The 1975 MLB season was a year where mostly traditional teams won division titles and advanced to postseason play. But it was also a transitional year, in which October saw one dynasty end and a new one begin.
The Cincinnati Reds won their fourth NL West title and third National League pennant since 1970, but the previous years had seen the players who comprised the famed “Big Red Machine” come up short in their pursuit of a World Series title. This year’s Cincinnati team was the best yet, with MVP second baseman Joe Morgan leading the way to a 108-win campaign.
Meanwhile, the Oakland A’s took home their fifth straight AL West title, and they had no such hangups over their October legacy. The A’s won the World Series each of the previous three seasons and with 98 wins and the top record in the AL.
Pittsburgh was home to another steady power in the major league baseball world of the early 1970s. The Pirates won the World Series in 1971, and had reached the League Championship Series in 1970, 1972 and 1974. Pittsburgh went back to postseason play, winning the NL East with 92 wins.
If you wanted a postseason with all four powers of the early 1970s—teams that had multiple division titles since the MLB expansion of 1969 and subsequent split of league into two divisions—the Baltimore Orioles would have rounded out the quartet. They produced the Cy Young Award winner in Jim Palmer and another good team in 1975. But the Orioles came up just short in the AL East.
The odd sock in the playoffs was the Boston Red Sox, who got an MVP year from rookie centerfielder Fred Lynn, and they held off the Orioles down the stretch to win the AL East.
Boston, after first preventing an all-1970s power showdown in the postseason, then prevented an Oakland-Cincinnati World Series battle. The A’s dynasty was not taken down by the Big Red Machine, but the Red Sox of Lynn and Luis Tiant, as the Red Sox swept the ALCS in three straight.
Cincinnati met Pittsburgh for the third time in NLCS play, and for the third time the Reds won, also bringing it home in three straight (the LCS did not become best-of-seven until 1985).
The Red Sox might have been spoiling all these showdowns of powerhouses, but they made sure to combine with the Reds to give baseball one of its all-time great World Series. It went the full seven games, five of which were complete nail-biters. Cincinnati finally got off the monkey off their back in the ninth of Game 7 and claimed their first World Series title in 35 years.
The complete stories of the 1975 MLB season’s five most significant teams and game-by-game narratives of both League Championship Series matchups and the classic World Series battle are all compiled together and available for download at Amazon.