1999 Baseball Season

The 1999 baseball season featured the Yankees closing out the 20th century by winning their 25th World Series title, their third in four years. A four-game Series sweep of the Atlanta Braves simply restated the Bombers' domination of America's game.

During the regular season, New York won "just" 98 times, a far cry from their 114 victories of 1998. Considering the circumstances, however, it was a tremendous accomplishment. Manager Joe Torre was diagnosed with prostate cancer, DH Darryl Strawberry was arrested for drug possession, and pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte struggled through subpar seasons.

Yet the Yanks marched on. Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, Derek Jeter, and Tino Martinez each knocked in more than 100 runs, and closer Mariano Rivera didn't allow a run after July 21. Pitcher Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, signed after defecting from Cuba, led the staff with 17 wins and shined in October.

Chipper Jones
Chipper Jones had a
batting average of
45 homers, and 126
walks in 1999.

The National League champion Braves also dealt with trauma. First baseman Andres Galarraga, diagnosed with cancer, sat out the year, while pitchers Kerry Ligtenberg and John Smoltz and catcher Javier Lopez lost time with serious injuries. However, MVP third baseman Chipper Jones hoisted the offense onto his back (.319, 45 homers, 126 walks), while center fielder Andruw Jones dazzled at bat and in the field.

And when Greg Maddux "slumped" to a 3.57 ERA, and Tom Glavine fell to 14-11 and 4.12, young Kevin Millwood came through with an 18-7 season. The Braves' pitching was the difference in the Division Series, where they beat Houston in four, and in the NLCS, where Atlanta outlasted New York in six tough games.

The Mets, who smashed the major league record for fewest errors (68), featured four offensive stars: catcher Mike Piazza and infielders John Olerud, Edgardo Alfonzo, and Robin Ventura. The veteran pitching carried the Mets to victory over Arizona in the Division Series, but their bats failed against Atlanta in the NLCS.

Home runs were again a big part of the game in 1999, but they didn't always lead to wins. Despite 65 jacks from Mark McGwire, the Cardinals could do no better than fourth in the National League Central, and the Cubs were last despite Sammy Sosa's 63 dingers.

In the American League playoffs, the Yankees breezed past both the Rangers and Red Sox. New York rendered the Rangers' lineup impotent, negating MVP Ivan Rodriguez and sluggers Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro (47 home runs).

Boston, the American League's wildcard team, defeated perpetually disappointing Cleveland in their Division Series but was no match for New York in the ALCS. The Red Sox boasted Pedro Martinez (23-4, 2.07) and a deep bullpen, but aside from shortstop Nomar Garciaparra (.357, 42 doubles, 27 homers) lacked the horses to run with the Yanks.

Game one of the 1999 World Series saw the Yankees explode for four runs in the eighth en route to a 4-1 victory. Following a 7-2 Yankees win, in which David Cone allowed just one hit over seven innings and Millwood was blown out, New York led the 1999 World Series 2-0 with the action shifting to the Bronx.

Game three was the Braves' best chance. Up 5-1 after four innings, Atlanta appeared to be back in the series. However, the Yankees' bullpen threw 6-1/3 scoreless frames and the offense slowly climbed back into the game, tying it by the eighth. Chad Curtis's tenth-inning blast catapulted the Yankees to a 6-5 win.

The next evening, Roger Clemens won his first World Series ring after yielding just one run in 7-1/3 innings. The Yankees prevailed 4-1, leaving no doubts that they were the best team not only of the year, but of the decade and the century as well.

The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 1999 baseball season.

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In 1999, the legendary Joe DiMaggio passed away, and Mark McGwire continued to accumulate home runs, with 65 in this season. Here are some of the headlines from the 1999 baseball season:

Chipper Jones Powers Way to MVP

A beefed-up Chipper Jones garnered National League MVP honors in 1999. After hitting the weights with a vengeance, and learning to take lefties deep, he powered a career-high 45 home runs. He also walked 126 times, stole 25 bases, and ripped a league-high .417 in clutch situations. His September heroics carried the Braves to the division title.

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez Earns Top American League Prize

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez of the Rangers won the 1999 American League MVP Award, beating out Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez in a controversial vote. Rodriguez helped Texas win its third straight American League West title with a .332 average, 35 homers, 113 RBI, and 25 steals. He started his eighth straight All-Star Game and recorded the majors' highest caught-stealing percentage (54.2) of the decade.

Fans Mourn Death of Joe DiMaggio

When legend Joe DiMaggio passed away on March 8, 1999, a nation mourned. The Yankee Stadium flag was immediately lowered to half-mast, while everyone from former teammates to President Bill Clinton paid tribute. During his fabled 13-year career, the "Yankee Clipper" captured three MVP trophies and won legions of fans with his stylish play. He became somewhat of a recluse after his retirement.

Tom "Flash" Gordon Saves 54 Games in a Row

Red Sox closer Tom "Flash" Gordon, who led the American League with 46 saves in 1998, pitched in only 21 games in 1999. Before going down with an elbow injury, however, he recorded his 54th save in 54 opportunities, setting a major league record. The achievement didn't receive much fanfare nationwide, but to fellow relievers it was the equivalent of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. Gordon had been a starter for much of his career.

Fernando Tatis Jacks Two Slams in an Inning

Cardinals third sacker Fernando Tatis clubs his second grand slam of the third inning on April 23, 1999, at Los Angeles. Tatis, who ended the 1999 campaign with 34 homers and 107 RBI, is the only player ever to hit two grannies in the same inning. His eight RBI in the frame also set a record. Dodgers pitcher Chan Ho Park was in the game long enough to serve up both slams.

Mark McGwire Belts 65 More

After launching 70 home runs in 1998, Mark McGwire swatted 65 more in '99 -- the second most in major league history. Incredibly, he belted his 500th homer a year after slamming his 400th. He also broke Lou Gehrig's major league record for home runs by a first baseman. At season's end, he and Gehrig were the only first sackers named to the MLB's All-Century Team.

Manny Ramirez Plates 165

Powering the ball to all fields, Manny Ramirez drove in 165 runs in 1999 -- the most in the majors in 61 years. Incredibly, he did it in only 147 games. The Cleveland right fielder cracked .333 with 44 home runs-and blasted .386 with runners in scoring position. Top-of-the-order men Kenny Lofton and Roberto Alomar, who were often on base, scored a combined 248 runs in 279 games.

Check out more headlines from the 1999 baseball season on the next page.

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Below are more headlines of the 1999 baseball season, including Jeff Bagwell's great stats and Sammy Sosa becoming the first player to hit 60 home runs twice.

Mariners Open Pricey Safeco Field

The Mariners' new home, Safeco Field, opened for business on July 15, 1999. Sadly for the local fans, the game went to the visiting Padres 3-2. Safeco featured a retractable roof, considered a necessity in Seattle because of the city's wet weather. The park, friendlier to pitchers than the cozy Kingdome had been, cost $517 million to build -- $100 million more than originally estimated. That was just another unpleasant part of a 1999 season in which the Mariners finished a disappointing 79-83.

David Cone Achieves Perfection

Yankees pitcher David Cone tossed a perfect game on July 18, 1999. Getting extra bite on his slider, Cone threw 68 strikes and only 20 balls. Before the game, ironically, Yogi Berra caught a ceremonial first pitch from Don Larsen. They were the battery that had combined for a perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

Mike Hampton Pitches, Hits Way to 22-4

With his 22-4 record and 2.90 ERA, Houston lefty Mike Hampton propelled the Astros to their third straight National League Central crown in 1999. Hampton paced the league in wins, ranked third in ERA, and helped his own cause with great defense and a .311 batting average. He finished second in Cy Young voting to former teammate Randy Johnson.

Jeff Bagwell: 42 Homers, 143 Runs

With his strong, quick hands, Jeff Bagwell hammered 42 home runs in 1999, leading Houston to the National League Central title. His great instincts for the game were reflected in his other numbers. He walked 149 times, third most in league history, and -- despite mediocre speed -- swiped 30 bags. On base a National League-high 331 times, he ended up scoring 143 runs, another league high. Bagwell became only the seventh member of the 40-homers/30-steals club, and he finished runner-up to Atlanta's Chipper Jones in National League MVP voting.

Sammy Sosa Slams 60 Again

On September 18, 1999, Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa connected for his 60th homer of the season against Milwaukee's Jason Bere at Wrigley Field. He thus became the first player ever to bash 60 homers twice. But as in 1998, Sammy eventually lost the four-bagger crown to Cardinals star Mark McGwire, who connected for 65.

Pedro Martinez Breezes to Cy Young Award

Pedro Martinez, Boston's overpowering right-hander, collected his second Cy Young Award in 1999. The National League's recipient in 1997, Martinez in 1999 led the American League in wins (23), winning percentage (.854), strikeouts (313), and ERA (2.07), almost single-handedly carrying Boston to the playoffs. During the season, he fanned 15 batters twice and 16 once, and he fired a one-hitter in which he struck out 17.

Roger Clemens Earns His Ring

Roger Clemens, who had played 15 seasons for the Red Sox and Blue Jays without winning a championship ring, was 14-10 for the Yankees in 1999 despite a career-worst 4.60 ERA. In game four of the fall classic, Clemens tossed 7-2/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits.

The next page highlights key events and details from the 1999 baseball season.

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The 1999 baseball season featured big victories and big setbacks. The Yankees won their 25th World Series. But there were tragedies as well -- Joe Torre was diagnosed with prostate cancer, DH Darryl Strawberry was arrested for drug possession, and Joe DiMaggio passed away. Below, you will find the highlights from the 1999 baseball season:
  • The Mets defeat Cincinnati in a special one-game playoff to become the National League's wildcard team.

  • Rangers win the American League West, but they're swept in the Division Series by the Yankees for the second straight year.

  • Boston pounds Cleveland 23-7 in game four of their American League Division Series, then wins in five games.

  • In losing the ALCS in five games to the Yankees, the Red Sox make ten errors, nearly all of them costly.

  • Yankee pitcher Orlando Hernandez, a Cuban refugee, is the ALCS MVP.

  • Mets reserve catcher Todd Pratt's tie-breaking, tenth-inning, game-four homer gives New York the Division Series win over Arizona.

    Jeff Bagwell
    Jeff Bagwell was little
    help to Houston in 1999.

  • Houston's "Killer Bs" -- Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and Derek Bell -- combine to hit just .143 with no RBI in the club's Division Series loss to Atlanta.

  • The Braves defeat the Mets in six games in the NLCS. Braves catcher Eddie Perez, who raps .500 with two homers in 20 at-bats, is named 1999 MVP.

  • Yankees allow just nine runs to Atlanta in their 1999 World Series sweep.

  • Chad Curtis's two home runs, including a decisive tenth-inning blast, help the Yankees win game three of the 1999 World Series 6-5.

  • Veteran Roger Clemens pitches the Yankees to the 1999 World Series title with 7-2/3 innings of one-run ball in game four.

  • New York's Mariano Rivera saves two games, wins another, and is named 1999 World Series MVP.

  • Atlanta's Chipper Jones is voted 1999 National League MVP after hitting .319 with 116 runs, 45 homers, 110 RBI, 126 walks, and 25 steals.

  • Ivan Rodriguez of Texas wins his first MVP award. He is the first American League catcher ever to hit .300 with at least 100 runs and 100 RBI.

  • Rodriguez's .332 batting average is the highest by an American League catcher since Bill Dickey batted .332 in 1937. He also steals 25 bases.

  • Boston ace Pedro Martinez is a close second in controversial American League MVP balloting.

  • Martinez, the 1999 Cy Young winner, leads the league with 313 strikeouts, 23 wins, and a 2.07 ERA -- 1.37 runs lower than any other eligible American League pitcher.

  • Randy Johnson of Arizona wins the 1999 National League Cy Young with a 17-9 record, 2.48 ERA, 12 complete games, and 364 whiffs.

  • Cardinal Mark McGwire's 65 home runs lead the National League for the second straight year. He also wins his first RBI championship with 147.

  • On January 12, McGwire's 70th home run ball from 1998 is auctioned off for $2.7 million.

  • Sammy Sosa of the Cubs slams 63 homers to finish second to McGwire.

  • In March, the Orioles become the first Major League team to visit Cuba since 1959. They defeat a team of Cuban amateurs 3-2 in 11 innings.

  • On April 4, the Rockies beat the Padres 8-2 in Monterrey, Mexico -- the first major league regular-season game ever played outside the United States or Canada.

  • San Diego's Tony Gwynn singles off Montreal's Dan Smith on August 6 for his 3,000th career hit.

  • On August 7, Tampa Bay's Wade Boggs collects his 3,000th hit -- a home run off Cleveland's Chris Haney.

  • On April 23, Fernando Tatis of the Cardinals becomes the first Major League player to club two grand slams in one inning, both against the Dodgers' Chan Ho Park.

  • In searing heat in New York, Yankee David Cone fires a 5-0 perfect game at the Expos on July 18.

  • Cardinals rookie Jose Jimenez no-hits the Diamondbacks on June 25.

  • Eric Milton of the Twins, pitching against a reserve-filled Angels lineup, throws a no-hitter on September 11.

For more highlights from the 1999 baseball season, see the next page.

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See below for more highlights of the 1999 baseball season, including Larry Walker's great stats and the Indians winning the American League Central for the fifth season in a row:

  • Mark McGwire belts his 500th home run on August 5 against San Diego.

  • Kansas City center fielder Carlos Beltran is 1999 American League ROTY. Beltran is the first rookie since Fred Lynn in 1975 to both score and bat in 100 runs.

  • Reds reliever Scott Williamson wins 1999 National League ROTY honors after going 12-7 with 19 saves and a 2.41 ERA.

  • Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra wins the American League bat crown with a .357 mark and chips in 27 homers.

  • Derek Jeter of the Yankees paces the majors with 219 hits.

  • Houston's Jeff Bagwell leads the majors in walks (149) and runs (143). He also slams 42 home runs.

  • Colorado's Larry Walker fronts the National League in batting average (.379), on-base percentage (.458), and slugging percentage (.710).

  • Tony Womack of the Diamondbacks leads the majors with 72 steals.

  • In his final season with Seattle, Ken Griffey Jr. hits 48 home runs to lead the American League.

  • Indians win the American League Central for the fifth straight season, climbing into first place for good on April 8.

  • Clemens sets an American League record by winning 20 straight games (over two seasons).

  • The Mets set a major league record by committing just 68 errors.

  • Following the All-Star break, the Mariners move to new Safeco Field.

  • On June 9, prior to a Dodgers-Rangers game, three-year-old Rex Spjute of Meridian, Idaho, sings the national anthem.

  • The Braves' 103 regular-season wins are the most of any team.

  • Atlanta wins the National League East by 6-1/2 games despite losing first baseman Andres Galarraga for the season due to cancer.

  • Houston moves out of the Astrodome, its home since 1965, following the season's conclusion.

  • Astros manager Larry Dierker is sidelined nearly a month after suffering a seizure in the dugout.

  • Arizona's National League West title, coming in just its second year of play, is the quickest championship ever for an expansion team.

  • Detroit's Tiger Stadium closes down after 88 seasons.

  • Mariano Rivera saves 45 for the Yankees to lead the majors.

  • Ugueth Urbina of Montreal saves 41 games, most in the National League.

  • On June 5, Boston reliever Tom Gordon blows a save, ending his major league record-setting streak of 54 consecutive saves.

  • An injury-riddled Cal Ripken Jr. plays in only 86 games-but hits .340.

  • Devil Ray Fred McGriff sets a major league record by homering in 35 different stadiums throughout his career.

  • Cleveland rings up 1,009 runs, becoming the first club to clear a grand since Boston in 1950.

  • Montreal's Vladimir Guerrero hits .316 with 42 homers and 131 RBI. He also authors a 31-game hit streak.

  • The Hall of Fame inducts seven men, including Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Robin Yount, and Orlando Cepeda.

  • In Milwaukee, three people are killed during construction of the Brewers' new stadium, Miller Park.

  • Despite playing just 102 games, Barry Bonds swats 34 home runs for the Giants. He also breaks Hank Aaron's major league record of 293 career intentional walks.

  • On May 9, Florida St. junior Marshall McDougall goes 7-for-7 with an NCAA-record six homers and 16 RBI.

  • On May 10, Garciaparra bashes three home runs, including two grand slams.

  • Two great Yankees -- Joe DiMaggio and Catfish Hunter -- die during the 1999 baseball season.

  • Baltimore's Jesse Orosco moves into first place on the all-time games-pitched list with 1,090.

  • Major League Baseball announces its 25-man All-Century Team, based mostly on fan balloting. The "starters" include Lou Gehrig (1B), Jackie Robinson (2B), Cal Ripken Jr. (SS), Mike Schmidt (3B), Babe Ruth (OF), Hank Aaron (OF), Ted Williams (OF), Johnny Bench (C), Nolan Ryan (RHP), and Sandy Koufax (LHP).

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