Split Season: 1981
Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball
Author: Jeff Katz
The never-before-told story of the momentous season torn in half by the bitter players strike. Sourcing incredible and extensive interviews with almost all of the major participants in the strike, Split Season: 1981 returns us to the on- and off-field drama of an unforgettable baseball year.
1981 was a watershed moment in American sports, when players turned an oligarchy of owners into a game where they had a real voice. Midway through the season, a game-changing strike ripped baseball apart, the first time a season had ever been stopped in the middle because of a strike. Marvin Miller and the MLB Players Association squared off against Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and the owners in a fight to protect players rights to free agency and defend America's pastime.
Though a time bomb was ticking as the 1981 season began, the game rose to impressive---and now legendary---heights. Pete Rose chased Stan Musial's National League hit record and rookie Fernando Valenzuela was creating a sensation as the best pitcher in the majors when the stadiums went dark and the players went on strike.
For the first time in modern history, there were first- and second-half champions; the two teams with the overall best records in the National League were not awarded play-off berths. When the season resumed after an absence of 712 games, Rose's resumption of his pursuit, the resurgence of Reggie Jackson, the rise of the Montreal Expos, and a Nolan Ryan no-hitter became notable events. The Dodgers bested their longtime rivals in a Yankees-Dodgers World Series, the last classic matchup of those storied opponents.
Thomas Dunne Books