SI Vault
 
He gave the Orioles the willies
March 13, 1980
Down three games to one, the Pirates had rallied to tie the world Series at 3-3, but now the Orioles led again, 1-0, in the sixth inning of Came 7. With a man on base, Scott McGregor delivered a low curve to Pittsburgh patriarch Willie Stargell. Stargell sent the ball sailing off into the night. Rightfielder Ken Singleton made a desperate leap, but it was gone. As he hung on the fence, Singleton seemed to realize the Series was out of reach, too. Stargell, who batted .400 with three homers, was the overwhelming choice as MVP. Holding a bottle of Robert Mondavi Chardonnay—a white that goes very nicely with championships—Stargell echoed the big song of the season, "We're just a ball club that is a family."
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
March 13, 1980

He Gave The Orioles The Willies

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

Why is this man smiling? Boston finished third with Don Zimmer.

Eddie Murray's bat, shattered here against the Yanks, was a bust in the Series, during which he went hitless his last 21 times up.

A sight that will be missed—Yankee Thurman Munson blocking home.

GOLDEN OLDIES ON THE HIT PARADE

Whatever happened to the Yankees, Phillies, Royals and Dodgers? Well, the winners of 11 of the previous 12 division titles finished a collective 42 games out of first place in 1979. They all had their alibis, but the Yankees led the majors in misfortune. The manager who replaced Billy Martin, Bob Lemon, was replaced by... Billy Martin, who was later fired for roasting a marshmallow salesman. New York was well out of the chase when its All-star catcher, Thurman Munson, was killed in a plane crash. Philadelphia bought Pete Rose in hope of finally winning the world Series. Rose paid off, passing Ty Cobb for the most 200-hit seasons (10), but the Phillies seemed to cash in their chips in one afternoon at Wrigley Field, where they beat the Cubs 23-22 in May. Thereafter they quickly plunged from first to fourth. Los Angeles and Kansas City simply unraveled.

With cabdriver Wild Bill Hagy body-spelling O-R-I-O-L-E-S on the dugout roof, Baltimore finished with the best record in baseball, 102-57. The Pirates, dancing to the relentless We Are Family, fought off the surprising Expos. The Reds weren't the same without Rose and Sparky Anderson—they were even better, winning the National League West with a new third baseman, Ray Knight, who hit .318, and a new manager, John McNamara. California owner Gene Autry at last rode off into the American League West sunset with a winner, thanks in large part to league MVP Don Baylor, who drove in 139 runs. Both the Reds and Angels fell swiftly in the playoffs.

It was a golden year for the oldies. Lou Brock and Carl Yastrzemski did their 3,000th-hit numbers, the aging Niekro brothers—Phil of Atlanta and Joe of Houston—won 20 apiece, and Manny Mota, 41, retired as baseball's all-time leading pinchhitter, with 147. Then there was Stargell, who shared the National League MVP with batting leader (.344) Keith Hernandez of St. Louis. Cub Dave Kingman konged 48 homers to lead the majors. The Cy Young Awards went to Baltimore's Mike Flanagan (23-9) and Chicago Reliever Bruce Sutter (37 saves). On the labor front, baseball's umpires took an intentional walk, returning 45 days into the season.

1 2