Year In Review : 1995 American League
Off the field...
A massive bomb inside a rental truck exploded outside the Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, demolishing half of the nine-story structure and killing one-hundred sixty-eight people. Timothy McVeigh, a former U.S. soldier turned domestic terrorist, was later convicted and sentenced to death for his crime in 1997.
Big business got even bigger in 1995 as several mega-media companies merged including ABC and Disney, Westinghouse and CBS and Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner.
Pro Football Hall of Famer and television celebrity O. J. Simpson went on trial for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The media circus surrounding the event as well as one-hundred thirty-three days of televised courtroom testimony turned countless viewers into Simpson trial junkies.
In the American League...
The "Iron Man" finally roped the "Iron Horse" as Baltimore Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. matched Yankee great Lou Gehrig by appearing in his 2,130th consecutive game. The amazing record spanned 16½ years and validated the shortstop as modern baseball's most durable, hard-working and determined player. Amidst a finale of fireworks, play is stopped for twenty-two minutes as Ripken takes a celebratory lap around Camden Yards.
On September 8th, the Cleveland Indians clinched the American League Central Division after their one-hundred twenty-third game of the season. The feat marked the fastest that any team had ever won a title and moved the Tribe ahead in the American League race by a staggering 23½ games over their closest competitor, the Kansas City Royals.
The Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees, 8-0 as the Beantown Bombers scored all eight of their runs on grand slams in back-to-back innings (John Valentin and Mo Vaughn). According to a SABR statistician, it was the only game ever to finish with two grand slams accounting for all of the runs scored.
In the National League...
Hideo Nomo became the first Japanese player to appear in the Major Leagues since 1964 when he tossed five innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 13-inning, 4-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
On May 6th, seven National League games resulted in a combined one-hundred eighteen runs that tied the record for the highest-scoring day in National League history. Seven of the fourteen teams scored at least ten runs, led by the Los Angeles Dodgers who totaled seventeen in their win over the Colorado Rockies. Ten days later, the Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, and Pittsburgh Pirates all tossed shutouts.
The St. Louis Cardinals were awarded the first forfeit victory in the Major Leagues since July 12, 1979 after fans bombard the field with more than two-hundred balls that they had received as souvenirs for August 10th's "Ball Day" at Dodger Stadium. The near riot was in reaction to the ejections of Raul Mondesi and manager Tommy Lasorda in the bottom of the ninth.
Around the league...
The '94 strike continued into the '95 season as the players' union chief Donald Fehr declared all eight-hundred thirty-five unsigned Major League players to be free agents in response to unilateral contract changes made by the owners. Five bills aimed at ending the baseball strike were introduced into Congress and both players and owners were ordered by President Clinton to resume bargaining and reach an agreement by February 6. After the deadline passed with no compromises, the use of replacement players for spring training and regular season games was approved by baseball's executive council. Finally on April 25th, the two-hundred thirty-four day strike ended although the opening games were played with replacement umpires. The regular officials continued to be locked out until May 3rd.
In September, a three-judge panel in New York voted unanimously to uphold the injunction that brought the end to the strike. Although the owners had appealed the decision, the panel determined that the Players Relations Committee had illegally attempted to eliminate free agency and salary arbitration.
The Commerce Comet, baseball legend Mickey Mantle died at age sixty-three in Dallas, Texas. The Mick had recently received a liver transplant at Baylor University Hospital and during the surgical procedure doctor's discovered that he had contracted an inoperable form of liver cancer.
In September Major League Baseball signed a $1.7 billion, five year deal with Fox, NBC, ESPN, and Liberty Media.