Year In Review : 1979 National League

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The construction of nuclear power plants in the United States temporarily came to a halt after a nuclear accident occurred at the Three Mile Island facility near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. After several tense days of emergency cleanup, the leak was completely contained, but raised the concern about the safety of people living near such volatile energy sources. After a media frenzy erupted, the facility was toured by President Jimmy Carter in an effort to calm the panic stricken public.

On July 26th, U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed the Trade Act Bill in response to trade negotiations with Tokyo. The bill reduced further tariffs on a wide range of items, and introduced a new policy to handle unfair trade practices.

Militant Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Teheran (taking fifty-two Americans hostage) in protest after the Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran. The hostages were subjected to four-hundred forty-four days of brutal conditions amidst repeated negotiation failures. A rescue attempt called "Operation Desert One" was aborted in the Iranian desert the following year resulting in the deaths of eight Americans.

I n the American League

On April 5th, the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Chicago White Sox 5-3 giving Earl Weaver his one-thousandth career win as a Major League skipper.

Thurman Munson, the team captain of the New York Yankees, died when the Cessna Citation twin-engine jet he was piloting crashed outside of Canton, Ohio two-hundred feet short of the Akron Airport runway. The thirty-two year-old catcher was a three-time Golden Glove winner, the 1976 American League MVP and a seven-time All-Star. His lifetime batting average was .292 and included an incredible .529 average in the 1976 World Series.

On July 24th, Red Sox sensation Carl Yastrzemski hit his four-hundredth career home run off of the Oakland A's Mike Morgan at Fenway Park. On September 12th, "The Yaz" totaled his three-thousandth hit becoming the first American League player to tally both numbers.

I n the National League

St. Louis Cardinal Gary Templeton became the first player in Major League history to have one-hundred hits from each side of the plate in the same season. The switch hitter batted strictly right-handed in his last nine games to aid his own cause in setting the record.

Pete Rose, then with the Philadelphia Phillies, totaled over two-hundred hits for the tenth season in his career breaking Ty Cobb's record of nine years.

Willie Stargell hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning of Game 7 to push the Pittsburgh Pirates ahead for good in a 4-1 World Series victory over the Baltimore Orioles. The championship title capped off a Cinderella season in which "Pops" and his "Family" brought fun back to baseball.

A round the league

On May 17th, the forty-five day umpires strike concluded after fourteen hours of negotiation. The official's new agreement included a pay increase of approximately $7,000, a heightened cap on maximum salaries from $40,000 to $50,000, two weeks of vacation during the regular season and improved pension benefits. One controversial issue remained though as the league presidents voted to add some of the replacement umpires to the regular roster.

WLUP-FM's promotional "Disco Demolition Night" at Chicago's Comiskey Park went terribly wrong as 50,000 fans turned up to receive a $.98 ticket for the doubleheader with records and eventually rioted on the field. After a delay of one hour and sixteen minutes, the umpires determined that the field was unplayable and called the second game between the White Sox and visiting Detroit Tigers. The following day, American League President Lee MacPhail awarded the Tigers a 9-0 forfeit win.

Walter O'Malley, the man who moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, died at the Mayo Clinic on August 9th at the age of seventy-five. The team's still acting Chairman of the Board was still considered a sellout in New York and was quoted as saying that, "Baseball wasn't a business, but more like a disease."

Writer Daniel Okrent drew up the first set of official rules for a new pastime based on the actual day-to-day statistical play of real major leaguers. The "rotisserie league" would eventually evolve into the phenomenon known as "Fantasy Baseball".

"The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates, emphasizing the team concept to the point that they thought of themselves as a family (and even adopted a popular disco record as their theme song), parlayed their togetherness into a World Series championship. And, fittingly enough, a fellow known affectionately as 'Pops' was the big man in this family." - The Sporting News
1979 National League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Philadelphia

120

Batting Average

St. Louis

.344

Doubles

St. Louis

48

Hits

St. Louis

211

Home Runs

Chicago

48

On Base Percentage

St. Louis

.421

RBI

San Diego

118

Runs

St. Louis

116

Slugging Average

Chicago

.613

Stolen Bases

Pittsburgh

77

Total Bases

San Diego

333

Triples

St. Louis

19

1979 National League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Atlanta

23

ERA

Houston

2.71

Games

Pittsburgh

94

Saves

Chicago

37

Shutouts

Atlanta

5

Montreal

Cincinnati

Strikeouts

Houston

313

Winning Percentage

Cincinnati

.727

Wins

Houston

21

Atlanta

1979 National League

Team Standings

Pittsburgh Pirates

98 64 .605 0

Montreal Expos

95 65 .594 2

St. Louis Cardinals

86 76 .531 12

Philadelphia Phillies

84 78 .519 14

Chicago Cubs

80 82 .494 18

New York Mets

63 99 .389 35

Cincinnati Reds

90 71 .559 0

Houston Astros

89 73 .549

Los Angeles Dodgers

79 83 .488 11½

San Francisco Giants

71 91 .438 19½

San Diego Padres

68 93 .422 22

Atlanta Braves

66 94 .413 23½

1979 National League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Cincinnati

614

Batting Average

St. Louis

.278

Doubles

St. Louis

279

Hits

St. Louis

1,594

Home Runs

Los Angeles

183

On Base Percentage

Philadelphia

.343

Runs

Pittsburgh

775

Slugging Average

Pittsburgh

.416

Stolen Bases

Houston

190

Triples

St. Louis

63

1979 National League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Houston

55

ERA

Montreal

3.15

Fewest Hits Allowed

Houston

1,278

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

Houston

90

Fewest Walks Allowed

Montreal

450

Saves

Pittsburgh

52

Shutouts

Houston

19

Strikeouts

Chicago

933



On April 16, 1978, Bob Forsch pitched a no-hit game for the St. Louis Cardinals. On April 7, 1979, Ken Forsch of the Astros struck out 5, issued 2 bases on balls, and did not allow a single Brave to get a hit making the Forsch brothers the first in Major League history to toss no-hitters.

On June 24, 1977, Bob Watson hit for the cycle with the Houston Astros. On September 15, 1978, Watson hit for the cycle with the Red Sox making him the first Major League player to complete the cycle in each modern league.

Pete Rose finished the 1979 season with 208 hits - the tenth time in his career where he surpassed the 200 hit plateau. However, did you know that Rose also became the first player in history to accomplish that hitting feat ( Ty Cobb was the closest and he did it 9 times)?

Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac13h
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@krbach @mcall I did typo that entry, and was off by a little, but not by much! 😉
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