In the 1988 baseball season, Dodger Orel Hershiser was a standout. Known as "Bulldog," he lead the National League in shutouts in 1984 (with four), in winning percentage in 1985 (.864 for a 19-3 record), and in innings pitched in 1987 (265) and 1988 (267).
Hershiser's most remarkable feat was "The Streak." At the end of August, he became virtually unhittable, pitching 59 scoreless innings to beat Don Drysdale's record of 58 set in 1968. To no one's surprise, Hershiser won the 1988 Cy Young Award, racking up a 23-8 season, 2.26 ERA, 15 complete games, and eight shutouts.
It was a surprise, though, that Los Angeles won the West, 7 games ahead of the Reds. Although Cincinnati was good -- Danny Jackson led the league with 23 wins, Tom Browning had a perfect game against Los Angeles on September 16, and the team had a division-topping 122 homers -- they weren't good enough.
Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda coaxed clutch performances from Mike Marshall (20 homer, 82 RBI), Steve Sax (.277 average, 42 stolen bases), and ex-Tiger Kirk Gibson. A wide receiver in college at Michigan State, Gibson was named 1988 National League Most Valuable Player -- only the third player to win the award who didn't bat .300 (he averaged .290), hit 30 homers (he belted 25), or drive in 100 runs (he totaled 76).
New York's Darryl Strawberry, many opined, was more deserving of the title. Strawberry led the league with 39 homers and had 101 RBI, as New York won 100 ball games, 15 better than the second-place Pirates. The quietest left fielder in baseball, Kevin McReynolds let his bat do the talking, hitting .288 with 27 round-trippers and 99 RBI. Minor league sensation Gregg Jefferies joined the club in September to hit a sizzling .321.
The man in the American League that everyone was talking about was circuit MVP Jose Canseco, the first man in baseball history to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in a single season. Leading Oakland to its first pennant since 1974, the 6'3", 220-pound slugger terrorized the opposition with his major league-best 42 homers, 124 RBI, and .307 batting average.
In the American League East, Boston was going nowhere fast until coach Joe Morgan replaced John McNamara in the middle of July. The Red Sox won 19 of their first 20 contests under Morgan, finishing just 1 game ahead of Sparky Anderson's Tigers. Wade Boggs ignored his off-the-field exploits (a $6 million palimony suit) to lead the league in hitting -- with a .366 average -- for the fourth consecutive season, topping the majors in three of those years. And a 24-year-old outfielder named Mike Greenwell hit like a young Ted Williams, racking up a .325 average, 22 homers, and 119 RBI.
The NLCS was a hard-fought battle. The Dodgers and the Mets alternated victories for the first six contests, with Los Angeles clinching the title in a seventh-game shutout courtesy of Hershiser. The A's swept the Red Sox in the ALCS. Canseco homered in the first, second, and fourth matches and had four RBI.
The 1988 World Series matched the surprising Dodgers against the mighty A's. Game one had one of the most improbable at-bats in World Series history: Trailing 4-3 with one on and two out in the bottom of the ninth, an injured Gibson limped to the plate as a pinch hitter. Gibson nailed a two-run homer over the right-field fence to give Los Angeles a 5-4 win.
The rest of the race belonged to Hershiser, the 1988 World Series MVP. The Bulldog won games two and five as Los Angeles stunned Oakland four games to one.
Find headlines and summaries of major stories from the 1988 baseball season on the next page.
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1988 Baseball Season Headlines
In 1988, venerable Wrigley Field installed lights, and Jay Howell was caught doctoring a ball with pine tar. Here are some of the headlines from the 1988 baseball season:
Dennis Eckersley Saves ALCS
Oakland's Dennis Eckersley saved all four games of the 1988 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox. Coming off a banner year, Eckersley led the circuit with a phenomenal 45 saves -- just one short of the major league record -- and averaged 8.6 Ks a game. Wild in his early years, Eckersley walked just 11 in 76 innings during the season.
Rick Reuschel Wins 19
Rick Reuschel received a new lease on his career with the Giants, as he won 19 games in 1988, his first full season with the ballclub. He tied for the lead in the National League in both starts (36) and sacrifice hits (19). Reuschel finished the season with the most career victories (194) among active senior circuit pitchers.
Frank Viola Wins 1988 American League Cy Young
Frank Viola won the 1988 American League Cy Young Award, compiling a 24-7 record with a 2.64 ERA. The New York native also won the All-Star Game by pitching two scoreless innings. Viola helped the Twins to a 91-71 record that season.
Kevin McReynolds Has a Whopper of a Year
Kevin McReynolds enjoyed an outstanding season in 1988, hitting .288 with 27 homers and 99 RBI. The Mets left fielder set a major league season record for most stolen bases without being caught (21). In the National League Championship Series, Big Mac tied the tournament record for most hits in a game (four).
Jay Howell Sacked in NLCS
National League President A. Bartlett Giamatti inspected the glove of Jay Howell after it was discovered that the Dodger had used pine tar while pitching the eighth inning of game three of the 1988 League Championship Series. Giamatti decided to suspend Howell for three games. An appeal cut the suspension to two games. Howell didn't resurface until the ninth inning of game three of the 1988 World Series. The A's won the contest 2-1.
Mike Greenwell: 22 HRs, 119 RBI
In his first full season with the Red Sox, Mike Greenwell proved that he was worthy to succeed the great Jim Rice as guardian of The Green Monster. The left fielder batted .325 with 22 homers and 119 RBI with just 38 strikeouts. Like Rice, the young slugger was a sometimes brutal fielder who was foiled time and again by the tricky bounces that balls took off the left-field wall in Fenway Park, 310 feet from home plate.
Kirk Gibson Bags 1988 National League MVP
The Dodgers snared a pennant in 1988 when they secured the services of Kirk Gibson. The free agent won the 1988 National League MVP Award with a .290 batting average, 25 homers, and 76 RBI. He then racked up a pair of home runs and six RBI in the League Championship Series. One of his homers, a 12th-inning dinger, won game four; the other, a three-run round-tripper, won game five.
Wrigley Field Brings an End to an Era
In 1988, Chicago's Wrigley Field became the last major league ballpark to install lights. Although the issue met with opposition from nostalgic fans and residents, Wrigley executives nevertheless forged ahead with the plan. According to the agreement, the Cubs were limited to a maximum of 18 night games a season until the year 2002.
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More 1988 Baseball Season Headlines
Below are more headlines from the 1988 baseball season, including great performances by Tony Gwynn, Andre Dawson, and Orel Hershiser.
Trio Takes 1988 A's to Flag
The A's won their first of many American League pennants in 1988 with a nucleus of young stars led by Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and Walt Weiss. They formed a trio of successive American League Rookies of the Year. In 1988, Canseco topped the circuit in homers (42), RBI (124), and slugging average (.569). McGwire clubbed 32 four-baggers and drove in 99 runs. Weiss hit .250. All three bombed in the 1988 World Series, however. Canseco hit .053, McGwire batted .059, and Weiss hit .063.
Tony Gwynn Takes 1988 National League Bat Title
Despite his batting average dropping a colossal 57 points from 1987, Tony Gwynn still led the National League in batting in 1988 with a .313 average. Like Wade Boggs, his American League counterpart, the outfielder sacrificed much of his power for average; in 1988, Gwynn hit seven homers with 70 RBI.
Don Mattingly, Darryl Strawberry Star in NY
Don Mattingly and Darryl Strawberry were the virtuosos of New York in the late 1980s. In 1988, Mattingly batted .311 with 18 homers and 88 RBI for the Yankees, and Strawberry hit an National League-leading 39 homers with 101 RBI. Despite the pressure on both franchises for a Subway Series, the only time the two stars and their teams would meet that year was in the annual Mayor's Trophy charity game.
Orel Hershiser Is Unhittable
No hurler ever finished a season the way Orel Hershiser wrapped up 1988. First, he pitched five straight shutouts. Then he broke Don Drysdale's consecutive-scoreless-innings streak (58 frames) of 1968 with a ten-inning scoreless no-decision against the Padres in his last start of the season. Finally, he stretched his 59-inning streak to 67 in the National League Championship Series against the Mets. Finishing the season with a 23-8 record and a 2.26 ERA, Hershiser received the 1988 Cy Young Award.
A's Sweep the BoSox
Oakland's Dave Stewart struck out Boston's Wade Boggs with the bases loaded in the second inning of the opening game of the 1988 American League Championship Series. The Red Sox lost the game 2-1, then the series in four straight. During the sweep, Stewart recorded one win, a 1.35 ERA, and 11 strikeouts in 131/3 innings; Boggs tallied a .385 average with three RBI.
Kirk Gibson Wins Game One
A 1990 sportscaster poll named Kirk Gibson's home run that clinched game one of the 1988 World Series as one of the most dramatic moments in baseball history. The injured outfielder could only hobble around the bases after whacking a 3-2 pitch from A's reliever Dennis Eckersley to bag a 5-4 Dodger victory. In his only Series at-bat, he fouled off four pitches before nailing the clincher. It was the perfect finale to Gibson's 1988 year (.290 average, 25 round-trippers, 76 RBI).
Jeff Reardon Saves 42
Jeff "The Terminator" Reardon saved a career-high 42 games in 1988 (second in the American League). Reardon was the lone reliever to compile at least 20 saves each season from 1982-1988. With a total of 287 saves after 1990, Reardon ranks among baseball's all-time leaders in saves.
Andre Dawson: 24 HRs, 79 RBI
Despite a sharp drop-off from his 1987 stats, Andre Dawson enjoyed a solid season in 1988, capturing a Gold Glove for outfielding while batting .303 with 24 homers and 79 RBI. The former Expo was easily the best free agent signing in Cub history.
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1988 Baseball Season Highlights
In late August of the 1988 baseball season, the LA Dodgers' star pitcher, Orel Hershiser, became virtually unhittable. Hershiser and the underdog Dodgers went on to become victorious over the A's in the 1988 World Series. Here are some of the highlights from the 1988 baseball season:
- The first night game at Wrigley Field was played on August 6, Mets vs. Cubs.
- Dodgers win their first National League flag since 1981.
- A's cruise to an easy American League flag.
- In NLCS, LA wins in seven games over the Mets, who had won the National League East by 15 games.
- A's bury Boston in four games in ALCS.
- Underdog Dodgers win the 1988 World Series in five games.
- Orel Hershiser wins two CGs in 1988 Series and bats a perfect 1.000 (3-for-3).
- Hobbled Dodger Kirk Gibson wins game one with a pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the ninth.
- Mickey Hatcher, a sub for the injured Gibson, leads all World Series players with .368 BA and five RBI.
- Minnesota's Frank Viola wins 1988 American League Cy Young Award.
- Hershiser wins 1988 National League Cy Young Award.
- Kirk Gibson is named 1988 National League MVP.
- Jose Canseco is named 1988 American League MVP, becoming the first to steal 40 bases and hit 40 homers in same season.
- Walt Weiss is the third consecutive Oakland player to win the American League ROTY.
- Hershiser sets a new major league record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings pitched.
- Billy Martin is fired as Yankee manager, a record fifth time.
- Twins are the first American League team to draw three million in attendance in a season.
- Orioles open the season by losing a major league record 21 consecutive games.
- Padre Tony Gwynn leads the National League with a .313 BA, the lowest in history by a National League leader.
- Met Kevin McReynolds sets a major league record when he goes 21-for-21 in steal attempts.
- Don Mattingly is awarded a record $1.975 million salary in arbitration.
- American League wins 1988 All-Star Game 2-1 in Cincinnati.
- Don Baylor retires after breaking Ron Hunt's modern career record for being hit the most times by pitches.
- Toronto's George Bell is the first player in baseball history to hit three home runs on Opening Day.
- Cincinnati's Tom Browning hurls a perfect game vs. LA on September 16.
- Toronto's Dave Stieb is denied a no-hitter in two consecutive games by a two-out base hit in the ninth.
- Met David Cone (20-3) tops the National League with a .870 win pct.
- Only 3,180 homers are hit in 1988 -- 1,278 fewer than in 1987.
- Darryl Strawberry tops National League with 39 homers and .545 SA.
- Jose Canseco tops majors with 42 homers, 124 RBI, and .569 SA.
- Expo Andres Galarraga tops National League in hits (184), doubles (42), and total bases (329).
- Wade Boggs tops American League with .480 OBP -- highest in the majors since Mickey Mantle's .488 in 1962.
- Boggs leads the majors in batting (.366), doubles (45), walks (125), and runs (128).
- Minnesota's Kirby Puckett tops the major league in hits (234), runs produced (206), and total bases (358), and has .356 BA.
- Viola leads the majors with 24 wins and the American League with .774 win pct.
- Every team in the National League scores fewer runs in 1988 than in 1987; eight of the 12 teams score more than 100 runs less.
- Cubs have now gone 43 years without a pennant to break the old major league record of 42 years held by St. Louis Browns.
See the next page for more highlights of the 1988 baseball season.
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More 1988 Baseball Season Highlights
Below are more highlights of the 1988 baseball season, including new records and year-end awards.
- Bob Boone and Carlton Fisk are first major league catchers to play regularly behind the plate at age 40.
- The Hall of Fame inducts Willie Stargell.
- White Sox Jerry Reuss becomes the second pitcher in baseball history to win 200 career games without ever having a 20-win season.
- Baltimore's .335 win pct. is franchise's worst since 1939, as they finish last in the American League for the first time since the move to Baltimore.
- Carl Hubbell dies.
- Harvey Kuenn dies.
- Edd Roush, last surviving participant of 1919 World Series, dies at 94.
- Braves finish last in National League with .338 win pct., the franchise's worst since 1935.
- Minnesota trades Tom Brunansky to Cards for Tommy Herr.
- Royals trade Danny Jackson and Argenis Salazar to Reds for Kurt Stillwell and Ted Power.
- Baseball films Bull Durham and Eight Men Out are released.
- Doug Jones sets a new Cleveland record when he posts 37 saves.
- Jones sets a major league record when he registers saves in 15 consecutive relief appearances.
- Toronto's Fred McGriff is runner-up in the American League in homers (34) and also has the second-highest SA in majors (.552).
- Andres Galarraga tops National League with just 184 hits, the fewest ever by a National League leader on a 162-game schedule.
- Pittsburgh's Andy Van Slyke tops majors in triples (15) and is second in the National League in runs produced (176).
- Cincinnati's Kal Daniels has the only .400 OBP in the National League -- .400 on the nose.
- SF's Will Clark leads National League in RBI (109), runs produced (182), and walks (100).
- Robin Yount, Willie Wilson, and Seattle's Harold Reynolds tie for American League lead in triples (11).
- Rickey Henderson returns to top of the American League in steals (93).
- Vince Coleman again leads National League in steals with 81, his lowest total to this juncture.
- Giants' Brett Butler leads National League in runs (109).
- Orel Hershiser and the Reds' Jackson tie for National League lead with 23 wins and 15 CGs.
- Hershiser tops National League in innings with just 267 and in shutouts with eight.
- Cardinal Joe Magrane has best ERA in the majors (2.18).
- Twins' Allan Anderson leads American League in ERA at 2.45 -- one point better than Milwaukee's Teddy Higuera.
- Oakland's Dave Stewart wins 21 and leads the majors in innings with 276.
- Roger Clemens tops the majors in strikeouts (291) and ties Stewart for the American League lead in CGs (14).
- Cincinnati's John Franco leads National League with 39 saves.
- Oakland veteran Dennis Eckersley blossoms into a relief ace, leading the majors with 45 saves.
- Royal Mark Gubicza wins 20, is second in American League in innings (270) and fourth in ERA (2.70).
- Nolan Ryan again tops National League in Ks (228).
- Cubs lead National League in hitting at just .261.
- National League hits a composite .248, falling below .250 for first time since 1972.
- Boston avoids the cellar for an American League record 57th straight year.
- The fifth-place Yankees finish only 3½ back of American League East winner Boston, as all but Cleveland and Baltimore stay in race till the final few days.
- The shift in power has switched from the American League East to the American League West; Oakland (104) and Minnesota (91) are the only 90-game winners in the league.