1985 Baseball Season

Milestones toppled in 1985. Nolan Ryan got his 4,000th strikeout, Rod Carew collected his 3,000th hit, and Tom Seaver and Phil Niekro each earned their 300th victory (Seaver and Carew accomplished their feats on the same day). And Pete Rose cracked his 4,192nd hit on September 11, breaking Ty Cobb's major league record.

Three of the four divisions offered close contests. In the American League East, Toronto edged the Yankees by 2 games. The Blue Jays were led by the fantastic outfield of Lloyd Moseby, Jesse Barfield, and George Bell, who combined for 73 homers. Barfield also had a lethal arm, racking up 27 assists.


The Yankees boasted a devastating lineup with MVP Don Mattingly (48 doubles, 145 RBI), Dave Winfield (114 RBI), Rickey Henderson (146 runs, 80 steals), and Don Baylor. Ron Guidry had a strong season, too, winning 22 games. The Yankees chased Toronto throughout the summer, never overtaking them, then replaced Martin with Lou Piniella in the off-season.

The Royals won their division with a pitching staff spearheaded by Cy Young winner Bret Saberhagen, who went 20-6 with a 2.87 ERA. George Brett had one of his finest seasons, batting .335 and driving in 112 runs.

The Cardinals won the National League East, thanks to MVP Willie McGee and his National League-best .353 average. St. Louis edged out the Mets, who were led by phenom Dwight Gooden. Gooden won the Cy Young Award with a league-leading 24 wins, 268 strikeouts, and 1.53 ERA.

In the National League West, Tommy Lasorda's Dodgers won the division on the pitching of Orel Hershiser (who went 19-3) and the offense of Pedro Guerrero and Mike Marshall, who combined for 61 homers.

A few moments blemished the banner year. A players' strike in August halted the season for two days. In September, several players -- including Keith Hernandez and Dave Parker -- testified in court that they had used cocaine. And in their quest for money, the owners expanded the playoffs to a best-of-seven series.

St. Louis defeated the Dodgers in six games to win the National League pennant. Ozzie Smith was the hero of game five, hitting a bottom-of-the-ninth homer to give his club a 3-2 win. In game six, the big hit came from Jack Clark, as he blasted a ninth-inning, three-run homer off Tom Niedenfuer (who also gave up Smith's homer) to give the Cards a 7-5 win.

In the ALCS, Toronto won three of the first four games, but the Royals came back and won three straight, pitting them against cross-state rival St. Louis in the World Series.

The "I-70 Series" proved exciting. The strong pitching of John Tudor and Danny Cox put the favored Cards up two games to none. Frank White's three RBI, however, helped KC win game three. Tudor shut out KC in game four, and the Royals took game five 6-1.

KC trailed three games to two, and were trailing 1-0 in the ninth in game six. But the tide turned KC's way. Royal Jorge Orta led off the ninth with an infield single, which on video replay indicated a bad call by the umpire. Clark then misplayed a foul ball hit by Steve Balboni, and Balboni singled. A passed ball and an intentional walk loaded the bases, and Dane lorg singled to win the game 2-1, forcing game seven.

The Royals won the final game 11-0, knocking Tudor out after 21/3 innings. The victory gave the Royals their first World Championship.

Check out the next page for headlines and summaries of the 1985 baseball season's top stories.

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1985 Baseball Season Headlines

The 1985 baseball season was chock full of milestones and new records. Here are some of the headlines from the 1985 baseball season:

Dave Winfield: 26 HRs, 114 RBI

In 1985, Dave Winfield hit .275 with 26 homers and 114 RBI, helping the Yankees with his speed, defense, and throwing. Winfield is tied with Roger Maris on the Yankees' all-time home run list (203).


When Winfield signed a multi-million-dollar contract in 1981, Yankee fans expected him to produce the numbers of Mickey Mantle and the drama of Reggie Jackson. When he fell below their expectations, they got on his case.

Bert Blyleven: 17 Wins, 206 Ks

Dividing his 1985 season between the Indians and the Twins, Bert Blyleven spearheaded the American League in innings pitched (293-2/3) and strikeouts (206) while compiling a 17-16 record. He also topped the circuit in shutouts (five) and complete games (24).

Yielding a major league record 50 gopher balls in 1986, Blyleven helped the Twins to a World Championship in 1987. During the 1987 American League Championship Series, a Twins fan held up a banner that read, "Bert will have us home Blyleven."

Wade Boggs Posts .368 Average

Batting an American League-leading .368 average in 1985, Wade Boggs began a four-year streak atop the circuit in batting. He also led all circuit third basemen in chances that year with 486. Boggs was named to his first All-Star Game in 1985.

Tallying a .356 career average at the end of the 1988 season, Boggs tied with Joe Jackson for the third-highest mark in baseball history, behind Ty Cobb (.366) and Rogers Hornsby (.358).

Cal Ripken: 26 HRs, 110 RBI

Cal Ripken Jr. was the top American League All-Star vote-getter in 1985 (his third of seven consecutive years as an All-Star), as he continued to produce stellar numbers. The shortstop tallied a .282 batting average, 26 homers, and 110 RBI while leading the loop in putouts and double plays that season. His stature on and off the field made Ripken the most popular Oriole since Brooks Robinson.

Keith Hernandez, Pete Rose Best at First

One of the best fielding first basemen in baseball history, Keith Hernandez hit .309 in 1985, collecting ten homers and 91 RBI. Pete Rose, the all-time hit man, batted .264 with 107 hits and 60 runs scored that season.

In 1985, it was revealed that Hernandez was using drugs and he was suspended; he put his career back together to be named team captain in 1987. Rose is still rebuilding his gambling-tarnished reputation.

Dwight Gooden: 24 Victories, 1.53 ERA

Dwight Gooden reached new heights in 1985, his sophomore season. Not only did he garner the "pitcher's triple crown" by leading the National League in wins (24-4), ERA (1.53), and strikeouts (268), he also placed first in complete games (16).

Fanning 16 batters in a 3-0 win over the Giants on August 20, 1985, Gooden became the first pitcher in the senior circuit to strike out 200 batters in each of his first two years. The 20-year-old won the 1985 American League Cy Young Award hands down.

Pete Rose Breaks Ty Cobb's Mark

At Riverfront Stadium on September 11, 1985, Pete Rose surpassed Ty Cobb as baseball's all-time leading hitter by stroking No. 4,193 off Eric Show, the starter for the Padres. To reach the milestone, Rose recorded over 100 hits a season past the age of 38. When asked to suggest his epitaph, Rose said, "Here lies the man who could hit forever."

Rickey Henderson Goes 20/50

In 1985, Rickey Henderson became the first American League player ever to post a 20 home run/50 steal season (24 dingers, 80 swipes); in 1986, he became the circuit's first player to post back-to-back 20/50 seasons (28 dingers, 87 swipes).

In 1985, Henderson had one of the greatest seasons ever by a leadoff man: a .314 average, 99 walks, 146 runs scored (the best showing in the majors since 1949), and an average of over a run scored per game (the best since 1939). Despite all his heroics, he lost the loop's MVP Award to teammate Don Mattingly.

Dale Murphy: 37 HRs, 111 RBI

Dale Murphy continued his string of fabulous seasons in 1985, batting .300 with 111 RBI while leading the National League with 37 homers, 118 runs scored, and 90 walks. A seven-time All-Star selection and a five-time (consecutive) Gold Glove-winner, the Braves slugger received the 1985 Lou Gehrig Award for his generous off-field activities. On the downside, Murphy led the National League in strikeouts (141) for the third time in his


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More 1985 Baseball Season Headlines

Below are more headlines from the 1985 baseball season, including a hitting milestone for Hall of Famer Rod Carew.

Orel Hershiser Triumphs in 19

Nicknamed "Bulldog" by Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, Orel Hershiser made 1985 his breakthrough year. He spearheaded all National League pitchers in winning percentage at .864 as he went 19-3 and posted a 2.03 ERA for the season. In the League Championship Series, he won one game and hit .286.


Don Mattingly Named 1985 American League MVP

Batting third in the Yankee lineup in 1985, Don Mattingly showed an increase in power as he amassed a career-high 35 homers and an American League-leading 145 RBI. The performance snared the 1985 American League MVP Award. Mattingly also displayed power at first base, winning his first of four consecutive Gold Gloves. In the mid-1980s, many considered him the game's best player.

Darrell Evans Leads American League In HRs

In 1985, 38-year-old Darrell Evans led the American League in home runs with 40. Not was he the oldest home run champion in baseball history, he was also the only player ever to hit 40 or more homers in both leagues. Evans racked up 94 RBI, and was the only bright spot on the 1985 Tigers.

Willie McGee Sets Record with .353 Average

Willie McGee, the 1985 National League MVP, tallied the highest average by a switch-hitter in history, with a .353 mark. Leading the Cardinals to the senior circuit's pennant, the outfielder garnered a circuit-high 216 hits and 18 triples. In the 1985 World Series, he homered in game four to give the Cardinals their last win in the fall classic.

Vince Coleman Named 1985 National League ROTY

Vince Coleman captured 1985 National League Rookie of the Year honors , stealing 110 bases while scoring 107 runs. In his first seven years of professional baseball, Coleman led every league he had ever played in in stolen bases. He became the first player in baseball history to steal 100 in each of his first three seasons in the majors.

Coleman missed most of the 1985 postseason due to an injury (his foot got caught in an automatic tarp dispenser). He played in just three playoff games and stole just one base that year.

Phil Niekro Racks Up 300 Wins

The most celebrated game in the career of Phil Niekro came on the final day of the 1985 season, when the 46-year-old won his 300th game as the Yankees defeated the Blue Jays. Niekro went 16-12 for the Yanks in 1985.

Said outfielder Bobby Murcer: "Trying to hit Phil Niekro is like trying to eat JELL-O® with chopsticks. Sometimes you might get a piece, but most of the time you get hungry."

Bret Saberhagen Wins the 1985 National League Cy Young Award

In 1985, while Dwight Gooden was establishing himself as the best young pitcher in the National League, Bret Saberhagen was building a similar case for himself in the American League. The youngest pitcher ever to win the Cy Young Award, the 21-year-old Saberhagen went 20-6 with a 2.87 ERA. Stunning in the 1985 World Series, the righty won games three and seven and posted a 0.50 ERA.

Rod Carew Hits No. 3,000

Rod Carew became the 16th member of the exclusive 3,000-hit club on August 4, 1985, with a single off Twin Frank Viola at Anaheim Stadium. He hit .280 in 1985, his last year, retiring with a .328 career average and 1,015 RBI. Carew's 3,053 hits rank 12th on the all-time list, while his .328 lifetime average ranks 27th. No one since Stan Musial has retired with a higher average.

Though fans were sad to see Carew leave the game, many sportswriters were glad to see him go. At times, he was downright nasty with reporters.

Ozzie Smith Clinches Game Five

The Wizard of Oz, Ozzie Smith, hit the game-winning home run in the fifth contest of the National League Championship Series off Dodger reliever Tom Niedenfuer. The dinger was only the 14th round-tripper in the eight-year-old career of the switch-hitter. It was, moreover, his first homer hit lefthanded. Smith also collected a .435 average and three RBI in the tournament.

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1985 Baseball Season Highlights

The 1985 baseball season was a season of milestones and record-breaking. Players such as Nolan Ryan, Rod Carew, Tom Seaver, Phil Niekro, and Pete Rose hit history-making numbers that kept fans captivated. Below are some of the highlights from the 1985 baseball season:

  • Cards win second flag in the 1980s under Whitey Herzog.
  • Royals win an American League dogfight.
  • LCS format is expanded to best-of-seven; in ALCS, KC rallies from three-to-one deficit to beat Toronto.
  • In NLCS, Cards sink Dodgers in six games, as Ozzie Smith wins game six with his first left-handed homer.
  • Royals beat Cards in World Series.
  • In bottom of ninth of game six of 1985 World Series, ump Don Denkinger rules KC pinch hitter Jorge Orta safe, though TV cameras show Orta out.
  • Royals parlay Denkinger's miscue into two runs and win the game 2-1 to even the Series.
  • Bret Saberhagen wins two 1985 World Series games for KC, including a shutout in game seven.
  • George Brett leads KC with ten hits in 1985 World Series.
  • Willie McGee of Cards is voted 1985 National League MVP, leading league in BA (.353), hits (216), and triples (18).
  • Don Mattingly is 1985 American League MVP.
  • Dwight Gooden wins 1985 National League Cy Young Award, leading National League in wins (24), ERA (1.53), Ks (268), CGs (16), and innings (277).
  • Gooden's 1.53 ERA is best in the majors during the 1980s.
  • Bret Saberhagen wins 1985 American League Cy Young Award.
  • On September 11, Pete Rose cracks his 4,192nd career hit, breaking Ty Cobb's ML record.
  • Mattingly's 145 RBI leads in the major league by 20.
  • Cardinal Vince Coleman steals rookie record 110 bases.
  • Wade Boggs leads the major league with 240 hits, most in majors since 1930.
  • Boggs also leads the major league in BA (.368) and OBP (.452).
  • Rickey Henderson scores 146 runs, most in majors since 1949.
  • Cal Ripken breaks Buck Freeman's record for consecutive innings played, reaching 5,342 innings without respite.
  • National League wins 1985 All-Star Game 6-1 at Metrodome, taking 17-game lead in All-Star competition; the National League has won 21 of last 23 games.
  • Don Sutton becomes first pitcher in baseball history to fan 100 or more hitters in 20 consecutive seasons.
  • Steve Garvey's record streak of 193 consecutive errorless games ends.
  • Angel Bobby Grich's .997 FA sets a new major league record for second basemen.
  • Larry Bowa retires with record for highest career FA by a shortstop (.980).
  • Nolan Ryan fans his 4,000th batter on July 11.
  • Rod Carew collects his 3,000th hit.
  • Phil Niekro gets his 300th win.
  • Tom Seaver gets win No. 300.
  • Darrell Evans is first to hit 40 or more homers in a season in each league, cracking a major league-leading 40 for Detroit.
  • Pirate Jose DeLeon goes 2-19, posting lowest win pct. in National League history (.095).
  • Players strike on August 6 for two days.
  • Cubs are first National League team since 1901 to play no doubleheaders in a season.
  • Dale Murphy leads National League in homers (37), runs (118), and walks (90).
  • Dave Parker, with the Reds, tops National League in RBI (125), total bases (350), and doubles (42).
  • LA's Pedro Guerrero paces National League in SA (.577) and OBP (.425).
  • Mattingly leads American League in runs produced (217), total bases (370), and doubles (48).

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More 1985 Baseball Season Highlights

Carlton Fisk hit 37 home runs in 1985 -- more than any other catcher in American League history.
Carlton Fisk hit 37 home runs in 1985 -- more than any other catcher in American League history.

Below are more highlights of the 1985 baseball season, including Rookies of the Year, new records, and the year's inductees into the Hall of Fame.

  • Bert Blyleven, traded by Cleveland to Minnesota mid-season, tops American League in CGs (24), innings (294), and Ks (206).
  • Dale Berra becomes second player in major league history to be managed by his father -- Yankee Yogi Berra.
  • The Hall of Fame inducts Hoyt Wilhelm, Lou Brock, Arky Vaughan, and Enos Slaughter.
  • Chicago's Ozzie Guillen is 1985 American League Rookie of the Year.
  • Vince Coleman is 1985 National League Rookie of the Year.
  • George Brett wins the only Gold Glove of his career.
  • Don Mattingly wins his first Gold Glove as American League's top fielding first baseman.
  • Boston's Bill Buckner sets a new major league record for first basemen with 184 assists.
  • KC's Steve Balboni fans 166 times to set a new major league record for first basemen.
  • Steve Bedrosian of Atlanta makes major league record 37 starts without registering a single complete game all season.
  • Cardinal Tommy Herr is first major league player since 1950 to amass 100 or more RBI with fewer than ten homers.
  • Rob Picciolo leaves majors with 25 walks in 1,628 career at-bats -- the poorest walk ratio in major league history.
  • Duane Kuiper retires with one homer in 3,379 career at-bats -- the worst home run ratio in 20th century among players active ten or more seasons.
  • Chicago's Carlton Fisk sets an American League record for catchers with 37 homers.
  • Henderson sets a major league record for players with 90 or more steal attempts at 88.9 percent success.
  • San Diego's LaMarr Hoyt allows just 0.86 walks per game.
  • Blue Jay Dennis Lamp has a perfect 11-0 record -- most wins without a loss by a pitcher since 1928.
  • A record 458 games are played in majors before the first rain-out of the year, May 20 in Cleveland.
  • Giants trade Jack Clark to St. Louis for Jose Uribe and three other players.
  • Local group buys Pirates, then installs Syd Thrift as GM.
  • Cincinnati auto dealer Marge Schott becomes principal owner of the Reds.
  • Wade Boggs sets an American League record when he makes one or more hits in 135 games.
  • Boggs also sets major league season record for most hits by a third baseman (240).
  • Joe Wood dies at 95.
  • Roger Maris dies at 51.
  • Burleigh Grimes dies.
  • Billy Martin replaces Yogi Berra as Yankees manager in late April, guides club to 91-54 record, and has a fight with pitcher Ed Whitson.
  • Astros play a National League record 126 night games.
  • Andy Hawkins sets Padres record when he wins 15 consecutive games.
  • McGee's .353 BA is the highest since 1901 by a switch-hitter in the National League.
  • Ron Guidry leads the American League with 22 wins and .786 win pct.
  • KC's Willie Wilson leads majors with 21 triples -- most since Dale Mitchell's 23 in 1949.
  • Expo Jeff Reardon leads the majors with 41 saves; Royal Dan Quisenberry tops the American League with 37.
  • Cardinal John Tudor tops majors with ten shutouts -- one short of modern record for southpaws.
  • Brewers are last in American League with 101 homers after topping majors with 216 in 1982.
  • Angels fall 1 game short of winning the American League West, adding to Gene Mauch's record of most years as a manager without winning a pennant (24).

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