Kazmir, Upton among stars 'Born in the U.S.A.'
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
In 1984, Bruce Springsteen proclaimed that he was "Born in the U.S.A." with his raspy howl.
That same year, Scott Kazmir and B.J. Upton actually were born in the U.S.A., while Dioner Navarro was born in Venezuela.
No, 1984 didn't just bring us Prince Harry. It also brought us three major pieces of the 2008 Rays.
Upton is a prominent member of that group. The talented center fielder tore through October with seven homers, 16 RBIs and six steals in 16 postseason games. During the 2008 regular season, the second overall selection in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft batted .273 with nine homers, 37 doubles, two triples and 44 stolen bases.
The Rays' rise gave Upton a chance to make a name for himself on the national stage. Call it a "Boy Meets World" kind of story. In fact, that was his favorite TV show growing up.
"[I watched] 'Boy Meet World' on Friday nights," he said. "I loved Topanga."
The Rays love the work they've gotten out of Kazmir, who went 12-8 with a 3.49 ERA in the 2008 regular season before going 2-1 with a 4.21 ERA in five postseason starts. And the catcher Navarro, who batted .295 with seven homers and 54 RBIs in the regular season, did a fine job working with the Rays' young pitching staff in the postseason.
While the births of Kazmir (Jan. 24), Upton (Aug. 21) and Navarro (Feb. 9) didn't grab national headlines in 1984, the following items certainly did:
* The first Apple Macintosh computer goes on sale.
* The AIDS virus is identified.
* Seventy U.S. banks fail.
* Los Angeles hosts the Summer Olympic Games.
* The first "MTV Video Music Awards" are held in New York City.
* Genetic fingerprinting, also known as DNA profiling, is developed.
* Vanessa Williams becomes the first woman to resign as Miss America.
* A union carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, leaks lethal gas, killing more than 3,500.
This was also the year that Sony and Phillips introduced the first commercial CD players. Many consumers who took a chance on the new technology surely used it to play Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album, which continued to rule the charts, even as pyrotechnics seriously burned Jackson's scalp during the filming of a Pepsi commercial.
Springsteen's rise to superstardom aside, other musical headlines from 1984 included Wham! scoring a hit with "Wake Me Up Before You Go."
On the movie front, Bill Murray & Co. tackled the supernatural in "Ghostbusters," and we received some martial arts lessons from Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid." Eddie Murphy brought us "Beverly Hills Cop," Arnold Schwarzenegger became "The Terminator" and Harrison Ford saved the day in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.