1984 Baseball Season

The best teams of the 1984 baseball season had previously posed little threat of contention. The San Diego Padres, who closed the year as National League West winners, had just one winning season in their 15-year existence.

Neither the Cubs nor Mets, who duked it out in the National League East, had challenged for the pennant in over a decade. And the Tigers, who became 1984 World Series Champions, hadn't been to the playoffs since 1972.

The most exciting player was Met rookie Dwight Gooden, 19, who fanned five straight batters in the All-Star Game. Gooden finished 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA and a league-leading 276 strikeouts, a rookie record. He kept the Mets in a race with the Cubs, who had their ace, Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe. Picked up in a trade with Cleveland, Sutcliffe went 16-1.

Ryne Sandberg
Cubs' second baseman
Ryne Sandberg was the
1984 National League MVP.

The Cubs also had MVP Ryne Sandberg, a slick-fielding, heavy-hitting second baseman. The Cubs trailed the Mets by 4½ games at the end of July, then rallied to beat them in seven of their next eight games. Chicago won the division by 6½. The Padres, with 92 victories, won the National League West. They featured a strong pitching staff and batting champion Tony Gwynn (.351).

Dale Murphy and Mike Schmidt shared the National League home run title with 36, while Montreal's Gary Carter tied Schmidt in RBI with 106. Cardinal Joaquin Andujar was the National League's only 20-game winner, while teammate Bruce Sutter led the league with 45 saves.

The Tigers were the premier team of 1984, going 104-58. Their pitching was solid, with Jack Morris, Dan Petry, and Milt Wilcox all winning at least 17 games (Morris even pitched a no-hitter in April against Chicago). Reliever Willie Hernandez won both the Cy Young and MVP Awards, posting 32 saves in his first 32 opportunities.

The Detroit offense, powered by Kirk Gibson, Lance Parrish, Alan Trammell, and Chet Lemon, led the league in homers (187) and runs scored (829). Their up-the-middle defense, with Parrish, Trammell, Lemon, and Lou Whitaker, was the best in baseball. With this attack, the Tigers opened the season 35-5, easily capturing the division.

In the West, Kansas City edged out the Angels and Twins, despite winning only 84 games. The Royals' only standout player was Dan Quisenberry, who notched 44 saves.

Yankees Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield led the league in batting much of the season, with Mattingly taking the title on the season's final day (.343). Boston outfielder Tony Armas led the league in homers with 43 and RBI with 123, while Seattle rookie Alvin Davis posted 27 homers and 116 RBI. Angel Mike Witt pitched a perfect game September 30 against Texas.

The American League playoffs were a yawner, as Detroit swept the Royals. In the National League, however, an exciting series was taking shape. In the opener, the Cubs hammered the Padres 13-0, thanks to five homers (including one by pitcher Sutcliffe).

In game two, Steve Trout and Lee Smith combined to win 4-2, and Chicago was only one victory from its first World Series in 39 years. That victory never came, as the Padres won three straight at Jack Murphy Stadium and captured the flag.

The 1984 World Series was a formality. Detroit rolled through the Padres' starting pitching and won the 1984 World Series four games to one. To show how dominant Detroit was in 1984, check out this stat: Including the postseason, the Tigers were 100-0 when leading after eight innings.

Find headlines and summaries of the major stories from the 1984 baseball season on the next page.

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1984 Baseball Season Headlines

In 1984, Ryne Sandberg won the MVP and Jim Palmer pitched his final season. Here are some of the headlines from the 1984 baseball season:

Tony Gwynn Takes 1984 National League Bat Title

When general manager Jack McKeon drafted Tony Gwynn in the third round of the free agent draft in 1981, everyone thought the Padres had wasted their choice. Gwynn proved critics wrong in 1984, as he won the National League batting championship with a .351 average -- .30 more than the runner-up -- and topped the circuit with 213 hits (it was the first time a Padre had accomplished either feat). Hitting .368 in the League Championship Series, he clinched the fifth game with his third RBI to carry the Padres to the World Series.

Lee Smith Tallies 33 Saves

1984 National League Co-Fireman of the Year, Lee Smith saved 33 games and won another nine for the Cubs. It began a four-year streak in which the righty saved 30-plus games. Fizzling out by the postseason, Smith lost a game in the 1984 Championship Series, posting a 9.00 ERA. Smith is the all-time leader in saves for the Cubs (180).

Darrell Evans Off With a Bang

The first free agent signed by Tiger owner Tom Monaghan, Darrell Evans started hot in 1984, then settled into a comfortable pace. Evans socked an Opening Day homer to spark the Tigers to their 35-5 start, then finished the season with a .232 batting average and 16 homers. The following season, the 37-year-old finished the year with 40 round-trippers.

Jim Palmer Hangs Up Glove

Jim Palmer had pitched one month of the 1984 season before he received notice on May 17 that the Orioles had released him. Thus ended the career of one of the greatest pitchers in American League history. His lifetime record of 268-152 was marked with eight seasons with 20 or more wins.

Palmer became a baseball analyst for ABC-TV. He was insightful as a commentator, though he did have a few klutzy moments. He once remarked, "When you stop throwing good pitches, you start throwing bad pitches."

Gary Carter: 94 BA, 106 RBI

With the retirement of Johnny Bench, the catcher's mantle was passed to Gary Carter in 1984. Carter posted his best season, cranking out a career-high 106 RBI (tied for the National League lead) and a .294 batting average. A perennial All-Star, he won his second All-Star MVP Award in 1984 on a second-inning home run, as he caught Dwight Gooden for the first time.

Carter spent the second half of the 1980s with the Mets before signing with San Francisco in 1990. Carter is one of a handful of catchers to club 300 homers in his career.

Dennis Boyd Breaks Even

Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd evoked memories of Satchel Paige, as the young Red Sox pitcher spoke with a singsong banter while winning and losing 12 games in 1984. The son of an ex-Negro Leagues player, Boyd was as controversial as he was entertaining, often criticizing teammates and management.

Ryne Sandberg Carries the 1984 Chicago Cubs

The rise of the 1984 Cubs in the National League East was fueled by Ryne Sandberg. Capturing MVP honors, the second baseman batted .314 with 19 homers and 84 RBI and tied for the lead in the circuit with 19 triples. His valiant effort in the League Championship Series, a .368 average, was in vain as the Cubs lost to the Padres 3-2.

Dwight Gooden: Best at K'ing

Described as the Mozart of baseball, Dwight Gooden won 17 games with a 2.60 ERA in 1984. The 19-year-old hurler set a pair of major league records: One was for most strikeouts by a rookie (276 batters in just 218 innings); the other was for most strikeouts in two consecutive games (32). Gooden's fanning feats earned him the nickname "Dr. K."

Don Mattingly Wins 1984 American League Bat Title

Don Mattingly won his first American League batting championship in 1984 by hitting .343. Mattingly was the first left-handed Yankee hitter to bat over .340 since Lou Gehrig batted .351 in 1937. Posting a strong year, the first baseman topped the circuit with 207 hits and 44 doubles, came in second with a .537 slugging average, and placed fourth in total bases with 324.

Dave Winfield Has .340 BA

Dave Winfield shortened his stroke in 1984 in an effort to elevate his average. His average jumped from .283 the year before to .340. The outfielder was edged out for the batting title by teammate Don Mattingly, who hit .343. Off the field, the Yankee superstar continued to battle with owner George Steinbrenner, who refused to honor his contractual obligation to support Winfield's charitable foundation.

Check out more headlines from the 1984 baseball season on the next page.

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More 1984 Baseball Season Headlines

Below are more headlines from the 1984 baseball season, including Rick Sutcliffe's pitching and Mike Schmidt's hitting.

Alan Trammell Hits .314

Alan Trammell was the best overall shortstop in 1984, batting .314 with 14 homers and 69 RBI. Trammell came to the fore during the postseason. Superb in the American League Championship Series, he had a .364 average and three RBI. Spectacular in the 1984 World Series, he racked up a .450 average, two homers, and six RBI to cop Series MVP honors.

Rick Sutcliffe Wins 16

Dallas Green, Cubs general manager, made the trade of the year, obtaining Rick Sutcliffe from the Indians in exchange for outfielders Mel Hall and Joe Carter. Sutcliffe went 16-1 for the Cubs after starting the season 4-5 for the Indians.

Ron Cey: 25 HRs, 97 RBI

In 1984, Ron Cey still wielded a potent bat. He helped the Cubs to the National League East Division title with 25 homers and 97 RBI. In the League Championship Series, he had one home run and a trio of RBI.

His glovework, however, was off the mark. One Chicago sportswriter wrote that a sheet of propped-up plywood would have provided better defense at Wrigley's hot corner.

Mike Schmidt: 36 HRs, 106 RBI

Mike Schmidt had a typical season for a budding Hall of Famer in 1984. Tying for first place in the National League in homers with 36 and RBI with 106, Schmidt's slugging had him nailing a round-tripper in seven percent of his total at-bats. Capturing his ninth consecutive Gold Glove Award, he exhibited a defensive prowess that was matched only by Brooks Robinson.

Lloyd Moseby: 18 HRs, 92 RBI

Lloyd Moseby put up some impressive offensive numbers in 1984. He batted .280 with 18 homers and 92 RBI, tying for first place in the circuit in triples with 15. Shaker heads up the Blue Jay list in career games (1,392), at-bats (5,|124), runs (768), hits (1,319), extra-base hits (451), doubles (242), and stolen bases (255).

Willie Hernandez Saves 32 Games

In 1984, Willie Hernandez became only the second reliever, behind Rollie Fingers, to capture league MVP and Cy Young honors in the same season. While helping the Tigers to their greatest season in two decades, Hernandez saved 32 games in 33 chances, won nine, and sported a 1.92 ERA. Giving an encore of his spectacular performance in the World Series, he tallied a pair of saves and a 1.69 ERA.

Outfield Carries Padres

The outfield of Carmelo Martinez, Tony Gwynn, and Kevin McReynolds helped the Dick Williams-led Padres to their first National League pennant. Gwynn led with his circuit-topping .351 batting average. McReynolds contributed 20 homers and 75 RBI, while Martinez tallied 13 round-trippers and 66 RBI.

The three disappeared in the 1984 World Series. Martinez and Gwynn hit a combined .222 with no extra-base hits and no RBI. McReynolds missed the action because of an injury.

Jack Morris Blanks 1984 Chicago White Sox

Jack Morris twirled a no-hitter against the White Sox on April 7, 1984, and made a bit of history in the process. Not only did Morris match Ken Forsch's 1979 feat for throwing the season's earliest no-no in the history of the game, he also became the first Tiger to throw a no-hitter since Jim Bunning in 1958.

The ballclub's leading victor from 1979-1987, Morris finished the 1984 season at 19-11. He posted an excellent 2.00 ERA in the 1984 World Series, winning games one and four.

Chet Lemon: 20 HRs, 76 RBI

Chet Lemon was a solid contributor to the Tigers in 1984, as batting .287 with 20 homers and 76 RBI. Baseball guru Bill James ranked Lemon the second- best center fielder in the American League behind Lloyd Moseby of the Blue Jays.

Kirk Gibson One-lips Steve Garvey

Kirk Gibson avoided a pickoff attempt by Steve Garvey at first base in the third inning of game five of the 1984 World Series. Although Garvey led the Padres to their National League Championship Series comeback against the Cubs, he couldn't stem the Tiger tide. Batting just .200, Garvey was good for just a pair of RBI.

Gibson, on the other hand, hit two four-baggers in the fifth and final game to bring the Tigers their first World Title since 1968.

Read more highlights from the 1984 baseball season on the next page.

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1984 Baseball Season Highlights

The Detroit Tigers were the dominant team during the 1984 baseball season. They went on to beat the Padres in the 1984 World Series four games to one. Below, are some of the highlights from the 1984 baseball season:
  • Tigers win their first American League flag since 1968.

  • Padres become first second-wave expansion team to win the flag in the National League.

  • Down two games to none in NLCS, Padres rally to beat Cubs in five games.

  • Tigers sweep Royals in ALCS; the final score was 1-0.

  • Tigers defeat Padres in the 1984 World Series in five games, as Kirk Gibson clouts two homers in game five to clinch it.

  • Tiger Jack Morris wins two CG victories in the 1984 World Series.

  • Detroit's Alan Trammell leads all 1984 World Series players with .450 batting average and collects two homers and six RBI.

  • Tigers reliever Willie Hernandez wins both the 1984 Cy Young Award and MVP Award, as he earns 32 saves in his first 32 save opportunities.

  • Cub Rick Sutcliffe is the only Cy Young winner who began his year with another team.

  • Chicago's Ryne Sandberg takes 1984 National League MVP Award.

  • Met Dwight Gooden is 1984 National League Rookie of the Year, as he sets new rookie K record with 276.

  • Seattle's Alvin Davis is 1984 American League Rookie of the Year.

  • Boston's Tony Armas leads the major league in homers (43), RBI (123), and total bases (339).

  • Tigers win 26 of their first 30 games, and 35 of their first 40 -- best starts for any major league team this century.

  • Tigers win an American League record 17 straight games on the road.

  • Sutcliffe goes 4-5 with Cleveland, is traded, and goes 16-1 with the Cubs.

  • Dick Williams ties Bill McKechnie's record when he takes third different team, the Padres, to a pennant.

  • Pete Rose gets his 4,000th hit on April 21.

  • National League wins 1984 All-Star Game 3-4 at SF, as 19-year-old Gooden strikes out the side in the first inning he pitches.

  • Montreal's Gary Carter becomes first player since 1968 to win two All-Star MVP Awards.

  • On April 7, Morris throws first no-hitter by Detroit pitcher in 26 years, 4-0 over Chicago.

  • Reggie Jackson hits his 500th homer on September 17.

  • Cardinal Bruce Sutter ties the major league record with 45 saves.

  • Ryne Sandberg leads National League in runs (114), and ties in runs produced (179) and triples (19).

  • Dale Murphy leads National League in total bases (332) and SA (.547).

  • Boston's Dwight Evans tops the major league in runs (121) and runs produced (193).

  • Yankee Don Mattingly leads American League in BA (.343), hits (207), and doubles (44).

  • Sparky Anderson becomes first manager to win World Championships in both leagues.

  • Pete Rose achieves 100 or more hits for 22nd consecutive year, a major league record.

  • Rose sets a new major league record when he plays in his 3,309th game.

  • Steve Carlton wins his 300th game.

  • Mike Witt of Angels pitches a perfect game over Texas on September 30, the final day of the season.

  • Peter Ueberroth replaces Bowie Kuhn as commissioner.

  • Padre Tony Gwynn wins his first National League bat crown with a .351 average, and tops the major league with 213 hits.

  • Mike Schmidt ties Murphy for the National League homer crown (36) and Carter for RBI crown (106).

For more highlights of the 1984 baseball season, continue to the next page.

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More 1984 Baseball Season Highlights

Below are more highlights of the 1984 baseball season, including Dwight Gooden's strikeout record and the year's biggest trades.

  • Baltimore's Mike Boddicker tops the American League with 20 wins.

  • St. Louis' Joaquin Andujar leads the National League with 20 wins.

  • The average player's salary is now $363,000.
    Pee Wee Reese
    Pee Wee Reese was
    inducted into the
    Baseball Hall-of-Fame
    in 1984.

  • The Hall of Fame inducts Luis Aparicio, Harmon Killebrew, Don Drysdale, Rick Ferrell, and Pee Wee Reese.

  • Jim Rice sets a new major league record when he grounds into 36 DPs.

  • Eddie Murray wins the third of his three consecutive Gold Gloves as an American League first baseman.

  • Pittsburgh's Tony Pena wins the second of three straight Gold Gloves as a National League catcher.

  • Dwight Gooden fans 16 batters in two consecutive starts to set the new modern record for most Ks in two straight starts (32).

  • Stanley Coveleski dies at age 94.

  • Waite Hoyt dies.

  • Joe Cronin dies.

  • George Kelly dies at age 89.

  • Houston's Dickie Thon is beaned, suffers damaged vision, and never regains hitting ability.

  • Cleveland trades Rick Sutcliffe, Ron Hassey, and George Frazier to the Cubs for Joe Carter, Mel Hall, and a minor leaguer.

  • Oakland swaps Rickey Henderson, Bert Bradley, and cash to the Yankees for Jay Howell, Stan Javier, Tim Birtsas, Jose Rijo, and Eric Plunk.

  • Boston ships Dennis Eckersley to the Cubs for Bill Buckner and Mike Brumley.

  • Montreal deals Joe Carter to the Mets for Hubie Brooks and three other players.

  • Prior to the season, Phils deal Hernandez and Dave Bergman to Detroit for John Wockenfuss and Glenn Wilson.

  • Carl Pohlad buys Twins from Calvin Griffith.

  • Pittsburgh's Johnny Ray sets a major league record when he has a game-winning RBI in six straight games.

  • Joe Morgan's 265th career homer breaks Rogers Hornsby's record for second basemen.

  • Phillie Juan Samuel sets the record for both National League second basemen and National League rookies when he fans 168 times.

  • Steve Garvey's 1.000 FA sets a new major league record for first basemen.

  • Jim Frey, who piloted the Royals to a division title in his first year in KC, does the same in his first year with the Cubs.

  • Boddicker, a breaking-ball specialist, establishes a major league record for pitchers when he averages 1.44 putouts per game he pitches.

  • Gary Matthews of the Cubs tops the National League in walks (103) and OBP (.417).

  • Ray and Tim Raines tie for National League lead in doubles (38).

  • Raines tops Samuel in steals (75-72) to lead the major league.

  • Murray paces American League in walks (107) and OBP (.415).

  • Chicago's Harold Baines has the American League's top SA (.541).

  • Teammates Lloyd Moseby and Dave Collins of Toronto lead American League in triples with 15.

  • Henderson, playing for Oakland, leads the American League in steals (66).

  • KC's Dan Quisenberry leads American League with 44 saves.

  • Alejandro Pena of LA has the best ERA in the major league (2.49); Boddicker has the best ERA in the American League (2.79).

  • Toronto's Dave Stieb leads the major league in innings with 267.

  • Charlie Hough of Texas tops majors with 17 CGs.

  • Cincinnati's Mario Soto leads the National League with just 13 complete games.

  • Seattle rookie Mark Langston tops the American League in Ks (204), wins 17 games to set new Mariners club record.
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