The 1998 season was also marked by an expansion to 30 teams (16 in the NL, 14 in the AL), with two new teams–the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the American League–added to the MLB. To keep the leagues with even numbers of teams while allowing both leagues to have a new team, the Milwaukee Brewers were moved from the American League Central Division to the National League Central Division. The Detroit Tigers were shifted from the American League East to the American League Central, while the Devil Rays were added to the American League East. The Diamondbacks were added to the National League West, making the NL have more teams than the AL for the first time.
The defending World Series champions Florida Marlins finished last in the NL East Division at 54-108, making it the first, and only, time that a team went from winning the World Series one year to finishing with 100 or more losses and last in their division the following year.
April 1 – The expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays win their first game in franchise history, beating the Tigers 11–8. Fred McGriff has four RBI on three hits.
April 2 – By hitting a home run in Colorado's 6–4 win over Arizona at Bank One Ballpark, Rockies outfielder Ellis Burks sets a major league record by having homered in 33 different stadiums.
April 5 – The Arizona Diamondbacks win their first game in franchise history 3–2, over the San Francisco Giants. Andy Benes gets the win for the 1–5 D'backs.
April 10 – The Los Angeles Dodgers' Mike Piazza becomes the fifth NL player in history to hit grand slams in consecutive games by homering in a 7–2 win over the Houston Astros. Piazza also homered with the bags full, while driving in six runs, in last night's 7–2 win over Arizona. He'll hit another on April 24 to tie the major-league record for slams in a month.
May 6 – In one of the finest pitching efforts ever, Chicago Cubs rookie right-hander Kerry Wood fans 20 Houston Astros in a 2–0, one-hit victory to tie the major league mark for strikeouts in a nine-inning game. The 20-year-old ties the record held by Roger Clemens, who performed the feat twice. The only Houston baserunners come from an infield single to Ricky Gutiérrez in the 3rd inning and a hit batter. Wood also becomes the second pitcher in baseball history to record a single-game strikeout total equal to his age (in 1936, 17-year-old Bob Feller struck out 17 batters). Wood strikes out the first five batters of the game, and seven in a row between the 7th and 9th innings, tying Jamie Moyer's Cubs record for most consecutive strikeouts.
May 11 – In a 4–2 win over Arizona, Kerry Wood strikes out 13 Diamondbacks in seven innings. By doing so, Wood sets a major league record with 33 strikeouts over two consecutive games.
May 19 – The Cardinals' Mark McGwire hits three home runs in a game for the second time this season, leading St. Louis to a 10–8 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. He is only the 12th player in history to have a pair of 3–HR games in the same season. McGwire drives in six of the Cardinal runs as he reaches the 20 home run mark faster than other player in history.
May 25 – Cleveland's David Bell becomes the third player in major league history to play against a team managed by his father. Bell's two–run double brings home the go–ahead run in the Indians 7–4 win over Buddy Bell's Detroit Tigers. Bump Wills and Moisés Alou are the only other players to appear in games against their fathers (Maury Wills and Felipe Alou).
May 28 – With Arizona leading the Giants, 8–6, in the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded, manager Buck Showalter orders reliever Gregg Olson to intentionally walk Barry Bonds to bring home the Giants' 7th run. It is only the fourth bases–loaded intentional walk in major league history, and the first since Bill "Swish" Nicholson on July 23, 1944.
June 30 – The Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa hits his 33rd home run of the season in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Sosa's 20th home run in the month of June is a new MLB record for most home runs in one month.
July 26 – Trevor Hoffman's bid to set a major league record with 42 straight saves ended when the San Diego closer gives up a home run to Moisés Alou on his first delivery in the ninth inning, tying the game. The Padres defeat Houston 5–4 in the 10th, but Hoffman blows his chance at history.
July 31 – The Houston Astros acquire flame-throwing pitcher Randy Johnson of the Seattle Mariners for three minor league players; Johnson caught fire upon arriving in Houston. In 11 regular-season starts with the Astros, he had a 10–1 record, a 1.28 ERA, and 116 strikeouts in 841⁄3 innings, and pitched 4 shutouts. Johnson finished seventh in the National League Cy Young voting despite pitching only two months in the league, and helped Houston win their second straight National League Central division title.
August 25 – The Toronto Blue Jays' Roger Clemens strikes out 18 in a 3–0 victory over the Kansas City Royals. He becomes the first pitcher ever to record three games of 18 or more strikeouts. Clemens allows only three hits and does not walk a batter.
August 31 – Chicago's Kerry Wood throws 135 pitches in a game against a mediocre Cincinnati Reds team and wakes up the next morning with a sore right elbow. It is the 9th game of the season that manager Jim Riggleman allowed the 20-year old rookie to throw more than 120 pitches. The Cubs decided to shut-down the super-star for the remainder of the regular season. Kerry would return for one game in the playoffs, before blowing out his elbow in spring training the next year.
September 4 – The New York Yankees win their 100th game of the season, defeating the Chicago White Sox 11–6. The Yankees reach that mark five days faster than the 1906 Chicago Cubs and 1954 Cleveland Indians.
September 5 – Mark McGwire becomes the third player in major league history to reach 60 home runs, as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds 7–0. McGwire joins Babe Ruth and Roger Maris with 60 home runs in a single season.
September 8 – Mark McGwire breaks Roger Maris' 37-year-old home run record, lining historic No. 62 just over the wall in left field with two outs in the fourth inning. McGwire's solo shot off the Chicago Cubs' Steve Trachsel—among the shortest he would hit all year—sets off a wild celebration at Busch Stadium. The Cubs' Sammy Sosa, who hit his 58th home run earlier in the game, is on the field to congratulate McGwire, creating an iconic image of the 1998 home run race. In the sixth inning of the same game, the Cardinals' J. D. Drew makes his major league debut pinch-hitting for pitcher Kent Mercker.
September 11 – The Florida Marlins lose to the Atlanta Braves 8–2, becoming the first World Series champion in history to lose 100 games the next season.
September 15 – Ken Griffey, Jr. hits homer #52 and drives in the 1,000th run of his career in the Mariners' 12–7 win over the Minnesota Twins. He becomes the fourth–youngest player in history to reach the milestone, after Mel Ott, Jimmie Foxx and Lou Gehrig. A day later, Griffey would collect his 20th stolen base of the season to become just the third player in major league history to record at least 50 homers and 20 steals in the same season; Willie Mays and Brady Anderson are the others.
September 20 – Cal Ripken, Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles takes himself out of the lineup prior to the game with the New York Yankees to end his major league record consecutive game streak at 2,632. The Orioles lose the historic game by a score of 5–4. Ryan Minor, Ripken's replacement at third base, gets one hit in four at bats.
September 23 – At Milwaukee County Stadium, Sammy Sosa hits his 64th and 65th home runs as the Chicago Cubs jump out to a 7–0 lead against the Milwaukee Brewers. However, the Brewers erase the deficit by scoring eight runs in the last three innings, the last three coming when Brant Brown drops a Geoff Jenkins fly ball with two out in the ninth inning; the error allows Mark Loretta, Jeff Cirillo and Jeromy Burnitz to score. The Cubs stay tied with the San Francisco Giants for the wild-card lead when they could have led by one game with three games left. Ironically, the error comes 90 years to the day of Fred Merkle's baserunning mistake, which led to the Cubs ultimately winning the National League pennant and, to date, their last World Series title.
September 25 – Just hours after Sammy Sosa hits his league-leading 66th home run, pulling ahead of Mark McGwire for the first time all season, McGwire hits his 66th in a game against the Montreal Expos.
September 27 – In the San Diego Padres' final regular season game, left fielder Greg Vaughn hits his 50th home run of the season, a career high and a San Diego Padres record for home runs in a season. This marks the first time in major league history that four players – Vaughn (50), Griffey (56), Sosa (66) and McGwire (70) – hit at least 50 home runs in the same season. Also during this game, Trevor Hoffman records his 53rd save of the season, tying the National League record set by the Cubs' Randy Myers in 1993.
September 27 – In recording his first-ever Major League win, a 2–1 decision over the Detroit Tigers at the SkyDome, Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays, a week removed from his Major League debut, has what would have been the second no-hitter in Blue Jay history broken up by a Bobby Higginson home run with two out in the ninth, the only hit he will allow. The no-hitter also would have been the third to be pitched on the final day of a regular season, joining the combination of Vida Blue, Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers in 1975 and Mike Witt's perfect game in 1984. The home run ball is caught, ironically, by Dave Stieb, himself a three-time victim of a no-hitter being broken up with two out in the ninth (his last two starts of the 1988 season and a perfect game bid in 1989) before finally pitching the Blue Jays' only no-hitter to date, in 1990.
September 28 – In a one-game playoff, the Chicago Cubs defeat the San Francisco Giants 5–3 to secure the final playoff spot in the National League. For the third game in a row, the Cubs' Sammy Sosa gets two hits, but no home runs, leaving him at 66 home runs for the season, four fewer than Mark McGwire, who pulled ahead of Sosa with five home runs in his final three games.
Tom Glavine of the Atlanta Braves wins his second National League Cy Young Award in an extremely close vote over two San Diego Padres pitchers: Trevor Hoffman and Kevin Brown. Glavine, who receives 11 first-place votes to Hoffman's 13 (Brown receives the remaining 8), becomes the first National League pitcher since the league instituted its four-vote system in 1970 to win the award despite receiving fewer first-place votes than another player. Glavine tallied 99 points (Hoffman – 88, Brown – 76), with 5 points being awarded for each first place vote, 3 for each second-place vote, 2 for third, and 1 for fourth. Another oddity is the fact that Hoffman, Brown, and Rod Beck (who did not receive a single point in the Cy Young Award voting) finished higher than Glavine in the MVP voting, despite Glavine's Braves finishing with the best record in the National League.
^With an odd number of teams (15), only seven games would be able to be scheduled in each league on any given day during the intra-league portion of the regular season. Thus, one team in each league would have had to be idle on any given day. This would have made it difficult for scheduling, in terms of travel days and the need to end the regular season before October. SeeMajor League Baseball#League organization. If each league had wished to remain at fifteen teams, the schedule would have had to include one inter-league game during each day of intra-league play. Instead, with each league now having an even number of teams, interleague games occur only in certain parts of the regular season.
The 1998 American League Championship Series (ALCS), the second round of the 1998 American League playoffs, was played between the East Division champion New York Yankees and the Central Division champion Cleveland Indians.
The Yankees defeated the Indians four games to two and went on to sweep the National League champion San Diego Padres in the 1998 World Series to win their twenty-fourth World Series championship. New York, who won 114 games during the regular season, recorded their only two losses of the 1998 postseason in this series.
The 1998 American League Division Series (ALDS), the opening round of the 1998 American League playoffs, began on Tuesday, September 29, and ended on Saturday, October 3, with the champions of the three AL divisions—along with a "wild card" team—participating in two best-of-five series. The teams were:
(1) New York Yankees (Eastern Division champion, 114–48) vs. (3) Texas Rangers (Western Division champion, 88–74): Yankees win series, 3–0.
(2) Cleveland Indians (Central Division champion, 89–73) vs. (4) Boston Red Sox (Wild Card, 92–70): Indians win series, 3–1.The higher seed (in parentheses) had the home field advantage, which for the first time was determined by playing record. Also for the first time, the team with home field advantage played the first two games at home, with potentially Game 5 at home as well; previously, the team with the home field advantage had played the first two games on the road, with the possibility of the final three games at home. The Red Sox were ineligible for home field advantage due to not winning their division.
The New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians went on to meet in the AL Championship Series (ALCS). The Yankees became the American League champion, and defeated the National League champion San Diego Padres in the 1998 World Series.
The 1998 Boston Red Sox season was the 98th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished second in the American League East with a record of 92 wins and 70 losses, 22 games behind the New York Yankees. The Red Sox qualified for the postseason as the AL wild card, but lost to the American League Central champion Cleveland Indians in the ALDS.
The 1998 Chicago White Sox season was the White Sox's 99th season. They finished with a record 80-82, good enough for 2nd place in the American League Central, 9 games behind the 1st place Cleveland Indians.
The 1998 Cleveland Indians season was the franchise's 98th season. The Indians hoped to improve upon their American League pennant-winning season of 1997, but succumbed to the New York Yankees in the ALCS in six games. The Indians would lead the AL Central wire-to-wire in 1998, becoming the first team in franchise history (and as of 2017, the only team in franchise history) to do so.
The 1998 season saw the sale of the franchise from Peter O'Malley to the Fox Entertainment Group take effect. The new corporate executives would quickly anger Dodger fans when they bypassed General Manager Fred Claire and made one of the biggest trades in franchise history. They traded All-Star catcher Mike Piazza and starting third baseman Todd Zeile to the Florida Marlins for a package that included Gary Sheffield.
The team on the field performed poorly under all the stress and soon Fox fired Claire and manager Bill Russell, replacing them with former Manager Tommy Lasorda, who was appointed interim GM and Minor League manager Glenn Hoffman who took over for Russell. The team limped along to finish in third place in the National League West and more changes were in the offing for the following season.
The 1998 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 69th playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 7, 1998, at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado, the home of the Colorado Rockies of the National League. The first All-Star contest played in the Mountain Time Zone, the game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 13-8. It remains the highest-scoring All-Star Game in MLB history.
The pregame ceremony honored the United States Air Force Academy who provided the five-man color guard, flag presentations, and, at the end of country music singer Faith Hill's performance of the U.S. National Anthem, the flyover ceremonies. Hill's National Anthem performance was preceded by actress Gloria Reuben's performance of The Canadian National Anthem.
Twelve-year-old Elias Kurts was given the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, the first "non-celebrity" so honored.
The 1998 First-Year Player Draft, Major League Baseball's annual amateur draft of high school and college baseball players, was held on June 2 and 3, 1998. A total of 1445 players were drafted over the course of 50 rounds.
The 1998 Major League Baseball expansion resulted in the establishment of Major League Baseball (MLB)'s 29th and 30th teams beginning play for the 1998 season. After initiating an expansion committee in March 1994, 27 groups representing nine cities submitted bids for the proposed expansion teams. After a yearlong process, on March 9, 1995, the league awarded the National League franchise to Phoenix and the American League franchise to Tampa. The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (currently the Tampa Bay Rays), would subsequently begin play for the 1998 season.
Like many Twins teams of its half-decade, the 1998 Minnesota Twins neither impressed nor contended. The team finished with a 70-92 record, with subpar batting and pitching. The season was not without its bright spots, as individual players had solid seasons and Hall of Fame designated hitter Paul Molitor announced his retirement at the end of the season. Tom Kelly's team had plenty of lowlights, most notably David Wells' perfect game against the team on May 17 at Yankee Stadium.
The 1998 National League Championship Series (NLCS), to determine the champion of Major League Baseball's National League, was played from October 7 to 14 between the East Division champion Atlanta Braves and the West Division champion San Diego Padres.
The Braves entered the playoffs for the seventh straight season with a franchise-record 106 regular season wins, an offense that hit 215 home runs, and a pitching staff made up of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Denny Neagle, and Kevin Millwood to the playoffs. However, they also carried the baggage of their embarrassing NLCS loss to the Florida Marlins the previous season. In the NLDS, the Braves swept Sammy Sosa and the Chicago Cubs.
After a 76–86 season in 1997, San Diego stormed out and took control of their division, finishing with a 98–64 record, their best in team history. The offense was led by the 50 home run club's newest member, Greg Vaughn, and by Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. The San Diego rotation was anchored by eighteen-game winner Kevin Brown, who helped Florida defeat Atlanta in the 1997 NLCS, along with All-Star Andy Ashby and the series MVP Sterling Hitchcock. Closer Trevor Hoffman saved an astounding 53 games in the regular season. The Padres defeated the favored Houston Astros in four games in the NLDS.
It was the seventh-consecutive NLCS appearance for the Braves and they would be heavily favored against the Padres.
The Padres would go on to the lose in a sweep to the New York Yankees in the World Series in four games.
The 1998 National League wild-card tie-breaker game was a one-game extension to Major League Baseball's (MLB) 1998 regular season, played between the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants to determine the winner of the National League (NL) wild card. The game took place at Wrigley Field in Chicago, on September 28, 1998. The Cubs won the game 5–3, holding the Giants scoreless for the majority of the game until the Giants threatened heavily in the ninth inning and scored all three of their runs. As a result of the game, the Cubs qualified for the postseason and the Giants did not.
The game was necessary after both teams finished the season with identical win–loss records of 89–73. The Cubs won a coin flip late in the season which, by rule at the time, awarded them home field for the game. This victory advanced the Cubs to the 1998 NL Division Series (NLDS) where they were swept by the Atlanta Braves, ending the Cubs' season. Michael Jordan, a popular Chicago sportsman then ending his career with the Chicago Bulls, threw the game's ceremonial first pitch. In baseball statistics, the tie-breaker counted as the 163rd regular season game for both teams, with all events in the game added to regular season statistics.
The 1998 San Francisco Giants season was the Giants' 116th season in Major League Baseball, their 41st season in San Francisco since their move from New York following the 1957 season, and their 39th at 3Com Park at Candlestick Point. The team finished in second place in the National League West with an 89-74 record, 9½ games behind the San Diego Padres.
The 1998 Texas Rangers season involved the Rangers finishing 1st in the American League west with a record of 88 wins and 74 losses. It would be the team's second post-season appearance, but the team would be swept 3-0 by the New York Yankees.
On May 17, 1998, David Wells of the New York Yankees pitched the 15th perfect game in Major League Baseball history and the second in team history. Pitching against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx in front of 49,820 fans in attendance, Wells retired all 27 batters he faced. The game took 2 hours and 40 minutes to complete, from 1:36 PM ET to 4:16 PM ET. Wells claimed in a 2001 interview with Bryant Gumbel on HBO's Real Sports that he threw the perfect game while being hung over. Jimmy Fallon claimed in a 2018 interview with Seth Meyers that he and Wells had attended a Saturday Night Live after-party until 5:30 A.M. ET the morning of the game. In an interview, David Wells also mentioned having partied with Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers the night before. However, there was no new episode of Saturday Night Live the previous night, as the season finale had aired the week prior. Wells' perfect game was the 245th no-hitter in MLB history and the tenth no-hitter in Yankees history. It was the first regular-season perfect game pitched by a Yankee; the franchise's previous perfect game was thrown by Don Larsen during the 1956 World Series. By coincidence, Wells graduated from the same high school as Larsen - Point Loma High School in San Diego, California. The previous perfect game in MLB history was nearly four years prior, when Kenny Rogers of the Texas Rangers pitched a perfect game against the California Angels at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on July 28, 1994.
Wells' perfect game was the first Yankee no-hitter since Dwight Gooden's against the Seattle Mariners in May 1996. Wells' performance tied the record for franchises with most perfect games. At the time, the Cleveland Indians were the only other team to have two perfect games; David Cone added a third perfect game to Yankees history, breaking the record in July 1999.
Three months later, on September 1, Wells took a perfect game into the seventh inning in a game against the Oakland Athletics, but he gave up a two-out single to Jason Giambi to end his bid for an unprecedented second perfect game. Wells ended up with a two-hit shutout as the Yankees won the game, 7-0.
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