Year In Review : 1983 American League
Off the field...
Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space (onboard the Space Shuttle Challenger) as a mission specialist on STS-7, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 18th.
Over two-hundred American soldiers, acting as Peace-keepers, were killed in Lebanon after a truck loaded with explosives crashed into the U.S. Marine compound at a Beirut Airport. The Marines, who had been in Beirut as part of a multi-national force to promote peace in Lebanon, had become the target of Syrian-supported extremists. The terrorist-style attack resulted in swift U.S. military retaliation and the withdrawal of all American forces from that region.
The U.S. military invaded Grenada in an effort to ensure the safety of 1,100 American citizens who were stuck on the island against the rule of General Hudson Austin and Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard. Both were avowed Marxists who had placed Prime Minister Maurice Bishop under house arrest and threatened to turn the region into another Cuba. Under the guise of an invitation by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, U.S. troops intervened and took control of the island. Unfortunately, sixteen Americans were killed and seventy-seven were injured in the military action.
In the American League...
One of baseball's most modern controversies occurred as the New York Yankees took on the Kansas City Royals in what would be penned as "The Great Pine Tar Incident". As Goose Gossage was attempting to protect a 4-3 advantage, George Brett hit a two-run home run putting his team in the lead. That was until home plate umpire Tim McClelland called him out for having more than eighteen inches of pine tar from the end of his bat. The game was immediately protested by Royals skipper Dick Howser and was postponed until several weeks later when they went on to win anyway 5-4.
On July 10th, the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox played the longest nine-inning game in American League history at four hours and eleven minutes. Milwaukee prevailed 12-9 thanks to the arm of Jim Slaton.
The revolving door at the New York Yankees clubhouse continued to spin when Billy Martin was fired as the Bronx Bombers skipper and was replaced by fellow teammate Yogi Berra. Both were hired, fired and rehired repeatedly by George Steinbrenner several times each.
In the National League...
Los Angeles Dodgers ace Fernando Valenzuela set a major league record (off the field) as he became the first player ever to be awarded a $1 million dollar a year contract due to arbitration.
On April 5th, the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants went head-to-head at Candlestick Park in a 16-13 slugfest that set a new record for the highest scoring Opening Day game in over fifty years.
After twenty-one years and 5,923 innings, Walter Johnson set the all-time career strikeout record of 3,508 in 1927. Fifty-six years later, his record was surpassed twice in the same month. First, Nolan Ryan, of the Houston Astros, achieved the mark after sixteen years and 3,357 innings. Then Steve Carlton, of the Philadelphia Phillies, topped them both at 3,511.
Around the league...
Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle to end all associations with major league baseball after "The Mick" became involved in a sports promotion capacity with a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Willie Mays was also targeted with a similar action due to his associations with legalized gambling.
Major League Baseball sold its rights for one year to both ABC and NBC for a combined $1.2 billion dollars. Each team received $7 million dollars as a result of the deal in which ABC contributed $575 million for regular season prime time and Sunday afternoons and NBC paid $550 million for thirty Saturday afternoon games. Both networks agreed to continue rotating all post-season and All-Star Game coverages.
New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was given a $50,000 fine and a one-week suspension after making derogatory remarks about Major League umpires. White Sox president Jerry Reinsdorf was also given a $500 fine after making remarks of his own about the outspoken owner at the All-Star Game.
Steve Howe, then on suspension with the Los Angeles Dodgers, continued to battle his drug addictions after being banned for an entire season by the Commissioners Office. Bowie Kuhn refused to allow the troubled pitcher to return to Major League Baseball until he was proven to be drug-free. Earlier in the season, after completing thirty days of rehabilitation, he was fined $53,867 in salary for missed games in what was the largest fine ever levied to date.