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1979 in Baseball
The following are the baseball events of the year 1979 throughout the world.
Major League Baseball
Awards and honors
MLB statistical leaders
Major league baseball final standings
- May 9 - With the score tied 4-4 in the ninth inning, and Jimmy Sexton on first base with no outs, the Houston Astros' Terry Puhl lays down a sacrifice bunt. The Cardinals attempt to get the lead runner on the play, however, second base umpire Dave Pallone calls Sexton safe, claiming that Garry Templeton never touched the bag. Cardinals manager Ken Boyer, First baseman Keith Hernandez and catcher Ted Simmons are ejected from the game. Players on the Cardinals bench begin throwing bats and helmets onto the field in protest. As a result, Pallone orders the entire Cardinals bench into the clubhouse, allowing players only to come onto the field as needed. The Cardinals would get out of the inning without a run scoring, however would lose it in the sixteenth inning.
- May 17 - Dave Kingman of the Chicago Cubs hits three home runs and Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies hits two, the second of which proves to be the game winner in the tenth inning, as the Phillies beat the Cubs 23-22 at Wrigley Field. Bill Buckner had a grand slam and seven RBIs for Chicago. The game included a then Major League record 11 home runs and 50 hits.
- May 25 - Starter Ross Baumgarten and reliever Randy Scarbery pitched the first combined one-hitter in Chicago White Sox history, defeating Nolan Ryan and the California Angels, 6-1, at Comiskey Park.
- May 28 - Texas Rangers first baseman Mike Jorgensen is hit in the head by a pitch from Boston Red Sox pitcher Andy Hassler. Dave Roberts comes into the game to pinch run for Jorgensen, and Pat Putnam takes over as the Rangers' regular first baseman for the next month. Aside from a pinch-hit appearance on May 31, Jorgensen does not play again until July 1. After suffering headaches, it is discovered he has a small blood clot inside his head, which apparently caused a seizure and could have resulted in his early demise.
- July 12 - The Detroit Tigers win the first game of a scheduled doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox, 4-1, on Disco Demolition Night at Chicago's Comiskey Park. Thousands of young fans swarm onto the field between the games, damaging the field and causing mayhem throughout the stadium. The White Sox are forced to forfeit the second game.
- July 13 - In a rare event, Nolan Ryan of the California Angels and Steve Renko of the Boston Red Sox take separate no-hitters into the ninth inning before they both lose the no hit bids. Ryan's no-hit bid against the New York Yankees benefitted from some questionable official scoring; Jim Spencer's drive to center that Angels centerfielder Rick Miller barely got a glove on was ruled an error. In the ninth, Thurman Munson reached on an error by shortstop Jim Anderson. Two batters later, Reggie Jackson singled to center to unquestionably break up the no-hitter. The next batter, Lou Piniella hit a sacrifice fly to score Munson, and break up the shutout. The run was, however, unearned. Ryan's Angels defeat the Yankees, 6-1. Renko's no-hit bid against the Oakland Athletics is broken up by Rickey Henderson with one out. After recording a second out, Renko walks Mitchell Page, and is pulled in favor of Bill Campbell by Red Sox manager Don Zimmer. Campbell strikes out the only batter he faces, Dave Revering to earn the save, however, Renko is denied the shutout as a result. The Red Sox defeat the A's, 2-0. Ryan's feat, however, receives considerably more attention as the game was nationally televised on ABC's Monday Night Baseball and Ryan (while pitching the game) was on the ensuing issue's cover of Sports Illustrated.
- July 17 - The National League wins its eighth straight All-Star Game, 7-6, at Seattle. Lee Mazzilli hits a home run to tie the game in the eighth, and walks in the ninth to bring in the winning run. Dave Parker, with two outstanding throws, is named the MVP, and Pete Rose appears in the game playing first base, making him the only player in MLB history to appear in the game at five different positions in the field in his All-Star game career.
- July 24 - Boston's Carl Yastrzemski hits his 400th home run off Oakland Athletics pitcher Mike Morgan in the 7th inning of the Red Sox's 7-3 win over the Athletics at Boston's Fenway Park.
- July 27 - Bert Blyleven of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches a 9-1 complete game victory against the Montreal Expos. However, he also strikes out five times as a hitter in the game, becoming the only pitcher in major league history to do so.
- August 2 - The Chicago White Sox announce that Don Kessinger has been fired as manager, and that he will be replaced by rookie manager Tony La Russa.
- August 3 - Over 51,000 mourners attend a memorial service for New York Yankees captain Thurman Munson at Yankee Stadium, who was killed the day before in a plane crash.
- August 5 - Fred Lynn hits his 100th career home run, helping the Red Sox beat Milwaukee Brewers 7-2.
- August 6 - The entire New York Yankee team flies to Canton, Ohio for captain Thurman Munson's funeral. Hours later, the team returns to New York City and defeats the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 at Yankee Stadium, before a national viewing audience on ABC's Monday Night Baseball. Bobby Murcer, one of Munson's best friends, drives in all five Yankee runs with a three-run home run in the seventh inning and a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth.
- August 13 - The St. Louis Cardinals' Lou Brock slashes his 3,000th hit off the hand of Chicago Cubs pitcher Dennis Lamp in a 3-2 Cardinals win at Busch Memorial Stadium.
- August 22 - At Riverfront Stadium, Johnny Bench breaks Frank Robinson's record for most home runs by a Cincinnati Red. His shot, the 325th home run of his career (all with the Reds), comes off Stan Bahnsen in the fourth inning of the Reds' 7-2 victory over the Montreal Expos.
- September 11 - Dave Concepción and George Foster hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning off Houston Astros ace reliever Joe Sambito and the Cincinnati Reds hold off the Astros 9-8. The Reds trailed the Astros by 1/2 game and moved into first place to stay in the National League West.
- September 12 - The Boston Red Sox's Carl Yastrzemski records his 3000th career hit with a single off of pitcher Jim Beattie during a 9-2 win over the rival New York Yankees at Fenway Park. He is the first American League player to reach both 3,000 hits and 400 home runs.
- September 14 - The Minnesota Twins trade All-Star first baseman Rod Carew to the California Angels for Dave Engle, Paul Hartzell and Brad Havens. Carew, who hit .333 for the Twins in 1978 but had vowed never to play again for team's owner Calvin Griffith after he made disparaging remarks against black players a few months earlier, will hit .318 for the Angels for the rest of the season. Carew will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.
- September 15 - As part of a 10-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox's Bob Watson hits for the cycle. Having done it for the Houston Astros on June 24, 1977, he is the first player to do this in both leagues.
- September 17 - George Brett hits his 20th triple of the season. He is the first player since Willie Mays in 1957 to join the 20-20-20 club.
- September 23 - Lou Brock steals the 938th base of his career, breaking Billy Hamilton's all-time National League record. Brock's St. Louis Cardinals defeat the New York Mets 7-4 in ten innings.
- September 24 - Pete Rose collects his 200th hit of the season, giving him ten seasons with at least 200 hits. This breaks the record set by Ty Cobb.
- September 28 - Garry Templeton of the St. Louis Cardinals collects his 100th hit of the season while batting right-handed. Having already collected 100 hits while batting left-handed, Templeton is the first player in history to accomplish this. He had batted right-handed, exclusively, for the last week of the season to get the needed hits.
- September 28 - The Cincinnati Reds' Frank Pastore pitches a complete-game 3-0 shutout over the Atlanta Braves, clinching the National League West Division title for the Reds.
- October 17 - In Game Seven of the World Series, Willie Stargell hits his third home run of the Series to send the Pittsburgh Pirates to their third straight win over the Baltimore Orioles, to win the World Series Championship. Stargell wins Series MVP honors. The Pirates came back from a deficit of 3 games-to-1.
- October 23 - Yankee manager Billy Martin gets into a barroom fight with Joseph Cooper, a marshmallow salesman from Minnesota. Six days later, Martin is fired from the Yankees and replaced with Dick Howser.
- November 13 - For the first time ever, there will be League co-MVPs as Keith Hernandez of the St. Louis Cardinals shares the National League Baseball Most Valuable Player Award with Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Stargell is the oldest person to win this award (since broken by Barry Bonds in 2004). The Pirates have thus won (or shared) all four "Most Valuable Player" awards for the season (All-Star Game, National League Championship Series, World Series, and National League regular season). This is the first such sweep in Major League history (Stargell had won the awards for the NLCS, World Series, and National League regular season, while teammate Dave Parker won the All-Star Game award).
- November 20 - California Angels outfielder and DH Don Baylor wins the American League Most Valuable Player Award after hitting .296 with 36 home runs and a major league-leading 120 runs scored and 139 runs batted in. Baylor receives 20 of 28 first-place votes to become the first Angel ever to win MVP honors.
- November 26 - Third baseman John Castino, who batted .285 for the Minnesota Twins, and shortstop Alfredo Griffin, who hit .287 for the Toronto Blue Jays, tie for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, each receiving seven of the 28 first-place votes. The deadlock precipitates a change in the voting system, effective in 1980.
- November 28 - Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Rick Sutcliffe, who posted a 17-10 record with a 3.46 ERA for a sub-.500 team, receives 20 of first-place 24 votes to earn the National League Rookie of the Year honors. Right fielders Jeffrey Leonard of the Houston Astros (3) and Scot Thompson of the Chicago Cubs (1) receive the other votes.
- January 9 - Charley Stis, 94, who spent more than six decades in professional baseball as a player, manager, scout and umpire
- January 25 - Charlene Barnett, 50, who played second base in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1949 to 1952 and was a member of three champion teams
- February 7 - Warren Giles, 82, president of the National League from 1951 to 1969, and of the Cincinnati Reds from 1937 to 1951
- February 8 - Alex Gaston, 85, catcher for the New York Giants and Boston Red Sox between 1920 and 1929
- February 8 - Art Williams, 44, the first black umpire in the National League, working from 1972 to 1977 including the 1975 NLCS
- February 26 - Forrest Thompson, 60, left-handed pitcher for the Washington Senators in the late 1940s
- March 2 - Dale Alexander, 75, first baseman who batted .331 in five seasons with the Tigers and Red Sox, winning the 1932 batting title, before an injury ended his career; later a scout
- March 29 - Luke Easter, 63, first baseman in the Negro Leagues who had 100 RBI in each of his first two seasons with the Cleveland Indians
- April 3 - Harry Simpson, 53, outfielder and first baseman who led the AL in triples twice
- April 6 - Al Evans, 62, longtime catcher for the Washington Senators, later a minor league manager
- April 6 - Rudy Kallio, 86, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers (1918-19) and Boston Red Sox (1925); later a coach for Triple-A Portland Beavers and scout for the Chicago Cubs
- April 18 - Lindsay Deal, 67, outfielder for the 1939 Brooklyn Dodgers
- May 3 - Tom Jenkins, 81, outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Athletics and St. Louis Browns in the early 1920s
- June 8 - Muriel Coben, 58, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League pitcher, and member of a Canadian women's curling champion team
- June 17 - Duffy Lewis, 91, left fielder for the Boston Red Sox who starred on three champions and mastered Fenway Park's sloping left field
- June 18 - Hal Trosky, 66, first baseman for the Indians who batted .302 lifetime and had six 100-RBI seasons
- July 12 - Tom Lovelace, 81, pinch hit in one game with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1922.
- July 22 - Amos Strunk, 90, a center fielder for the Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox between 1908 and 1924 and a member of four World Series champion teams
- August 2 - Thurman Munson, 32, 7-time All-Star catcher for the New York Yankees since 1969 who batted .300 five times and won the 1976 MVP award; 1970 Rookie of the Year won three Gold Gloves and batted .357 in 30 postseason games
- August 9 - Walter O'Malley, 75, owner of the Dodgers franchise since 1950, during which time the team won four World Series titles; he moved the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and constructed Dodger Stadium
- September 4 - Turkey Stearnes, 78, center fielder in the Negro Leagues who led the Negro National League in home runs six times while batting .350
- October 22 - John Drebinger, 88, sportswriter for The New York Times for 41 years
- November 18 - Freddie Fitzsimmons, 78, knuckleball pitcher who won 217 games for the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers
- December 4 - Bert Delmas, 68, infielder for the 1933 Brooklyn Dodgers
- December 15 - Stan Hack, 70, 5-time All-Star third baseman for the Chicago Cubs who batted .301 lifetime and posted a .394 career on-base percentage, the highest of any 20th-century third baseman; scored 100 runs seven times and led NL in hits and steals twice each