America’s pastime has its fair share of odd tales, folklore, myths and legends. Every so often I, HBT Opinion Giver, preeminent Base Ball Scholar and member of the Royal Society for the Advancement and Preservation of Base Ball History and Folklore, Coppersville Montana Chapter like to peruse the dusty annals of Base Ball’s storied history and relay a tale to you, the dear reader.
Today we are looking back at the 1990 Batting Title Race that involved three players, four teams, two leagues and various arcane and little known rules in order to decide who was official Batting Champion in both the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs and the American League of Professional Base Ball Clubs.
Willie McGee started the 1990 Base Ball campaign on the vaunted St. Louis Base Ball Cardinals. The 1982 Batting Champ tore through the Senior Circuit all summer on his way to a .335 Average by the end of August. However on August 29th, Mr. McGee was traded from the struggling Cardinals to the powerhouse defending World Champion Oakland Athletics, who, of course, play in the American League of Professional Base Ball Clubs. At the time of the trade, Mr. McGee had logged precisely 542 at-bats as a National Leaguer. Please note – this is important.
At the same time in the Senior Circuit, wild child Lenny Dykstra of the Philadelphia Phillies was wrapping up an even more impressive streak with a .340 Average while a few notches below Eddie Murray of the Los Angeles via Brooklyn Dodgers was beginning to heat up at .312.
After the August 29th trade, Murray and Dykstra’s forms went in opposite directions as the Dodger got hotter and hotter and the Philly cooled down considerably. Murray batted .395 post August to end at .330 while Dykstra fell to .325.
In the upstart league, George Brett of the Kansas City Royals outpaced everyone all season long and ended with a .329 Average while McGee did not fare so well in Oakland, batting .274, dropping his season average to .324.
Thus at the conclusion of the 1990 season the overall batting average standings were:
1) Eddie Murray (NL), .330
2) George Brett (AL), .329
3) Dave Magadan (NL), .328
4) Lenny Dykstra (NL), .325
5) Rickey Henderson (AL), .325
6) Willie McGee (NL), .324
However because Mr. McGee had logged more than the mandated 502 At-Bats needed to qualify for the Batting Title race in the National League, he was declared Batting Champion for his August 29th frozen average of .335.
Thus the player with the sixthest highest season average won the Batting Average Award over three players who actually had higher season long batting averages.
Just another strange but true tale from the annals of Base Ball History.
HBT Opinion Giver