI, won the MVP Award, and led the Phillies to a win in the 1980 World Series.
Managed by Dallas Green, the Phillies were a veteran club strong up the middle. Their pitchers included Cy Young-winner Steve Carlton (24-9), Dick Ruthven (17-10), and Tug McGraw (20 saves). The Phillies beat the Expos in the penultimate game of the season, on Schmidt's two-run homer in the top of the 11th, to clinch the division crown.
But that race wasn't half as exciting as the National League West dogfight. The Dodgers beat the Astros in the season's last three games to force a one-game playoff between the two teams. Houston won the playoff 7-1, and went to its first postseason series.
A tragedy kept the Astros' celebration in check, however. Their great hurler, the 6' 8" J.R. Richard, suffered a near-fatal stroke in July. Although he returned to health, he never pitched in the majors again.
In the American League East, the Yankees took the division under manager Dick Howser. The Yanks got great years out of Reggie Jackson, who hit .300 with 41 homers and 111 RBI; catcher Rick Cerone, who batted .277 with 85 RBI; and Tommy John, who won 22 games. The Orioles, winners of 100 games, came in a close second.
The most spectacular player of the year was MVP George Brett, who batted .390 and had 118 RBI in 117 games. The Royals had plenty of other talent as well; Willie Wilson stole 79 bases and Willie Aikens powered 20 home runs and 98 RBI. Dennis Leonard led the staff with 20 wins and Larry Gura added 18. Rickey Henderson's 100 stolen bases were not enough for the A's, who finished in second place, 14 games behind Kansas City.
The National League playoffs provided drama, as the last four games went into extra innings. In game three, Houston's Denny Walling drove home Joe Morgan with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th to break a scoreless tie.
In game four, tenth-inning hits from Philadelphia's Pete Rose, Greg Luzinski, and Manny Trillo gave Philly a 5-3 win. And in game five, Philly overcame a three-run deficit to send the game into extra frames. Garry Maddox's double in the tenth drove home Del Unser to give the Phils their first pennant in 30 years.
There was a surprise finish in the American League. The Royals, who had lost to the Yanks three straight times in the playoffs, swept the Bombers. Royals second baseman Frank White spearheaded tournament hitters, racking up a .545 average and three RBI.
In the 1980 World Series, the Phils utilized their strengths, namely Schmidt and Carlton. Schmidt hit .381 and had seven RBI; Carlton won two games with a 2.40 ERA.
The moment that will always be remembered, however, came in the ninth inning of game six. A popup squirted out of the mitt of Philly catcher Bob Boone, and Rose -- the 39-year-old "Charlie Hustle" -- charged over to grab the ricochet. McGraw then struck out Wilson to give the Phillies their first-ever World Championship.
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1980 Baseball Season Headlines
Nolan Ryan Whiffs 3,000 Batters
Jumping at the chance to return to his native Texas in 1980, Nolan Ryan signed a contract with the Astros which made him baseball's first million-dollar-per-year player. Although Ryan gained his 3,000th career strikeout in 1980, he sported a mediocre record of 11-10.
George Hendrick Hits .302
His .302 batting average, 25 homers, and 109 RBI earned George Hendrick a spot on the 1980 National League All-Star team (his third in a total of four appearances). This was Hendrick's sixth season in which he hit 20 or more homers.
J.R. Richard Felled by Stroke
The most tragic moment of the 1980 baseball season occurred when J.R. Richard was felled by a stroke shortly after he started for the National League in the All-Star Game. To recuperate, Richard took two years off before spending time in the minors. He never pitched another inning in the majors.
Bob Boone Solid Behind Plate
In 1980, Bob Boone started for his third consecutive division-winner. The Philly catcher more than made up for his weak bat (.229 average, nine homers, 55 RBI) with a powerful throwing arm, quick glove, and rapport with his pitching staff. By the postseason play, Boone had raised his level of hitting; he batted .412 with four RBI in the 1980 World Series.
Steve Carlton Takes 1980 National League Cy Young Award
Steve Carlton added a third National League Cy Young Award to his trophy case in 1980 with a loop-high 24-9 record. The Phillie topped the league that season with 286 strikeouts and 304 innings pitched. In World Series action, Carlton won both games he started and posted a 2.40 ERA. Carlton claimed he maintained his arm strength by twisting his left limb in a large vat of uncooked rice for extended periods of time.
Cecil "Super" Cooper Hits .352
Cecil Cooper posted his best season in 1980. The Brewer first baseman batted 38 points behind George Brett, the American League leader, and still managed to collect a career-high .352 average. Cooper also tallied a circuit-high 122 RBI and socked 25 homers to earn a spot on the 1980 American League All-Star team.
Carlton Fisk Changes His Sox
Carlton Fisk served at third, first, and the outfield -- as well his regular duty as catcher -- in an attempt to shake lingering shoulder trouble. He seemed in great shape in 1980, hitting .289 with 18 homers and 62 RBI.
The Red Sox lost their All-Star receiver to free agency at season's end, due to an error by the front office (Fisk's contract was not postmarked by the deadline). Though 33 at the time of his free agency, Fisk was hardly washed up. In fact, he would go on to play more than a decade with the White Sox, setting the Pale Hose career home run record.
George Brett Wins 1980 American League Bat Title
George Brett batted .390 in 1980 to win the American League batting title with the highest average since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. The 27-year-old Royals third baseman also clubbed 24 homers and tallied 118 RBI. The superstar was joined for part of the 1980 season by his older brother, pitcher Ken Brett, who appeared in only eight games for the Royals before retiring from baseball.
Steve Stone Wins 1980 American League Cy Young Award
Known primarily as a journeyman pitcher, Steve Stone had tossed for three clubs in eight years before arriving in Baltimore in 1979. The righty crafted a career year, winning 25 games and losing just seven to take the 1980 American League Cy Young Award. One year later, he was retired from the sport and had joined Harry Caray in the Cubs broadcasting booth.
Andre Dawson Takes the Expos to Second Place
Andre Dawson led the Expos to within 1 game of first place in the National League East Division in 1980. The Hawk batted .308 with 17 home runs and 87 RBI while capturing his first Gold Glove. One of the most feared hitters in the senior circuit, Dawson could hit line drives, with power, to left, center, and right fields.
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More 1980 Baseball Season Headlines
Below are more headlines from the 1980 baseball season, including Don Sutton's great year and memorable moments from postseason play.
Bill Buckner Wins the 1980 National League Bat Title
Bill Buckner will go down in the books as one of the game's great underrated hitters. In 1980, Billy Bucks opened his third decade in the majors by winning the National League batting title with a .324 mark and tying for second in doubles (41). For the second time in eight consecutive seasons, he reached double figures in home runs (ten). Also quite a fielder, he set a major league record for assists by a first baseman (184) in 1983.
Don Sutton: The Right Stuff
By the time he left the Dodger organization at the conclusion of the 1980 season -- a year in which he went 13-5 with a 2.21 ERA (best in the National League) and just 6.92 hits allowed per game (second-fewest in the loop) -- Don Sutton had set nearly every Los Angeles franchise pitching record. Yet the righty is still considered the third or fourth best pitcher in franchise history. He nevertheless won 230 games over 15 years for the Blue, pitching in three World Series.
Jerry Reuss on the Rebound
Dodger lefty Jerry Reuss was named Sporting News National League Comeback Player of the Year in 1980, winning 18 games while losing only six with an excellent 2.52 ERA. In 1980, Reuss won eight more games and lost ten fewer games than he had posted for the two previous seasons combined. Rolls finished second in the voting for the 1980 National League Cy Young Award. Though a journeyman who never won 20 games in a season, Reuss would go on to win 200-plus games in his career.
Dale Murphy Hits 33 HRs
Dale Murphy finally moved out from behind home plate to assume his rightful place in the Braves outfield in 1980. The defensive switch also helped his offensive production, as Murphy tallied 89 RBI while batting .281. His 33 homers, 98 runs scored, and .510 slugging average all finished in third place in the National League that year.
Amos Otis Finishes With a Bang
Kansas City veteran Amos Otis saved his best for last in 1980 as he enjoyed a superb World Series. Not only did he hit a home run in his first Series at-bat, he also racked up a .478 average for the six-game tournament. Leading all fall classic players with 11 hits, Otis blasted three homers and seven RBI during the affair.
Tug McGraw Saves Two in National League Championship Series
Tug McGraw saved the dramatic ten-inning Phillie victory in game four of the 1980 National League Championship Series. The lefty was particularly happy about this save, his second of the playoff series, as he had been tagged with the previous night's 1-0 loss. McGraw loved the limelight, and it wasn't a coincidence that three of his best seasons came on pennant-winning teams: the 1969 Mets, the 1973 Mets, and the 1980 Phillies.
George Brett Royal in the 1980 World Series
George Brett continued burning up the basepaths throughout the 1980 regular season and into the fall classic. The Royals third baseman racked up a .375 average in the 1980 World Series, tallying nine hits and three RBI.
Manny Mota Shines in Finale
Dodger coach and pinch hitter extraordinaire Manny Mota retired in 1980 as baseball's all-time pinch-hit leader with 150. His .315 career batting average is the best mark among Los Angeles batters with 1,800 or more at-bats, and his lifetime pinch-hitting average is .297.
Mike Schmidt Carries the 1980 Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies ended 97 years of frustration in 1980 as they beat out the Royals in six games to capture their first World Championship. Mike Schmidt was the 1980 World Series hero with a .381 batting average and seven RBI. Schmidt collected a pair of homers in that fall classic: one dinger tied up game three in the fifth inning; the other sparked the Phillies in game five.
Schmidt was brilliant in 1980, leading the league in homers (48), RBI (121), and slugging (.624). Only in the playoffs, in which he hit .208, did he fail to produce.
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1980 Baseball Season Highlights
The 1980 baseball season was especially important to the people of Philadelphia, as the Phillies won their first World Series. Instrumental to this victory were stellar performances by Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton. Below, you will find the highlights from the 1980 baseball season:
- Phils snag their first National League flag since 1950.
- Kansas City wins its premier American League pennant.
- Phils win dramatic five-game National League Championship Series over Houston, the last four games in extra innings.
- Houston's Terry Puhl collects a National League record ten hits in League Championship play.
- Yankees stunned in American League Championship Series, falling to Kansas City in three straight games.
- Frank White is first winner of American League Championship Series MVP Award (Dusty Baker was the first National League winner in 1977).
- Phils win the first World Series in club history in six games.
- Royals Amos Otis and Willie Aikens each hit .400-plus in Series, but Mike Schmidt's key blows and Tug McGraw's relief work spark Phils.
- Steve Carlton becomes first National League starting pitcher to win two Series games since Steve Blass in 1971.
- Dodgers force playoff in National League West by sweeping Houston on season's final weekend; Astros win the playoff, though, 7-1.
- George Brett is named 1980 American League MVP, as he hits .390 after flirting with .400 much of the season.
- Brett also leads the American League in SA (.664) and OBP (.461) by wide margins.
- Schmidt sets a major league record for third basemen with 48 home runs; he also leads the majors in homers and grabs the National League MVP.
- Oriole Steve Stone wins 1980 American League Cy Young Award, as he leads the major league with 25 wins.
- Steve Carlton wins 1980 National League Cy Young Award, as he wins 24 games.
- On October 5, LA's Manny Mota collects the major league record 150th career pinch hit.
- Orioles finish second in the American League East with 100 wins.
- Mike Parrott of Seattle loses 16 straight games.
- Houston pitching star J.R. Richard's career is ended by a stroke.
- Major league attendance soars to record 43 million.
- Cubs relief ace Bruce Sutter awarded staggering salary of $700,000 when he takes club to arbitration.
- Yankees manager Dick Howser is fired after leading the club to 103 wins in first year with New York.
- Padre Ozzie Smith sets a major league record for shortstops with 621 assists.
- National League wins the All-Star Game 4-2 at LA.
- Steve Howe of LA is named the National League Rookie of the Year.
- Super Joe Charboneau of Cleveland is the American League ROTY.
- Willie Wilson of Royals sets a new major league record with 705 at-bats.
- Income from TV accounts for record 30 percent of game's $500 million in revenues.
- The average player now makes about $185,000.
- Kansas City is the first American League expansion team to win a pennant.
- Jerry Reuss of LA no-hits the Giants on June 27.
- In first year under Billy Martin, A's rise to second in the American League West and post 94 CGs, most in majors since 1946.
- Bill Buckner leads the National League in BA (.324).
- Cardinal Keith Hernandez tops the National League in runs (111), runs produced (194), and OBP (.410).
- Willie Wilson leads the American League in hits (230) and runs (133), and ties in triples (15).
- Brewer Cecil Cooper leads the American League in RBI (122) and total bases (335).
- On August 25, Fergie Jenkins becomes the first major league player to be arrested on a drug-related charge.
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More 1980 Baseball Season Highlights
Below are more highlights for the 1980 baseball season, including the year's Gold Glove winners, important trades, and a Padres base-stealing record.
- The Hall of Fame inducts Al Kaline, Duke Snider, Chuck Klein, and Tom Yawkey.
- Ozzie Smith wins first of what will become a record number of Gold Gloves as a National League shortstop.
- Montreal's Andre Dawson wins his first of six consecutive Gold Gloves.
- Padres swap Gaylord Perry back to Texas with two other players for much-traveled Willie Montanez.
- Angels send Carney Lansford, Rick Miller, and Mark Clear to Boston for Rick Burleson and Butch Hobson.
- Padres send Rollie Fingers and three other players to Cards for Terry Kennedy and six other players.
- Cards send Fingers, Pete Vuckovich, and Ted Simmons to Milwaukee for Sixto Lezcano and three others.
- Giants send John Montefusco and a minor leaguer to Atlanta for Doyle Alexander.
- Free agent Dave Winfield signs with Yankees in December.
- Rich Gale wins 11 in a row to set Royals club record.
- Royals lead the American League in triples (59) a record sixth consecutive year.
- Jorge Orta of Cleveland goes 6-for-6 on June 15.
- Bob Welch of the Dodgers publicly acknowledges that he has an alcohol abuse problem.
- Yankees coach Ellie Howard dies.
- On September 10, Montreal's Bill Gullickson sets rookie record when he fans 18 in a game.
- George Brett's .390 BA is the highest this century by a major league third baseman, as is his .664 SA.
- Padres are first team in National League history to have three players who steal 50 bases: Gene Richards (61), Smith (57), and Jerry Mumphrey (52).
- Boston's Burleson participates in a record 147 DPs by a shortstop.
- White Sox Mike Squires is the first left-handed major leaguer to catch in a game since the Cubs' Dale Long in 1958.
- Rick Langford of the A's tops the major league with 28 CGs and becomes last pitcher to post more than 25 CGs in a season.
- On April 12, Milwaukee's Cooper and Don Money each hit a grand slam in the second inning of the Brewers' 18-1 win over Boston.
- Joe Morgan leads the National League in walks (93).
- Steve Garvey leads the National League in hits (200).
- Pete Rose, now with the Phils, tops the National League in doubles (42).
- Montreal's Ron LeFlore wins the National League theft crown, 97 to 96, over Pittsburgh's Omar Moreno.
- Rickey Henderson tops the American League with 100 steals.
- Steve Carlton leads the major league in innings (304) and Ks (286).
- LA's Don Sutton tops the majors in ERA at 2.21.
- American League strikeout leader Len Barker of Cleveland has just 187 strikeouts.
- Pirate Jim Bibby leads the National League in win pct. (.760); Stone is the American League win pct. leader (.781).
- Goose Gossage and KCs Dan Quisenberry share the American League lead with 33 saves.
- The Cubs' Sutter tops the National League with 28 saves.
- Mike Norris wins 22 games for A's, is second in innings (284), CGs (24), and ERA (2.54).
- Yankee Rudy May leads the American League in ERA (2.47).
- Tommy John leads the American League with six shutouts and Yanks with 22 wins.
- Reuss leads the National League with six shutouts.
- Montreal's Rodney Scott and Moreno tie for the National League lead in triples with 13.
- Ben Oglivie of Milwaukee ties Reggie Jackson for the American League homer crown (41) and is second in RBI (118) and total bases (333).
- Ranger Al Oliver leads the American League in runs produced (194).
- Fifth-place Detroit leads majors in runs with 830.