In 1979, the Mariners were playing their third season. Managed by Darrell Johnson, the team featured pitchers Floyd Bannister, Mike Parrot and Rick Honeycutt. Willie Horton was the American League Designated Hitter of the year (.279, 29 home runs, 106 RBI). Horton, who played in all 162 games that season, was also the Sporting News American League Comeback Player of the Year and the Mariners MVP (as named by the Seattle Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America).
Bruce Bochte was the Mariners regular first baseman, establishing then-club records with a .316 batting average and .392 on-base percentage. He represented the Mariners at the 1979 All-Star Game at the Kingdome, and became the first Mariners player to hit safely in the Midsummer Classic when he delivered an RBI single to give the American League a 6-5 lead. The National League would eventually win the game 7-6.
The 1979 Astros, managed by Bill Virdon, featured a starting rotation led by pitchers J.R. Richard, Joe Niekro and Ken Forsch. The team ERA of 3.20 was second in the National Leaguethat year. The Astros finished the 1979 season in second place in the N.L. West with an 89-73 record.
1979 MLB All-Star Game
Baseball's 50th All-Star Game was played at the Kingdome on July 17, 1979. A crowd of 58,905 turned out that night, which stood as the record Seattle baseball crowd until Game 1 of the 1997 American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles (which was announced as 59,579). Right fielder Dave Parker earned the All-Star Game MVP Award after throwing out two base runners, including the tying run at the plate in the 8th inning to keep the score tied at 6-6.
Bruce Bochte was the Mariners lone representative on the team. The Astros contributed relief pitcher Joe Sambito and shortstop Craig Reynolds to the N.L roster. The lineups for both teams lived up to their billing as stars. A total of 15 All-Star players and both managers went on to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown including Joe Morgan, Gaylord Perry, Mike Schmidt, Johnny Bench, George Brett, Carl Yastrzemski, Nolan Ryan, Rod Carew and Reggie Jackson.
Tickets for the May 24 Turn Back the Clock Night, and all remaining games on the Mariners 2014 home schedule, are available online at mariners.com. They can also be purchased at the Safeco Field Box Office and Seattle Mariners Team Stores (4th & Stewart in downtown Seattle, Bellevue Square, Southcenter Mall, and in Lynnwood at Alderwood Mall). Tickets are also available at Ticketmaster Ticket Centers and by phone at 1-888-SEA-HITS (service charges apply).
Highlights from 1979
- Americans were watching Eight is Enough, Taxi, 60 Minutes, Three's Company and Dallas on TV.
- Margaret Thatcher became Britain's first female Prime Minister.
- The Shah fled Iran and the hostage crisis began.
- China instituted its One Child policy.
- The Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania suffered a partial melt-down.
- The Deer Hunter won five Academy Awards including Best Picture.
- McDonald's introduced the Happy Meal.
- Michael Jackson released Off the Wall, spawning four Top 10 singles and selling 20 million copies.
- The Sugar Hill Gang released Rapper's Delight, the song that first popularized hip hop music in the U.S.
- A gallon of gas cost 86-cents and a first-class stamp was 15-cents.
- Martina Navratilova and Bjorn Borg were Wimbledon singles champs.
- John Wayne died at the age of 72.