Year In Review : 1989 American League
Off the field...
On October 17th as 60,000+ Giants and A's fans inside Candlestick Park anxiously awaited the start of Game 3 of the World Series, an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale shook the San Francisco area killing sixty-seven people and causing nearly $10 billion in damages.
U.S. Armed Forces invaded Panama after General Manuel Noriega, clamped down on the country's already limited democracy. After taking control of the region and holding a siege over Noriega's compound, U.S. troops arrested the self-proclaimed military dictator and brought him to the United States to face charges of drug trafficking.
The super-tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground off the coast of Alaska spilling eleven million gallons of oil into the Prince Willliam Sound. About seventy-hundred thirty miles of coastline and wildlife was affected by the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history and Exxon spent over $1 billion in trying to clean up the damage.
In the American League...
On June 27th, Frank Robinson's Baltimore Orioles went up against Cito Gaston's Toronto Blue Jays for the first meeting in Major League history between two black managers. The Orioles went on to dominate the outing 16-6.
Seattle Mariners' rookie sensation Ken Griffey, Jr. debuted at age nineteen and hit the first pitch he saw for a double off of the Oakland Athletics' Dave Stewart. His father, Ken Griffey, Sr. was still with the Cincinnati Reds making them the first father and son to play in the majors simultaneously.
Texas Ranger Nolan Ryan set the all-time strikeout record after sitting down the Oakland Athletics' Rickey Henderson with a 95-mph fastball for his 5,000th career "K". The forty-two year old ace started the contest needing six and finished with seven despite losing 2-0.
In the National League...
On June 3rd, the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers battled for twenty-two innings in a seven hour, fourteen minute marathon that set the all-time record for the longest night game in National League history. As Saturday rolled into Sunday, the home team managed to break the stalemate for a 5-4 victory courtesy of an unlikely hero. Originally slated as a starting pitcher for the following day's outing, Mike Scott was sent home to rest before the game went into extra innings. As the contest wore on, he was eventually called back to the Astrodome and ended up pinch-hitting for his exhausted teammates. Drafted by the New York Mets in the 2nd round of the 1976 amateur draft, the right-hander had never been known for his skills at the plate. Statistics meant nothing though as Scott surprised everyone in attendance with a clutch, sacrifice-fly that ended the game. Both teams (and fans) staggered out of the ballpark, but returned a few hours later for an afternoon game that had already been scheduled. Amazingly, both opponents went toe-to-toe again for another thirteen-inning marathon that ended with a second Astros' victory (7-6). As 1989 was not exactly a banner year for the Houston franchise, the two-day, and thirty-five inning series was an exhilarating highlight for both the players, as well as the fans.
San Francisco Giants' pitcher, Dave Dravecky snapped his own arm while delivering a pitch in the sixth-inning against the Montreal Expos. The injury resulted in a stress fracture of the humerus, which was attributed to arm surgery that he had in 1988 due to cancer. Dravecky was pitching a shutout at the time and was given credit for the final 3-2 decision. Soon after, he retired with a 64-57 win-loss record.
Howard Johnson, of the New York Mets, hit his thirtieth homerun on August 20th matching the thirty stolen bases that he had tallied to date. The tying statistic made him only the third, two-time member of the 30-30 club along with Bobby Bonds and Willie Mays.
Around the league...
Sports Illustrated printed details of Pete Rose's rumored gambling activities including allegations of hand signaling from the dugout in Riverfront Stadium to several betting associates. A few months later, the FBI reported possessing several betting sheets with the Reds' manager's handwriting and fingerprints on them. In August after a thorough investigation, the baseball commissioner's office found him guilty of betting on the games and forced Rose to sign an agreement banning him entirely from Major League Baseball.
Donnie Moore, the thirty-five year-old former pitcher for the Anaheim Angels, shot his wife, then killed himself after battling severe depression attributed to the home run he yielded to the Red Sox's Dave Henderson in the 1986 American League Championship Series.
On September 1st, Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti died at age fifty-one of an apparent heart attack while vacationing at his summer cottage in Martha's Vineyard. He became only the second Major League Baseball Commissioner to die while serving office along with Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
Two modern baseball classics hit the big screen as "Field of Dreams" and "Major League" debuted at the box office. The first starred Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta and James Earl Jones in a film version of the W.P. Kinsella novel "Shoeless Joe" and the second featured Tom Berenger, and Charlie Sheen who took a more "tongue-in-cheek" approach to Cleveland Indian's baseball.