1979 New York Yankees season
Template:MLB yearly infobox 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.
- 1 Offseason
- 2 Regular season
- 3 Player stats
- 4 Awards and honors
- 5 Farm system
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
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.
- 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.
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.
|Thurman Munson's number 15 was retired by the New York Yankees in 1979.|
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 third 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.[broken citation]
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.
|Boston Red Sox||91||69||11.5||.569|
|New York Yankees||89||71||13.5||.556|
|Toronto Blue Jays||53||109||50.5||.327|
- 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
- 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.
|1979 New York Yankees|
Starters by position
Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in
|C||Munson, ThurmanThurman Munson||97||382||110||.288||3||39|
|1B||Chambliss, ChrisChris Chambliss||149||554||155||.280||18||63|
|2B||Randolph, WillieWillie Randolph||153||574||155||.270||5||61|
|3B||Nettles, GraigGraig Nettles||145||521||132||.253||20||73|
|SS||Dent, BuckyBucky Dent||141||431||99||.230||2||32|
|LF||Piniella, LouLou Piniella||130||461||137||.297||11||69|
|CF||Rivers, MickeyMickey Rivers||74||286||82||.287||3||25|
|RF||Jackson, ReggieReggie Jackson||131||465||138||.297||29||89|
|DH||Spencer, JimJim Spencer||106||295||85||.288||23||53|
Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in
|Beníquez, JuanJuan Beníquez||62||142||36||.254||4||17|
Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
|Beattie, JimJim Beattie||15||76||3||6||5.21||32|
|Righetti, DaveDave Righetti||3||17.1||0||1||3.63||13|
Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
|Burris, RayRay Burris||15||1||3||0||6.18||19|
|Mirabella, PaulPaul Mirabella||10||0||4||0||8.79||4|
|Griffin, MikeMike Griffin||3||0||0||0||4.15||5|
|Anderson, RickRick Anderson||1||0||0||0||3.86||0|
|Slagle, RogerRoger Slagle||1||0||0||0||0.00||2|
|Kammeyer, BobBob Kammeyer||1||0||0||0||∞||0|
Awards and honors
|Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by World Heritage Encyclopedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (July 2010)|
- 1979 New York Yankees
- 1979 New York Yankees team page at www.baseball-almanac.com