1987 Baseball Season

During the 1987 baseball season, record-breaking performances were the name of the game. Mark McGwire, Oakland's imposing first baseman, set a rookie record with 49 homers. Yankee first sacker Don Mattingly set one mark and tied another, smacking a single-season record six grand slams and homering in eight consecutive games. And Cincinnati's Eric Davis tied a major-league record with three grand slams in May.

Mike Schmidt, 38, notched his 500th career homer. Angel Bob Boone, 39, caught his Major League-record 1,919th game. Tiger Darrell Evans became the first 40-year-old to tally 30 homers in a season (34). Cleveland's Phil Niekro cranked up his 48-year-old knuckleball to combine with brother Joe for 530 career wins, a sibling record.

Nolan Ryan, 40, fanned 200 batters for a record 11th year. (Although Ryan topped the National League in strikeouts with 270 and ERA at 2.76, he finished with just an 8-16 record.) Cub Andre Dawson, the 1987 National League Most Valuable Player with a .287 average and 137 RBI, belted 49 homers, tying for first in the majors and for 18th place on the all-time single-season list.

St. Louis won 95 games, three better than the Mets, to snare the National League East. Oft-injured Jack Clark nailed 35 homers with 106 RBI. Rabbit Vince Coleman (.289) swiped a league-best 109 bases, the first major leaguer to record 100 steals in three consecutive seasons. Ozzie Smith had his finest season, hitting .303 with 75 RBI. At the other end of the scale, Chicago came in last despite Rick Sutcliffe's league-leading 18 wins.

The Giants heated up after the Fourth of July to finish 6 games ahead of Eric Davis (.293 average, 37 homers, 100 RBI, 50 stolen bases) and the Cincinnati Reds in the National League West. Will Clark, San Fran's 23-year-old first baseman, hit .308 with 35 homers and 91 RBI. The Padres, who finished dead last in the West, had a bright spot in Tony Gwynn and his major league-leading .370 average.

In the American League East, George Bell almost single-handedly carried the Blue Jays to first place. Although the outfielder seized the 1987 MVP Award by blasting .308 with 47 homers and a circuit-topping 134 RBI, Toronto faded. Detroit won the division by two games. Shortstop Alan Trammell finished third in batting with a .343 average, 28 homers, and 105 RBI. Juan Nieves of third-place Milwaukee had the season's only no-hitter, winning 7-0 over Baltimore on April 15.

Kirby Puckett
Kirby Puckett was the
inspirational leader for
the Twins during their
Cinderella season of 1987.

Baseball's biggest surprise, however, was the American League West champion Twins. Nearly unbeatable at home, they won just nine road contests after the All-Star Game to finish with 85 victories. Kirby Puckett, the short and stocky outfielder, posted a .332 average, 28 homers, and 99 RBI while southpaw Frank Viola anchored the staff with a 17-10 season.

Minnesota's Tom Brunansky mauled the Tigers in the American League Championship Series, hitting two homers and four doubles and walking four times in the four-games-to-one romp. In the NLCS, St. Louis lost the slugging Clark to injury but managed to hang on in seven games.

The 1987 World Series spoke volumes for home cooking. In the deafening Metrodome, Minnesota routed the Cards to take a lead of two games to none; at Busch Stadium, St. Louis swept three. Back home, the Twins feasted on John Tudor in game six, winning 11-5. Viola started game seven and Jeff Reardon finished it, giving Minnesota the franchise's first World Series triumph since the Washington Senators won in 1924.

See the next page for headlines and summaries of the major stories of the 1987 baseball season.

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