1995 Baseball Season

With the strike that halted the 1994 campaign still unresolved when spring training opened in the 1995 baseball season, major league owners laid plans to use replacement players. Alarmed, the striking players finally agreed to return to work without a new labor contract, but the protracted negotiations delayed the start of the season until late April and abbreviated the schedule to 144 games.

Baseball moguls, instead of working to heal the wounds left by the strike, immediately opened new ones when their ill-conceived postseason playoff and TV arrangements were announced. Unlike in every other professional sport, the plan offered no advantages to a team with the best regular-season record. Even more disturbing to fans, games for the four first-round playoff series were played at the same time, with games broadcast only regionally.

Despite these obstacles, the 1995 season proved an aesthetic, if not financial, success, as the two best teams in the majors snaked through the labyrinthine playoff structure to meet in the 1995 World Series.

The American League entry, for the first time since 1954, was the Cleveland Indians. Buoyed by Albert Belle's record slugging feats -- and ample support from Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Carlos Baerga, and Kenny Lofton -- the Tribe ripped through the regular season, winning 100 games and topping the American League Central by a whopping 30 lengths. Their reward was to draw the American League East-champion Boston Red Sox, owners of the American League's second-best record, in the first round of the playoffs. Still, Cleveland breezed to a three-game sweep.

The other American League division playoff paired the wildcard New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners. The Cinderella Mariners had caught the Angels in the final week, forcing a one-game shoot-out for the division crown. Strikeout king Randy Johnson won it for the Mariners -- and then won game three of the division playoff to avert a Yankees sweep. The Mariners took games four and five as well, winning the finale 6-5 on American League batting champ Edgar Martinez's two-run double in the bottom of the 11th. The victory dubbed Lou Piniella's Mariners "The Refuse to Lose Boys."

Although Seattle won the opener of the ALCS, its bubble then burst when Cleveland's superior pitchers -- Dennis Martinez and Orel Hershiser especially -- asserted themselves. The Indians won in six.

The National League playoffs offered little drama. The Reds swept Los Angeles in the opening playoff round, while Atlanta received a fight from wildcard Colorado before prevailing in four games. Like the Indians, the Braves were not given home-field advantage in the LCS despite having the top record in the National League. However, the Braves took only the minimum four contests to squelch Cincinnati in the NLCS.

In the 1995 World Series, the Braves opened at Fulton County Stadium, and their raucous home crowd helped spur them to victories in two straight one-run pitchers' battles. Atlanta lost two one-run games in Cleveland but sandwiched them around a 5-2 win in game four behind pitcher Steve Avery. Bobby Cox's crew returned to Georgia up 3-2 in games.

Game six matched Tom Glavine and Dennis Martinez. Elbow trouble sidelined Martinez in the fifth inning, and in the following frame David Justice rifled a drive over the right-field barrier off Tribe reliever Jim Poole. Justice's solo shot held up, as Glavine and closer Mark Wohlers hurled a combined one-hitter. The Braves' crisp 1-0 triumph made them the first team to win a world title representing three different cities -- Boston (1914), Milwaukee (1957), and Atlanta.

The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 1995 baseball season.

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In 1995, Cal Ripken broke the record for playing the highest number of consecutive games, and Mo Vaughn won the American League MVP Award. Here are some of the headlines from the 1995 baseball season:

Hideo Nomo Wows Fans, Batters

In 1995, American audiences and batters alike saw something completely new in the person of Hideo Nomo. Not only was Nomo the first Japanese-born star to make an impact on the American major league game, but his unorthodox delivery had hitters everywhere sawing the air. The Dodgers' rookie went 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA and a league-high 236 strikeouts. Interestingly, his numbers in the Japanese Pacific League had been similar, though not quite as good.

Baseball Seasons Image Gallery

Hideo Nomo
Hideo Nomo and his unorthodox delivery led him
to a league-high 236 strikeouts. See more
baseball seasons pictures.

Albert Belle's 50 HRs Fall Short

Albert Belle hit 50 home runs in the 1995 season. Belle, who reached the 50 figure in just 143 games, became Cleveland's first home run king since 1959. However, his churlish behavior outweighed the most awesome slugging stats in the majors, at least in the minds of many American League sports writers. The junior circuit MVP Award went to Boston's Mo Vaughn, who edged Belle in the voting 308 to 300.

Randy Johnson Wins 18 Out of 20

Only the shortened season kept Randy Johnson from collecting 300 strikeouts in 1995 for the second time in his career. Virtually nothing else impeded the Mariners fireballer as he recorded a 2.48 ERA and a .900 winning percentage (18-2). Johnson, combined with one of the game's most potent offensive attacks, steered Seattle to the American League West crown and a near-pennant.

Mo Vaughn Wins 1995 MVP Award

Mo Vaughn led all American League first basemen in putouts and double plays in 1995, but who noticed? His 39 homers and 126 RBI were the interior of the cake that earned him the America League MVP Award. The icing was his on-field leadership, which faltered only in the postseason. Vaughn and his BoSox slugging partner Jose Canseco were a combined 0-for-27 against Cleveland in the division playoff.

Barry Larkin Wins 1995 MVP Honors

Barry Larkin, the Reds star shortstop, ended his tenth major league season with a .298 career average, the highest of any National League shortfielder at a comparable point since Arky Vaughn in 1941. Also a stalwart in the field, Larkin easily won senior loop MVP honors.

Cal Ripken Breaks Lou's Record

The numbers in lights above the Camden Yards Scoreboard told the story. Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken had just broken Lou Gehrig's record by playing in his 2,131st consecutive game. The event was much celebrated throughout North America, and Ripken added to the excitement by homering in the 2,129th, 2,130th, and 2,131st games. Ripken's streak, which reached 2,153 games by the end of the season, was all the more amazing in that it was never, even for a moment, in serious jeopardy of being terminated.

Sparky Anderson Hangs Up His Spikes

Sparky Anderson stepped down as Tigers manager after the 1995 season, ending the most lustrous dugout tenure in recent times. His 2,194 career wins (with Cincinnati and Detroit) rank him behind only Connie Mack and John McGraw.

Dante Bichette's Numbers Soar

In 1991, at age 27, Dante Bichette hit .238 for Milwaukee in his first season as a full-time regular. Four years later with the Rockies, he made a run at the first National League Triple Crown since 1937 before finishing with two legs of it and a third-place finish in batting. Is Bichette really so vastly improved, or are his stats only another Mile High aberration?

Tony Gwynn Tops .360 Again

In 1995, Tony Gwynn became the first National League player since 1930 to post back-to-back .360-plus seasons. The Padres' hitting wizard copped his second straight bat crown with a .368 mark and also tied for the Major League lead in hits with 197. Gwynn eventually became the first player since Stan Musial to achieve both 3,000 hits and a .330-plus career batting average.

Check out more headlines from the 1995 baseball season on the next page.

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Below are more headlines from the 1995 baseball season, including the death of Mickey Mantle and Tom Glavine being named 1995 World Series MVP.

Jose Mesa Slams the Door

A flop as a starter, Jose Mesa emerged as 1995's top bullpen ace after Cleveland turned to him early in the year out of desperation. Upon winning the closer's job by default, Mesa proceeded to rack up a major league-high 46 saves and gain the nickname "Señor Slam."

Craig Biggio Tops National League in Runs

Craig Biggio continued on his unique career course in 1995. The previous year, the Astros' second sacker became the first big-leaguer to win a stolen-base crown after having served as a regular catcher for one or more seasons. In 1995, Biggio added a National League runs-scored title to his laurels.

Mike Piazza's the Best Behind the Plate

Over 1,500 amateur players were picked ahead of Mike Piazza in the 1988 free-agent draft. Few are still playing professionally, and none had anywhere near Piazza's career stats at the close of the 1995 season. Piazza finished his third big-league campaign with a .322 lifetime average, the highest of any catcher in big-league history at that juncture in his career. In 1995, he hit .346 with 32 homers.

The Mick Passes On

Yankees great Mickey Mantle is laid to his final rest in Dallas. Upon being diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer, Hall of Famer Mantle received a controversial organ transplant. Although the new liver failed to save him because the disease had spread too far, the attempt spurred a groundswell of organ donations throughout the nation.

Orel Hershiser Quiets M's in ALCS

Orel Hershiser let it all out in game five of the ALCS. The ex-Dodgers ace was the surprise of the Cleveland mound staff in 1995. His critical 3-2 win against Seattle in the fifth game helped him become the first performer to win LCS MVP honors in both major leagues.

Ken Griffey, M's Blast Yanks

Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. blasted a home run in game one of the 1995 American League Division Series against New York. Griffey, showcasing his talents in the postseason for the first time, unloaded on Yankee pitching, batting .391 with five home runs. His dash from first to home in the bottom of the 11th inning of the finale won the series for Seattle.

Braves Broom the Reds

Baryy Larkin was Cincinnati's lone bright spot in the senior loop pennant series. His seven hits represented one-quarter of the Reds' total in their disappointing four-games-and-out tussle with the Braves. Atlanta used eight pitchers in the 1995 Series and each was successful, as they yielded a total of just five runs.

Cleveland Bats .179 in 1995 Series

Cleveland's Kenny Lofton, the Tribe's star center fielder, swiped six sacks against Atlanta in the 1995 World Series but batted only .200. Lofton nevertheless tied for the Cleveland team lead in hits with five as the Indians' vaunted offense was held to just a .179 batting mark.

Tom Glavine Shuts Down Tribe

Braves lefty Tom Glavine beat Cleveland 4-3 in game two of the 1995 World Series and again polished off the Tribe six nights later, 1-0. Glavine's one-hitter in the Series finale, with relief help from Mark Wohlers, was marred only by Cleveland backup catcher Tony Pena's looping single in the sixth inning. Glavine was named Series MVP.

The next page highlights key events and details from the 1995 baseball season.

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The 1995 baseball season got off to a slow start due to the unresolved baseball strike. Once the season got under way, the Indians and Braves pushed their way to the 1995 World Series, where the Braves came out victorious. Below, you will find the highlights from the 1995 baseball season:
  • The opening of the season is delayed, and the season abbreviated to 144 games, because of the players' strike.

    Ramon Martinez
    Dodger Ramon Martinez
    pitches a no-hitter against
    Florida on July 14, 1995.

  • Ramon Martinez of the Dodgers pitches a no-hitter against Florida on July 14.

  • Cleveland goes 100-44 to win the American League Central by 30 games.

  • In the American League East, both first-place Boston and the wildcard Yankees make the playoffs.

  • Seattle wins the American League West in a one game playoff with California after finishing the regular season tied with the Angels.

  • In the first year that the best-of-five division playoffs are instituted, the Mariners-Yankees series is the only one to go the full five games.

  • Edgar Martinez doubles home the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the 11th to give Seattle a 6-5 comeback victory in the finale of its division playoff with the Yankees.

  • Cleveland needs only three games to humble Boston in a division playoff pitting the two teams with the best records in the American League.

  • Cleveland wins its first American League pennant in 41 years by taking Seattle in six in the ALCS.

  • Atlanta (East), Cincinnati (Central), and Los Angeles (West) are the National League's division winners.

  • Cincinnati needs only three games to erase LA in the first playoff round.

  • Colorado, the National League wildcard qualifier, pushes Atlanta to four games before bowing in the division playoffs.

  • Atlanta needs just four games to eliminate Cincinnati in the NLCS.

  • The Braves win their first World Championship since moving to Atlanta by topping Cleveland in six games in the 1995 World Series.

  • Braves pitchers hold Cleveland heavy hitters to a meager .179 BA in the 1995 World Series.

  • David Justice's solo home run wins the Series finale 1-0 for Tom Glavine.

  • Although he loses all the American League slugging crowns to Cleveland's Albert Belle, Boston's Mo Vaughn beats out Belle for the junior circuit MVP Award.

  • Cincinnati shortstop Barry Larkin is selected the National League MVP.

  • Maddux wins his record fourth straight National League Cy Young Award.

  • Seattle lefty Randy Johnson tops the majors with 294 strikeouts.

  • Johnson becomes the first Seattle Mariner to earn a Cy Young Award.

  • Johnson's glittering 18-2 record gives him a .900 winning percentage, the best in the American League.

  • Maddux surpasses even Johnson, going 19-2 with a .905 winning percentage to top the major league in both wins and win pct.

  • Tony Gwynn of San Diego wins his sixth National League batting crown (.368).

  • Seattle DH Martinez hits .356 to win his second American League batting crown.

  • On Sept. 6, Baltimore's Cal Ripken plays in his 2,131st consecutive major league game, breaking Lou Gehrig's record.

  • The Rockies' 4.97 staff ERA is the highest to date in this century by a team that qualified for the playoffs.

  • Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo wins the National League ROTY Award after pacing the loop in strikeouts -- 236 in just 191 innings.

  • Colorado's Dante Bichette leads the National League in homers (40) and RBI (128) and finishes third in batting.

  • Mike Piazza of the Dodgers compiles the highest combined BA and SA figure of any National League catcher in history (.952) when he hits .346 and slugs .606.

  • Belle is the first slugger in history to compile both 50 doubles and 50 homers in the same season.

  • Belle leads the American League with 50 homers, 126 RBI, a .690 SA, and 377 total bases.

  • Martinez and Belle tie for the American League lead in both doubles (52) and runs (121).

For more 1995 baseball season highlights, see the next page.

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See more highlights of the 1995 baseball season, including Quilvio Veras's 56 stolen bases and the opening of Coors Field.

  • Cleveland center fielder Kenny Lofton tops the majors in triples with 13.

  • Lofton bags 54 thefts to win his fourth straight American League steals crown.

  • Florida rookie Quilvio Veras leads the majors with 56 stolen bases.

  • Mike Mussina of Baltimore ties Maddux for the most wins in the majors as he leads the American League with 19 victories.

  • Johnson leads the American League with a 2.48 ERA.

  • Cleveland tops the major league with a .291 BA and a .479 SA.

  • Atlanta's 3.44 ERA is the best in the majors.

  • Colorado debuts its new home park, Coors Field, by leading the National League in both BA (.282) and SA (.471).

  • The Rockies' 11-9 win over the Mets in 14 innings in their opener at Coors Field is the longest debut game in the 20th century for a new ballpark in both length and time (4:47).

  • Maddux tops the majors in both ERA (1.63) and CGs (ten).

  • Yankee Jack McDowell tops the American League in CGs with eight.

  • Jose Mesa of Cleveland leads all bullpenners with 46 saves.

  • Cubs closer Randy Myers tops the National League with 38 saves.

  • Tom Henke of the Cardinals sets a new mark for the most saves by a pitcher in his final season when he retires after bagging 36 saves.

  • Mike Schmidt, Richie Ashburn, Leon Day, Vic Willis, and William Hulbert are voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

  • For the second year in a row, White Sox slugger Frank Thomas leads the majors in walks (136).

  • Craig Biggio of the Astros leads the majors in runs with 123.

  • Eddie Murray becomes the 20th player in major league history to collect 3,000 hits.

  • Cleveland goes 54-18 at Jacobs Field to compile the best home win pct. (.750) since 1975 by a major league team.

  • The Indians tie Atlanta for the best road win pct. (.639) in the majors.

  • Colorado ties for the best home winning percentage in the National League (.611) despite being outscored by opponents at Coors Field 490 to 485.

  • Pitcher Mark Langston wins his fifth consecutive Gold Glove Award with the Angels.

  • Catcher Charles Johnson is the first member of the expansion Florida Marlins to win a Gold Glove Award.

  • Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez becomes the youngest four-time Gold Glove winner when he bags his fourth award at age 23.

  • Oakland slugger Mark McGwire shatters all records for the most homers in fewer than 350 at-bats when he hammers 39 dingers in just 317 at-bats.

  • McGwire leads the major leagues in home run percentage (12.3) while collecting more walks (88) than he does hits (87).

  • McGwire's 90 RBI in just 317 at-bats tie George Grantham's 20th-century season record for the most RBI in fewer than 350 at-bats.

  • Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell of the Tigers play in their 1,915th game together on September 13 to set a new American League record for teammates.

  • John Vander Wal of the Rockies sets a new record for the most pinch hits in a season with 28.

  • The Rockies are only the second team in big-league history to have four 30-homer men when Dante Bichette, Andres Galarraga, Larry Walker, and Vinny Castilla all rap 30 or more dingers.

  • Murray finishes the season with the record for most career games played at first base with 2,412.

  • Minnesota posts the highest ERA in the major league at 5.76.

  • Dave Winfield retires after 23 seasons and 3,110 hits.

  • Sparky Anderson resigns as Detroit's manager, ending his franchise-record streak of nearly 17 years at the Tigers' helm.

To learn more about baseball, see:

· 1994 Baseball Season

· 1996 Baseball Season

· Baseball History

· How Baseball Works

· How the Baseball Hall of Fame Works

· How Minor League Baseball Teams Work

· Babe Ruth