Year In Review : 1999 American League
Off the field...
President Bill Clinton was acquitted of impeachment charges and remained in office despite originally denying that he had improper relations with a White House intern. After a thorough investigation it was later discovered that the President had lied under oath and he eventually confessed and apologized to the American people.
The disturbing trend of violence in American schools reached an all-time high as two students entered Columbine High School with an arsenal of weapons and explosives killing thirteen of their classmates before taking their own lives.
John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife and sister in-law were killed as their plane, piloted by JFK Jr., crashed en route to a Kennedy cousin's wedding ceremony.
In the American League...
In a surprise move, the New York Yankees traded pitcher David Wells to the Toronto Blue Jays for five-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens. Both are later reunited in pinstripes on the same Yankee rotation.
Texas Ranger Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez tied the highest batting average for a catcher since Bill Dickey batted .332 in 1937. He also added thirty-five home runs, twenty-five stolen bases and one-hundred thirteen runs batted in to his cumulative stats.
The Baltimore Orioles traveled to Havana Cuba to play the national team in an exhibition game witnessed by the attending Fidel Castro. The Blackbirds defeated the Cubans 3-2 in an eleven inning affair. Two months later, the tables were turned though as the national team traveled to Camden Yards and crushed the home team 12-6 in the first game ever played between the two countries on American soil.
In the National League...
"The Big Unit", Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks, continued to dominate on the hill winning the National League Cy Young with a 17-9 record, 2.48 ERA, twelve complete games and an astonishing three-hundred sixty-four strike outs.
On April 23rd, St. Louis Cardinal Fernando Tatis set a Major League record as the only player ever to hit two grand slams in a single inning as well as the only player ever to drive-in eight runs during a single frame. Both slams are off of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Chan Ho Park who had certainly seen better days on the mound.
Another Cardinal, Mark McGwire continued to set a new standard at the plate by following up his record-breaking seventy-home run season with sixty-five more. The St. Louis slugger now held the #1 and #2 spots for single-season performances and belted his 500th career homer only a year after slamming number four-hundred.
Around the league...
Commissioner Bud Selig announced baseball's newest annual award created for the leading hitter in each respective league. Named after Hank Aaron, the citation recognizes the leader in hits, home runs and runs batted in.
The Associated Press reported that the average salary for a Major League ball player had grown to an astonishing $1.7 million dollars a year. The New York Times later printed that the average salary for a New York Yankee was $3 million much to the dismay of the rest of the league.
Baseball announced its twenty-five man All-Century Team as selected by fan balloting. The line-up included: Lou Gehrig (1B), Jackie Robinson (2B), Cal Ripken Jr. (SS), Mike Schmidt (3B), Babe Ruth (OF), Hank Aaron (OF), Ted Williams (OF), Johnny Bench (C), Nolan Ryan (RHP) and Sandy Koufax (LHP).
Baseball and the world bid farewell to Joe DiMaggio who passed away on May 8th. During his fabled thirteen-year career, "The Yankee Clipper" captured three Most Valuable Player trophies and became one of the most revered players ever to lace up a pair of cleats.