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.
See the next page for more headlines from the 1980 baseball season.