The 1989 baseball season was a trying one. The sport was rocked mid-year by the revelation Cincinnati Reds’ manager Pete Rose, the game’s all-time hit leader, was gambling on his own team. Rose was banned from baseball and the Hall of Fame, inciting a debate that continues to this day. Then the season ended with a deadly earthquake at the World Series.
But in between, there was a lot of good baseball played and teams that deserve to be remembered for what they accomplished. Foremost among them is the Oakland A’s.
The A’s were coming off an upset loss in the previous year’s World Series. They lost their MVP left fielder, Jose Canseco, for the first half 1989. They played in what proved to be baseball’s best division. And yet they triumphed over it all, winning the AL West and then dominating in the postseason.
Oakland’s excellence had two key victims. The Kansas City Royals and the California Angels were both teams that would have been playoff-caliber by the standards of today. But in the pre-1994 alignment and postseason format, the Royals and Angels settled for runner-up status.
The other side of the Golden Gate Bridge saw more quality baseball. The San Francisco Giants stepped up and won the NL West, outlasting the San Diego Padres and Houston Astros to take the division crown. The Giants went on to their first pennant in 27 years, setting up a Bay Area World Series.
The great baseball fans on the North Side of Chicago saw the Cubbies return to the postseason. The Cubs won an NL East race that included the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals each making their own pushes. And over in the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays overcame a poor start and chased down the Baltimore Orioles, spoiling what was otherwise a magical turnaround season in Baltimore.
All of these stories are captured in the narratives below. There are links to articles containing the season-long reviews of the 11 teams discussed above. Then we go game-by-game through the postseason. Take collectively, these 14 articles are a fantastic way to re-live the 1989 baseball season through the eyes of its best teams.