Year In Review : 1997 American League
Off the field...
Lady Diana, the Princess of Wales, and her male companion Dodi Fayed died in a fatal car accident near the River Seine in Paris France. As a fitting tribute at Diana's funeral Sir Elton John sang "Goodbye England's Rose," a reworking of the tune "Candle In the Wind" which he had written earlier about Marilyn Monroe.
Convicted domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death for the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The former U.S. soldier and Gulf War veteran had turned anti-government in response to the controversial ATF raids at Waco Texas and Ruby Ridge.
Scottish scientists announced that they had successfully cloned the first mammal, a sheep named Dolly, igniting a global debate over the advancement of cell research and the moral dilemmas of creating "artificial" life.
In the American League...
In Milwaukee, the Cleveland Indians connected for eight home runs against the Brewers, setting a franchise record, on the way to an 11-4 victory. Matt Williams homered three times, David Justice hit two and Sandy Alomar, Manny Ramirez and Chad Curtis added one apiece. The hometeam answered back with three of their own by Dave Nilsson, Jeromy Burnitz and John Jaha tying a Major League record for most round-trippers in a regulation game.
The Toronto Blue Jays hosted the Montreal Expos in an "all Canadian affair", as part of the new inter-league schedule, marking the first time since World War II that the U.S. National Anthem was not heard before a Major League ball game.
New York Yankee David Wells took the mound against the Cleveland Indians apparently wearing a hat that belonged to the late Babe Ruth. The eccentric pitcher was reported as paying $35,000 for the Bambino's cap and wore the heirloom for ½ an inning in which he surrendered no hits. After manager Joe Torre ordered him to remove the hat, in compliance with Major League uniform regulations, the lefthander was shelled for eight hits and four runs en route to 12-8 loss.
In the National League...
Deion Sanders, of the Cincinnati Reds; was reprimanded by National League Vice President Katy Feeney for altering his uniform as a tribute to Jackie Robinson. Sanders wore his pants at knee length and trimmed the sleeves off of his jersey after seeing a photograph of the late Brooklyn Dodger on a Wheaties box. The following day his teammates mimicked his alterations circumventing the league official's decree by promoting team uniformity.
The Colorado Rockies' Andres Galarraga launched a 529-foot grand slam off of the Florida Marlins' Kevin Brown for what is considered to be one of the longest homeruns ever; second only to Mickey Mantle's 565-foot tape-measure blast.
The Florida Marlins became the first expansion team to win the World Series after only five years of existence. Although the victory was over the American League powerhouse Cleveland Indians, most fans did not grant the Nationals the respect they deserved citing the team's $89 million dollar payroll as the determining factor. The accusations eventually proved true as the financially strapped owners were forced to dismantle the majority of the franchise in the post-season expansion draft.
Around the league...
In the 50th anniversary year of Jackie Robinson's debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, a special commemorative baseball was issued to every team for use in their opener. Throughout the season many tributes were held to honor Robinson who's number 42 was permanently retired by all Major League teams.
Curt Flood, the player whose lawsuit changed the business of baseball forever and resulted in free agency, died of cancer on January 20th. Earlier in the year, Congressman John Conyers paid tribute to the former Red, Cardinal and Senator by using his number 21 on the proposed bill that was intended to remove baseball's antitrust exemption.
The novel concept of inter-league play proved a success as attendance for those games went up 35 percent with records set in Chicago, New York and Seattle. Cumulatively, the 84 American vs. National League match-ups attracted almost three million fans with the A.L. winning forty-eight games and the N.L. topping thirty-six.
Ila Borders became the first female pitcher in history to start a Minor League baseball game as the Duluth-Superior Dukes challenged the Sioux Falls Canaries in the Northern League. Borders was credited with two strikeouts while surrendering five hits, three runs and two walks in the 8-3 loss.