1998 Baseball Season Headlines
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.
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