1977 player cards for Payoff Pitch Baseball. This set includes L/R splits on the player cards.
Before the 1977 season started, the beginnings of the modern Free Agent system saw Reggie Jackson and Don Gullett lured to New York by George Steinbrenner and the California Angels make a big splash signing Don Baylor, Bobby Grich and Joe Rudi. While Jackson and Gullett helped the Yankees to 100 wins and the AL East crown, injuries to Grich and Rudi doomed the Angels to just 74 wins and fifth place in the AL West. The loss of Grich, Jackson and pitcher Wayne Garland barely fazed the Baltimore Orioles as they won 97 games and nipped at the heels of the Yankees all summer long. AL Rookie of the Year, Eddie Murray, kept the Orioles offense potent and the emergence of pitcher Mike Flanagan stabilized the pitching staff behind Jim Palmer and Rudy May. The Boston Red Sox also won 97 games, but couldnt recover from a nine game losing streak in July. Reliever Sparky Lyle (13-5, 26 saves, 2.17 ERA) won the AL Cy Young Award while Minnesotas Rod Carew (.388 batting average) captured MVP honors.
In the AL West, the Kansas City Royals won a league best 102 games. Dennis Leonard (20-12, 3.04 ERA) led the ALs best pitching staff. The Texas Rangers (94 wins) and Chicago White Sox (90 wins) had fantastic seasons, but could not catch the Royals. The ALCS saw the Yankees score three runs in the top of the ninth inning of game five to win the game 5-3 and the series 3 games to 2 to advance to the World Series.
The Philadelphia Phillies, led by Greg Luzinski’s 39 home runs and Mike Schmidt’s 38 home runs, had a NL best 101 wins and won the NL East by 5 games over the Pittsburgh Pirates. NL Cy Young winner Steve Carlton won 23 games and posted a 2.64 ERA for the Phillies. In the NL West, new manager Tom Lasorda guided a talented Dodgers club to 98 wins and the division crown. 20 game winner Tommy John (20-7, 2.78 ERA) led a very talented staff that included Don Sutton (14-8, 3.19), Burt Hooten (12-7, 2.62), Doug Rau (14-8, 3.44) and Rick Rhoden (16-10, 3.75). Steve Garvey (33), Ron Cey (30), Reggie Smith (32) and Dusty Baker (30) all homered 30 more times as the Dodgers led the NL with 191 home runs. The Cincinnati Reds acquired future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver from the Mets during the season, but finished 10 games back with 88 wins. The Dodgers lost the first game of the NLCS 7-5, but won the next three to win the series and advance to the World Series.
In the World Series, the Dodgers and Yankees would split the first two games with New York capturing the next two to take a 3 games to 1 lead. Los Angeles scored 10 runs on 13 hits in game 5 to send the series back to New York. Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in game six and the Yankees would win the game 8 to 4 and the series 4 games to 2.
In addition to the accomplishments noted above, California Angels pitcher Nolan Ryan led the league with 341 strikeouts and 204 walks while pitching 299 innings. St. Louis Cardinal Lou Brock broke Ty Cobbs career stolen base record and retired at the end of the season with 938 career stolen bases. A record 3,644 home runs were hit during the season with Bostons Jim Rice leading the AL with 39 and the Reds George Foster hitting 52 to lead the NL. Atlantas Jeff Burroughs also hit 41 home runs.