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1979 New York Yankees season

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1979 New York Yankees
Major League affiliations
Location
Other information
Owner(s)George Steinbrenner
General manager(s)Cedric Tallis
Manager(s)Bob Lemon, Billy Martin
Local televisionWPIX
SportsChannel NY (Phil Rizzuto, Frank Messer, Bill White)
Local radioWINS (AM)
(Frank Messer, Phil Rizzuto, Bill White, Fran Healy)
< Previous season     Next season >

The 1979 New York Yankees season was the 77th season for the franchise in New York and its 79th season overall. The season was marked by the death of their starting catcher, Thurman Munson, on August 2. The team finished with a record of 89-71, finishing fourth in the American League East, 13.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles, ending the Yankees' three-year domination of the AL East. New York was managed by Billy Martin, and Bob Lemon. The Yankees played at Yankee Stadium. With the end of the Munson period within this season, a new era was about to unfold as this season would prove to be the first time ever for the Yankees to broadcast their games on cable within New York City and surrounding areas, the first ever MLB team to do so, starting Opening Day that year, all Yankees games save for the nationally aired games were broadcast on the then 3-year old cable channel SportsChannel NY aside from the usual WPIX telecast for free to air television viewers in the New York area and nationwide via satellite and cable.

Offseason

In January 1979, the Yankees attempted to acquire first baseman Rod Carew from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Chris Chambliss, Juan Beníquez, Dámaso García, and Dave Righetti, but the deal fell through.[1] Carew was later traded to the California Angels.

Notable transactions

Regular season

In mid-April, Rich Gossage broke the thumb on his pitching hand in a clubhouse fight with teammate Cliff Johnson. Gossage missed the rest of April, all of May, and half of June with the injury. Ron Guidry volunteered to take his place as bullpen closer along with his regular starts and posted two saves. Johnson was later traded to the Cleveland Indians.

Bob Lemon, who had taken over the team in July 1978 after Billy Martin resigned amid controversy where he called Reggie Jackson and George Steinbrenner liars, entered the season with the understanding that he would be promoted to a front office position following the season. However, after a 34-31 start to the season, Steinbrenner fired Lemon and asked Martin, who was to take over the team in 1980, to start managing early. Martin agreed, which did not sit well with some of the team including Jackson. The move also did not sit well with team president Al Rosen, who resigned from the Yankees shortly thereafter.

On August 6, the Yankees flew to Ohio to attend Thurman Munson's memorial service, then flew back to New York to play their schedules game against Baltimore. This game was televised live nationwide on ABC's Monday Night Baseball and featured clips of the memorial and an interview Munson gave to Howard Cosell days before.[6] Bobby Murcer hit a three run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning, then drove in two more runs in the ninth with a single off former Yankee Tippy Martinez to account for all five Yankee runs in a 5-4 win.[7] After the game, Murcer gave the bat to Munson's widow.[6]

On September 12, Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox joined the 3,000 hit club with a single off Jim Beattie of the Yankees.[8] The same game also marked the final appearance at Fenway Park for Hall of Fame pitcher Catfish Hunter.

On September 18, pitcher Bob Kammeyer set a single-season record by giving up eight earned runs without recording an out in his only game of the season. It was his last major league appearance.

Thurman Munson

YankeesRetired15.svg
Thurman Munson's number 15 was retired by the New York Yankees in 1979.

As his career had progressed, Thurman Munson had become more and more homesick as his schedule did not allow him enough time to spend at home with his wife and children. Since he kept his home in Ohio during the offseason, he decided that air travel was the best solution and began taking flying lessons. Munson bought a Cessna Citation I/SP jet and by 1979 was regularly using it to transport himself to and from various cities and his home. On one of these trips, where his manager Billy Martin was a passenger, Martin noticed the plane's engine malfunctioned in flight and informed Munson, who discovered the entire engine was destroyed and he had to pay to have a new one installed. Martin grew concerned but was unable to convince Munson to stop.

On August 2, 1979, Munson was at the Akron-Canton Regional Airport practicing takeoffs and landings. On the fourth touch-and-go, Munson failed to lower the flaps for landing and allowed the aircraft to sink too low before increasing engine power, causing the jet to clip a tree and fall short of the runway. The plane then hit a tree stump and burst into flames. Munson suffered a broken neck on impact and thus was trapped inside the aircraft as his companions were able to escape the wreck; unable to move, Munson was consumed by the flames and toxic fumes released by the burning fuselage and died of asphyxiation. He was 32 years old.[9]

Munson's sudden death was major news across the nation and especially sorrowed the baseball community. Munson was survived by his wife, Diana, and their three children. The day after his death, before the start of the Yankees' four-game set with the Baltimore Orioles in the Bronx, the Yankees paid tribute to their fallen captain in a pre-game ceremony during which the starters stood at their defensive positions, save for the catcher's box, which remained empty. At the conclusion of Robert Merrill's musical selection, the fans (announced attendance 51,151) burst into a 10-minute standing ovation.

Season standings

AL East W L Pct. GB Home Road
Baltimore Orioles 102 57 0.642 55–24 47–33
Milwaukee Brewers 95 66 0.590 8 52–29 43–37
Boston Red Sox 91 69 0.569 11½ 51–29 40–40
New York Yankees 89 71 0.556 13½ 51–30 38–41
Detroit Tigers 85 76 0.528 18 46–34 39–42
Cleveland Indians 81 80 0.503 22 47–34 34–46
Toronto Blue Jays 53 109 0.327 50½ 32–49 21–60

Record vs. opponents

1979 American League Records

Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]
Team BAL BOS CAL CWS CLE DET KC MIL MIN NYY OAK SEA TEX TOR
Baltimore 8–5 9–3 8–3 8–5 7–6 6–6 8–5 8–4 5–6 8–4 10–2 6–6 11–2
Boston 5–8 5–7 5–6 6–7 8–5 8–4 8–4 9–3 5–8 9–3 8–4 6–6 9–4
California 3–9 7–5 9–4 6–6 4–8 7–6 7–5 9–4 7–5 10–3 7–6 5–8 7–5
Chicago 3–8 6–5 4–9 6–6 3–9 5–8 5–7 5–8 4–8 9–4 5–8 11–2 7–5
Cleveland 5–8 7–6 6–6 6–6 6–6 6–6 4–9 8–4 5–8 8–4 7–5 5–7 8–5
Detroit 6–7 5–8 8–4 9–3 6–6 5–7 6–7 4–8 7–6 7–5 7–5 6–6 9–4
Kansas City 6–6 4–8 6–7 8–5 6–6 7–5 5–7 7–6 5–7 9–4 7–6 6–7 9–3
Milwaukee 5–8 4–8 5–7 7–5 9–4 7–6 7–5 8–4 9–4 6–6 9–3 9–3 10–3
Minnesota 4–8 3–9 4–9 8–5 4–8 8–4 6–7 4–8 7–5 9–4 10–3 4–9 11–1
New York 6–5 8–5 5–7 8–4 8–5 6–7 7–5 4–9 5–7 9–3 6–6 8–4 9–4
Oakland 4–8 3–9 3–10 4–9 4–8 5–7 4–9 6–6 4–9 3–9 8–5 2–11 4–8
Seattle 2–10 4–8 6–7 8–5 5–7 5–7 6–7 3–9 3–10 6–6 5–8 6–7 8–4
Texas 6–6 6–6 8–5 2–11 7–5 6–6 7–6 3–9 9–4 4–8 11–2 7–6 7–5
Toronto 2–11 4–9 5–7 5–7 5–8 4–9 3–9 3–10 1–11 4–9 8–4 4–8 5–7


Notable transactions

Roster

1979 New York Yankees
Roster
Pitchers Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders Manager

Coaches

Player stats

Batting

Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
C Thurman Munson 97 382 110 .288 3 39
1B Chris Chambliss 149 554 155 .280 18 63
2B Willie Randolph 153 574 155 .270 5 61
3B Graig Nettles 145 521 132 .253 20 73
SS Bucky Dent 141 431 99 .230 2 32
LF Lou Piniella 130 461 137 .297 11 69
CF Mickey Rivers 74 286 82 .287 3 25
RF Reggie Jackson 131 465 138 .297 29 89
DH Jim Spencer 106 295 85 .288 23 53

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Juan Beníquez 62 142 36 .254 4 17

Pitching

Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Tommy John 37 276.1 21 9 2.96 111
Ron Guidry 33 236.1 18 8 2.78 201
Jim Beattie 15 76 3 6 5.21 32
Dave Righetti 3 17.1 0 1 3.63 13

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G W L SV ERA SO
Ray Burris 15 1 3 0 6.18 19
Paul Mirabella 10 0 4 0 8.79 4
Mike Griffin 3 0 0 0 4.15 5
Rick Anderson 1 0 0 0 3.86 0
Roger Slagle 1 0 0 0 0.00 2
Bob Kammeyer 1 0 0 0 0

Awards and honors

All-Stars

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Columbus Clippers International League Gene Michael
AA West Haven Yankees Eastern League Stump Merrill
A Fort Lauderdale Yankees Florida State League Doug Holmquist
A-Short Season Oneonta Yankees New York–Penn League Art Mazmanian
Rookie Paintsville Yankees Appalachian League Bill Livesey

LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Columbus, West Haven, Oneonta, Paintsville[18]

Off-season

On October 23, manager Billy Martin got into a barroom fight with Joseph Cooper, a marshmallow salesman from Minnesota. Six days later, Martin was fired from the Yankees by George Steinbrenner and replaced with Dick Howser.

Notes

  1. ^ United Press International (January 30, 1979). "Yankees, Twins still dickering". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved June 19, 2009.
  2. ^ Dave Righetti at Baseball Reference
  3. ^ Luis Tiant at Baseball Reference
  4. ^ Tommy John at Baseball Reference
  5. ^ a b Bobby Brown at Baseball Reference
  6. ^ a b Yankee for Life, Bobby Murcer and Glen Waggoner, p. 126, Harper Collins, 2008, New York, ISBN 978-0-06-147342-5
  7. ^ August 6, 1979, box score
  8. ^ The 3,000 Hit Club: Carl Yastrzemski
  9. ^ Internet Archive's last entry for the ThurmanMunson.com history page
  10. ^ Paul Blair at Baseball Reference
  11. ^ Jim Kaat at Baseball Reference
  12. ^ a b Ray Burris at Baseball Reference
  13. ^ Don Mattingly at Baseball Reference
  14. ^ Otis Nixon at Baseball Reference
  15. ^ [https://www.nytimes.com/1979/06/16/archives/yanks-fall-95-johnson-traded-yanks-fall-johnson-is-traded-white-sox.html Yanks fall, 9-5
  16. ^ Bobby Murcer at Baseball Reference
  17. ^ Oscar Gamble at Baseball Reference
  18. ^ Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 2nd and 3rd editions. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 1997 and 2007

References

This page was last edited on 28 April 2020, at 12:57
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