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The American League Championship Series was a best-of-five series between the New York Yankees and the Oakland Athletics.


Due to a strike-shortened season, each team had to win two playoff series to reach the World Series. Oakland had swept the Kansas City Royals three games to none and the Yankees had beaten the Milwaukee Brewers three games to two in the 1981 American League Division Series. The Yankees swept the Athletics three games to none in the Series and moved on to the 1981 World Series, where they would lose to the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Oakland Athletics vs. New York Yankees

Game summaries

Game 1

Tuesday, October 13, 1981 at Yankee Stadiummarker in Bronx, New Yorkmarker

In Billy Martin's return to Yankee Stadium (for the first time since the Yankees fired him in 1979), the Yankees drew first blood in front of their old skipper. Graig Nettles' three-run bases-loaded double in the first inning was all the run support that Tommy John needed.

The A's mounted a threat in the eighth when setup man Ron Davis walked both Dwayne Murphy and Cliff Johnson with one out. Yankee manager Bob Lemon removed Davis and brought in closer Goose Gossage earlier than expected to face Tony Armas. Armas was the tying run at that point and was also the A's leading home run and RBI man. Gossage retired Armas and Wayne Gross to end the inning and closed out the win the rest of the way.

Game 2

Wednesday, October 14, 1981 at Yankee Stadiummarker in Bronx, New Yorkmarker

With a 3–1 lead after innings and American League ERA leader Steve McCatty cruising, the A's seemed headed for a 1–1 tie going back home to Oakland. It could have been worse, but Dave Winfield made a leaping catch in the second to rob Tony Armas of a homer.

But, Graig Nettles led off the bottom of the fourth with a single and Rick Cerone was hit by a McCatty pitch. After Willie Randolph singled in Nettles, Jerry Mumphrey walked. Dave Beard came on in relief and proceeded to give up an RBI single to Larry Milbourne, an two-run double to Winfield, and a three-run homer to Lou Piniella. Beard even gave up two more hits and loaded the bases after that, but Cerone flied out to end the disastrous inning. The Yankees now led 8–3.

The Yankees would add five more runs, three coming on a Nettles homer in the seventh, to complete the rout.

Game 3

Thursday, October 15, 1981 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseummarker in Oakland, Californiamarker

Prior to the game, Bob Lemon inexplicably dropped Willie Randolph from the leadoff spot in the batting order to ninth. Randolph kept any ill feelings to him self and broke a scoreless pitching duel between Dave Righetti and Matt Keough with a solo homer in the sixth. That run would be all Righetti would need through six innings. Series MVP Graig Nettles plated three more runs in the ninth with a bases-loaded double resulting when A's center fielder Rick Bosetti turned the wrong way on his fly ball.

In the seventh, A's manager Billy Martin tried to use his "Billyball" tactics to rattle Ron Davis. Martin had his hitters step out of the batter's box frequently during the inning and asked to inspect the baseball at one point. Regardless of Martin's tactics, Davis pitched two scoreless innings before giving way to Goose Gossage, but he was clearly rattled.

The most widely accepted debut of "the wave" occurred during Game 3, led by Krazy George Henderson.

Composite box

1981 ALCS (3–0): New York Yankees over Oakland Athletics


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