1978 New York Yankees season

The 1978 New York Yankees season was the 76th season for the Yankees. The team finished with a record of 100–63, finishing one game ahead of the Boston Red Sox to win their third American League East title. The two teams were tied after 162 games, leading to a one-game playoff, which the Yankees won.[1][2][3] New York played home games at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx and was managed by Billy Martin, Dick Howser, and Bob Lemon.

1978 New York Yankees
1978 AL East Champions
1978 AL Champions
1978 World Series Champions
Major League affiliations
Other information
Owner(s)George Steinbrenner
General manager(s)Cedric Tallis
Manager(s)Billy Martin – 52–42 (.553)
Dick Howser – 0–1
Bob Lemon – 48–20 (.706)
Local televisionWPIX
(Phil Rizzuto,
Frank Messer, Bill White)
Local radioWINS (AM)
(Frank Messer, Phil Rizzuto,
Bill White, Fran Healy)
< Previous season     Next season >

In the best-of-five League Championship Series (ALCS), they defeated the Kansas City Royals in four games. In the World Series, they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games in a rematch of the previous year's.

The season was tumultuous for the Yankees, as Reggie Jackson was suspended in a mid-season showdown with Billy Martin, which resulted in Martin resigning a week later. For television viewers of the Bronx Bombers, it was the first season to be broadcast nationwide via satellite via WPIX, which that year became a superstation as well partly in response to Ted Turner's WTCG-TV nationwide broadcasts of the Atlanta Braves beginning on Opening Day of 1977. WPIX remained the team's exclusive broadcast partner for the Greater New York television viewers on FTA television and the by now superstation status and satellite broadcasts finally enabled millions all over the country to watch Yankees home and away games live as they happened.


  • November 22, 1977: Goose Gossage was signed as a free agent by the Yankees.[4]
  • December 5, 1977: Jesús Figueroa was drafted from the Yankees by the Chicago Cubs in the 1977 rule 5 draft.[5]
  • December 9, 1977: Sergio Ferrer was traded by the Yankees to the New York Mets for Roy Staiger.[6]
  • December 12, 1977: Stan Thomas and Ed Ricks (minors) were traded by the Yankees to the Chicago White Sox for Jim Spencer, Tommy Cruz, and Bob Polinsky (minors).[7]

Regular season

Lefthander Ron Guidry was the last Yankee pitcher to win at least 25 games in a season in the 20th century.[8] In 35 starts in the regular season (including the playoff game), he pitched 273+23 innings, compiled a 25–3 record with 248 strikeouts, 1.74 ERA, and nine shutouts. Guidry won the Cy Young Award by unanimous vote.[9][10][11]

Relief pitcher Goose Gossage won Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award, leading the American League with 27 saves.

Season summary

A week after the All-Star Game in July, the team was fourteen games behind Boston, but rallied to tie for first place. With a week to go, New York led by one game and won six straight,[12] but lost the finale at home to struggling Cleveland on Sunday, October 1, while Boston won their final eight games.[13][14][15] The Yankees traveled to Fenway Park and defeated the Red Sox 5–4 in the one-game playoff for the AL East title; the Monday afternoon game featured light-hitting shortstop Bucky Dent's famous three-run go-ahead home run in the seventh inning. Jackson's solo home run in the eighth was the winning margin.[1][2][3]

For decades, some have mistakenly thought the Yankees trailed by 14½ games, but the maximum deficit was fourteen games, after the July 17 loss and until the July 20 win.[16][17] New York's biggest lead was 3½ games, after another victory over Boston on Saturday, September 16.[18][19] The previous weekend, the Yankees swept a four-game series at Fenway, dubbed "The Boston Massacre" by the sports press;[20] it left the teams tied at 86–56 (.606) with three weeks remaining.[21][22][23]

AL East tie-breaker game

October 2, 1978 at Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts
New York Yankees000000410580
Boston Red Sox0100100204110
WP: Ron Guidry (25-3)   LP: Mike Torrez (16-13)   Sv: Goose Gossage (27)
Home runs:
NYY: Bucky Dent, Reggie Jackson
BOS: Carl Yastrzemski

Season standings

AL East W L Pct. GB Home Road
New York Yankees 10063 0.613 55–26 45–37
Boston Red Sox 9964 0.607 1 59–23 40–41
Milwaukee Brewers 9369 0.574 54–27 39–42
Baltimore Orioles 9071 0.559 9 51–30 39–41
Detroit Tigers 8676 0.531 13½ 47–34 39–42
Cleveland Indians 6990 0.434 29 42–36 27–54
Toronto Blue Jays 59102 0.366 40 37–44 22–58

Record vs. opponents

Baltimore 7–84–68–19–67–82–87–85–56–911–09–17–48–7
Boston 8–79–27–37–812–34–610–59–27–95–57–33–711–4
California 6–42–98–76–44–79–65–512–35–59–69–65–107–3
Chicago 1–83–77–88–22–98–74–78–71–97–87–811–44–6
Cleveland 6–98–74–62–85–105–65–105–56–94–68–11–910–4
Detroit 8–73–127–49–210–54–67–84–64–116–48–27–39–6
Kansas City 8–26–46–97–86–56–46–47–86–510–512–37–85–5
Milwaukee 8–75–105–57–410–58–74–64–710–59–15–56–412–3
Minnesota 5–52–93–127–85–56–48–77–43–79–66–96–96–4
New York 9–69–75–59–19–611–45–65–107–38–26–56–411–4
Oakland 0–115–56–98–76–44–65–101–96–92–813–26–97–4
Seattle 1–93–76–98–71–82–83–125–59–65–62–133–128–2
Texas 4–77–310–54–119–13–78–74–69–64–69–612–34–7
Toronto 7–84–113–76–44–106–95–53–124–64–114–72–87–4

Notable transactions

  • June 10: Ken Holtzman was traded by the Yankees to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later. Ron Davis was sent to the Yankees on June 12.[24]
  • June 14: Rawly Eastwick was traded by the Yankees to the Philadelphia Phillies for Bobby Brown and Jay Johnstone.[25]
  • June 15: Mickey Klutts, Dell Alston and $50,000 were traded by the Yankees to the Oakland Athletics for Gary Thomasson.[26]

Draft picks


1978 New York Yankees
Pitchers Catchers



Other batters

  • 27 Dell Alston


Notable events

The defending World Series champions got off to a slow start in 1978, prompting owner George Steinbrenner to put pressure on manager Billy Martin. Compounding the issue was the already-tumultuous relationship between Martin and Reggie Jackson, and Steinbrenner was pressuring him as well. On July 17, with the team at 47–42 (.528) and in fourth place in the American League East, it came to a head during a home contest with the Kansas City Royals on Monday, July 17. With the score tied in the bottom of the tenth inning and Thurman Munson on first, Martin sent Jackson to the plate with orders to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Jackson tried to bunt the first pitch, but failed. Martin then relayed to third-base coach Dick Howser for Jackson to swing and Howser passed it on, but Jackson ignored Howser and attempted another bunt. Howser called time and talked with Jackson, but to no avail. On his final bunt attempt, Jackson fouled out to the catcher. Martin then removed Jackson from the game and suspended him (owner Steinbrenner limited it to five days, Tuesday through Saturday), but Kansas City won in eleven innings and swept the three-game series. Tuesday was an open date; the Yankees traveled to Minnesota and Jackson went to California.[29][30]

Jackson returned to the team in Chicago on Sunday, July 23; he did not take batting practice and remained on the bench as the Yankees swept the White Sox for their fifth consecutive win.[31] Martin commented in a post-game interview at the Chicago airport that (referring to Jackson and Steinbrenner, respectively) 'one's a born liar, and the other's convicted.' The Steinbrenner reference was alluding to a past incident where the Yankee owner made illegal U.S. presidential campaign contributions. The next day in Kansas City, Martin appeared on live television and tearfully announced his resignation as Yankees manager,[32][33][34][35][36] but most sources believed he was actually fired by Steinbrenner for the "convicted" comment.[36][37] Howser was acting manager for one game on July 24, a 5–2 loss at Kansas City on ABC's Monday Night Baseball, then Bob Lemon arrived as manager for the rest of the season.

In his first appearance since the bunting incident ten days earlier, Jackson started in right field on Thursday, July 27, and went three-for-three, with a home run, a walk, and three RBI. In the nightcap of the doubleheader, he had two hits.[38]

During the Old-Timer's Day ceremony at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, July 29, Yankee public address announcer Bob Sheppard introduced Martin to the crowd and announced that Martin would return as manager for the 1980 season.[39][40] Martin returned ahead of schedule, in June 1979,[41] and was fired again four months later, after a fight in a Minnesota hotel.[42][43] He went west to Oakland in 1980, then owned by Charlie O. Finley.[44][45][46] Martin returned to the Yankees and managed the team in 1983, 1985, and 1988.

Under Lemon in 1978, the Yankees were 47–20 (.701) for the rest of the 162-game season to tie for the division title, after having been fourteen games back on July 19. They won the division in a one-game playoff on the road,[1][2][3] and went on to repeat as World Series champions.

On September 30, Ed Figueroa won his twentieth game of the season, which clinched a tie for the AL East title.[47][48] As of 2018, Figueroa is the only native of Puerto Rico to win twenty games in a major league season.[49]

Player stats

= Indicates team leader

Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
CThurman Munson154617183.297671
1BChris Chambliss162625171.2741290
2BWillie Randolph134499139.279342
3BGraig Nettles159587162.2762793
SSBucky Dent12337992.243540
LFLou Piniella130472148.314669
CFMickey Rivers141559148.2651148
RFReggie Jackson139511140.2742797
DHCliff Johnson7617432.184619

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Roy White10334693.269843
Fred Stanley8116035.21919
Jim Spencer7115034.227724
Paul Blair7512522.176213
Gary Thomasson5411632.276320
Mike Heath339221.22808
Jay Johnstone366517.26216
Brian Doyle395210.19200
Dámaso García18418.19501
George Zeber360.00000
Dell Alston330.00000
Mickey Klutts1221.00000
Dennis Sherrill210.00000
Fran Healy110.00000
Domingo Ramos100----00

Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Ron Guidry35273.22531.74248
Ed Figueroa35253.02092.9992
Dick Tidrow31185.07113.8473
Jim Beattie25128.0693.7365
Catfish Hunter21118.01263.5856
Don Gullett844.2423.6328
Andy Messersmith622.1035.6416

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Ken Clay2875.2344.2832
Paul Lindblad718.1004.429
Ken Holtzman517.2104.083
Larry McCall516.0115.637
Dave Rajsich413.1004.059

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G W L SV ERA SO
Goose Gossage631011272.01122
Sparky Lyle599393.4733
Rawly Eastwick82103.2813
Bob Kammeyer70005.8211
Ron Davis400011.570



Game 1

October 3: Royals Stadium

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
New York 011 020 030 7160
Kansas City 000 001 000 122
W: Jim Beattie (1-0)  L: Dennis Leonard (0-1)  S: Ken Clay (1)
HRs: NYY Reggie Jackson (1)

Game 2

October 4: Royals Stadium

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
New York 000 000 220 4121
Kansas City 140 000 32X 10161
W: Larry Gura (1-0)  L: Ed Figueroa (0-1)
HRs: KCR Freddie Patek (1)

Game 3

October 6: Yankee Stadium

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Kansas City 101 010 020 5101
New York 010 201 02X 6100
W: Goose Gossage (1-0)  L: Doug Bird (0-1)
HRs: KCR George Brett 3 (3)   NYY Reggie Jackson (2) Thurman Munson (1)

Game 4

October 7: Yankee Stadium

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Kansas City 100 000 000 170
New York 010 001 00X 240
W: Ron Guidry (1-0)  L: Dennis Leonard (0-2)  S: Goose Gossage (1)
HRs: NYY Graig Nettles (1) Roy White (1)

World Series

AL New York Yankees (4) vs. NL Los Angeles Dodgers (2)
Game Score Date Location Attendance Time of Game
1Yankees – 5, Dodgers – 11October 10Dodger Stadium55,9972:48
2Yankees – 3, Dodgers – 4October 11Dodger Stadium55,9822:37
3Dodgers – 1, Yankees – 5October 13Yankee Stadium56,4472:27
4Dodgers – 3, Yankees – 4 (10 inns)October 14Yankee Stadium56,4453:17
5Dodgers – 2, Yankees – 12October 15Yankee Stadium56,4482:56
6Yankees – 7, Dodgers – 2October 17Dodger Stadium55,9852:34

Awards and honors

Franchise records

  • Ron Guidry, Yankees single season record, most strikeouts in a season (248)


All-Star Game

Other team leaders

  • Stolen Bases – Willie Randolph, 36
  • Walks – Willie Randolph, 82

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Tacoma Yankees Pacific Coast League Mike Ferraro
AA West Haven Yankees Eastern League Stump Merrill
A Fort Lauderdale Yankees Florida State League Doug Holmquist
A-Short Season Oneonta Yankees New York–Penn League Art Mazmanian



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  2. "Yankees edge BoSox; playoffs open tonight". Wilmington Morning Star. (North Carolina). Associated Press. October 3, 1978. p. 3B.
  3. "Yankees Dent Red Sox, play Royals for pennant". Pittsburgh Press. UPI. October 3, 1978. p. C1.
  4. Goose Gossage at Baseball Reference
  5. Jesús Figueroa at Baseball Reference
  6. Sergio Ferrer at Baseball Reference
  7. Stan Thomas at Baseball Reference
  8. Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures, 2008 Edition, p. 99, David Nemec and Scott Flatow, A Signet Book, Penguin Group, New York, ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0
  9. "Guidry unanimous Cy Young winner". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. November 1, 1978. p. 65.
  10. "Suspense lacking for Ron Guidry". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. November 2, 1978. p. 32.
  11. Moses, Sam (January 22, 1979). "Yankee from Louisiana". Sports Illustrated. p. 60.
  12. "'Miracle' Yanks go for it all today". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire service reports. October 1, 1978. p. 7B.
  13. McMane, Fred (October 2, 1978). "Rick Waits gives Sox another chance". Nashua Telegraph. (New Hampshire). UPI. p. 32.
  14. "Bosox catch Yanks; playoff set today". Wilmington Morning Star. (North Carolina). wire reports. October 2, 1978. p. 3B.
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  16. "How they stand". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). July 18, 1978. p. 4C.
  17. "Baseball standings: American League". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). July 19, 1978. p. 18.
  18. "Yankees slip a 'Mickey' past Yaz". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire service reports. September 17, 1978. p. 8B.
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  24. Ken Holtzman at Baseball Reference
  25. Bobby Brown at Baseball Reference
  26. Mickey Klutts at Baseball Reference
  27. Rex Hudler at Baseball Reference
  28. Steve Balboni at Baseball Reference
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  31. "Yankees' turmoil". Wilmington Morning Star. (North Carolina). Associated Press. July 24, 1978. p. 1C.
  32. Cass, Murray (July 25, 1978). "Tempestuous Martin out as manager". Wilmington Morning Star. (North Carolina). (New York Times) News Service. p. 3B.
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  34. Chass, Murray (July 25, 1978). "Billy Martin tearfully quits job with Yankees". The Day. (New London, Connecticut). (New York Times). p. 1.
  35. "Odyssey ends: Billy quits". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. July 25, 1978. p. 17.
  36. Keith, Larry (July 31, 1978). "A bunt that went boom!". Sports Illustrated. p. 14.
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  38. "Yankees, Indians split". Wilmington Morning Star. (North Carolina). Associated Press. July 28, 1978. p. 3C.
  39. Cass, Murray (July 30, 1978). "Manager merry-go-round". Sunday Star-News. (Wilmington, North Carolina). (New York Times) News Service. p. 1C.
  40. "New York rehires Billy for '80". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. July 30, 1978. p. 81.
  41. "Martin sees Jackson key to success". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. June 19, 1979. p. 22.
  42. Rappoport, Ken (October 29, 1979). "Billy Martin axed again". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. p. 22.
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  44. "Martin missed game, happy with A's job". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. February 22, 1978. p. 21.
  45. "Martin's back, thanks to Charlie O." Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). (Chicago Sun Times). February 22, 1980. p. 21.
  46. Fimrite, Ron (March 10, 1980). "Berkeley Billy comes home again". Sports Illustrated. p. 18.
  47. "Yanks clinch AL East tie, but Boston wins, too". Sunday Star-News. (Wilmington, North Carolina). Associated Press. October 1, 1978. p. 5C.
  48. HernÌÁndez, Lou (June 27, 2016). Chronology of Latin Americans in Baseball, 1871-2015. McFarland. ISBN 9781476662275 via Google Books.
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  50. Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 2nd and 3rd editions. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 1997 and 2007


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