1986 Baseball Season

As the Amazin' Mets of 1969 stunned baseball with great pitching and timely hitting, the Macho Mets of the 1986 baseball season dominated with a dazzling combination of power, speed, and pitching.

Dwight Gooden (17-6), Ron Darling (15-6), Bobby Ojeda (18-5), and Sid Fernandez (16-6) created the starting staff. Lenny Dykstra (.295, 31 stolen bases), Wally Backman (.320), and Ray Knight (.298), Gary Carter (24 homers, 105 RBI), Darryl Strawberry (27 homers, 93 RBI), and Keith Hernandez (.310 average, 83 RBI) provided solid hitting.

Houston took the National League West by storm, going 96-66. Cy Young Award-winner Mike Scott (18-10) baffled hitters with his split-fingered fastball, no-hitting San Francisco on September 25 and leading the majors in innings (275), ERA (2.23), and strikeouts (306). Glenn Davis belted 31 homers -- no small feat in the Astrodome -- and Kevin Bass hit .311 with 20 homers.

In the American League, Boston had its own stars in Wade Boggs (a circuit-topping .357 average), Dwight Evans (26 homers, 97 RBI), Jim Rice (.324, 20 homers, 110 RBI), and 23-year-old Cy Young Award-winner and MVP Roger Clemens (a league-leading 24 wins).

Veterans Don Sutton, Reggie Jackson, Bob Boone, and Bobby Grich combined to give California a 92-70 season and a first-place finish in the American League West.

There were other notables around the circuits. In the National League, Philadelphia's Mike Schmidt took MVP honors on his 37 round-trippers, 119 RBI, and .547 slugging average. LA's Fernando Valenzuela had a 21-11 season and three shutouts. Montreal's Tim Raines posted a league-leading .334 average. Toronto outfielder Jesse Barfield topped the American League with 40 homers. Joe Cowley of the White Sox had a no-hitter against the Angels on September 19. Cleveland finished fifth in the East with a league-leading .284 team average.

The Mets and Astros faced off in the NLCS. Trailing by three for most of game six, the Mets tied it in the ninth. In the 16th frame, New York took a 7-4 advantage. Houston trimmed the lead to one; then, with two out and two on, Jesse Orosco fanned Bass, ending the longest postseason game.

The ALCS between the Angels and the Red Sox was almost as exciting. California had a tournament-lead of three games to one and a 5-2 advantage in the top of the ninth inning of game five when Boston DH Don Baylor hit a two-run homer; Dave Henderson's two-run dinger rung up a 6-5 BoSox lead. California went on to lose 7-6 in 11 innings. Boston took games six and seven.

New York and Boston staged a memorable 1986 World Series. The Red Sox swept the first two games in Shea Stadium; the Mets, the next two in Fenway Park. Boston took game five at home.

The Sox took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the tenth of game six, the key blow being Henderson's home run. Reliever Calvin Schiraldi retired the first two Mets. One out separated Boston from its first title in 68 years. Gary Carter and Kevin Mitchell singled. Knight brought Carter home and Mitchell went to third. Up came Mookie Wilson. Reliever Bob Stanley's wild pitch allowed Mitchell to tie the game at five-all. Wilson ended it by sending a slow roller to first, a certain out -- until Bill Buckner let it squirt through his legs. Knight raced home with the winning run.

Two days later, the celebration was official, as Orosco recorded the last out in the 8-5 New York win in game seven.

Find headlines and summaries of the major stories from the 1986 baseball season on the next page.

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In 1986, several notable players, including Pete Rose and Bobby Grich, made their last stands. Here are some of the headlines from the 1986 baseball season:

Mike Scott's No-No Wins Flag

Mike Scott achieved a major league first on September 25, 1986, clinching the National League West for the Astros by hurling a no-hitter against the Giants. Wrapping up the season with 18 wins, Scott topped the loop in innings pitched (275), strikeouts (306), strikeouts per game (10.01), and ERA (2.23), and tied for first in shutouts (five) and fewest hits per game (5.96). The second National League righty (11th hurler overall) to notch 300 Ks, he captured the 1986 Cy Young Award. Almost unhittable in postseason action against the Mets, Scott posted a 0.50 playoff ERA.

Bob Horner Hits Four HRs

On July 6, 1986, Brave Bob Horner socked four homers against the Expos to tie the major league record. The National League's 1978 Rookie of the Year was the first slugger to achieve the feat since Mike Schmidt in 1976. Upon becoming a free agent in 1987, the third baseman went to play ball in Japan. Although he was back in the States in 1988, with the Cards, injuries forced him to call it quits in midseason.

Pete Rose Lays Down Bat

"I'd walk through hell in a gasoline suit to keep playing baseball," Pete Rose once remarked. The end for Rose came in 1986. The Reds player/manager closed his 24-year career by rapping his 4,256th hit, the all-time record (Rose recorded 80 additional hits in postseason play). Rose retired as the all-time leader in games (3,562), at-bats (14,053), and singles (3,510), placed second in doubles (746), and came in fourth in runs scored (2,165). He was named to the All-Star Game at five different positions in his career (first base, second base, third base, left field, and right field).

Bobby Grich Retires After 17 Years

Bobby Grich ended his 17-year career in the major leagues in 1986 having played in the American League Championship Series five times without making it to the World Series. He came closest in 1986, when the Angels led the Red Sox three games to one in the playoffs before choking. Grich tallied one home run and three RBI in seven games. One of the league's top all-around second basemen for more than 15 years, he was a six-time All-Star.

Rags Saves 46 Games, Sets a Record

In 1986, Dave Righetti saved 46 games -- an all-time single-season record. Previously, Bruce Sutter and Dan Quisenberry held the record with 45 saves. Righetti converted on 29 of his final 30 save opportunities in 1986; his last two saves came on the closing day of the season, when he stopped the Red Sox in both games of a doubleheader.

Tony Gwynn Tops in Hits, Runs

Continuing his hot hitting in 1986, Tony Gwynn tallied a .329 batting average and National League-leading totals for hits (211) and runs scored (107). Showing improvement in his fielding, he copped his first Gold Glove. More than doubling his stolen base total of the previous year, Gwynn swiped five in a game against the Astros. A gifted athlete, Gwynn starred in basketball at San Diego State.

Tim Raines Wins 1986 National League Bat Title

Tim "Rock" Raines bested the National League with a .334 batting average and a .415 on-base percentage in 1986. The left fielder stole 70 bases that year (his sixth season with 70 or more swipes). Raines is currently the all-time leader in stolen base average (an 85.7-percent mark after the 1990 season).

Dwight Evans: 26 HRs, 97 RBI

An eight-time Gold Glove-winner, Dwight Evans helped the Red Sox to the American League East Division flag in 1986 by batting .259 with 26 homers and 97 RBI. In the 1986 World Series, Dewey batted .308 with nine RBI.

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Below are more headlines of the 1986 baseball season, including the debuts of Wally Joyner, Bo Jackson, and Jose Canseco.

Wally Joyner, Don Mattingly Star at First

Wally Joyner finished right behind Jose Canseco in 1986 American League Rookie of the Year voting. Joyner batted .290 with 22 homers and 100 RBI in his debut season. Many considered Joyner to be the second coming of Don Mattingly. In 1986, Mattingly notched a major league and club-high 238 hits. He also spearheaded the majors in doubles (53), total bases (388), and slugging average (.573).

Bo Jackson Makes His Debut

The Royals were betting that Bo Jackson knew baseball, as they selected the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner in the fourth round of the 1986 free agent draft. Jackson played just 53 games in the minors before reporting to the majors. The left fielder ended his 1986 debut with a total of two homers and nine RBI in 25 games.

Don Sutton, 41, Wins 300th

In 1986, at age 41, Don Sutton won 15 games. Recording his 300th career triumph on June 18 against the Rangers, Sutton became the 19th pitcher to reach the milestone. Sutton made other marks on history that year as well. When he went up against Tom Seaver of the White Sox on June 9, the occasion marked the highest combined victory total -- Sutton had 298 triumphs, Seaver had 306 -- of two opposing hurlers. When he faced Phil Niekro of the Indians on June 28, the event signified the first time two 300-game winners faced off since 1892.

Joe Carter Blasts into Spotlight

After two years of relative anonymity, Joe Carter made his presence known in 1986. He topped the majors with 121 RBI, batted .302, and nailed 29 homers (including three in one game on August 29). In the succeeding four years, Carter's average fell substantially -- yet he still averaged more than 100 RBI per year. A large percentage of his hits were extra-base blows.

1986 Houston Astros Clinch National League West

Mike Scott & Co. celebrated their berth in the National League Championship Series in 1986. The 6' 2", 210-pound righty hurled a no-hitter against the Giants to snare the league's West Division title for the Astros. The mood of the Astros would become somber as they battled the Mets through an extremely tight NLCS before bowing in six games.

Fernando Valenzuela Wins 21

Fernando Valenzuela bypassed the 20-game mark for the first time in his career in 1986, as he led the National League in victories with 21. In the 1986 All-Star Game, Valenzuela pitched three scoreless innings, which included five straight strikeouts. When Tommy Lasorda was asked what Valenzuela signified to him, the Dodger manager replied, "It is good for the Dodgers. It is good for base ball. It is good for Mexico. It is good for our relations with Mexico. And it is very good for Tommy Lasorda."

Rickey Henderson Repeats 20/50 Year

In 1986, Rickey Henderson whacked 28 homers and stole 87 cushions (tops in the American League) to post his second consecutive 20/50 season. Style Dog led the loop with 130 runs scored, collected 74 RBI, and made his sixth All-Star squad in eight seasons. The greatest leadoff hitter in baseball history, Henderson holds the all-time record for home runs leading off a game (36).

1986 New York Mets Go All the Way

The New York Mets were unstoppable in 1986, finishing a whopping 21½ games ahead of the runner-up Phillies. When it came to postseason play, however, the team found some stiff competition. The Mets battled the Astros for six games before reigning victorious in the League Championship Series, and the fall classic ran the entire seven games before the Mets triumphed over the Red Sox.

Keith Hernandez: .310, 83 RBI

The Mets relied heavily on Keith Hernandez in 1986, as he propelled them to the National League pennant by batting .310 with 13 homers and 83 RBI. His defense was nearly flawless, as the first baseman led the loop in fielding percentage with a .996 average. Hernandez leads all first basemen in lifetime assists (1,662).

Jose Canseco Is 1986 American League ROTY

Oakland slugger Jose Canseco captured the title of 1986 American League Rookie of the Year when, despite setting a club season record for strikeouts (175), he smacked 33 home runs while driving in 117 runs. Canseco represented a new breed of ballplayer -- a muscleman with speed to match.

Find more highlights from the 1986 baseball season on the next page.

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The Mets dominated the 1986 baseball season and, along with the Boston Red Sox, staged a memorable 1986 World Series. Below are some of the highlights from the 1986 baseball season:

  • Mets take the pennant, winning the National League East by 21½ games, a record margin since majors went into division play.

  • Red Sox win their first American League flag since 1975.

  • In the NLCS, the Mets beat Astros in a tight six-game series, winning the clincher 7-6 in 16 innings.

  • Jesse Orosco wins LCS record three games in relief for the Mets.

  • In the ALCS, Red Sox rally from three-games-to-one deficit to defeat Angels.

  • Dave Henderson's two-out, two-strike, two-run homer in ninth inning of game five saves Red Sox.

  • Mets win 1986 World Series in seven games, nabbing the clincher after trailing 3-0 in the sixth inning.

  • Red Sox drop game six after leading 5-3 in tenth inning, as Met Mookie Wilson hits a grounder through Bill Buckner's legs.

  • Boston's Roger Clemens wins 1986 American League Cy Young Award and MVP, leading majors in wins (24) and win pct. (.857).

  • Mike Schmidt captures 1986 National League MVP Award.

  • Houston's Mike Scott wins 1986 National League Cy Young Award.

  • Oakland's Jose Canseco named 1986 American League Rookie of the Year, hitting 33 homers with 117 RBI.

  • Roger Clemens fans major league record 20 Mariners on April 29.

  • Mike Schmidt sets National League record by leading his league in homers for the eighth time, as he clubs 37.

    Ted Lyons
    In 1986, the baseball world
    lost Hall of Famer Ted
    Lyons, former player and
    manager of the Chicago
    White Sox.

  • Ted Lyons dies at age 85.

  • Hank Greenberg dies.

  • Red Ruffing dies.

  • For first time in history, every club in majors exceeds one million in attendance.

  • Don Mattingly hits .352 and sets Yankees franchise records with 238 hits and 53 doubles.

  • Mattingly tops Major League in hits, doubles, and total bases (388).

  • Wade Boggs leads majors in BA (.357), walks (105), and OBP (.455).

  • On August 11, at age 45, Pete Rose becomes the oldest player ever to go 5-for-5.

  • Rose retires holding Major League career records for hits (4,256), games (3,562), and at-bats (14,053).

  • American League wins All-Star Game 3-2 at Houston, as Fernando Valenzuela Ks five American League hitters in a row to match Carl Hubbell's 1934 feat.

  • Cardinal Todd Worrell is 1986 National League Rookie of the Year, setting a major league rookie record with 36 saves.

  • Mike Schmidt wins the last of his ten Gold Gloves.

  • Joe Cowley of the White Sox no-hits California on September 19.

  • Scott no-hits Giants on September 25 -- it is the only no-hitter in National League history to clinch a pennant or division crown.

  • KC's Bo Jackson becomes second Heisman Trophy winner to play in majors.

  • On July 6, Atlanta's Bob Horner becomes first player in this century to hit four homers in a game lost by his team.

  • Yankee Dave Righetti sets new major league record with 46 saves, breaking the record with two saves during the closing-day doubleheader.

  • Steve Carlton is the first lefty to collect 4,000 career Ks.

  • Don Sutton wins his 300th game.

  • Mariners set a major league team record when they fan 1,148 times.

  • The average player's salary reaches $412,000; the minimum salary is now $62,500.

  • Minnesota's Bert Blyleven gives up a major league record 50 homers.

  • Schmidt leads the National League in SA (.547) and RBI (119).
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Below are more highlights of the 1986 baseball season, including the year's Gold Glove winners and Hall of Fame inductees.

  • Toronto's Jesse Barfield leads majors with 40 homers.

  • Fernando Valenzuela tops National League with 21 wins and majors with 20 CGs.

  • The Hall of Fame inducts Willie McCovey, Bobby Doerr, and Ernie Lombardi.

  • KC's Frank White reclaims status as American League Gold Glove second baseman.

  • Angel catcher Bob Boone, 38, becomes the oldest to win a Gold Glove.

  • Gary Gaetti of Minnesota and Tony Fernandez of Toronto both win their first Gold Gloves -- at third base and shortstop, respectively.

  • Pittsburgh's Sid Bream sets National League record for first basemen with 166 assists.

  • Steve Carlton's major league record skein of 534 consecutive starts without any relief appearances ends on August 5.

  • Fernandez sets major league record for most hits by a shortstop (213).

  • Cardinal Willie McGee sets National League record for largest drop in BA by a defending batting champ -- 97 points.

  • Mike Hargrove retires with a .400 career OBP, the first player since 1970 to quit with an OBP that high.

  • Gorman Thomas departs from majors with a .225 career BA, lowest ever by an outfielder active ten or more years.

  • Cliff Johnson retires with a major league record 20 pinch-hit homers.

  • Twins' Greg Gagne hits two inside-the-park home runs in a game.

  • Ranger Pete Incaviglia fans 185 times to set new Major League rookie record.

  • John Cangelosi of the White Sox sets an American League rookie record with 50 steals.

  • Ranger Mitch Williams sets rookie record for pitchers when he appears in 80 games.

  • Houston's Jim Deshaies sets major league record by striking out the first eight batters on Sept. 23.

  • Boston's Don Baylor sets an American League record when he's hit by 35 pitches.

  • On June 28, Indian Phil Niekro faces the Angels' Sutton in the first duel between 300-game winners since 1892.

  • On February 28, 11 players are fined and/or suspended for varying lengths of time for cocaine involvement.

  • Orioles set a major league record when they hit only 13 triples.

  • Tim Raines leads National League in batting (.334) and OBP (.415).

  • Philly's Von Hayes tops National League in doubles (46) and runs produced (186), and ties Tony Gwynn for National League lead in runs (107).

  • Gwynn tops the National League in hits (211) and is a strong third in BA (.329).

  • New York's Keith Hernandez leads National League in walks (94).

  • The Reds' Eric Davis is second in the National League with 80 steals and sets a major league record for most steals by a player who hits 30 or more home runs.

  • Rickey Henderson leads majors with 130 runs.

  • Cleveland's Joe Carter paces the major league in RBI (121) and runs produced (200).

  • Mike Scott leads majors in innings (275) and Ks (306), and ties teammate Bob Knepper for most shutouts in the National League (five).

  • Detroit's Jack Morris leads majors with six shutouts and is second in the American League in wins with 21.

  • Blyleven leads American League in innings pitched (272).

  • Cleveland's Tom Candiotti tops American League in CGs (17).

  • Mets win 108 games, leading the National League in runs scored (783) and fewest runs allowed (578).

  • Mets lead the National League in batting (.263) and ERA (3.11).

  • Cleveland leads the American League in runs (831), but again has poor pitching (4.57 ERA).

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