The Olympics returned to their birthplace (Athens, Greece) amidst a stream of controversies involving the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs. Despite the resulting suspensions and stripped titles, many experts believed the 2004 Games would be remembered for the improvement in drug testing which allowed honest athletes to prevail. One Greek newspaper summed up the media's bemusement at the number of cheaters discovered with a cartoon depicting a young boy, with a gold medal round his neck, being surrounded by microphones saying: "I am only a volunteer, but everyone else has tested positive."
During the summer of 2004, North America, Central America and the Caribbean experienced one of the deadliest hurricane seasons ever recorded. During the months of August and September alone, four major storms (Jeanne, Ivan, Frances, Charley) pounded the southeastern part of the globe killing well over 2,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands more homeless. As a result, a record setting number of tornadoes (173 in August, 247 in September) were also spawned as the left over tropical depressions moved inland and up the eastern coast. The total cost in damage from winds and flooding was estimated to run well into the multi-billions and was spread from the island of Haiti to upstate New York.
2004 also marked one of the most widely anticipated presidential elections in recent history. Republican President George W. Bush, son of former President Bush, made a run for a second term after being elected in the hotly contested 2000 campaign. At that time he was mid-way through his second term as governor of Texas, a position he assumed in 1994. Prior to running for governor he spent several years in the oil business and as the managing general partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. His opponent, Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry was a decorated Vietnam War veteran who returned from the conflict to become one of the most outspoken opponents of the war. After entering politics in 1982, when he was elected lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, he ran for U.S. Senate on a campaign that refused contributions from political action committees. He was reelected in 1986, 1990, 1996 and 2002.
Baltimore Oriole Miguel Tejada won the 2004 Home Run Derby after edging the Houston Astros' Lance Berkman with five homers in the final round. The All-Star shortstop set two MLB records in the process by hitting a total of twenty-seven round-trippers for the night and fifteen in the second round. Amazingly, Tejada's final five blasts came after five outs, half of the requisite total.
Seattle Mariners sensation Ichiro Suzuki broke George Sisler's 1920 single season hitting record during an 8-3 victory over the Texas Rangers. With fans still cheering, Suzuki ran to the first-base seats and shook hands with Sisler's 81-year-old daughter and other members of the Hall of Famer's family. After Suzuki's record breaking 258 th hit, he scored his 100 th run of the season when the Mariners batted around in the third, taking a 6-2 lead on six hits.
The Cleveland Indians scalped the New York Yankees with a record-setting 22-0 massacre on August 31 st . With the defeat, the Bombers lost their fifth consecutive game in the Bronx for the first time since May of 2003. The twenty-two runs allowed were the most ever given up by the Yankees in their home ballpark and the most runs allowed since 1928, when the Indians won a 24-6 decision (one of two eighteen-run defeats in New York history). The loss also tied the largest margin of defeat in a shutout since 1900, equaling the mark set in 1975 by the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 22-0 win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds continued his relentless assault on the major league record books in 2004. His season highlights included: (September 17 th ) Hit his 700th career homer, off San Diego's Jake Peavy. (September 11 th ) Broke his own record for walks in a season and became the first player to earn two-hundred free passes in one campaign. (August 29 th ) Recorded his sixty-eighth career multi-homer game, passing Mark McGwire for second all-time. (August 13 th ) Singled in his 1,813 th run, passing Frank Robinson for fourteenth on the all-time RBI list. (July 10 th ) Broke his own record for intentional walks in a season with the first of three in the game. (July 8 th ) Passed Eddie Murray (5,397) for eighth place on the all-time total bases list. (July 4 th ) Received two walks from the Athletics to tie and break Rickey Henderson's all-time walks record. (June 13 th ) Hit his 500 th homer as a Giant. (June 12 th ) Homered off the 400 th different pitcher of his career, Baltimore's Rodrigo Lopez. (May 28 th ) Hit his tenth career walk-off homer, a two-run shot off Colorado's Tim Harikkala. (April 29 th ) Hit his 668 th career homer, giving him and his late father Bobby a combined one-thousand home runs. (April 17 th ) Scored his 2,063 rd run, putting him alone in seventh place all-time, with a solo homer off Los Angeles' Darren Dreifort. (April 13 th ) Hit his 661 st career homer, off Milwaukee's Ben Ford, to assume sole possession of third place on the all-time list. (April 12 th ) Hit his 660 th career homer, off Milwaukee's Matt Kinney, to tie godfather Willie Mays for third on the all-time list.
After enjoying a brief, seventy-eight day retirement, Roger Clemens returned to pitch with friend and former teammate Andy Pettitte on their hometown Houston Astros. For more than a year, "The Rocket" had insisted that 2003 would be his final season, but all bets were off after the Yankees lost the World Series and Pettitte left New York. Remarkably, the forty year-old, six-time Cy Young winner, returned better than ever becoming a NL Cy Young candidate en route to the National League Championship Series.
Randy Johnson, of the Arizona Diamondbacks, turned his back on the clock on his amazing career after pitching a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves on May 18 th . In doing so, the forty year-old became the first ace to toss a perfect game since David Cone of the New York Yankees accomplished the feat in 1999. He also became the oldest pitcher in baseball history to do so, followed by Cy Young who had reached perfection at the age of 37 in 1904. Johnson's masterpiece came in a 2-0 win at Turner Field that took only two hours and thirteen minutes to complete. Afraid to "jinx" the outcome, neither the scoreboard nor public address system noted the history in the making and only displayed Johnson's picture and stats after the final pitch had been made.
America's "National Pastime" returned to the capital for the first time in thirty-three years after Major League Baseball approved the relocation of the Montreal Expos to Washington DC. Ironically, the announcement came one day before the anniversary of the original Washington Senators' final game (before moving to Texas) in 1971. The relocation of the Expos was subject to certain contingencies, including a vote by team owners in November and passage of legislation by Washington's City Council to build a ballpark on the Anacostia River waterfront.
One day after the death of former baseball star Ken Caminiti (an admitted steroid user) U.S. lawmakers passed legislation allowing tighter government regulation of steroid precursors. In doing so, the Anabolic Steroid Control Act added androstenedione, norandrosterone and similar testosterone-production enhancing substances to a list of anabolic steroids regarded as controlled substances. Caminiti, who had played in the major leagues for fifteen years, died of an apparent heart attack at age forty-one. He had admitted to using steroids during his Most Valuable Player season in 1996, when he hit .326 with forty home runs and one-hundred thirty runs batted in for the San Diego Padres.
"I'm very proud of him (Greg Maddux) and I'm proud I had the opportunity to play with him. He was the epitome of consistency over his career. He's done a wonderful job to get to the point he's at. Those who know him will probably show much more excitement and emotion over it than he will. At some point, though, he'll break down and let everyone know what his career has meant to him. But I don't anticipate it at three-hundred."- New York Mets Pitcher / Former TeammateTom Glavine on MLB.com (August 7, 2004)
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
2004 National League
|East||Team [Click for roster]||Wins||Losses||Ties||WP||GB||Payroll|
|New York Mets||71||91||0||.438||25||$100,629,303|
|Central||Team [Click for roster]||Wins||Losses||Ties||WP||GB||Payroll|
|St. Louis Cardinals||105||57||0||.648||--||$75,633,517|
|West||Team [Click for roster]||Wins||Losses||Ties||WP||GB||Payroll|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||93||69||0||.574||--||$89,694,167|
|San Francisco Giants||91||71||0||.562||2||$82,019,167|
|San Diego Padres||87||75||0||.537||6||$54,639,503|
|National League Team Standings|
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
The last National League pitcher to join the 300 Wins Club was Steve Carlton of the Philadelphia Phillies on September 23, 1983 . The Mad Dog, Greg Maddux , returned to the Cubs rotation and won his three-hundredth game on August 7, 2004, versus the San Francisco Giants .
On April 6, 2004, David Aardsma of the San Francisco Giants played in his first ever major league ballgame and as he stepped onto the field, he was booed loudly. Why? Aardsma alphabetically now replaces Hank Aaron at the top of the baseball biographical player list .
Ken Griffey, Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds joined the 500 Home Runs Club on June 20, 2004, putting three (3) of the four (4) active five-hundred home runs club members in the National League in 2004 — Barry Bonds , Ken Griffey, Jr. & Sammy Sosa .