Tony Armas as an Oakland A sitting on the dugout steps for a Mother’s Cookies baseball card photo (Mothers Cookies baseball card photo)
A’s 1981 Short and Bittersweet
That’s Amaury News and Commentary
In 1981 there was no baseball in the major leagues from June 12 to August 10. A total of 713 games were lost. The strike was about free agent player compensation.The owners were in favor of a system in which they got a player of similar value for each player they lost in free agency.
The Oakland Athletics ended the 1981 season with a 64-45 the best record in the American League and second best in all of baseball, and also they qualified by posting the AL West’s best record in the first half (37-23) of the shortened season.
In 1981 the Athletics had one of the best outfields in the game, with Rickey Henderson in left-field, Dwayne Murphy in center and Tony Armas in right-field. Henderson led the club in batting average with .319 as well as in stolen bases with 56, Armas led the club in home runs with 22 home runs and with 76 RBIs, while Murphy was second with 60 RBIs. That was a top notch outfield offensively as well as on defense.
Tony Armas was a humble but very focus player on the field,with excellent power at the place and also a powerful arm from right field, he always told me that he was lucky, but he was really an underrated player who played hard all the time.
A couple of years after he left the A’s in 1984 with the Boston Red Sox,Tony led the Major Leagues with 43 home runs and drove 123. He was the only player in both leagues to hit over 40 home runs.A proud man from Venezuela,he was a gentleman and conducted himself professional all the time on and off the field.He retired with back problems,his son Tony Armas Jr, was a pitcher in the major leagues.
The 1981 A’s was the team of Mike Heath, Shooty Babbitt (now back with the A’s as a scout) Rob Picciolo, Cliff Johnson, Wayne Gross, Jim Spencer, and one of the all time favorites in Oakland Mitchell “The Rage” Page and many other players that contributed to that success.
Their pitching was one of the best, a very strong rotation that became even more famous the previews season (1980) with Steve McCatty, Matt Keough, Mike Norris, Rick Langford and Brian Kingman, five young starts that graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in April.
During the shortened 1981 season,Julio González (RIP) and yours truly were doing the Spanish broadcast. We traveled to Kansas City during the AL Divisional playoffs for the first two games,as the A’s swept the Royals in three games.
That was a good Royals team with George Brett, Frank White Willie Wilson,Dan Quisinberry and others,then we moved on to New York where the Yankees eliminated the A’s in a 3-game sweep.
A’s lost the first two in New York then back to Oakland where they lost 4-0 as Dave Righetti beat Matt Keough,to send the Yankees to the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Reported that World Series,with interviews,pre and post game stuff, for the three games that took place in Los Angeles for local bay area radio. It took six games for Tommy LaSorda’s Dodgers to beat Bob Lemon’s New York Yankees.
And that is how the crazy 1981 shortened season ended in baseball.