1998 Baseball Season

The New York Yankees blew the rest of major league baseball off the map in the 1998 baseball season. The Bombers won 114 regular-season games, dismissed the Rangers and Indians in the playoffs, and swept the National League champion San Diego Padres to win their record 24th World Championship.

But even the Yankees' achievements could not overshadow the feats of sluggers Mark McGwire of the Cardinals and Sammy Sosa of the Cubs.
McGwire, who had smashed 58 long balls in 1997, exploded for an all-time record of 70, obliterating Roger Maris's old mark of 61 by a wide margin. "Big Mac," who also knocked in 147 runs for St. Louis, was hotly pursued in the race by Chicago's Sammy Sosa, the eventual National League MVP who hit 66 home runs of his own.

The race between McGwire and Sosa, which both fans and the media found endlessly fascinating, was the talk of the baseball world all summer. Mac crushed No. 62 on September 8, hugging Maris's children after the dramatic blow. He then blasted five long ones on the final weekend -- two in the final game -- to reach the magical 70.

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Kerry Wood
Rookie pitcher Kerry Wood made
an impact on the Cubs in 1998.
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While McGwire finished ahead in the home run race, Sosa's Cubs, also fueled by the emergence of rookie strikeout pitcher Kerry Wood, won a dramatic battle for the National League wildcard slot by defeating the San Francisco Giants in a one-game playoff.

San Diego rode the strong arms of starter Kevin Brown (18-7) and closer Trevor Hoffman (53 saves) and the power bat of Greg Vaughn -- who hit "only" 50 homers and drove in 119 -- to an unlikely National League West championship. They then defeated favored Houston, who featured a balanced attack and five strong starting pitchers (including Randy Johnson, 10-1 after a midseason trade to the Astros), to advance to the NLCS.

The Atlanta Braves, paced by five 15-game winners on their pitching staff including Cy Young Award winner Tom Glavine, had the senior circuit's best record at 106-56. After whipping the Cubs in the Division Series, the Braves came up against San Diego -- and were beaten in six games. The Braves scored just three runs in their four losses and went home unsatisfied yet again.

Ken Griffey Jr. paced the American League with 56 homers after also connecting for 56 the season before. However, his Mariners finished a poor third. American League West champion Texas featured Juan Gonzalez, who hit .318 with 50 doubles, 45 homers, and 157 RBI to win his second MVP in three seasons.

After losing four of their first five contests, the Yankees then captured 25 of their next 28 games and were 9-1/2 games up in the American League East by late May. The race was never close, but the runner-up Red Sox compiled the league's second-best record on the strength of a good overall effort and the right arm of pitcher Pedro Martinez (19-7, 2.89 ERA). The only reason Martinez didn't win the American League Cy Young was Roger Clemens of Toronto, who picked up his fifth such trophy by pacing the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts.

In the American League playoffs, the Yankees quickly disposed of the Rangers, while the Red Sox fell in a close series to the Indians. Cleveland, which won the American League Central with power and a fine bullpen, was not as strong as in previous seasons and bowed to New York in a six-game ALCS.

The Yankees seemed to regard each challenge as an opportunity to reaffirm their greatness. DH Chili Davis missed most of the season with injuries, and several other players took turns on the DL as well. Yet the Yankees, led by shortstop Derek Jeter and batting champ Bernie Williams, overcame every obstacle. While San Diego often played well in the 1998 World Series, the Padres never really had a chance against the Bombers.

The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 1998 baseball season.

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In 1998, Kerry Wood was the National League's Rookie of the Year for his outstanding pitching, and Sammy Sosa had a great season, winning the National League MVP Award. Here are some of the headlines from the 1998 baseball season:

Wendy Selig-Prieb Named Baseball's Commish

After six years of serving as "acting" commissioner of baseball, Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig ceded day-to-day control of his club to daughter Wendy Selig-Prieb on August 4, 1998, and accepted the commisioner's position permanently. Although Selig had often claimed to not want the job, baseball's Executive Council could agree on no other acceptable candidates.

Manny Ramirez: 45 HRs, 126 RBI

In 1998, the Indians' attack centered in large part around 26-year-old right fielder Manny Ramirez. He set career highs in homers (45), RBI (126), and runs (108) and finished sixth in American League MVP voting. On June 15-16, Ramirez homered in four consecutive plate appearances to tie a big-league record. He also hit .343 with four homers in the postseason.

Kerry Wood Strikes Out 20 'Stros

Rookie Cubs hurler Kerry Wood on May 6, at age 20, tied an all-time major-league record by fanning 20 men in a dramatic 2-0 complete-game one-hitter over the visiting Houston Astros. Wood finished his first season 13-6 with 233 strikeouts in just 167 innings. He was chosen the National League's Rookie of the Year.

David Wells Tosses Perfect Game

Veteran southpaw David Wells enjoyed a career year in 1998. On May 17, in his perfect game over the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium, Wells was 18-4 with five shutouts for the Yankees. He fanned a career-high 163 and walked only 29 men in 214 innings, ultimately finishing third in American League Cy Young Award voting. In the postseason, he went 4-0.

1998 Diamondbacks Debut at the BOB

The National League's newest franchise, the Arizona Diamondbacks, played their home games in the new Bank One Ballpark, a $354 million structure that took 28 months to build. The park was the first one in the world to feature a retractable roof, real grass, and air conditioning. More than three and a half million fans filed into the park in 1998 to see a mediocre Arizona club.

Harry Caray Passes On

Legendary 83-year-old Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray, a hero to Chicago fans and a veteran of more than 50 years behind the mike, died on February 18, 1998, due to complications from a stroke. He had called the action for the Cubs since 1981 after jobs with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A's, and St. Louis Cardinals. The unabashed Cubs rooter was famous for the phrases "holy cow!" and "let's get some runs!"

Sammy Sosa Slams 66 Homers

Even Sammy Sosa's biggest boosters could never have imagined him enjoying a season like 1998, when he hit 66 home runs, won the National League's MVP trophy, and cemented his position as an international idol. Sosa helped the long-suffering Cubs into the playoffs with his all-around game, leading the National League by scoring 134 runs and driving in 158 -- the most in the majors in 49 years.

Juan "Igor" Gonzalez Drives in 157 Runs

Rangers slugger Juan "Igor" Gonzalez tattooed American League pitchers during 1998, batting .318 with 47 homers, leading the league with 50 doubles and 157 RBI, and winning his second MVP Award in three seasons. The 28-year-old Gonzalez couldn't duplicate his outstanding performance in the postseason, however. He was just 1-for-12 as the American League West champion Rangers lost their Division Series to the Yankees.

Alex Rodriguez: 42 HRs, 46 SBs

At age 23, Seattle's Alex Rodriguez broke the American League record for homers in a season by a shortstop, connecting 42 times. He also swiped 46 sacks to become just the third player in big-league history to reach 40 of each. The well-spoken Rodriguez also made his mark in other ways, leading the league in hits (213), appearing in all 161 Mariners games, and playing Gold Glove-caliber shortstop.

Check out more headlines from the 1998 baseball season on the next page.

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Below are more headlines from the 1998 baseball season, including Cal Ripken taking his first day off in over 16 years and Scott Brosius earning the 1998 World Series MVP.

Tom Glavine Cops the Cy

Lefty Tom Glavine picked up his second Cy Young Award in 1998, posting a 20-6 record and a fine 2.47 ERA to help the Braves win the National League East once again. Glavine's Cy was the sixth won by Atlanta pitchers during the 1990s, and his 20 wins were his fourth league-leading total. A complete athlete, Glavine also batted .239 with seven RBI in 1998.

Greg Vaughn's 50 Go Unnoticed

Launching "just" 50 home runs in the year of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, San Diego left fielder Greg Vaughn was seemingly forgotten by everyone but his Padres teammates and the club's fans, who knew just how critical his big bat was to the Friars' success. Playing his first injury-free season since 1993, Vaughn drove in 119 runs and finished fourth in league MVP voting.

Cal Ripken Streak Ends at 2,632

Baltimore third baseman Cal Ripken voluntarily ended his consecutive-games streak on September 20, 1998. It was the first time he took a day off from the Orioles since May 29, 1982. His all-time consecutive games played mark, which stands at 2,632, will be a tall order for anyone to match. Even batting just .271 with 14 homers, the legendary Ripken was an All-Star starter again in '98.

Albert Belle Blasts 49 Homers, 48 Doubles

Playing in relative obscurity for a White Sox club far removed from the pennant race, controversial slugger Albert Belle whacked 99 extra-base hits in 1998, the second-highest total in American League history and just four behind his own record, set in 1995. He hit .328 with 49 homers and 48 doubles for the Sox, then signed as a free agent with Baltimore.

Kevin Brown Carries Padres to WS

Righthander Kevin Brown helped lift the Padres into the World Series in 1998. With an 18-7 record, 2.38 ERA, and 257 whiffs and only 49 walks in 257 innings, Brown finished third in National League Cy Young balloting. He also fanned 46 men in the playoffs and 1998 World Series to set a record for strikeouts in postseason play. Following the season, Brown inked a seven-year, $105 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Big Unit Revs It Up in Houston

After spending nine years with the Mariners, dominating lefthander Randy Johnson was dealt to Houston on July 31. Johnson was an amazing 10-1 with a minuscule 1.26 ERA in 11 starts for his new club, tossing shutouts in each of his first four Astrodome starts. In Houston's Division Series loss to San Diego, the "Big Unit" was 0-2 despite allowing just three earned runs in 14 innings.

San Diego Topples Atlanta

Despite Padres Ken Caminiti's two-run homer, in the first inning of game five of the NLCS, the Braves won 7-6. However, San Diego whipped the Braves 5-0 in game six to complete a surprising series triumph.

1998 Yanks Erase Pads in Four

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter eludes the slide of San Diego's Greg Vaughn to complete a double play in the decisive game four of the 1998 World Series. Jeter scored two runs in the 3-0 win, giving the Yankees their 24th World Series trophy. New York's finest have more championships to their credit than any other professional sports franchise.

Scott Brosius Slugs Key Homer

Yankees third baseman Scott Brosius , the eventual 1998 World Series MVP, batted .471 with two homers and six RBI in the Yankees' four-game sweep of San Diego.

The next page highlights key events and details from the 1998 baseball season.

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The 1998 baseball season belonged to the New York Yankees who won 114 regular-season games and beat the Padres for a 24th World Championship. But it also belonged to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who went head to head in a home run competition. In the end McGwire's 70 beat Sosa's 66.
Below, you will find the highlights from the 1998 baseball season:
  • The Yankees win 114 regular-season games, setting an all-time American League record and nearing the 1906 Cubs' record of 116.

  • The Yankees steamroll the Rangers in three straight to win their Division Series.

  • Red Sox take the American League wildcard berth, but lose to Cleveland in an exciting four-game Division Series.

  • The Indians challenge the Yankees, taking two of the first three games in the ALCS, but eventually lose in six games.

    Tom Glavine
    For the fourth time
    Tom Glavine led the
    National League in wins.

  • Atlanta's Tom Glavine is 20-6 with a 2.47 ERA, leading the National League in wins for the fourth time.

  • The Cubs win the National League wildcard berth by beating San Francisco in a one-game playoff.

  • The Braves beat the Cubs in their National League Division Series, allowing Chicago to score just four runs in three games.

  • Padres rip the heavily favored Astros and Braves to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1984.

  • The Yankees sweep the Padres in four games to win the 1998 World Series, the franchise's 24th title.

  • Stringbean reliever Mariano Rivera picks up three saves against the Padres in the 1998 World Series.

  • Third baseman Scott Brosius of New York bats .471 with two homers to win series MVP honors.

  • Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn bats .500 with a homer in a losing effort against the Yankees in the 1998 World Series.

  • Mark McGwire of St. Louis breaks Roger Maris's all-time single-season home run record by slugging 70.

  • McGwire breaks the all-time National League record for bases on balls in a season, drawing 162.

  • McGwire tops the National League in both on-base percentage (.470) and slugging (.752, highest in major league since 1927).

  • David Wells of the Yankees tosses a perfect game against the Twins on May 17, the 13th perfecto in history.

  • Trevor Hoffman of the Padres notches a major league-leading 53 saves in 54 opportunities.

  • Glavine barely edges out Hoffman for 1998 National League Cy Young honors.

  • Roger Clemens of the Blue Jays wins his second straight pitching Triple Crown, pacing the American League in wins (20), ERA (2.65), and strikeouts (271).

  • Clemens is awarded the 1998 American League Cy Young for a record-breaking fifth time, this time unanimously.

  • Clemens becomes the 11th pitcher to reach 3,000 strikeouts when he whiffs Tampa Bay's Randy Winn on July 5.

  • Rick Helling of Texas and David Cone of the Yankees tie Clemens atop the American League list with 20 wins.

  • Sammy Sosa cracks 66 home runs and drives in 158 for the Cubs, pacing the National League with 226 runs produced.

  • Sosa is voted the 1998 National League's MVP.

  • Texas outfielder Juan Gonzalez hits .318 with 45 homers and leads the American League with 50 doubles and 157 RBI.

  • Gonzalez is the American League MVP for the second time in three years.

  • Ken Griffey hits 56 home runs and knocks in 146 runs.

  • Cubs righty Kerry Wood strikes out 20 Houston Astros on May 6, tying the all-time one-game mark.

  • Wood wins the voting for 1998 National League ROTY.

  • Ben Grieve of the A's is 1998 American League ROTY.

  • Only one player, pitcher Don Sutton, is voted into the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA.

  • The Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee selects Larry Doby, Lee MacPhail, Bullet Joe Rogan, and George Davis for enshrinement.

  • In their first season as a National League club, the Milwaukee Brewers finish 74-88.

  • Edgar Martinez's .429 on-base percentage is the American League's best.

For more 1998 baseball season highlights, see the next page.

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See below for more highlights of the 1998 baseball season, including Greg Vaughn's 50 homers and Roberto Alomar winning the All-Star MVP:

  • Star reliever Dennis Eckersley retires at age 44 holding the all-time record for games pitched (1,071).

  • Three players -- Todd Walker of Minnesota, Barry Bonds of San Francisco, and John Olerud of the Mets -- each collect nine consecutive hits.

  • Cal Ripken ends his games streak at 2,632 on September 20.

  • Bud Selig is elected commissioner on July 8.

  • Greg Maddux wins his ninth consecutive Gold Glove.

  • San Diego's Greg Vaughn hits 50 homers.

  • Pittsburgh's Tony Womack sets a record by going 980 plate appearances without hitting into a double play.

  • Randy Johnson is 9-10 for Seattle before being traded to Houston, for whom he goes 10-1 with a 1.26 ERA.

  • Baltimore's Eric Davis hits in 30 straight games.

  • Larry Walker of the Rockies bats .363 to win the National League batting crown, adding 46 doubles and 23 homers.

  • Sosa hits 20 home runs in June, an all-time record for one calendar month.

  • Sosa homers 12 times against Milwaukee.

  • The American League outlasts the National League 13-8 in the All-Star Game, played at Denver's Coors Field.

  • Roberto Alomar of the Orioles is the All-Star MVP, going 3-for-4 with a home run.

  • Houston's Craig Biggio is the first player since 1912 to notch 50 doubles and 50 steals in a season.

  • Bernie Williams of the Yankees wins the American League batting title with a .339 average.

  • Albert Belle of the White Sox, who hits .328 with 49 homers and 152 RBI, is paid $10 million.

  • Rickey Henderson of Oakland, age 39, bats just .236 but tops the American League with 118 walks and 66 stolen bases.

  • Henderson scores his 2,000th run during the season, becoming just the sixth man ever to do so.

  • The Marlins' salary dump continues on May 15 as they send Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson, Bobby Bonilla, and Jim Eisenreich to the Dodgers for Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile.

  • On May 22, the Marlins deal Piazza to the Mets for three minor-leaguers.

  • Chicago loses two broadcasting legends in one year, as both Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse pass away.

  • Curt Schilling of Philadelphia paces the National League in strikeouts for the second straight season, whiffing 300.

  • Paul Molitor retires from the Twins with 3,319 hits, which rank eighth on the all-time list.

  • Shorn thin of talent by budget-driven trades, the World Champion Marlins fall to 54-108, the worst mark in the game.

  • On August 23, Barry Bonds of the Giants becomes the first man ever with 400 homers and 400 stolen bases.

  • Montreal's Vladimir Guerrero hits 38 home runs in his first full season.

  • Chet "Red" Hoff, the oldest living major leaguer, dies at age 107.

  • The first-year Arizona Diamondbacks finish last in the National League West at 65-97.

  • Arizona hitters fan 1,239 times to set a new National League record.

  • The Indians are the only American League Central club to finish over the .500 mark.

  • Angels owner Gene Autry dies on October 2.

  • The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the American League's expansion club, go 63-99.

  • Arizona's Dave Dellucci leads the National League with 12 triples despite batting just .260 and stealing only three bases.

  • Tom "Flash" Gordon of Boston, a converted starter, paces the American League with 46 saves.

  • Former Royals reliever Dan Quisenberry dies of a brain tumor on September 30 at age 45.

  • Pitcher Kevin Brown signs a seven-year, $105 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

  • The Rockies fire Don Baylor, the club's manager since its inception, immediately after the season.

  • Baseball sets an all-time attendance mark as 70,618,731 fans enter the parks.

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