The names evoke such great memories. Even if your team didn’t go all the way, a deep postseason run was the stuff of legend. The Old School Shirts design started noodling on this and came up with a new series of shirts featuring classic major league batting lineups.
Cincinnati Reds 1975
This was a no-brainer, as the company is based in Cincinnati. This team, which became known as The Big Red Machine, was built starting in the 1960s. Champions of the recently created Western Division in 1970, the Reds also won the pennant. They fell to Baltimore but were pretty much postseason regulars for the next six seasons. They returned to the World Series in 1973 but lost to Oakland. By 1975, the pieces were finally in place.
The Reds dominated the league all season and won the National League West with a record of 108–54, the best record in MLB, and finished 20 games ahead of the L.A. Dodgers. It was all capped off by a World Series win over Boston.
Cincinnati Reds 1990
With the Big Red Machine simply a fond memory of the previous generation, this Reds team took some folks by surprise. They won their first nine games, stumbled after the All-Star break with a .500 record but still managed to stay in the first place the entire way and finished five games above the L.A. Dodgers.
The wire-to-wire Reds faced the Oakland A’s in the World Series and were decided underdogs. No matter; the Reds swept Oakland for the title.
New York Mets 1986
The “Miracle Mets,” who captured a World Series title in 1969, were a distant memory when this team rose to the top of the National League East standings in the mid-80s. After finishing in second place in 1984 and 1985, the Mets made it over the top in 1986 with a storied lineup.
The 1986 Mets are one of just two National League teams to have won twice as many games as they lost in the regular season since 1909. The team is often regarded as one of the best. Oddly, the most memorable thing about them, though, isn’t anything they did but what their World Series opponent, the Boston Red Sox did, specifically first baseman Bill Buckner. A bobbled ground ball in the 10th inning opened the door for the Mets' Game 6 victory and eventual championship.
Seattle Mariners 1995
It was rough being a baseball fan in Seattle for many years. The city lost its first team after only one year when the expansion Pilots packed their bags and became the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970. A resulting lawsuit gave the city the Mariners (and helped get the Toronto Blue Jays going) in 1977, but it was a hard row to hoe.
After 18 terrible-to-mediocre seasons, the team finally turned the corner in 1995. The team won its first division title and dispatched the mighty New York Yankees in the Division Series. From there, they faced the equally snakebitten Cleveland Indians (see below). A powerful lineup and solid pitching staff (led by hurler Randy Johnson) gave Cleveland all it could handle in a six-game division series. The Indians prevailed, but Seattle’s doldrums were over. The team has yet to reach a World Series, but the Mariners have put together several competitive lineups, winning three more division titles as well as a wildcard berth.
Cleveland Indians 1995
The Indians hadn’t been to the postseason since 1954, when they were swept by the New York Giants in the World Series. The team’s last World Series win was six years earlier in 1948. Two generations of North Coast baseball fans knew nothing but misery until 1995.
Built from the ground up, the team relied heavily on talent brought up through its farm system, adding only a few free agents. The 1995 Tribe finished 30 games ahead of second-place Kansas City. An exciting American League Championship Series led to Cleveland’s first World Series appearance in over 40 years. It didn’t end well, of course, as the Atlanta Braves, who had a history of World Series letdowns, managed to make it over the top, downing the Indians in six games. Still, that team is fondly remembered in Northeast Ohio.
New York Yankees 1998
The Yankees have dominated the American League forever, but the 1998 squad was particularly fierce. The team finished with a franchise regular-season record of 114–48. They also set an American League record for wins in a season, a record that would stand until 2001, when the Seattle Mariners won 116 games in the regular season against 46 losses. Those Yankees still hold the record for most regular-season wins by a team that won the World Series).
In the postseason, they swept the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series. They captured the pennant by beating Cleveland four games to two in the American League Championship Series. In the World Series, they swept the Cinderella San Diego Padres (making only their second trip ever to the Fall Classic) to win their 24th World Series. Including the playoffs, the 1998 Yankees won a total of 125 games to 50 losses, an MLB record. In rankings by The Bleacher Report in 2014 and 2016, they were listed as the fourth or fifth-greatest team in the history of major league baseball.
Other Great Teams
Those teams are just the start of the conversion. We could go on and on. Indeed, we will be adding more. Tell us in the comments what great lineups you remember!