The 1979 MLB season was marked by a return to form from teams that dominated the early part of the decade, along with one newcomer. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds had all won multiple division titles and at least one World Series title in the period covering 1970-76. All three continued to field good teams in the ensuing three years, but had been displaced by others in their division. In 1979, they returned to the October stage. They were joined by a new team. The California Angels made their first postseason trip ever with an AL West title, ending the Kansas City Royals’ three-year run atop the division.
The excellence of the Orioles, who won 102 games, nullified strong years from the Brewers and Red Sox in the AL East. The exciting races were in the National League and two other newcomers nearly made their own first postseason appearances. The Montreal Expos and Houston Astros delivered stiff challenges to both the Pirates and Reds respectively and those races went to the final weekend of the season.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh had to win close games in the LCS, but both the Orioles and Pirates maintained control of their respective series from the outset. For the second time in a decade, these blue-collar cities just five hours apart met in the World Series. It would prove to be a memorable one, as Pittsburgh rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to ultimately win it, thanks to the extraordinary clutch run of Willie “Pops” Stargell.
1979 was also a year of aberration for some of baseball’s best teams. The Yankees came into the year as the two-time defending World Series champs. The Dodgers were the two-time defending NL pennant winners. The Phillies had three straight division titles to the credit. All were out of the race by Labor Day in 1979 and all resumed their contending ways the following year.
Below are articles, covering the relevant teams and all three postseason series–the ALCS & NLCS and World Series– to tell the story of the 1979 MLB season through the eyes of its best teams.