Incredibly the M's were 24-24 on June 2nd just 3 1/2 games out of first place. The following two thirds of the season would see the 4th year expansion team from the Pacific NW slide into the abyss. That slide cost two managers their jobs. First victim was Darrell Johnson. Then at the end of the season his replacement, 1962 NL MVP Maury Wills, was also given the boot (16 games into the ‘81 season). With an offense that was dead last in the league and a pitching staff that wasn't too far from the bottom it was plain to see how things turne out the way they did. Floyd Bannister (9-13, 3.47) deserved some run support. Rick Honeycutt (10-17, 3.94) deserved the same. Mike Parrott (1-16, 7.28) deserved to be playing in Spokane and not the majors. So are the perils of a team looking to get out of the basement. Pen guys Shane Rawley (7-7, 3.33, 13sv) and Dave Heaverlo (6-3, 3.89, 4sv) weren't half bad, but they all had to perfect with the lack off runs being scored. Only one regular, Bruce Bochte (.300-13-79) hit .300. Tom Paciorek (.273-15-59) led the team in homers. On a curiously positive note the much maligned Mario Mendoza hit .245, which was actually 45 points above the self titled "Mendoza line". 37 year old DH Willie Horton showed his age by not hitting double digits in home runs for the first time since the mid 60's. Shockingly Julio Cruz stole 45 bases considering the fact that he had a .209 average. The M's were a bad team that didn't seem to have any hope on the horizon in the minors.
16 new cards were created to complete this set.
I used Manny Sarmiento and Rick Anderson’s Spokane cards. Wish I could have found a color shot of them in a M’s uniform. Glad to see Maury Wills smiling even though he was tasked with fixing this disaster of a team. He’s one of the all-time greats who gets little or no love from the pundits. My buddy JD informed me that Rod Craig was tragically murdered in 2013 after he became homeless. It’s hard to fathom these incredible athletes as homeless or murdered. So sad.