The miraculous sweep that sparked the 1979 Angels

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1979 Angels

ANAHEIM, CA – OCTOBER 5, 1979: Don Baylor #25 of the California Angels bats against the Baltimore Orioles during Game Three of the 1979 ALCS at Anaheim Stadium on October 5, 1979 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Getty Images)

The Yes We Can Angels of 1979 became the first team in franchise history to advance to the postseason. A miraculous sweep of the Yankees set the season on its magical course.

No story about the 1979 Angels can start without mentioning Lyman Bostock. The outfielder, who was leading the team in batting in 1978, was tragically murdered in Gary, Indiana following a game at Comiskey Park in September. What would have otherwise been a season of progress, the Angels finishing within five games of first place, their closest to contention in their short 18-year history, turned into a period of mourning.

After paying proper respects, owner Gene Autry, was ready to take the next step in building a winner. The Angels swung two trades with the Minnesota Twins that offseason, acquiring outfielder Dan Ford and future Hall-of-Famer Rod Carew.

The 1979 Angels were ready to take on the American League heavyweight Kansas City Royals, and that they did, winning the division by three games on way to their first postseason appearance in franchise history.

But how they got there, adopting the “Yes We Can” slogan along the way, is a story that can be summed up by describing one series in July against the New York Yankees.

The Angels entered their three game series with the Yankees with a slim 1.5 game lead in the AL West over the Texas Rangers. A seven-game losing streak at the end of June had erased a 4.5 game division lead. Just when it looked like the Angels were ready to fold away their hot start to the season, they turned around and won six in a row, building on their winning streak to win ten of their next thirteen games to set the stage for their three game weekend set with the Yankees at The Big A that demonstrated the spirit of the ’79 Yes We Can Angels.

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