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1979 New York Yankees season

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Start date  1979
Owner  George Steinbrenner
General manager  Cedric Tallis
Managers  Bob Lemon, Billy Martin
1979 New York Yankees season wwwtradingcarddbcomImagesCardsBaseball98348
Local radio  WINS (AM) (Frank Messer, Phil Rizzuto, Bill White, Fran Healy)
Local televisions  WPIX, MSG Plus (Phil Rizzuto, Frank Messer, Bill White)
Similar  1983 New York Yankees, 1975 New York Yankees, 1982 New York Yankees, 1972 New York Yankees, 1984 New York Yankees

The 1979 New York Yankees season was the 77th season for the franchise in New York and its 79th season overall. The season was marked by the death of their starting catcher, Thurman Munson, on August 2. The team finished with a record of 89-71, finishing fourth in the American League East, 13.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles, ending the Yankees' three-year domination of the AL East. New York was managed by Billy Martin, and Bob Lemon. The Yankees played at Yankee Stadium.

Contents

Offseason

In January 1979, the Yankees attempted to acquire first baseman Rod Carew from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Chris Chambliss, Juan Beníquez, Dámaso García, and Dave Righetti, but the deal fell through. Carew was later traded to the California Angels.

Notable transactions

  • November 10, 1978: Sparky Lyle, Domingo Ramos, Mike Heath, Larry McCall, Dave Rajsich, and cash were traded by the Yankees to the Texas Rangers for Dave Righetti, Juan Beníquez, Mike Griffin, Paul Mirabella and Greg Jemison (minors).
  • November 13, 1978: Luis Tiant was signed as a free agent by the Yankees.
  • November 21, 1978: Tommy John was signed as a free agent by the Yankees.
  • December 4, 1978: Bobby Brown was drafted from the Yankees by the New York Mets in the 1978 rule 5 draft.
  • Regular season

    On August 6, the Yankees flew to Ohio to attend Thurman Munson's memorial service, then flew back to New York play the Orioles on Monday Night Baseball. Bobby Murcer hit a three run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning, then drove in two more runs in the ninth with a single off former Yankee Tippy Martinez to account for all five Yankee runs in a 5-4 win. After the game, Murcer gave the bat to Munson's widow.

    On September 12, Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox joined the 3,000 hit club with a single off Jim Beattie of the Yankees. The same game also marked the final appearance at Fenway Park for Hall of Fame pitcher Catfish Hunter.

    On September 18, pitcher Bob Kammeyer set a single-season record by giving up eight earned runs without recording an out in his only game of the season. It was his last major league appearance.

    Thurman Munson

    Munson was frequently homesick, and took flying lessons so that he could fly home to his family in Canton on off-days. On August 2, 1979, he was practicing takeoffs and landings in his new Cessna Citation I/SP jet at the Akron-Canton Regional Airport. On the fourth touch-and-go, Munson failed to lower the flaps for landing and allowed the aircraft to sink too low before increasing engine power, causing the jet to clip a tree and fall short of the runway. The plane then hit a tree stump and burst into flames, killing Munson (who was trapped inside) and injuring two other companions. It is believed that the inability to get out of the plane, and the ensuing asphyxiation, is what killed Munson, rather than injuries sustained on impact or burns (the two passengers survived). He was 32 years old.

    Munson's sudden death was major news across the nation and especially sorrowed the baseball community. Munson was survived by his wife, Diana, and their three children. The day after his death, before the start of the Yankees' four-game set with the Baltimore Orioles in the Bronx, the Yankees paid tribute to their fallen captain in a pre-game ceremony during which the starters stood at their defensive positions, save for the catcher's box, which remained empty. At the conclusion of Robert Merrill's musical selection, the fans (announced attendance 51,151) burst into a 10-minute standing ovation.

    Notable transactions

  • April 12, 1979: Paul Blair was released by the Yankees.
  • April 19, 1979: Bobby Brown was purchased by the Yankees from the Toronto Blue Jays.
  • May 11, 1979: Jim Kaat was purchased by the Yankees from the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • May 23, 1979: Dick Tidrow was traded by the Yankees to the Chicago Cubs for Ray Burris.
  • June 5, 1979: 1979 Major League Baseball draft
  • Don Mattingly was drafted by the Yankees in the 19th round.
  • Otis Nixon was drafted by the Yankees in the 1st round (3rd pick) of the secondary phase. Player signed June 9, 1979.
  • June 15, 1979: Jay Johnstone was traded by the Yankees to the San Diego Padres for Dave Wehrmeister.
  • June 26, 1979: Paul Semall (minors) was traded by the Yankees to the Chicago Cubs for Bobby Murcer.
  • August 1, 1979: Mickey Rivers and players to be named later were traded by the Yankees to the Texas Rangers for Oscar Gamble, Amos Lewis (minors) and players to be named later. The deal was completed on October 8, when the Rangers sent Ray Fontenot and Gene Nelson to the Yankees, and the Yankees sent Bob Polinsky (minors), Neal Mersch (minors), and Mark Softy (minors) to the Rangers to complete the trade.
  • August 20, 1979: Ray Burris was selected off waivers from the Yankees by the New York Mets.
  • Starters by position

    Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

    Other batters

    Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

    Starting pitchers

    Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

    Other pitchers

    Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

    Relief pitchers

    Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

    All-Stars

  • Ron Guidry, reserve
  • Reggie Jackson, reserve
  • Tommy John, reserve
  • Graig Nettles, reserve
  • Farm system

    LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Columbus, West Haven, Oneonta, Paintsville

    References

    1979 New York Yankees season Wikipedia


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