Year In Review : 1976 American League

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The United States celebrated its bicentennial, marking the 200th anniversary of its independence. During the Fourth of July holiday period, hundreds of sailing ships (most from the nineteenth century) from around the world converged on New York City's harbor to participate in the celebration.

Jimmy Carter was selected as the Democratic Party's nominee for president, and the American people elected him to office over the incumbent president, Gerald Ford. In choosing Carter, the voters took a chance on a president about whom they knew little and one who prided himself on being relatively unknown outside his home state of Georgia. A political "recluse", he had never been a national candidate and had no significant experience on the national scene or any close ties to Washington. In addition, as a candidate from the Deep South, Carter was distrusted by many in the New Deal coalition that had dominated his party since 1932.

An Air France jetliner was hijacked to Entebbe, Uganda by the "Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine" on June 27th. Once there, the hijackers separated the Jewish and Israeli passengers from the rest of the captives and demanded the release of several terrorists held in Israeli prisons. In a daring commando operation known as "Operation Thunderbolt" Israeli forces traveled 2,000 miles and landed at the Entebbe airport rescuing all hostages and terminating the terrorists.

I n the American League

New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson was named the first team captain since "Iron Horse" Lou Gehrig had held the position in the 1930's. Unfortunately, Munson, like his predecessor, would die before his time in a plane crash in 1979.

The Chicago White Sox's Minnie Minoso joined the "four-decade player club" after entering a September 11th contest against the California Angels as a designated hitter. The fifty-three year-old went 0-3 as his team fell 7-3 to the "halos" and four years later Minoso became only the second five-decade player in Major League history.

On August 25th, the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees went head-to-head for five hours and thirty-six minutes during a nineteen-inning marathon. Willie Randolph, of the Yanks, set an American League record for extra innings with thirteen assists and twenty chances at second base.

I n the National League

On April 17th, Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies, hit four consecutive homeruns (and a single) accounting for eight runs himself during an 18-16 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Pittsburgh's John Candelaria proved that the "Candy Man" can after he pitched a 2-0, no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 9th. The six-foot, seven-inch Pirate struck out seven and walked one for the first no-no against the L.A. version of the Dodgers.

Sparky Anderson's "Big Red Machine" compiled another stellar season with a record of 102-60. The Cincinnati Reds as they were also known as, later went on to sweep the New York Yankees in the World Series proving that they could maintain the momentum of their previous record-setting year (108-54) and once again, go the distance en route to their second Major League Championship in as many years.

A round the League

The newly renovated Yankees Stadium was dedicated in a special pre-game ceremony attended by Mrs. Babe Ruth, Mrs. Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Don Larsen and eighty-five year old Bob Shawkey, who had pitched at the ballpark when it opened in 1923. In what some have considered to be a sign of the "Babe" showing disapproval of the changes to "his house", the $3 million dollar scoreboard ceased to function.

Media tycoon Ted Turner, owner of the Atlanta Braves and their broadcasting station, took advertising to new highs (and lows) after signing Andy Messersmith for the 1976 season. First he chose to "nickname" their newest acquisition "Channel" then he issued him the number "17" which also happened to be Turner's TV number. The preplanned marketing scheme resulted in Messersmith taking the field with "Channel 17" on his back. National League president, Chub Feeney quickly caught onto Turner and put an end to the tacky campaign.

On July 20th, "Hammerin'" Hank Aaron hit the 755th and final homerun of his career off the Anaheim Angels' Dick Drago during a 6-2 Milwaukee Brewers' win. The historical moment was soured though after the ball was retrieved by Dick Arndt, a member of the ground crew, who refused to return it to the rightful owner. Arndt was subsequently fired and has since then turned down offers of up to $10,000 from Hank Aaron himself.

In August, a contest was conducted across Washington to name the new expansion team in Seattle. After 15,000 entries, Roger Szmodis from Bellevue emerged the winner after proposing the name "Mariners".

"I'm disappointed with the necessity of having to make these sales, but I refuse to let these players drive me into bankruptcy with their astronomical salary demands." - Athletics Owner Charles O. Finley
1976 American League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Texas

97

Batting Average

Kansas City

.333

Doubles

Kansas City

40

Hits

Kansas City

215

Home Runs

New York

32

On Base Percentage

Kansas City

.412

RBI

Baltimore

109

Runs

New York

104

Slugging Average

Baltimore

.502

Stolen Bases

Oakland

75

Total Bases

Kansas City

298

Triples

Kansas City

14

1976 American League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Detroit

24

ERA

Detroit

2.34

Games

Minnesota

78

Saves

New York

23

Shutouts

California

7

Strikeouts

California

327

Winning Percentage

Minnesota

.773

Wins

Baltimore

22

1976 American League

Team Standings

New York Yankees

97 62 .610 0

Baltimore Orioles

88 74 .543 10½

Boston Red Sox

83 79 .512 15½

Cleveland Indians

81 78 .509 16

Detroit Tigers

74 87 .460 24

Milwaukee Brewers

66 95 .410 32

Kansas City Royals

90 72 .556 0

Oakland Athletics

87 74 .540

Minnesota Twins

85 77 .525 5

Texas Rangers

76 86 .469 14

California Angels

76 86 .469 14

Chicago White Sox

64 97 .398 32½

1976 American League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Oakland

592

Batting Average

Minnesota

.274

Doubles

Kansas City

259

Hits

Minnesota

1,526

Home Runs

Boston

134

On Base Percentage

Minnesota

.343

Runs

Minnesota

743

Slugging Average

Boston

.402

Stolen Bases

Oakland

341

Triples

Kansas City

57

1976 American League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

California

64

ERA

New York

3.20

Fewest Hits Allowed

New York

1,300

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

Baltimore

90

Cleveland

Fewest Walks Allowed

Boston

409

Saves

Cleveland

46

Shutouts

Cleveland

17

Strikeouts

California

992



On April 15, 1976, a newly remodeled Yankee Stadium opened its doors and Bob Shawkey threw out the first pitch. Why Shawkey? Because he threw a three hitter when Yankee Stadium originally opened in 1923.

Did you know that Mark "The Bird" Fidrych , who led the American League in complete games and earned run average, made his first Major League start on May 15th of this season?

The quote at the top of the page was made June 15, 1976 and Finley is specifically talking about Vida Blue , Rollie Fingers , and Joe Rudi . The sales (Blue $1.5 million to the Yankees, Fingers & Rudi $1 million to the Orioles) were negated by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn three days later who in his press release stated, "While I am aware that there have been cash sales of player contracts in the past, there has been no instance in my judgement which had the potential for harm to our game."

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