Forget Pete Rose. And George Steinbrenner. And Howard Spira. This has been one of the wildest, wackiest and most wonderful baseball seasons in recent memory. In March, who would have guessed that on Oct. 1, Cecil Fielder would be one blast away from breaking the 50 home runs barrier? That Whitey Herzog wouldn't be managing in the majors—and that Stump Merrill would? That Casey Candaele (.308) would have a higher batting average than Will Clark (.296)? That Carlton Fisk would have more stolen bases than Gerald Young (seven to six)? That Jeff Gray would have more saves than Mark Davis (nine to six)? That Bill Sampen would have more victories than Mark Langston (11 to 10)? That the National League batting leader, Willie McGee, would end up playing for the A's in the American League? Here's a salute to some of this season's most unusual achievements.
THE ROGERS HORNSBY AWARD
To Ryne Sandberg of the Cubs. In May he broke the major league record for most consecutive errorless games by a second baseman (123). And as of Sunday he had 39 homers and was on his way to becoming the first second baseman to lead the National League in that category since Hornsby did so with 42 in 1925. With three games to play, Sandberg had 64 more extra-base hits than errors (72 to eight), a better ratio than Rajah ever had. His best was 102 to 30 in '22.
HARD LUCK AWARD
To Andy Hawkins of the Yankees. Here's what happened to him in five consecutive starts: 1) On July 1 he pitched a no-hitter against the White Sox but lost 4-0; 2) on July 6 he threw 11 shutout innings (the longest outing by an American League pitcher in more than four years) but lost 2-0 to the Twins in the 12th; 3) on July 12 he was the losing pitcher in a rain-shortened, 8-0 no-hitter thrown by Chicago's Melido Perez; 4) on July 17 he gave up three home runs in six innings to the Royals' Bo Jackson in a 10-7 loss; and 5) on July 22, New York scored 10 unearned runs in a 10-6 victory over Minnesota, but Hawkins, who pitched 5⅖ innings, didn't get the win.
THE MARQUIS DE SADE AWARD
To the National League schedule maker who put the Pirates through an April 19 to May 2 road trip that took them from St. Louis to Chicago to St. Louis to San Francisco to San Diego to Los Angeles. "Our next stop is Guam for two games," said Pittsburgh coach Rich Donnelly during the expedition. "On this trip alone, I've spent $1,200 on tips to the bellmen to take my luggage to my room."
BELIEVE IT OR NOT
•At week's end, neither Philadelphia's John Kruk nor Cincinnati's Herm Winningham had been hit by a pitch in five years in the majors.
•Oakland reliever Dennis Eckersley had more saves (47) than hits and walks (45).
•The combined ERA of the eight every-day players who were used as pitchers was 7.71, or .77 lower than that of Royals pitcher Richard Dotson.
•On April 16 the Brewers beat the Red Sox in Fenway Park 18-0 without hitting a homer or knocking any of their nine doubles off the Green Monster.
IT AIN'T OVER TILL IT'S OVER AWARD
To George Brett of the Royals. After he hit .259 in April and May, observers pronounced him washed up. So what did Brett do? Through Sunday's games he was batting .388 since the All-Star break and was poised to become the only player to win batting titles in three different decades.
IT AIN'T OVER, RUNNER-UP
To the Brewers' 39-year-old designated hitter, Dave Parker, whom the A's didn't resign at the end of last season. As of Sunday, Parker was hitting .290 with 21 homers and 92 RBIs. A steal at $3 million for two years.
DR. STRANGELOVE AWARD
To Andy Van Slyke of the Pirates. Upon learning that Pittsburgh's record in the Astrodome was 6-18 over the last four years, Van Slyke made the following proposal: "When Bush and Gorbachev have their summit meeting, they should agree on a missile test. One missile [each]. We get to test ours wherever in Russia we want. They have to test theirs at the Astrodome."
•More errors than RBIs (minimum 10 errors)—Edgar Diaz, Brewers (17 to 14 at week's end).
•At least 100 more K's than walks—Andres Galarraga, Expos (166 to 40); Sammy Sosa, White Sox (148 to 32).
•Fewest RBIs by a hitter with at least 20 homers—the Yankees' Kevin Maas, who as of Sunday had 39. The major league low of 43 RBIs was hit by Carlton Fisk in 1984 and Fred McGriff in '87.
FATHER KNOWS BEST AWARD
To Bud Johnson, whose son, Randy, pitches for the Mariners. After Randy threw a no-hitter against the Tigers on June 2, he called his parents. "I talked to my mom, she was crying," says Randy. "My dad, my biggest critic, wanted to know why I walked six."
A 14K GOLD BRICK
To Keith Hernandez of the Indians. He looked bored from the start, hit .200 with one homer and eight RBIs in 130 at bats and took the last three months off with a pulled left calf muscle. Not bad for someone getting $3.5 million over two years. Why doesn't he just retire?
THE BILL VEECK AWARD
To Mariners owner Jeff Smulyan, for doing everything short of inserting part-owner David Letterman in the lineup to lure fans to the park. His master stroke was Guaranteed No-Hitter Night, a June 16 meeting between Nolan Ryan and Matt Young, for which customers were promised a free ticket to another game if a no-hitter wasn't thrown. Smulyan ended up giving away 37,248 freebies after the Mariners won 5-0 behind Young's three-hit pitching. In early August, after a game against the Yankees, Smulyan was a guest on Seattle catcher Scott Bradley's radio show at a bar near the Kingdome. "The New York writers went nuts," said Bradley. "Can you imagine George Steinbrenner sitting in a New York bar answering questions from fans?"
THE STEVE BLASS AWARD
To Squeezer Thompson, who was in the Padres' system. In his 18 innings for Class A Charleston (S.C.), he walked 46 batters, hit six and threw 18 wild pitches. Thompson was released in June.
HOLD THAT RUNNER AWARD
To Dave Johnson of the Orioles. As of Sunday, only 10 base runners had attempted to steal on Johnson in his two years in the majors. The lone success came Sept. 27, when Cleveland's Alex Cole took off on a pitchout. "With the pitchout on, I was thinking, Good, I hope he goes," said Johnson. "When he made it, I just thought, Wow!"
WRITERS' BEST FRIEND AWARD
To Billy Swift and Mike Jackson of the Mariners, who on July 15 combined to throw 79 pitches in a 7-0 win over the Indians. Compare that with the May 28 game between the Red Sox and Rangers, in which Boston's Roger Clemens and Texas's Charlie Hough made a total of 51 pickoff throws.
THE HEART OF TEXAS
To Ryan, who not only threw his sixth career no-hitter and won his 300th game but also struck out 16 White Sox on April 26. That performance gave him 15 games in which he has fanned 16 or more batters. That's as many 16-strikeout games as all the other American League pitchers combined have in the last 25 years. When Blue Jay infielder Rance Mulliniks was asked what baseball would be like if every player was like Ryan, he said, "Everyone would like each other, and no one would get a hit."
Alomar has turned out to be some catch for Cleveland.
SCOTT JORDAN LEVY
Despite spectacular specs, Diaz had trouble keeping an eye on the ball.
RONALD C. MODRA
Sandberg's power is comparable to Hornsby's.