Year In Review : 1988 American League
Off the field...
Vice President and Republican candidate George Bush Sr. defeated Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis in the presidential race to become the forty-first President of the United States.
The investment firm of Kohlberg-Kravis-Roberts paid nearly $30 billion dollars for the R.J. Reynolds-Nabisco Company, which had merged in 1985, in the largest leveraged buyout ever. The investment deal went on to become the subject of a best-selling novel and television movie entitled "Barbarians at the Gate".
Undefeated heavyweight boxing champion "Iron Mike" Tyson's problems outside boxing started to gain prominence after his marriage to Robin Givens ended admidst a media circus. The highly publicized divorce set in motion a series of bizarre events that not only dimished his skills in the ring, but ultimately ended his career after repeated acts of reckless behavior and criminal violence.
In the American League...
The Anaheim Angels signed University of Michigan pitcher Jim Abbott, who was a member of the U.S. Olympic baseball team despite being born without a right hand.
Minnesota Twins reliever Jeff Reardon became the first pitcher in Major League history with forty saves in both leagues after finishing off the Chicago White Sox 3-1 on September 17th. In 1985, Reardon recorded forty-one saves with the National League's Montreal Expos.
The Oakland Athletics' Jose Canseco became the first player to hit at least forty home runs and steal forty bases in the same season. His thirty-ninth and fortieth stolen bases as well as his forty-first home run came in a 9-8, fourteen-inning marathon against the Milwaukee Brewers on September 23rd.
In the National League...
On August 30th Kent Tekulve, the side-arm reliever of the Philadelphia Phillies, pitched two innings for a 7-5 victory over the San Francisco Giants in his 1000th game. Only one other player in baseball history, Hoyt Wilhelm, had reached the one-thousand milestone to date.
Tom Browning, of the Cincinnati Reds, tossed the first perfect nine-inning game in the National League in twenty-three years against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Riverfront Stadium. The young lefty threw one-hundred two pitches and finished with a 1-0 victory and seven strikeouts.
The Los Angeles Dodgers' Orel Hershiser broke Don Drysdale's Major League record after pitching ten shutout innings against the San Diego Padres extending his string to fifty-nine. Hershiser had begun his streak with four shutout innings against the Montreal Expos. Then he beat the Atlanta Braves 3-0, the Cincinnati Reds 5-0, the Braves again 1-0, the Houston Astros 1-0 and the San Francisco Giants 3-0.
Around the league...
Chicago's Board of Alderman finally approved the addition of lights at Wrigley Field. After a vote of 29-19, the members repeal the anti-noise laws that had kept the Cubs' ballpark as the only Major League stadium without lights. The decision resulted in the introduction of night games to the other half of the "Windy City" and the promise of the 1990 All-Star Game at Wrigley.
Willie "Pops" Stargell became the only player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988. The team captain / outfielder / first baseman played twenty-one years for the Pittsburgh Pirates and hit .282 with 475 home runs and 1,540 runs batted in. He led the National League in slugging average in 1974 with .646, led the Senior Circuit in home runs twice and played in two World Series while batting .315.
In December, Major League Baseball signed a four-year, $1.05 billion dollar television deal with the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) making it one of the largest agreements (to date) between the sport of baseball and the business of broadcasting.
The game-winning RBI was dropped as an official statistic by the rules and regulations committee.