1980 is Strat-O-Matic’s Next Classic Season Release
What a Season That Was, And Will Be Again – For You
By Glenn Guzzo
The last of the original National League teams to win a World Series was Philadelphia. The first American League expansion team to reach a World Series was Kansas City. After Ted Williams’ .406 batting average in 1941, George Brett was the first to finish a season at even .390. All of this happened in 1980, a season filled with drama and durable baseball memories.
You will be able to re-live it all when Strat-O-Matic makes 1980 its next classic-season release in early 2019, complete with expanded rosters and super-advanced features. The board-game cards and Windows rosters will be released at the same time as the 2018 season.
By 1926, six of the original National League teams had won the World Series. But not the Phillies. By then, seven NL teams had won at least two World Series games. But not the Phillies. By 1955, when Brooklyn finally got the best of the Yankees in the Fall Classic, seven NL teams had won a World Series. But not the Phillies.
They did it this time with Cy Young winner Steve Carlton, who led the NL with 24 wins, 286 strikeouts (next best: Nolan Ryan, 200) and was second (to Don Sutton’s 2.20) with a 2.34 ERA. They did it with MVP Mike Schmidt, who led the NL with 48 home runs, 121 runs batted in and a .624 slugging average. They did it with charismatic closer Tug McGraw (1.47 ERA in 92 innings) and superior defense (catcher Bob Boone, second baseman Manny Trillo, third baseman Schmidt and centerfielder Gary Maddox are all defensive 1s). They did it with leadership young and old (rookie Manager Dallas Green and first baseman Pete Rose, who led the NL with 42 doubles) and by the timely rookie performance of pitcher Marty Bystrom (5-0, 1.50) that made it possible for the Phillies to clinch the NL East on the next to last day of the season.
Then they did it again in the six-game World Series, when McGraw struck out the final man to make a winner of Carlton (who won two Series games) and a Series MVP of Schmidt.
To get to the Series, the Phillies had to overcome Houston in a five-game NL Championship Series that some consider the most exciting ever. Four of those games went extra innings, including the final two Phillies’ come-from behind wins.
The Astros, bidding to reach its first Series in the 19-year history of the franchise, had to overcome much, too. Pitching ace J.R. Richard, off to a 10-4 start with a 1.90 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 114 innings, suffered a career-ending stroke. Then, after losing their final three scheduled games in Los Angeles, the Astros finally beat the Dodgers in a one-game playoff to reach the NLCS.
Ahead two games to one against Philly, Houston held a two-run lead in the eighth inning of Game Four and a three-run lead in the eighth inning of Game Five before losing both – a melancholy finish for a team that had gone so far on starting pitching (Richard, Joe Niekro, who won 20, Ryan, who fanned 200 and Vern Ruhle, who was 12-4, 2.37), plus the deep bullpen of Dave Smith (7-5, 1.93, 10 saves), Joe Sambito (8-4, 2.19, 17 saves and Frank LaCorte (8-5, 2.82, 11 saves).
The NL had speed to burn. Though Cesar Cedeno stole 48 bags (while hitting .306) Jose Cruz stole 36 (while hitting .302 with 91 RBIs) and four other Astros topped 20 thefts, Houston’s 194 stolen bases ranked only fourth in the NL, where Montreal’s Ron Leflore had 97 steals and Pittsburgh’s Omar Moreno had 96. Cincinnati’s Dave Collins swiped 79 and last-place San Diego had three men who topped 50 (Gene Richards, 61; Ozzie Smith, 57, and Jerry Mumphrey, 52).
In their third attempt, the Royals finally overcame the Yankees in the ALCS, sweeping their nemesis. The mighty Brett still was hitting .400 on Sept. 19 before he lost 15 points of average during an eight-game losing streak. Still, the Royals won the AL West by 14 games and Brett “settled” for a .390 batting average, .454 on-base average, .664 slugging percentage (1118 OPS), 118 RBIs and 135 runs created – all league bests – and, of course, the AL MVP award.
Brett had help. Outfielder Willie Wilson hit .326 and stole 79 bases, while leading the AL with 230 hits, 133 runs scored and 15 triples. Wilson and second basemen Frank White are defensive 1s. Designated hitter Hal McRae hit .297 with 39 doubles. First baseman Willie Mays Aikens hit 20 home runs and drove home 98. Pitcher Dennis Leonard won 20 games and Larry Gura won 18. Closer Dan Quisenberry led the AL with 33 saves, while winning 12 himself.
Many other stars shined brightly in 1980:
- Rickey Henderson led the AL with 100 stolen bases for Oakland, while teammate Tony Armas blasted 35 home runs and drove home 109.
- Cecil Cooper led the AL with 122 RBIs, was second with a .352 batting average and hit 25 home runs. Teammate Ben Oglivie tied New York’s Reggie Jackson for the AL lead with 41 homers. Milwaukee’s Gorman Thomas was next with 38 HR.
- Miguel Dilone hit .341 with 61 SB, ranking third in the AL in both categories for Cleveland.
- Al Oliver hit .319 with 117 RBIs for Texas.
- Eddie Murray hit .300-32-116 for Baltimore.
- Steve Stone won a Majors-best 25 games and the AL Cy Young award.
- Mike Norris was second-best in the AL with 20 wins, a 2.53 ERA and 180 strikeouts.
- Reggie Jackson hit a career-best .300 with 41 HR and 111 RBIs. Teammates Tommy John (22 wins), Rudy May (15-5 with AL-best 2.46 ERA) and closer Goose Gossage 6-2, 2.27, 103 Ks in 99 IP and tied with Quisenberry for the AL lead with 33 saves) all were brilliant on the mound.
- Baltimore, which finished only three games behind the Yankees in the AL East, had the big years from Stone and Murray, but also from 20-game winner Scott McGregor, outfielders Ken Singleton (.304-24-104) and Al Bumbry (.318 with 44 SB)
- Montreal, which fell only one game short of Philly in the NL East, had Leflore’s speed (teammate Rodney Scott stole 63 with an NL-best 13 triples), catcher Gary Carter’s power (29 HR, 101 RBIs) and center fielder Andre Dawson’s all-around brilliance (.308-17-87, 41 doubles, 34 SB and a cf-1(-2) defensively). Steve Rogers (16-11, 2.98), Scott Sanderson (16-11, 3.11) and Bill Gullickson (10-5, 3.00) shined as starting pitchers.
- The Dodgers, also one game short of a division title, had power from Steve Garvey (.304-26-106), Dusty Baker (.294-29-97) and Ron Cey (28 HR) and deep starting pitching from Sutton (13-5, 2.20), Jerry Reuss (18-6, 2.51), Bob Welch (14-9, 3.28) and Burt Hooton (14-8, 3.65).
- Jim Bibby was 19-6 for Pittsburgh.
- Bruce Sutter pitched for the last-place Cubs and still led the NL with 28 saves. Teammate Bill Buckner led the NL by hitting .324 and was second with 41 doubles.
- Keith Hernandez (second at .321, first with 111 runs scored, first with a .408 on-base average, second with 902 OPS, fourth with 39 doubles) led four St. Louis players who hit above .300. Garry Templeton hit .319 with 31 SB. Ted Simmons hit .303 and was fourth in the NL with a 880 OPS. George Hendrick hit .302, was second with 109 RBIs and was top-10 in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS.
- Bob Horner (35) and Dale Murphy (33) ranked 2-3 in NL home runs.