Paul has been a Milwaukee Braves and Brewers fan for all of his life. He saw Matthews, Aaron, and Spahn play in the 1950s.
American League Baseball in the 1980s
The 1980s was an exciting time for me to be a Major League baseball fan. I had recently returned to the States after having spent most of the 70s abroad. Baseball was back in my blood, and I was now living and working close to a real fanatic baseball city, Baltimore. The Baltimore Orioles had recently won the 1979 World Series, and their team was still good with a lot of young talent. As I settled in the Baltimore area in December of 1980 I prepared to follow both the Orioles and my hometown Milwaukee Brewers who were also in the American League.
In the 1980s I saw a few games at the long-demolished Baltimore Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street when my Brewers were in town. I couldn't help but follow the Orioles because all of their games were on WBAL radio and much more were on local TV stations. In the early 80s when both the Brewers and Orioles were contenders, I got to know very well several stars on the Orioles and Brewers who are now in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I also became very familiar with all of the great American League players of the 1980s. In this article, I select my all-decade team with runners-up.
American League All-Stars of the 80s
My all-decade team of the 80s includes the following players by position. All of my statistics are taken from Wikipedia.
First Base - Eddie Murray:
My vote for best first baseman goes to "Steady Eddie" Murray of the Baltimore Orioles. Murray was one of the best switch hitters. He broke in with the Orioles as a rookie in 1977 and played through the 1988 season. He was a great clutch hitter, and I just hated for the Brewers to face him with runners on base and the game on the line. I remember hearing the fans always chant "EDDIE...EDDIE" whenever he came up to bat. Most of the time he delivered with game-winning hits. During his 20-year career which was also spent with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Murray was an 8-time all-star and a 3-time Gold Glove winner. How can I forget him leading the Orioles to a World Series win in 1983! Eddie had a .287 lifetime batting average with 3,255 hits, 504 home runs, and 1,917 runs batted in (RBIs). He is in the Hall of Fame.
Runners-up to Murray include Rod Carew who played with the California Angels from 1980-1985 and Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees who played from 1982 to 1995. Carew was a consistent contact hitter who finished with a lifetime .328 average. Mattingly hit .307, had 222 home runs, and also was a 9-time Gold Glove winner.
Second Base - Lou Whitaker:
This was a tough choice because both Willie Randolph of the New York Yankees and Lou Whitaker of the Detroit Tigers were great players. My choice for best second baseman goes to Lou Whitaker because he had a little more offense than Randolph. Whitaker played with the Tigers from 1977 to 1995, and he made a good double-play combination with shortstop Allen Trammell. During his career, Whitaker was a 5-time all-star, a 3-time Gold Glove winner, and helped lead the Tigers to a World Series in 1984. he was a career .276 hitter with 244 lifetime home runs and 2,369 hits.
Shortstop - Cal Ripken, Junior:
Cal Ripken was the best shortstop of the 1980s. I was so fortunate to see him play so often during the 80s. Ripken was great because he showed up for work every day, and because he was a fierce competitor. During a career that spanned from 1981-2001, Cal played in a major league record 2,632 consecutive games. He was a great clutch hitter just like his teammate Eddie Murray. How can I forget the game between the Orioles and Brewers which I saw at Memorial Stadium in June of 1983! Don Sutton was pitching for Milwaukee and he had struck out Ripken the first three times he faced him that evening. With the Orioles trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Ripken came up to bat again and drilled Sutton's first pitch for a three-run homer to win the game. As the crowd celebrated deliriously, I disappointingly with lowered head departed the right-field bleachers and headed for home. During his career, Ripken was MVP twice and a 19-time all-star. Cal hit .276 for his career with 431 homers, 1,695 RBIs, and 3.184 hits. He was elected to the Hall of Fame.
Another great shortstop during the 1980s was Allen Trammell of the Tigers who was a 6-time all-star. He was also a 4-time Gold Glove winner with a .285 career average. Trammell helped lead the Tigers to the 1984 World Series.
Third Base - George Brett:
No one could play the hot corner better than George Brett of the Kansas City Royals. Brett played with K.C. from 1973 through1993. He is only one of 4 players to accomplish 3,000 hits, 300 home runs, and an average of .300 in his career. Brett is a 13-time all-star, 1980 American League MVP, and Gold Glove winner, and he helped lead the Royals to the World Series in 1985. During one season, I remember Brett flirting with a .400 average into September. During his career, George hit .305, had 317 homers, and had 3,154 hits.
Wade Boggs of the Boston Red Sox and Paul Molitor of the Milwaukee Brewers were other exceptional third basemen. Boggs finished with a career .328 batting average and 3,010 hits. Although he didn't hit for power like Brett, he won 5 batting titles, was a gold-glover, and helped lead the Red Sox to the World Series in 1986. Paul Molitor is another Hall of Fame player who played multiple positions in addition to third base. The "Ignitor" was known for his hitting and natural instinctive base running. "Molly" had a career .306 average, 3,319 hits, and 504 stolen bases.
Catcher - Carlton Fisk:
"Pudge" Fisk is my choice for the best catcher, He played for the Red Sox and Chicago White Sox from 1969-1993. Carlton Fisk was great because he was accomplished offensively, defensively, and because he could handle pitchers well. Fisk who was on 11 all-star teams is a member of the Hall of Fame. He led both the Red Sox and White Sox to postseason play. He was a 3 time Silver Slugger and led catchers in fielding percentage in 1989, Over his career, Fisk was a .269 hitter with 376 homers and 2,356 hits.
Another great catcher was Lance Parrish of the Tigers who played from 1977-1995. Parrish was exceptionally good both offensively and defensively. Besides leading the Tigers to a World Series in 1984, Lance was an 8-time all-star and won 3 Gold Gloves. He also hit 324 career home runs.
Outfielders - Robin Yount, Dave Winfield, and Rickie Henderson:
Choosing the three best outfielders of the 80s was a tough chore. One can make a good case for any of the 3 runners-up I have listed.
Robin Yount played with the Milwaukee Brewers in a career running from 1974-1993. Teaming with Paul Molitor, they were the heart and soul of the competitive Brewers teams of the late 70s and early 80s. Young won 2 American League MVPs in the 1980s. One of them came during the Brewers World Series appearance in 1982. Yount who started as a shortstop and then switched to center field collected more hits in the 80s (1,731) than any other player. I'll never forget the last game of the 1982 season with the Brewers and Orioles tied for first place. Yount hit 2 homers off Jim Palmer to propel the Brewers to their first postseason appearance. During his career, Yount was a .285 hitter with 3,142 hits.
I'll never forget the awesome opposing presence of Dave Winfield in the batter's box. Winfield was a hulk of a man at 6'7" and about 230 pounds. Dave Winfield's career spanned from 1973 - 1995. After spending the 70s with San Diego, Winfield became a Yankee in 1980. Besides leading the Yankees to the postseason in the early 1980s, Dave was a 12-time all-star and 7-time Gold Glove winner. Throughout his career, Winfield hit .283 and had 3,110 hits, 465 homers, and 1,822 RBIs.
I only remember Rickie Henderson playing with the Oakland Athletics during the 1980s. Actually, "The Man of Steel" played with 9 teams in a career from 1970-2003. He is known as the greatest leadoff hitter and baserunner. As a member of the Hall of Fame and 10-time all-star, Henderson was a career .279 hitter with 3,055 hits and 297 home runs. Most importantly, he finished with 1,406 stolen bases, stealing 130 bases in 1982. Every pitcher feared to see him on first base.
Jim Rice played with the Red Sox from 1974-1989. Rice was a hitter for both power and average. Besides leading Boston to a World Series in 1986, Jim was an 8-time all-star with a career .298 batting average. In his career, he hit 382 homers and amassed 2,452 hits.
"Mr. October" started with Oakland in 1967, but by the 80s he was playing with the Yankees in a career that would run until 1987. Although Jackson was only a .262 career hitter, he was a feared power hitter who could be counted on to win playoff games with his bat in October. During his career, Reggie hit 563 home runs and drove in 1,702 runs. He was a 14-time all-star and is in the Hall of Fame.
Freddie Lynn started with the Red Sox in the 70s, but during the 80s he was with both the California Angels and the Orioles. He was a career .283 hitter who had 306 home runs. Lynn was a 9-time all-star with 4 Gold Glove awards.
1. Roger Clemens:
Roger Clemens or "Rocket" pitched with primarily the Red Sox and Yankees from 1984 -2007. He was a premier power pitcher with a career 354-184 record. Clemens was extremely dominant by winning 7 Cy Young Awards, striking out 4,672, and finishing with a 3.12 ERA. He led the Red Sox to a World Series in 1986.
2. Jack Morris:
Jack Morris pitched for the Tigers from 1977-1994. During the 1980s he won the most games of any pitcher. Featuring a great fastball, slider, and splitter, Morris was a 5-time all-star who led the Tigers to a World Series in 1984. Jack Morris finished with a 254-186 record and 2,478 strikeouts.
3. Dave Stieb:
Dave Stieb was with the Toronto Blue Jays from 1979 - 1998. Over his career, Stieb was 176-137 with a 3.44 ERA. He was on 7 all-star teams. Only Jack Morris won more games than Stieb during the 1980s.
4. Ron Guidry:
Ron Guidry or "Louisiana Lightning" was a tough southpaw for the Brewers to face in the late 70s and early 80s. In addition to winning the Cy Young in 1978, Guidry was a 4-time all-star and won 5 Gold Gloves. During a career from 1975 - 1988, Guidry had a 170-91 record with a 3.29 ERA and 1,778 strikeouts.
Relief Pitchers and Closers:
1. Dennis Eckersley:
Dennis Eckersley of the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Oakland Athletics is a member of the Hall of Fame who is only one of two players who has won 20 games and had 50 save seasons. In a career from 1975-1998, Eckersley led Oakland to the World Series in 1989. He was a 6-time all-star with a career 197-171 record. His career ERA was 3.50 and Dennis finished with 390 saves.
2. Rich "Goose" Gossage:
"Goose" Gossage was the first of the great closers and pitched for the Yankees and 8 other teams during his career from 1972-1994. I'll always remember Gossage as being the feared clutch closer for the Yankees in the early 80s. Besides leading the Yankees to the past season, he was an 8-time all-star with a career 124-107 record and 3.01 ERA. In 1002 games played, Gossage saved 310 games and had 1,502 strikeouts.
Other notable pitchers from the 1980s were Scott McGregor of the Orioles, Rollie Fingers of the Brewers, Len Barker of the Indians, and others too numerous to mention.
The 1980s featured great players from the American League. All of my selected players deserve a place in the Hall of Fame. A case can also be made for other deserving all-stars that I have not included.
Baltimore Orioles 1982 Season
1982 Brewers versus Orioles
Baseball All-Stars of the 80s
Related Baseball All-Stars from the 1950s
- 50s National League Baseball AllStars
Major League baseball was fun to watch in the 50s. I was only a kid and had just seen my first games at Milwaukee County Stadium. In this hub I list my 50s National League baseball all-stars.
- 1950s American League Baseball All-Stars
American League baseball in the 50s was exciting to watch and follow. Based on recollections, I select my American League all-stars of the 1950s in this hub. I will always cherish and remember them.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on April 20, 2014:
&KevinTrusty Thank you very much for your comments. I'm happy you enjoyed this hub!
Kevin Trusty from Joliet, IL on April 15, 2014:
Outstanding stuff here! I grew up watching these guys...what a trip down memory lane.
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on August 28, 2012:
Thanks for reading and the great comments.
Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on August 28, 2012:
Great Hub. Brought back some great memories. There are some great players on your list.
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 31, 2012:
Thanks for the comment and fan mail. I'll try to do more hubs like this in the future.
CZCZCZ from Oregon on March 31, 2012:
Great hub, these are the players of my childhood. Was fun to read through, voted this one up.
dmccray7 from Merrimack NH on December 15, 2011:
Nice job. Very well researched
sandy1973mypetdog from the south on December 12, 2011:
I liked this hub, I think it is interesting that you took the time to put your own favorite team together. You had some great choices, I enjoyed reading this one, sports in general are a great topic. Look forward to reading more.
wroof int from sialkot pakistan on December 12, 2011:
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