Monthly Archives: July 2016

Boston: Day 2

Our journey continued for the second day. The first day was an epic day, and we were prepared for our second day.

To begin, we left at around 9:00 in the morning. The Buckminster is basically a block away from the Green Line MBTA station (the “T” for short), which is Boston’s metro line. Unlike the route from the airport, this time we had to pay for a pass, called a CharlieTicket, although it was a pretty good rate – about $21 for a week’s worth of use. We stepped off of the green line at Park Street, which connects to the red line as well. There was the beginning of the Freedom Trail, which connects seventeen sites over a 2.5 mile radius. Starting at Boston Common, which is a beautiful parkway, we followed the street down to the State House, which led to the Old Granary Burying Ground. For those that don’t know (which was me before this trip), a granary is a storage room connected to a barn that often stores feed for livestock. This one was converted into a cemetery which houses the gravestones of Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine, all of whom signed the Declaration of Independence; the father of Benjamin Franklin (not Franklin, though); Peter Faneuil; poet Phillis Wheatley; and Paul Revere, marked with two headstones right next to each other, one of which merely says “Revere’s tomb.” Also buried there¬†is founding father James Otis, who popularized the argument about “taxation without representation is tyranny.”

We never went in any places, largely for timing purposes, although we came close to going into the Old State House. I think Dad wanted to go in, but ultimately decided against it. We reached Faneuil Hall, where people were cheering newly registered voters on the return leg. What was most impressive was that we did this with a rudimentary map in a travel guide; we basically followed the bricks that were laid along the ground. As we stopped by each area, we realized the contrast in each place. The Paul Revere House, the next stop, is located in the North End, which has a high Italian diaspora. This one we went into, and for $3.50 apiece, we made it in. There wasn’t as much as you’d expect, but it still had many of the architecture preserved. Apparently, the playing cards were only marked by publishers, so you won’t necessarily see the suits or specific cards. There was a statue of Revere near the Old North Church, en route to Copp’s Hill, another burying ground. This one wasn’t as famous, although it did have the Mather family buried nearby. Increase and Cotton Mather were father and son, with Increase serving as president of Harvard. Their names come from Puritan tradition where it was common to name their children after virtues (some names, like Faith, Joy, Hope, etc. still survive today, although most weren’t all that flattering). The interesting thing about it is that for all of the arguments about the Puritans escaping England for persecution reasons, their belief system was rooted in strict Calvinist tradition, so many things that are common nowadays, like Christmas and even performing arts, were banned. So, apologies, but no tears coming from me. Both father and son were later known infamously for supporting the Salem witch trials, which likely cost Cotton from following in his father’s footsteps for the presidency of Harvard. I preferred Granary, but there was an interesting story.

“You going to the game tonight?” I heard somebody ask me. It turned out there was a British family visiting for the first time as well. I had my hat and shirt on, indicating I was a diehard.

“That’s right.”

“Cool, so are we.” I told this family the same story I just told you, which seemed to intrigue them. Although, they said it as “Coop” instead of “Copp.” We parted ways, although I wanted to tell them about the history of the Red Sox. But there’s something about it that wouldn’t have been right – you have to be in the moment, and a cemetery probably isn’t the right place to do so. Plus, we were close to the finish line.

Next came the scariest part of the trip for me. To get to the final two parts of the Trail, you have to cross the bridge into Charlestown. I’m not good with heights, so getting over the Charles River required me to tell myself not to look down. There was a sign to guide us through that said “Acrophobia Friendly Zone.” We crossed the bridge, seeing the TD Garden on the way over (home of the Celtics and Bruins), and then finally made out way to the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Technically authorized by the National Park Service, we had to go through security, which we did. This year, by the way, is the one hundredth anniversary of the National Park Service. There were two ships there, most famously the USS Constitution, also called “Old Ironsides.” We couldn’t unfortunately go in it because it’s currently in dry dock for the time being undergoing renovations. The second ship was the USS Cassin Young, a World War II destroyer. It was commissioned during the Second World War, and was attacked twice by kamikaze pilots. It was later recommissioned during the Korean War before being sent to the Navy Yard in¬†1978, and opened to the public three years later. After our stop on the ship, I bought myself a T-shirt from the gift shop. It’s really nice. It is light blue with the Constitution on the front, and the phrase “America’s State Ship” on the back.

Our final stop was probably the most challenging, but we knew if we were going to say we did it, we had to keep going. The final stop was the Bunker Hill Monument. The irony is that they had the wrong hill – it was fought on Breed’s Hill, and the monument is there as well. The British preparations were made on June 16, 1775, with the date being my birthday (so there’s something kind of special to me now). The battle took place the next day, and although the colonists lost, their resolve held. Bunker Hill is also believed to have been the origin of the phrase “Hold your fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” After catching a breath indoors for air conditioning, we decided to climb up to the top of the monument. As challenging as it was, it was all or nothing for us – we had to do it to say we completed the whole thing. So, we climbed up 294 stairs, and soon felt the burning feeling in our legs – or at least, I did. It was crowded, but the view was magnificent. Then all we had to do was go back. We made it back, but it took us a while. Back at Faneuil Hall, we ate food at Quincy Market, which is also the location of the Cheers bar.

We made it back to Boston Common, where our one slip up occurred. We went in the wrong T entrance, and then left before we found the correct connection. We tried to use our cards in the other ones, but we were locked out for twenty minutes. After calling, we just needed to go back to the other gate and make the connection on the other side. Oops. ūüôā But, lesson learned. We were soon back at Kenmore, and rested up a little bit before heading back to Fenway.

Although not as vibrant as the previous day, probably because Minnesota was terrible, the crowd was still terrific. We turned right onto Ipswich Street, to our entrance at Gate B. Back in their usual uniforms, knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright started for the Red Sox. He retired the first thirteen batters, and pitched eight innings with only two runs, walking one and striking out nine. Mookie Betts homered on the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning. In the bottom of the eighth inning, with the score 9-2, Boston scored four more times, with Dustin Pedroia getting his fifth hit of the game. Then, David Ortiz hit a two-run home run to make it 13-2 in the inning. Unfortunately, as hard as we tried, we couldn’t get it on film. Still, that’s something you never forget, with Big Papi depositing the pitch into the right field bleachers. He finished with three hits in the game, and four RBI. We took some time to leave, getting more photos. We wanted to make our Fenway Park memories alive. We knew we needed to go, but it took us a while. On the way out, I treated my dad to a Fenway Frank, keeping a ballpark tradition alive.

We took in the park, hoping to come back one day. Dad said it was the best ballpark he’s ever seen. He’s never seen any park so sold out before. Fenway is tradition. Fenway is history. Fenway is what baseball should be. Very few parks anymore have that – perhaps Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium, too, but Fenway is its own hero.

We got back to the hotel. We were too juiced up to sleep. Eventually, despite Dad’s snoring (haha), we got back to sleep. We had one more day left in us, then back home.


Boston: Day 1

How do you chronicle three days in so many words? My dad and I just got back from what was arguably the trip of a lifetime. Six months of meticulous planning resulted in three days of enjoyment, warm weather, two Red Sox games, and a lifetime of memories. We do have photos, and they’ll probably be added in later, but sometimes, you just know and you won’t forget.

The first day started rather early. We woke up by 3:00 in the morning, and were out by 3:45. We were able to get special tickets that helped us avoid going through the screening process (we suspect it was due to ordering via Expedia – which could be another helpful travel tip). It was exhausting, but we were able to step onto the plane for a 6 a.m. flight. We were on the ground by around 8:20 or so, and because we packed light, no need for baggage claim (we made sure to pack as light as possible – three days can do that for you). It took us a few minutes of asking around to find the MBTA, also known as the “T” for short.We went under the Ted Williams Bridge, and were finally made it to the Red Line T at South Station. We took the Red Line to Park Street, then transferred to the Green Line. From there, it was an easy ride to Kenmore, where we’d spend most of our time. It was basically heading across the street to our hotel, the Buckminster. Some interesting facts about it:

1. On September 18, 1919, gambler Sport Sullivan met Chicago White Sox first baseman Chick Gandil in the latter’s room, and then began the preparations for the Black Sox scandal, where Chicago would throw the World Series.

2. It hosted the radio station WNAC for many years, beginning in 1929. Six years earlier, they had combined with a station in New York for the first chain broadcast over the radio.

3. It was the home of a nightclub known as Storyville. Musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus, and Billie Holiday all played at the Buckminster. The stage that was used has since been converted to a pizzeria.

We weren’t able to check in quite yet, but we dropped our bags off and immediately went out looking for Fenway Park. As it turned out, it was only five minutes away. We had chosen a great location. Because the Red Sox were playing the San Francisco Giants, there was a rather large contingent of Giants fans there as well. We were able to find tickets to the 11:00 Fenway Park tour. We entered the park for the first time, and saw the defining characteristics of the park. With all due respect to the film, Field of Dreams had it wrong. This was heaven. The first time you walk in and see the Green Monster, you immediately feel a strong connection to history, sports, and life in general. Perhaps the cliche of Boston and its ballpark has been done to death, but I think I finally see why. For those that are Chicago Cubs fans, I’m sorry. As beautiful as Wrigley Field is, Fenway’s little nooks and crannies give it something that no other park in baseball has. We even got to begin the tour by sitting in seats that date all the way back to Tom Yawkey’s tenure in the 1930s. Then crossing up to the Monster itself, you could see everything from the field level. Other highlights include seeing the press box where the broadcasters sit, the right field seats, etc. It was quite the remarkable moment. Eventually, those of us on the tour branched out on our own. Dad and I saw the awards, and then after a while, we made our way back to the hotel. We checked in, found our room, and then went back out to get some supplies. We wanted to make sure to stay hydrated.

Dad fell asleep for a little bit later on in the day, and I went to explore a little bit of my own. I went back to the park, bought some supplies for us again, and then went to the Barnes and Noble nearby. While we didn’t stop to see the campus, the bookstore¬†was associated with Boston University, home of the Terriers. We hung out in the hotel for a little while longer, and then decided to head to the park. It was game time.

We were unsure that we would make our entrance, because we made one more stop, then hurriedly came back. There were drummers beating in the background, and fans from both teams were eagerly cheering on their fanbases. Both teams have won eight World Series championships, and were it not for a controversy in 1904 (see my “1904 World Series” blog post for that one), they would have played each other for the right to win number nine. The only official head-to-head World Series matchup ended 4-3 (with one tie) in favor of the Red Sox, back in Fenway Park’s first year.

Drew Pomeranz had been acquired from San Diego, and was making his Red Sox debut. It was also “Turn Back the Clock” night, and so each side wore their respective jerseys from approximately the mid-1970s. That red hat for the Sox from 1975-78 has always been a great look, in my opinion. In the second inning, Hanley Ramirez and Travis Shaw each hit home runs into the right field bullpen to give Boston a 3-0 lead. Giants starter Matt Cain would be knocked out in the third inning, thanks to Ramirez’s second home run to center, which somehow dropped in over the Abiomed sign. After three innings, Boston was up 8-0. In a battle of two contending teams, Boston looked to e on top early. But then we saw why San Francisco was in first place in the West.

Two home runs knocked Pomeranz out of the game. Out of character for me, I got in a trade of banter with a Giants fan. We later chatted about it and he said that he wasn’t mad at me, but other fans had been giving him worse than what I did and he felt singled out. I understood it to a certain degree, but it’s almost like he didn’t help himself. I’m on the fence. He even said that I was well-read in the game. It’s hard to explain.

The turning point came in the sixth inning. The Giants had rallied to make it 8-7 with the bases loaded and no out. Matt Barnes relieved Tommy Layne, trying to keep the game manageable. A ground ball was hit to Ramirez at first, who stepped on the bag for the first out. He threw to catcher Sandy Leon to try to keep the tying run from scoring. He was called out at the plate. Despite a San Francisco appeal, the call stood. Double play. The Red Sox got out of the inning with no further damage, and then Ramirez hit his third home run of the game, to left field, to make it 10-7. San Francisco threatened again in the seventh, but didn’t score. Barnes held the Giants in check, and Sandy Leon added an insurance run with a solo home run of his own. It was 11-7 Red Sox and the scoring was finally done. After allowing a runner in each of the first seven innings, Barnes bore down and went 1-2-3 in the eighth inning. Newly acquired reliever Brad Ziegler kept the Giants off the board in the ninth, and the Red Sox held on to win 11-7. David Ortiz added a single, a walk, and two runs scored. We can say that he came through on both games. More on the second game later.

Despite the scare, we came to appreciate the idea of baseball. It was everything the game should be – great defensive plays, clutch hits, home runs, heartrending drama. It was tough, but Boston survived. We were emotionally exhausted by the early travel, and the game was thrilling, but it was a spectacular first day in the Hub. We were planning for a more historical visit the next day. In the meantime, we went back to the hotel. One day down.

Seven twenty-three

Since it’s officially after midnight, I can say “yesterday” and still be accurate.

Yesterday marks two years since my mom’s passing. Perhaps because I had plans for a birthday party, or perhaps because I was too tired after coming home from Massachusetts last night, but I didn’t react to it all that poorly. Which I think is a good thing. I was very grateful for all of the well wishers, but after a while, I realized that if I’m going to heal, I needed to go back to my usual routine, not that it actually involves that much. But there’s something in that for me. This is one time I know for sure that it’s an Aspie trait – and therein lies a somewhat ironic refreshment. You’ve all probably heard how many of those with autism of something similar tend to be isolated. Well, let me clear something up: I know everybody’s different, no doubt, and I won’t claim to speak for anybody. But I’d be willing to imply that oftentimes, the isolation is a good thing. It allows us to recharge our batteries. I already have little interest in ever being a father – quite honestly, the idea of taking care of somebody overwhelms me significantly. Yes, it’s possible I could learn to do that, but man, it would take a lot. Just trust me on this one. I’d say this is a situation where I know what I’m talking about. I’m not the father type, which is fine, because I don’t want to be.

I also find something incredibly liberating about being alone. The little things in life are so much easier when you do them by yourself. For example, I don’t have to debate about what movie to go see, or at what time, or on what day. I can just go when I want to. I don’t have to argue what to eat for dinner. I make what I can eat and do it. There’s something oddly comforting in that.

I think people misunderstand me, because they misunderstand loneliness. I’ve been told numerous times that I should interact more, if for no other reason than to avoid loneliness. But here’s the thing: there’s a broader psychological definition for loneliness. We don’t go far enough in our understanding of loneliness. The way I read it, loneliness doesn’t mean perpetual isolation and a state of “alone-ness.” From what it sounds like, loneliness means that you are alone and you hate it. If you’re alone and you love it, then you’re not lonely. There’s even a saying that goes along with it. So, I am not lonely. I am secluded. There’s a difference. It was said that through this solitude, Buddha sat down under a tree and achieved the state of bliss he was looking for. Whatever your belief system is, who am I to argue what works for people?

I bring this up as a way of saying that I can grieve but not show it. Just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean I don’t care. Oftentimes, when that is the case, it’s one of the few things that helps me reach my equilibrium. If it’s not broken, right?

So, let’s set the record straight, once and for all: I have a good number of friends, or at least acquaintances. I am very honored to have them in my life. Sometimes, I have difficulty showing this gratitude, so I’m trying to do so now. By that same token, yes, I live by myself. But here’s the thing: it helps me significantly this way. I doubt I would have a lot of success with kids. Some things you just know.

So, my question is as honest as I can make it: what’s so bad about the isolation?

The good eleven

(“Never gave me any trouble ’til after nine…” Sorry, the title’s a Schoolhouse Rock reference, so I had to) One of the fun things I can do with some of these posts is to make updates. In this case, I can now update my “MLB games” seen list, from nine to eleven, hence the title. A lot of this is old information, but here are the new ones I’ve seen.

All information is accurate as of July 23, 2016 (thanks in large part to the website Baseball Reference –

1. San Francisco Giants 6, Cincinnati Reds 5 (10 innings) 
Wednesday, June 16, 1993 РRiverfront Stadium, Cincinnati, OH 

Starting Pitchers
Trevor Wilson (San Francisco)
Jose Rijo (Cincinnati)

Dusty Baker (San Francisco)
Davey Johnson (Cincinnati)

Winning Pitcher: Mike Jackson
Losing Pitcher: Bobby Ayala
Save: Rod Beck

Home Runs 
San Francisco: Dave Martinez (2), Barry Bonds, Matt Williams
Cincinnati: Kevin Mitchell, Reggie Sanders

Hall of Famers 
Barry Larkin (Cincinnati)

2. St. Louis Cardinals 3, Chicago Cubs 1 
Friday, June 30, 1995 РWrigley Field, Chicago, IL 

Starting Pitchers 
Tom Urbani (St. Louis)
Frank Castillo (Chicago)

Mike Jorgensen (St. Louis)
Jim Riggleman (Chicago)

Winning Pitcher: Tom Urbani
Losing Pitcher: Frank Castillo
Save: Tom Henke

Home Runs 
St. Louis: Scott Cooper, Tom Urbani
Chicago: None

Hall of Famers

3. Houston Astros 11, San Francisco Giants 4 
Thursday, July 20, 1995 РAstrodome, Houston, TX 

Starting Pitchers 
San Francisco: Terry Mulholland
Houston: Doug Drabek

Dusty Baker (San Francisco)
Terry Collins (Houston)

Winning Pitcher: Doug Drabek
Losing Pitcher: Terry Mulholland

Home Runs 
San Francisco: Barry Bonds
Houston: Derek Bell, Tony Eusebio

Hall of Famers
Jeff Bagwell (Houston), Craig Biggio (Houston)

4. St. Louis Cardinals 12, Cincinnati Reds 6 
Saturday, June 28, 1997 РCinergy Field, Cincinnati, OH 

Starting Pitchers 
Fernando Valenzuela (St. Louis)
John Smiley (Cincinnati)

Tony La Russa (St. Louis)
Ray Knight (Cincinnati)

Winning Pitcher: Mark Petkovsek
Losing Pitcher: John Smiley

Home Runs 
St. Louis: Ron Gant
Cincinnati: None

Hall of Famers 
Tony La Russa (St. Louis)

5. Chicago Cubs 11, Minnesota Twins 10 
Friday, July 16, 1999 РWrigley Field, Chicago, IL 

Starting Pitchers 
Eric Milton (Minnesota)
Jon Lieber (Chicago)

Tom Kelly (Minnesota)
Jim Riggleman (Chicago)

Winning Pitcher: Terry Adams
Losing Pitcher: Mike Trombley

Home Runs 
Minnesota: Torii Hunter, Chad Allen, Ron Coomer
Chicago: Sammy Sosa, Gary Gaetti, Henry Rodriguez, Jeff Blauser

Hall of Famers

6. Texas Rangers 12, Houston Astros 9 
Friday, June 15, 2001 РEnron Field, Houston, TX 

Starting Pitchers
Rick Helling (Texas)
Wade Miller (Houston)

Jerry Narron (Texas)
Larry Dierker (Houston)

Winning Pitcher: Pat Mahomes
Losing Pitcher: Jay Powell
Save: Jeff Zimmerman

Home Runs 
Texas: Rafael Palmeiro, Frank Catalanotto
Houston: Moises Alou (2), Jose Vizcaino

Hall of Famers 
Jeff Bagwell (Houston), Craig Biggio (Houston), Ivan Rodriguez (Texas)

7. Pittsburgh Pirates 5, Cincinnati Reds 1 
Sunday, June 16, 2002 РCinergy Field, Cincinnati, OH 

Starting Pitchers 
Jimmy Anderson (Pittsburgh)
Jimmy Haynes (Cincinnati)

Lloyd McClendon (Pittsburgh)
Bob Boone (Cincinnati)

Winning Pitcher: Jimmy Anderson
Losing Pitcher: Jimmy Haynes

Home Runs 
Pittsburgh: Craig Wilson, Kevin Young
Cincinnati: None

Hall of Famers
Ken Griffey, Jr. (Cincinnati)

8. Cincinnati Reds 3, Chicago Cubs 2 
Sunday, September 24, 2006 РGreat American Ball Park, Cincinnati, OH 

Starting Pitchers 
Juan Mateo (Chicago)
Aaron Harang (Cincinnati)

Dusty Baker (Chicago)
Jerry Narron (Cincinnati)

Winning Pitcher: Aaron Harang
Losing Pitcher: Ryan Dempster

Home Runs 
Chicago: Aramis Ramirez, Buck Coats
Cincinnati: None

Hall of Famers

9. St. Louis Cardinals 4, Cincinnati Reds 1 
Monday, August 10, 2009 РBusch Stadium, St. Louis, MO 

Starting Pitchers 
Johnny Cueto (Cincinnati)
Kyle Lohse (St. Louis)

Dusty Baker (Cincinnati)
Tony La Russa (St. Louis)

Winning Pitcher: Kyle Lohse
Losing Pitcher: Kip Wells
Save: Ryan Franklin

Home Runs 

Hall of Famers 
Tony La Russa (St. Louis)

10. Boston Red Sox 11, San Francisco Giants 7 
Wednesday, July 20, 2016 РFenway Park, Boston, MA 

Starting Pitchers 
Matt Cain (San Francisco)
Drew Pomeranz (Boston)

Bruce Bochy (San Francisco)
John Farrell (Boston)

Winning Pitcher: Matt Barnes
Losing Pitcher: Matt Cain

Home Runs
San Francisco: Mac Williamson, Trevor Brown
Boston: Hanley Ramirez (3), Travis Shaw, Sandy Leon

Hall of Famers 

11. Boston Red Sox 13, Minnesota Twins 2 
Thursday, July 21, 2016 РFenway Park, Boston, MA 

Starting Pitchers
Tyler Duffey (Minnesota)
Steven Wright (Boston)

Paul Molitor (Minnesota)
John Farrell (Boston)

Winning Pitcher: Steven Wright
Losing Pitcher: Tyler Duffey

Home Runs
Minnesota: None
Boston: Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., David Ortiz

Hall of Famers
Paul Molitor (Minnesota)

Breakdown of teams watched (record)
Cincinnati Reds: 5 (1-4)
St. Louis Cardinals: 3 (3-0)
San Francisco Giants: 3 (1-2)
Chicago Cubs: 3 (1-2)
Boston Red Sox: 2 (2-0)
Houston Astros: 2 (1-1)
Minnesota Twins: 2 (0-2)
Texas Rangers: 1 (1-0)
Pittsburgh Pirates: 1 (1-0)

Head-to-head match-ups 
Cincinnati vs. St. Louis – 2 (St. Louis 2, Cincinnati 0)

Managers seen (with record)
Dusty Baker: 4 (1-3)
Tony La Russa: 2 (2-0)
Jerry Narron: 2 (2-0)
John Farrell: 2 (2-0)
Jim Riggleman: 2 (1-1)
Mike Jorgensen: 1 (1-0)
Terry Collins: 1 (1-0)
Lloyd McClendon: 1 (1-0)
Davey Johnson: 1 (0-1)
Ray Knight: 1 (0-1)
Tom Kelly: 1 (0-1)
Larry Dierker: 1 (0-1)
Bob Boone: 1 (0-1)
Bruce Bochy: 1 (0-1)
Paul Molitor: 1 (0-1)

World Series Winning Managers: Bochy (3); La Russa (3); Kelly (2); Johnson; Farrell (Baker, Knight, Boone, and Molitor won as players)
Pennant Winning Managers: Baker; Collins (Baker won as player)

Hall of Famers
Jeff Bagwell (Houston) – 2
Craig Biggio (Houston) – 2
Tony La Russa (St. Louis) – 2
Barry Larkin (Cincinnati)
Ken Griffey, Jr. (Cincinnati)
Paul Molitor (Minnesota)
Ivan Rodriguez (Texas)

Good chance
David Ortiz (Boston) – 2
Bruce Bochy (San Francisco)

Visiting teams runs scored: 64
Home teams runs scored: 75

Eleven separate games, eleven separate stories. Here’s to many more to come.

1987 World Series: Beyond Metrodome

The 1987 World Series was the eighty-fifth year overall, and eighty-fourth played, of the modern World Series which began in 1903. This Series is living proof that just because it goes seven games, it isn’t necessarily a great series, or even a good one. Several firsts would be established: the home team would win all seven games of the Series, the first games would be played indoors, and the winning team would set a record for becoming the worst team by record to win the World Series. This was passed in 2006, but the record still stands in the American League, and for a full 162-game season.

(The 1987 World Series logo. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.) 

1987 World Series 
Minnesota Twins (AL) over St. Louis Cardinals (NL), 4-3 

Managers: Tom Kelly (Minnesota); Whitey Herzog (St. Louis) 

Hall of Famers 
Minnesota: Bert Blyleven, Steve Carlton (dnp)*, Kirby Puckett 
St. Louis: Whitey Herzog (manager), Ozzie Smith 

Series MVP: Frank Viola, P (Minnesota)

*- Steve Carlton did not play as a result of being left off the Twins playoff roster. 

1987 marks the year that yours truly was born. Wall Street had its worst day since the crash of the stock market in 1929, when “Black Monday” occurred on October 19. The Bernardo Bertolucci film The Last Emperor went nine for nine at the Oscars, sweeping up awards for Best Picture. Sean Connery would go on to win his only Oscar for The Untouchables. Starbucks opened its first franchises. A cartoon family known as the Simpsons debuted as vignettes on The Tracey Ullman Show. U2 released their classic album The Joshua Tree in March, and R.E.M. followed with Document, one of their best releases. The world population was estimated to reach the five billion mark. War criminal Klaus Barbie was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life imprisonment. Ronald Reagan implied Mikhail Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall!”

On the ball diamond, collusion scandals would rock the game. Over the past several years, MLB owners had colluded not to make any offers for high-priced free agents. For the first time since the advent of free agency, the average player salary declined. Marvin Miller would eventually find the owners had colluded, and protracted litigation would continue for another year. As an example, Dave Kingman had not been offered a contract for the ’87 season, took his case to court, and won (although I think they just didn’t offer him a contract because he was a career .236 hitter who did nothing except hit home runs, and had the personality of a skunk). He would become the first player to fail to make the Hall of Fame with at least 400 home runs, although nobody blames the writers. The Seattle Mariners selected Ken Griffey, Jr. first overall in the draft.

One of the few players who was able to switch teams was “The Hawk,” Andre Dawson. He signed a blank contract with the Chicago Cubs, eventually valued at $500,000, a significant pay cut. But it paid dividends as Dawson led the National League in home runs and RBI, becoming the first player to win the MVP award for a last place team (although they finished at 76-85, so nothing that bad). In total, only four free agents eligible in 1987 signed with new teams.

A milestone was reached in San Diego on April 13, with the first three Padre hitters all hitting home runs in the bottom of the first inning against San Francisco’s Roger Mason. In respective order, Marvell Wynne, Tony Gwynn, and John Kruk helped set the record. Mike Schmidt joined the 500 home run club in Philadelphia. Paul Molitor had a 39-game hit streak, the longest in the AL since Joe DiMaggio broke the record in 1941. He was on deck when one of his teammates got a walk-off single to snap the streak.

Juan Nieves of the Milwaukee Brewers became the first pitcher in team history to throw a no-hitter, beating the Orioles 7-0. Great plays by Jim Paciorek and Robin Yount (the latter a diving catch for the final out) bailed him out. He is the second-youngest pitcher in history (just over 22 years old) to throw a no-hitter.

(Juan Nieves’ defense bails him out in his no-hitter. Video courtesy of YouTube.)¬†

For much of the season, the AL East was being battled between Toronto and Detroit. Toronto had blown a 3-1 lead in the ALCS to Kansas City two years earlier, and were determined not to do it this time. But as was often their nature, Toronto couldn’t hold it, and Detroit managed to win the division head-to-head in the final week, ultimately finishing ahead by two games. Nevertheless, in one of the most controversial vote Toronto’s George Bell won the MVP over Detroit shortstop Alan Trammell. Their ALCS opponent would be somewhat of a surprise.

For the first time since 1970, the Minnesota Twins were in the playoffs. But few gave them much of a chance. They had finished at 85-77 to win the AL West; in the AL East, their record would have only been good enough for fifth place. They were also outnumbered in every statistical category – runs, home runs, ERA, you name it. But their secret weapon lay in their stadium, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, with its signature white roof. Their “homer hankies” became popular, and Kirby Puckett and Bert Blyleven led the Twins, despite everything.

(The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.)

The ALCS opened in the Metrodome. Despite their record, the Twins used a four-run eighth inning rally to steal Game 1 from Detroit and pitcher Doyle Alexander. Gary Gaetti homered to give Minnesota an 8-5 victory, with Kirby Puckett starting the winning rally.

Shockingly, the Twins went up 2-0 in the ALCS with a 6-3 win, paced by HOF pitcher Bert Blyleven. What’s even more shocking is that Detroit’s big game pitcher, Jack Morris, took the loss. Although Detroit took the lead early through a Chet Lemon home run to make it 2-0, three doubles led to three runs, as the Twins broke through with two in the fourth to give them the lead for good. Despite a home run from Lou Whitaker, the Tigers got nothing more after that.

Detroit took an early 5-0 lead in Game 3 at Tiger Stadium, before the Twins chipped away. Greg Gagne homered for the Twins to get them on the board. With the score 5-4 Detroit in the seventh, Gary Gaetti’s two-run single gave the Twins a 6-5 lead. Many thought that the Twins now had a stranglehold on the series, with closer Jeff Reardon coming on. With one on and one out, Pat Sheridan’s two-run jack gave the Tigers a 7-6 lead. Mike Henneman retired the Twins in order. The Tigers were still in it, trailing the series 2-1.

But the Twins put together a 3-1 ALCS lead with a 5-3 lead. The Twins scored one run in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth innings, including home runs by Kirby Puckett and Greg Gagne, to pace Frank “Sweet Music” Viola. The losing pitcher was Frank Tanana, who beat Toronto 1-0 on the final day to clinch the AL East. This time, Tanana couldn’t get it done. Shockingly, the Twins were one game away from the pennant.

The Twins pulled off what many thought impossible when they beat Detroit 9-5 in Tiger Stadium. Blyleven was staked to an early 4-0 lead in the second inning, and the Twins never looked back. In what would prove to be the final playoff game ever played at Tiger Stadium, the Twins stole the Tigers’ thunder with a series-clinching win. The Tigers would not return to the playoffs until 2006. The Twins had won the pennant.

(The Minnesota Twins clinch the AL pennant. Photo courtesy of

The NLCS was much more evenly matched, with the St. Louis Cardinals facing off against the San Francisco Giants. In the first inning of Game 1 at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium, the Giants struck first on a single from Candy Maldonado. After the Cardinals tied it in the third, each team traded a run in the fourth. Giants outfielder Jeffrey Leonard hit his first of four home runs in the series. Then the Cardinals used three singles to take the lead, 5-2. Although the Giants scratched back a run, the Cardinals held the lead and drew first blood.

The Giants evened the NLCS in Game 2 with a 5-0 victory. Leonard, whose perpetual frown earned him the nickname “Penitentiary Face,” aroused controversy with his second home run. He held one arm at his side, known as “one flap down,” and slowed to a walk between third base and home plate. Leonard said that he did it to protest many Giants’ players having their loved ones placed in horrible seats.

Moving to Candlestick Park for the next three games, Leonard would hit his third home run in Game 3, and again did his infamous home run trot.

(The “one flap down” home trot. Video courtesy of YouTube.)¬†

Despite giving the Giants a 4-0 lead in the third inning at the time, many thought that Leonard’s antics wound the Cardinals up. They rallied to get to 4-2, and Cardinals pitcher Joe Magrane responded by hitting Leonard in his next at-bat. A four run rally in the top of the seventh gave the Cardinals a 6-4 lead. Harry Spilman hit a solo shot to get the Giants within a run, but it wasn’t enough. The Cardinals took a 2-1 series lead with a 6-5 win.

The Giants evened the NLCS by winning 4-2. Leonard’s fourth home run allowed him one last shot to do his home run trot. Robby Thompson and Bob Brenly homered to stake San Francisco to a series-evening victory.

Leonard wouldn’t homer any more in the series, but the Giants won Game 5 to put them on the verge of their pennant since 1962. Each team traded runs in the first and third innings, and then the Cardinals took a 3-2 lead in the fourth. But Jose Uribe drove in two runs with the bases loaded to give the Giants a 4-3 lead. Two more runs scored, and that 6-3 lead held up as neither team scored again.

The Giants were on the verge of the pennant returning to Busch Stadium, and Game 6 starter Dave Dravecky pitched a great game, allowing only one run, in the second inning. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Cardinals won 1-0 to force a seventh NLCS game. In the bottom of the second, Tony Pena hit a fly ball that was misjudged and fell for a triple. A sacrifice fly scored the only run of the game.

The Giants went cold in the last two games, failing to score a run in either of them. Jose Oquendo, who had only one home run in the regular season, smacked a three-run shot, and with one run already in, the Cardinals were up 4-0. Tommy Herr drove in two more in the sixth to make it 6-0. That was all the support that Danny Cox needed, who pitched a complete game. For the second time in three years, the Cardinals had won the pennant. Surely, they’d come through again for Whitey Herzog, and were heavy favorites. One side effect was third baseman Terry Pendleton pulling a muscle while running the bases, limiting his playing time¬†in the Series.

(The Cardinals win the 1987 NL pennant. Photo courtesy of 

But in the Series, it was clear that the Metrodome would be the tenth man on the field for the Twins. This was a misleading Series, because although it went to seven games, not a single one of the games were really all that good. Still, I promised to do every one, so onward we go.

The Twins didn’t lay down and play dead, winning the first game convincingly by the score of 10-1. In the first World Series game played indoors, the decibel levels of the Metrodome were rumored to have reached 110 decibels, roughly the same as a jet plane taking off. The Cardinals scored first to take the lead when Tony Pena hit an RBI groundout. The Cardinals wouldn’t score for the rest of the game. Rookie lefty Joe Magrane kept the Twins off the board with for the first three innings, but the floodgates opened in the fourth. Three straight singles loaded the bases. Kent Hrbek gave the Twins the lead with a two-run single, and then Magrane walked Steve Lombardozzi to load the bases. Magrane was replaced by Bob Forsch, and after another run-scoring single to keep the bases loaded, Dan Gladden followed with a grand slam to make it 7-1. There was still nobody out.

(Dan Gladden’s grand slam breaks the game open for Minnesota in Game 1. Video courtesy of YouTube.)¬†

The Cardinals got out of the inning without allowing any further runs, but momentum was with Minnesota. A two-run shot by Lombardozzi in the fifth made it 9-1, and Gladden finished with a five RBI night with a double in the seventh. For a team that had been “out-everything” by Al Michaels, the Twins had drawn first blood. It was clear the Twins were here to play.

The Twins shocked the world with a second straight win. In the bottom of the second, Gary Gaetti homered to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. In the fourth, designated hitter Randy Bush started a six-run rally with a bases loaded single, scoring two runs. Before the innings, three more hits and a walk scored four more runs. It was 7-0 Twins and Bert Blyleven could cruise to victory. The Cardinals would rally to get to within 8-4, but it was too little, too late. The Twins held on for the 8-4 win and were up in the Series, 2-0.

The Cardinals needed help heading to Busch Stadium. Les Straker started for the Twins and was staked to a 1-0 lead through six, when Tom Brunansky drove in a run in the sixth. This time, the Cardinals rallied in the bottom of the seventh, when two singles and a sacrifice bunt set up Vince Coleman’s double. Coleman stole third, and Ozzie Smith drove him in with a single. Kirby Puckett tripled in the top of the eighth to bring the tying run to the plate with two out, but Gaetti didn’t come through. Todd Worrell set the Twins down in order and the Cardinals were back in the Series.

The Cardinals evened the Series with a 7-2 Game 4 victory. Coming into the game, recently retired Reggie Jackson was now working as a broadcaster for ABC. He said he had never heard of St Louis third baseman Tom Lawless. But Lawless would come through big. With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Pena walked and Oquendo singled to send Pena to third. Then Lawless hammered Viola’s 0-1 pitch over the left field fence to give the Cardinals a 4-1 lead. Not bad for a guy who went just 2-for-25 in the regular season. The Cardinals knocked Frank Viola out of the game, and scored three more runs in the inning to lead 7-1. Kirby Puckett singled home a run in the fifth but neither team scored again. The Cardinals were alive.

(Tom Lawless shocks the world with his go-ahead three-run clout. Video courtesy of YouTube.) 

Game 5 was much closer, but the Cardinals won their third straight game, putting them on the verge of the title. Danny Cox got revenge for his Game 2 loss, winning the game 4-2. It was scoreless into the sixth, before Curt Ford drove in two runs and a fielding error made it 3-0. Ozzie Smith made it 4-0 with a single. A Gary Gaetti triple got the Twins within two runs, by Todd Worrell shut down any further damage. The Twins put the tying runs on base in the ninth, but Don Baylor popped out to second to end the game. All the Cardinals had to do to be champions was win one game in the Metrodome. Easier said than done, though.

The score was 2-2 in Game 6 after three innings, with St. Louis’ Tommy Herr hitting a home run in the first inning. St. Louis broke through with two runs in the fourth inning Despite his injury, Terry Pendleton drove in a run with a single to give the Cardinals the lead, and a sac fly made it 4-2. Willie McGee’s single made it 5-2 in the fifth inning. The Cardinals were fifteen outs away from the title. John Tudor was on the mound for St. Louis. Then Minnesota rallied back hard. Kirby Puckett singled to lead off the inning, and Gaetti doubled him in. Don Baylor followed with a home run to make it 5-5. Steve Lombardozzi later drove in another run to make it 6-5. The Cardinals wouldn’t score again. In the sixth, the big blow was struck by native son Kent Hrbek. Coming to bat with the bases loaded and two out, Hrbek was facing lefty Ricky Horton.

(Kent Hrbek comes through big for the Twins. Video courtesy of YouTube.)

For the second time in the Series, a Twins player had come through with a grand slam. Minnesota led 10-5. One more scratch run set up a decisive seventh game. But many couldn’t believe it. Where were the heroics? The late game drama?

Game 7 wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t a classic either. It would be Frank Viola going for Minnesota against Joe Magrane for St. Louis. Neither team scored in the first inning. In the top of the second, three straight single led to a run-scoring single by Tony Pena. Steve Lake drove in a second run to score Willie McGee. The Cardinals were up 2-0. Minnesota got a run back in the bottom half on a second. Three blown calls would shift the momentum of the game. The first happened when Don Baylor was thrown out by Vince Coleman, despite replays to the contrary. Lombardozzi singled to score Brunansky, but it should have been tied.

The game was still 2-1 St Louis heading into the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Greg Gagne hit a grounder to first, and beat the throw to the bag. Cardinals fans believed Gagne was out, but the call stood. It wasn’t quite as bad as the Denkinger play two years ago, but it’s still a tough call. Kirby Puckett followed with an RBI double off of reliever Danny Cox and the game was tied. Later in the inning, Gaetti walked, and after a wild pitch that struck home plate umpire Dave Phillips in the mask, Puckett was gunned down at third. Gaetti went to second. Baylor singled, but for the second time, Coleman gunned down the runner at home. A violent collision between Gary Gaetti and Steve Lake couldn’t jar the ball loose, and the Cardinals were out of the inning.

The sixth inning did the Cardinals in. Tommy Herr singled with one out. Then Viola caught Herr in a rundown between first and second. Kent Hrbek was playing first for the Twins. The rule is that without the ball, it’s interference if you block the basepath. Not only did Hrbek violate the rule, but it looked like Herr had slid back in under the tag when he got the ball. Still, first base umpire Lee Weyer called Herr out, despite having his view blocked by Hrbek and Lombardozzi at second base. If interference had been called, Herr would have been awarded second base automatically. The Cardinals couldn’t get anything going. A chance had been blown.

Minnesota took the lead for good in the sixth. Three walks loaded the bases, with two out. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Greg Gagne hit a 3-2 pitch for a single to score Brunansky. Minnesota was nine outs from the title. In the top of the seventh, Pena doubled and stole third base, but was stranded Lawless flied to center to end the threat. Finally, in the bottom of the eighth, the Twins put the nail in the coffin. Tim Laudner singled with one out, and two batters later, Dan Gladden doubled him in for a clutch insurance run. Minnesota was on the verge of the title.

After eight strong innings, Frank Viola gave way to Jeff Reardon. Herr flied to center and Curt Ford popped up. It was up to Willie McGee. Two quick strikes put McGee in the hole. He hit a grounder to Gaetti at third. The throw was in time. Minnesota had won its first title since relocation, and first overall since 1924, when they were the Washington Senators. Cardinals fans could only watch in dismay. They wouldn’t make it back to the Series until 2004. The Twins had shocked the world.

(The Twins celebrate the title. Photo courtesy of 

Fun Facts
This is probably one of the most boring World Series of all time. In only one game did the winning run score in the seventh inning or later (Game 3). For the first and only time, the bottom of the ninth inning was never played in any game in the World Series.

This is the first time in World Series history where the home team won every game. It has happened two other times since.

This is the second of three World Series where both teams had a losing record the previous season. In all three Р1965, 1987, and 1991  Рthe Twins were involved.

Les Straker became the first Venezuelan pitcher to start a World Series game, getting the nod for Minnesota in Game 3.

The Twins were the first team to win the World Series despite being outscored during the regular season. They scored 786 and allowed 806, a run differential of -20.

The Twins became the team with the worst record to win the World Series, at 85-77. This record would stand until 2006, and is still a record both in the American League and pre-Wild Card playoff format.

The World Series featured the first World Series games ever played indoors.

This was the last World Series with a daytime game, with Game 6 starting just after 4 p.m. EST. Because it was indoors, though, nobody noticed.

Game 7 occurred on the birthday of Twins backup catcher Roy Smalley, who retired after the season.

Steve Carlton was near the end of his career, and was left off Minnesota’s playoff roster. Still, he was invited to the celebration photo at the White House, where he was misidentified as a Secret Service agent. It didn’t help that he was wearing dark sunglasses at the time and was toward the back of the photo.

Minnesota was alleged to have pumped artificial crowd noise into the Metrodome, which was apparently confirmed in 2003.

Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker, who played against the Twins in the ALCS, once forgot his uniform during the 1985 All-Star game in the Metrodome. He was forced to buy his equipment from a gift shop, or borrow equipment from other players.

This Series enabled Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley) to win the fictional “Dreyer Scholarship” in an episode of Beverly Hills 90210.

The Twins won their first title since 1924, when they were the Washington Senators. They have not won a road game in the World Series since 1925, against the Pittsburgh Pirates, having lost fourteen straight since then.

From 1978-87, ten different teams won the World Series, which has never been accomplished before or since in a ten-year time frame.

Bert Blyleven is the first Hall of Famer born in The Netherlands. He won 287 games and struck out 3,701 batters, but had to wait until his 14th ballot to get in in 2011.

Final Thoughts
I’ve argued that just because a World Series goes to seven games doesn’t mean it’s a classic. This one is proof. In fact, of every seven-game Series, this is one of the worst. Still, mad props to Minnesota for overcoming the odds. The next season would see the rise of one of baseball’s supposed dynasties, and give the Fall Classic one of its classic moments.

References and Sources
Baseball Almanac
Baseball Reference
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)
The Baseball Hall of Shame (Bruce Nash, Allan Zullo)
The Seventh Game (Barry Levenson)
You’re Missin’ a Great Game (Whitey Herzog)

Major League Baseball: Mid-season report

Hey, everybody. The AL took home field advantage in the World Series for the fourth straight year with a 4-2 win over the NL.

Here are the playoff runs as of the All-Star break:

American League 
1. Texas Rangers
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Baltimore Orioles
Wild Card: Boston Red Sox/Toronto Blue Jays

Still in contention: Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers

National League 
1. San Francisco Giants
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Washington Nationals
Wild Card: Los Angeles Dodgers/Miami Marlins/New York Mets (Marlins and Mets tied for second on the NL East)

Still in contention: St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates

My five most intriguing World Series match-ups at this point (with AL listed first as the home team).
1. Cleveland vs. Chicago: The history of each team would see one team break its drought, and the other’s continue.
2. Cleveland vs. San Francisco: Terry Francona and Bruce Bochy are the only active managers with at least two World Series championships. Every manager with at least three titles is in the Hall of Fame. Bochy had three, and if Francona wins again, so will he. Plus, it would be interesting to see if Cleveland can get revenge for 1954.
3. Baltimore vs. San Francisco: Both teams wear black and orange, so sartorially, it would be a pleasure to look at. Plus, it would be nice to see Buck Showalter finally get to a World Series. The question is, does he have the pitching to get him there?
4. Boston vs. San Francisco: A rematch of 1912 would be nice, and with David Ortiz retiring, it would be intriguing to see if he has one more title in him. Additionally, both franchises have won eight championships, tied for fourth-most all time. Both teams would be battling for number nine.
5. Baltimore vs. Washington: It would be the Battle of the Beltway, and the Nationals are one of only two teams (the Mariners are the others) who have never played in the World Series.

My most likely prediction for the World Series at this point: Cleveland vs. San Francisco. Don’t ask me why, it’s just what I think right now. We’ll see if that changes in the future.


1986 World Series: Buckner

The 1986 World Series was the eighty-fourth year overall, and eighty-third played, of the modern World Series which began in 1903. The champions for this year don’t get the respect they deserve, largely because of the losing team chasing old ghosts. Even thirty years later, there’s a haunting tone to this series. Despite three Red Sox championships since then, much of the specter of the sixth game has never gone away.

1986 World Series.gif
(The 1986 World Series logo. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.)

1986 World Series 
New York Mets (NL) over Boston Red Sox (AL), 4-3 

Managers: Davey Johnson (New York); John McNamara (Boston) 

Hall of Famers 
New York: Gary Carter 
Boston: Wade Boggs, Jim Rice, Tom Seaver (dnp)* 

Series MVP: Ray Knight, 3B (New York) 

* РTom Seaver did not appear in the Series due to injury 

Those who know me will know that this is probably one of the toughest I’ve ever had to write. For those who argue that it’s only a game, watch this entire Series from beginning to end and see if you still feel the same way. It’s not something you’d wish on your worst enemy. Rob Neyer makes a great argument in his book how in¬†Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Blunders, the Buckner play is the classic example. He says that the error is not a blunder, but a blooper, because he had no way of knowing it was going to happen. The blunder is that his manager didn’t take him out and didn’t give the chance to not make it. But more on that later.

1986 saw the death of Christa McAuliffe and six other people in the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger. McAuliffe had been set to be the first teacher in space, before cold weather led to a fuel leak and the shuttle disintegrating. Two days before, the ’85 Chicago Bears and their stifling 46 defense capped off a 15-1 regular season with a 46-10 victory in Super Bowl XX against the New England Patriots. The United Nations declared ’86 the Year of World Peace. Pixar Studios opened in California. Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the ideas of “perestroika” and “glasnost” in the Soviet Union. A discotheque in West Berlin was bombed, with many holding Libya’s leader Muammar Qaddafi responsible. The nuclear plant Chernobyl melted down, destroying much of the area. Even today, many areas are unsafe for habitation. Diego Maradona led Argentina to the World Cup title in Mexico, pulling off his goal known as the “Hand of God.” Belgium also made a surprising semifinal run that year. Greg LeMond became the first American to win the Tour de France. It saw the debut of The Oprah Winfrey Show, which lasted for 25 years. New York Harbor celebrated the centennial anniversary of the acquisition of the Statue of Liberty. Many classified documents of the Iran-Contra affair were destroyed by Oliver North and the National Security Council.

On the diamond, drug trials the previous year resulted in the suspensions of eleven players. Barry Bonds made his debut on May 30, and hit his first home run on June 4. Don Sutton won his 300th game, now as a member of the California Angels, joining on June 18. On June 16 (my birthday, one year before I was born), Rangers pitcher Charlie Hough took a no-hitter into the ninth, but lost 2-1, allowing only one hit and several costly fielding errors. Bert Blyleven joined the 3,000 strikeout list. Pete Rose got his final three hits on August 14, and made his last at-bat three days later. He would continue to manage the Reds, although signs of trouble were already brewing. Bob Horner hit four home runs in a game for the Braves, but they still lost 11-8 to Montreal.

For the first time since 1978, the Boston Red Sox were in the thick of a pennant race. Dwight Evans led off the season with a home run, indicating that Boston was planning to be a major player. The big moment came on April 29, when Roger Clemens took the mound against the Seattle Mariners. Clemens was a hard-thrower from Texas, and in his third year with the Red Sox. On a cold night in Boston, Clemens set a new record with 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game. The Red Sox won, 3-1. Clemens went 24-4 and led the AL in ERA, winning both the Cy Young and MVP award. Shockingly, only 13,414 people attended, largely due to the Boston Celtics playing the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA playoffs simultaneously.

(The Fenway faithful show the sign “K” for strikeout during the Clemens 20-strikeout game. Photo courtesy of¬†

The Red Sox won ugly, won fluky games, and also won convincingly, beating the Yankees by 5.5 games for the division title, the best record in the American League. Dave Henderson, one of the Mariners in the 20 strikeout game, was acquired in a mid-season trade, as was infielder Spike Owen. The Red Sox were in the race again.

But the big story was the best team by record of the 1980s – the New York Mets. Keith Hernandez had come over in a trade with St. Louis, and Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Gary Carter anchored the team. Curtain calls became a standard in Queens that year. But even in their dominance, they were one of the most hated teams. They were rowdy, profane, and sometimes a mix of both. A fight with Cincinnati in June led to no left fielder, so pitchers Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell were forced to alternate, as Howard Johnson homered to win the game in the of the fourteenth inning.

(The Reds-Mets brawl in July 1986. Video courtesy of YouTube.) 

Later in the season, a fight with the Pirates led to the release of former Reds superstar George Foster. Foster alleged racism, but was seen as a clubhouse cancer. After being traded from the Mets, Lee Mazzilli was reacquired to replace Foster. The Mets won 108 games, defeating the Cubs on September 17 to clinch the division. Despite this, Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt won his third career MVP award.

Their NLCS opponents were no pushovers, though. The Houston Astros had former Mets pitcher Mike Scott in their lineup. Despite being rumored to doctor the baseball with sandpaper, Scott became the first pitcher to clinch a playoff berth by throwing a no-hitter, winning 2-0 over the Giants.

(Mike Scott throws his division-clinching no-hitter. Video courtesy of YouTube.) 

All three playoff series that year would be classics. Ordinarily, the Mets were supposed to have home-field advantage, but an NFL game between the Bears and Oilers made the Astrodome unavailable during the middle three dates, so they were forced to give it to Houston. The NLCS opened at the Astrodome in Houston. Scott took the hill in Game 1 for the Astros, and was brilliant, pitching a 1-0 shutout and finishing with fourteen strikeouts. Glenn Davis homered in the second to give Houston their only run. One moment of controversy occurred when Lenny “Nails” Dykstra beat out an infield single off Scott. He bellowed toward the Astros dugout, right in the vicinity of Nolan Ryan. Ryan promised to knock him down in Game 2, which he was starting. Dwight Gooden pitched a great game but Scott was better, and the Astros had drawn first blood.

Game 2 saw Ryan knock down Dykstra with the pitch in the fifth inning, but it had the opposite effect that Ryan was hoping for. Dykstra followed with a single, which sparked a three-run rally, giving the Mets a 5-0 lead at the time. Houston got only one run and the Mets had evened the series.

Dykstra’s big moment would come in Game 3, in Shea Stadium. The Astros jumped out to an early lead. Bill Doran hit a two-run homer in the second, and at the time, the Astros were up 4-0. But the Mets chipped away at the lead. The Mets rallied for four runs in the sixth inning to tie the score, capped off with Strawberry’s three-run home run. A throwing error by third baseman Ray Knight in the top of the seventh led to an unearned gave the Astros a 5-4 lead. The score stayed that way until the bottom of the ninth. Astros closer Dave Smith was on the mound. Wally Backman attempted to bunt, and appeared to have stepped out of the baseline to avoid the tag from Glenn Davis at first base. Astros manager Hal Lanier protested but Backman was ruled safe. Danny Heep (the man whom Scott was traded for in 1984) flied to center for the first out of the ninth. Dykstra hadn’t started the game because lefty Bob Knepper was on the mound for Houston to start the game. Smith missed just enough to see Dykstra hit a tailing line drive to right field. The ball disappeared over the fence for a walk-off two run homer. The Mets won the game, 6-5.

(Lenny Dykstra leaps in the air as he rounds third base following his home run to win Game 3. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)

The Astros would send Scott back to the mound in Game 4. The Mets were convinced that Scott was scuffing the ball, and sought to find evidence of it. They almost had it, but apparently threw the evidence away by accident. Scott threw his second complete game of the series, winning 3-1 to even the Series. Portly lefty Sid Fernandez didn’t pitch poorly for the Mets, either, but home runs by Dickie Thon and Alan Ashby gave the Astros all the runs they needed.

Both teams had everything to play for. Game 5 in Shea would tilt the momentum to one team. Rain forced the game back to a noon start time one day after it was scheduled to be played. Game 5 was a classic. Houston put runners at the corners with nobody out in the second, but Dwight Gooden pitched around it and Houston didn’t score. Keith Hernandez later admitted that his foot wasn’t on the bag during the inning-ending double play, and the Astros should have scored. Nolan Ryan was just as good, striking out ten. Both teams scored in the fifth inning; Houston scored on a single, double, and groundout. New York rallied to tie on a Strawberry home run. The game would go into extra innings, and Gooden would go ten innings. It would go to the bottom of the twelfth inning, when Charlie Kerfeld took the mound in relief for Houston. Backman led off with an infield single. Kerfeld attempted to pick off Backman, but threw the ball away, and then was forced to intentionally walk Hernandez. Up came Gary Carter, who was 1-21 coming into the at-bat. Somehow, Carter smacked a single to center field, scoring Backman to score the winning run. The Mets had momentum heading back to Houston.

If Game 5 was a classic, then Game 6 was epic. (My aunt also went to the game.) Bob Knepper started for Houston, attempting to give the ball back to Scott for Game 7. Houston’s offense jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, with Phil Garner hitting a double to start the scoring. Glenn Davis and Jose Cruz added RBI singles. Houston almost had another in the third, but a botched squeeze bunt got the Mets out of the inning. Knepper took that 3-0 lead into the ninth. Houston was three outs away from getting the ball back to Scott. The Mets new that if they couldn’t rally, Scott would be tough to beat. Many thought they’d have no chance in Game 7.

But Knepper was tiring. Dykstra hit a triple to lead off the inning. Mookie Wilson singled, and then Hernandez doubled, cutting Houston’s lead to one run with one out. Dave Smith was brought in, and gave up a game tying sacrifice fly to Ray Knight. It was 3-3, and New York was alive. No further damage was done, but Houston was now on the ropes. For four inning, nobody scored. Then in the top of the fourteenth, Carter and Strawberry reached. Backman singled to give the Mets a 4-3 lead in the fourteenth. But then in Houston’s half of the inning, Billy Hatcher ricocheted a home run off the foul pole to tie the game again. The game would go to the sixteenth inning with the same score. Three runs scored thanks to a pair of singles, a double, and two wild pitches. The Mets were up 7-4 with three outs to go. Did Houston have any life left in them?

Houston had one final rally. The Astros would score twice to cut the lead to one run. With two men on and two men out, including the tying run in scoring position, Kevin Bass came to the plate. Jesse Orosco threw Bass six straight sliders. Finally, on a 3-2 count, Bass swung and missed. The Mets had won the pennant. Despite this, Mike Scott was named MVP in a losing effort.

(Jesse Orosco celebrates as the Mets are NL champions. Photo courtesy of 

The ALCS saw the Red Sox face off with the California Angels. Despite Clemens’ dominance, Mike Witt pitched the Angels to an 8-1 victory in the opener. A four-run second inning helped pace the Angels. Witt pitched a complete game, and the Angels had drawn first blood. Boston evened the series with a 9-2 Game 2 victory. Bruce Hurst staked Boston by pitching a complete game, allowing eleven hits but no walks. Marty Barrett hat two RBI, Jim Rice homered, and Bill Buckner had one as well.

The Angels took the third game, 5-3, to take the series lead. Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd was beaten by John Candelaria, with Donnie Moore getting the save. Former Yankee Reggie Jackson tied the game with a single in the sixth, and then in the seventh, Dick Schofield and Gary Pettis homered to give the Angels the lead for good.

Game 4 put the Angels up 3-1 in games. The Red Sox could have tied the series, but blew a 3-0 lead. Bill Buckner had an RBI, and reached on an error to score another run, and Marty Barrett drove in another run for Boston. With two out, Brian Downing was hit by pitcher Calvin Schiraldi to tie the game. The Angels came to bat in the eleventh and put two men on with one out. Second baseman Bobby Grich singled and the Angels had won the game, and were one win away from the pennant.

(Bobby Grich’s single gives the Angels the win in Game 4. Video courtesy of YouTube.)¬†

Heading into Game 5, Gene Mauch was finally on the verge of a pennant. His teams had blown leads in 1964 with the Phillies, and with the Angels in the 1982 ALCS. Surely, it wouldn’t happen again, right?

Game 5 continued one of the most incredible postseasons in history. Boston catcher Rich Gedman hit a two-run home run to give Boston an early lead. California got a run back in the bottom of the third when former Phillie Bob Boone homered. Grich later homered to give California the lead off of Bruce Hurst. In the seventh, the Angels made it 5-2 on a double and a sacrifice fly. Neither team scored in the eight. Mike Witt started the ninth, with the Angels three outs away from the pennant.

It’s unfair to label Buckner for one play, because he led off the top of the ninth with a single to left. Dave Stapleton came in to pinch run, due to Buckner’s ailing legs. Jim Rice struck out. Two outs to go. On a 3-2 count, Don Baylor came through with a home run to cut the Angels’ lead to 5-4.

(Don Baylor gives the Red Sox life with a two-run home run. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.) 

Dwight Evans popped up to third base. The Angels were now one out away. Playing the percentages, lefty Gary Lucas came in to try to get the final out. But Lucas would only throw one pitch, hitting Rich Gedman. The tying run was aboard. In came Donnie Moore, with the Angels still one out away. Could Gene Mauch finally have his taste of the champagne?

The last hope was on Dave Henderson’s shoulders. Henderson worked the count to 2-2. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Henderson¬†hit a fly ball to left field. Brian Downing went back to the wall. It was over his head. The Red Sox had the lead, 6-5. Anaheim Stadium fell silent.

(Dave Henderson gives the Red Sox the lead in the ninth. Video courtesy of YouTube.) 

(Henderson celebrates his go-ahead home run with his teammates. Photo courtesy of Boston Globe.) 

The Angels weren’t dead yet, however, rallying to tie the score on a single by Rob Wilfong. Game 5 would go to extra innings. Both teams put runners on in the tenth but failed to convert. Finally, with the bases loaded and none out, Henderson hit another fly ball, this one to center field. It didn’t leave the park, but it was deep enough to score Don Baylor from third. This time, Calvin Schiraldi held the lead and the Red Sox were still in it, winning Game 5, 7-6.

The loss totally demoralized the Angels. They were still up 3-2 in games, but you could tell the momentum was with Boston. Oil Can Boyd pitched seven innings for Boston in Game 6, and Marty Barrett broke a 2-2 tie in the third inning, sparking a five-run third inning rally. The Red Sox won Game 6, 10-4, and Clemens would be getting the ball in Game 7. In the second inning, Dick Schofield made a costly throwing error, leading to an early 3-0 lead by the time the inning was over. Another error in the fourth inning led to four runs, and John Candelaria was done. Jim Rice capped off the damage with a three-run homer off the Green Monster light tower.

(Jim Rice makes it 7-0 Boston in ALCS Game 7. Video courtesy of YouTube.) 

The Red Sox and Angels each added a run. But it was 8-1 Red Sox and the Angels were now down to their last three outs. Calvin Schiraldi struck out the side, getting Jerry Narron to end the game and the series. The Red Sox had rallied to win the pennant.

(What a column so far! I’ve reached the 3,000 word mark without mentioning a single word about the World Series yet. See why ’86 was one of the best postseasons of all time?)

The Series was finally set. In an interview before the Series started, Bill Buckner jokingly said that his greatest fear was allowing a grounder through his legs to lose the game….

The first game opened in Shea Stadium. Now with the Red Sox, Tom Seaver wouldn’t play in the Series, and was in his final season, but still got the loudest applause of anybody. The first game was a pitcher’s duel between Bruce Hurst and Ron Darling. Hurst’s defense helped him out with a double play to end the sixth inning. In the top of the seventh, with the game still scoreless, Rice led off with a walk and went to second on Darling’s wild pitch. After a groundout, Rich Gedman reached when the ball squirted through Tim Teufel’s legs, allowing Rice to score. It was 1-0 Boston and it would be the only run of the game. Darling had the misfortune of losing on an unearned run.

The second game was supposed to be a pitcher’s duel between Gooden and Clemens. But it didn’t work out that way. Wally Backman was caught stealing in the first inning to ruin a New York scoring opportunity. In the third, the Red Sox broke through. Spike Owen walked, and Roger Clemens reached on a throwing error on a bunt. Three straight hits led to a 3-0 Red Sox lead. The Mets clawed back to within a run in their half of the third, as Hernandez redeemed himself for his throwing error with an RBI groundout. But home runs by Dave Henderson and Dwight Evans in the fourth and fifth gave Boston a 6-2 lead. Clemens wouldn’t last long enough to get the win, as he departed in the fifth with two men on. Steve Crawford gave up a single to Gary Carter to allow one run to score, but no further damage was done. The Red Sox scored three times in the final three innings, making the score 9-3. The Red Sox were up 2-0 heading to Fenway Park. Even the most cynical fans began to hope.

Former Red Sox pitcher Bobby Ojeda would go for the Mets in Game 3. Furious with the perceived arrogance of the Red Sox brass, he got even with his old team and pitched the Mets back into it with a 7-1 win. The Mets offense broke out for him as well, with Lenny Dykstra homering to lead off the top of the first. Four runs scored before the Red Sox came to bat. The Monster robbed Don Baylor of a home run, as he was forced to settle for a double. Roger McDowell shut down the Red Sox for the final two innings.

Gary Carter came through big with two home runs in Game 4 to help the Mets tie the Series, breaking through in the fourth inning of a scoreless game against Al Nipper. Ray Knight later drove in Strawberry¬†to make it 3-0. Dykstra later came through with a two-run shot, and Carter’s second made it 6-0 Mets in the eighth. The Red Sox got two runs in the eighth, but it wasn’t enough. The Series was 2-2 again.

The visiting team had won the first four games in the Series. The home team finally got a win, with Bruce Hurst giving the Red Sox the win in Game 5. For the second time in the Series, Dwight Gooden couldn’t get it done. Spike Owen’s sacrifice fly started the scoring for Boston, and Dwight Evans came through with an RBI of his own to make it 2-0. Gooden was done after four innings after two more runs scored to make it 4-0. The Mets got a home run from Tim Teufel to get on the board, and then Rafael Santana drove in a run in the ninth, but Hurst persevered and the Red Sox won 4-2. Dykstra struck out to end the game, and the Red Sox were heading back to Shea with a 3-2 lead. For the first time in sixty-eight years, the Red Sox controlled their own destiny.

Game 6. Perhaps¬†no other game in history (at least in the World Series) was as scrutinized as much as this one. Sometimes, brevity is best, but that’s never been my style. The game is legendary. In what was probably an omen for the night’s events, parachutist Michael Sergio landed on the infield of Shea Stadium right before the start of the game, with a “Go Mets” banner attached. Sergio was arrested and taken into custody. It was time to play ball.

(Michael Sergio parachutes into Shea Stadium prior to Game 6. Photo courtesy of New York Daily News.) 

In Game 6, Roger Clemens would attempt to end all of the Red Sox’s bad dreams. Future Hall of Fame third baseman Wade Boggs led off the game with a single. After two fly balls and a walk, Evans doubled down the right field line to give the Red Sox an early lead, sending Rice to third base. Bobby Ojeda was in an early hole for the Mets. In the second inning, Boston made it 2-0 with a Marty Barrett single. Barrett had won ALCS MVP and also had a great World Series.

Through four innings, the Red Sox held the lead. They had numerous chances throughout the game, but would frustratingly leave fourteen runners on base in the game. In the bottom of the fifth, Darryl Strawberry led off with a walk and then stole second. Ray Knight singled to score Strawberry, and Wilson singled to send Knight up. Danny Heep grounded into a double play to tie the game. Clemens got Ojeda to ground out to end the inning.

Boston would break through in the seventh, set up from a Ray Knight error to put runners on the corners. Evans hit an RBI groundout, and the Red Sox were up by a run with nine outs to go. Clemens pitched through the seventh, despite a blister that was developing on his finger. Clemens came out to the on-deck circle in the eighth. And then the questions started. John McNamara always insisted that Clemens asked out of the game, saying he was done. Clemens said just the opposite, and the fact he was preparing to hit seems to support him. Still, with Schiraldi warming up in the bullpen, McNamara had made his decision. Rookie Mike Greenwell was sent in to pinch hit. He struck out on three pitches. The Red Sox also left the bases loaded in the inning. Now Calvin Schiraldi was called on to try to get a two-inning save. But he was clearly scared.

Lee Mazzilli led off the bottom of the eighth with a single. Dykstra bunted and reached after they couldn’t get him. First and second, none out. Backman sacrificed them both one base. Keith Hernandez was walked to load the bases. But Gary Carter hit a fly ball to Rice in¬†left¬†field, deep enough to score Mazzilli and send Dykstra to third. Schiraldi escaped any further damage, but the game was tied again.

Rick Aguilera came in to pitch the top of the ninth for New York. After striking out Rice, Evans reached on an error. The Red Sox had the go-ahead run on. But Gedman grounded into a double play to end the inning. The Mets put the winning run on second with nobody out, after a walk and a Gedman throwing error. But Schiraldi bore down and struck out Johnson and got two fly balls. Game 6 was going to extra innings.

Dave Henderson came up to lead off. For the second time in the postseason, Henderson was clutch, hitting another home run. The Red Sox had the lead again.

(Dave Henderson gives the Red Sox the lead in the tenth inning. Photo courtesy of 

After two strikeouts, Boggs doubled to left. Marty Barrett singled to score Boggs. The Red Sox were up 5-3. After Buckner was hit by a pitch, Rice flied to right and the Red Sox were three outs away from the title.

In every one of the Red Sox’s seven postseason wins, Dave Stapleton replaced Bill Buckner in the field, because Buckner had been in massive pain with his legs. Whether Buckner asked to stay in or McNamara let his emotions get the better of him, Buckner stayed in the game.

Schiraldi went to the mound for his third inning of work. He got an 0-2 count on Backman, getting him to fly out to Rice. Keith Hernandez followed. He flied to center on a 2-1 pitch to Dave Henderson. The Red Sox were now one out away. Hernandez was so disappointed that he retreated to the clubhouse. The Red Sox were almost there. For a brief moment, the Shea Stadium message board flashed a message, then just as quickly disappeared. It said only this: “CONGRATULATIONS BOSTON RED SOX. 1986 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS.” Nobody knows if the Mets saw it, but Gary Carter was the Mets’ last hope.

Carter told himself not to be the last out, and he came through with a single. Schiraldi was still in control. Kevin Mitchell was sent to pinch hit for Aguilera. Mitchell had to be found after trying to book a flight home. He hurriedly got dressed, and followed through with a single. Carter moved to second. Schiraldi moved Knight to an 0-2 count, but Knight fought off a pitch and singled to right-center, scoring Carter and moving Mitchell to third. McNamara had been hurriedly warming up his closer Bob Stanley, and now summoned him from the bullpen. The Red Sox fans had seen this before. Now they were on their heels, trying to survive another heartbreak.

Stanley came in to pitch to Mookie Wilson. Wilson hung in, fouling off several pitches. On one of them, the ball curved just foul, which would have been the third out had it stayed fair. After seven pitches, Wilson had the count 2-2. On the next pitch, Stanley tried to get Wilson to chase in the dirt. But it curved just a little too much. Wilson dove out of the way. The ball escaped past Gedman. Mitchell raced home to score standing up. The Mets had tied the game. The Red Sox needed one strike three times. Three times, they failed to come through.

(Rich Gedman chases after the wild pitch, causing the Mets to tie the game. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.) 

Bob Costas had been in the locker room, with cellophane ready in anticipation of the Red Sox spraying champagne. He was watching on a TV, and as the Mets tied the game, was ordered to get out of the locker room. The crew began taking down all the preparations, as fast as a scene change in a Broadway play.

Wilson had a full count on him. He fouled off another¬†pitch. Finally, on the ninth¬†pitch of the at-bat, Wilson put the ball into fair territory. Bill Buckner raced over to try to field the ball. He got ready to close his glove. He closed it. But the ball wasn’t there. It had skipped past him into right field for an error. Knight placed his hands on his head as he raced around third with the winning run. The Mets had won 6-5. The Series was tied, 3-3. And the Red Sox had another moment of heartbreak in their history.

(Bill Buckner can’t come up with the ball,losing Game Six for the Red Sox. Photo courtesy of Boston Globe.)¬†

(Buckner walks off the field in defeat, in pure agony. Photo courtesy of 

(Ray Knight crossed home plate with the winning run. Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report.)

Costas and his team immediately went to work dismantling the championship preparations. The first planned TV interview in the wake of a Red Sox title would have to wait. There was one more game to play.

Rain delayed the seventh game back by one day. Many thought that it was Red Sox fans tears that were too strong to be contained. McNamara had one more gamble up his sleeve. Because of the extra day of rest, Oil Can Boyd was pushed back in favor of Bruce Hurst. Boyd was so furious that he became drunk in the clubhouse and would be unavailable just in case.

Game 7 started well for the Red Sox. Evans and Gedman led off with back-to-back home runs in the second inning. Wade Boggs came in with a single to make it 3-0 in the second inning. Would Boston shrug off the blues from Game 6? Could they? Perhaps, despite everything, the loss was so catastrophic that nobody could do anything to help Boston.

For five innings, Bruce Hurst kept the Mets off the board, as bravely as possible. In the bottom of the sixth, he got a groundout to Owen for the first out. Then the Mets came back. Mazzilli and Wilson singled, and Teufel walked to load the bases. Hernandez singled in two runs to cut the Red Sox lead to one. On a force play, the Mets tied the game one batter later. It was 3-3.

Roger McDowell kept the Red Sox off the board in the seventh. One last time, McNamara went to Schiraldi. One last time, it was the wrong move. Ray Knight took a 2-1 pitch deep to left. It disappeared over the fence. The Mets led, 4-3. Schiraldi and the Boston bullpen fell apart after that, allowing two more runs in the inning. The Mets were up 6-3 with six outs to go.

(Ray Knight hits the go-ahead home run in the seventh inning. Photo courtesy of 

The Red Sox had one last rally in them, down to their final six outs. Buckner and Rice singled, and Evans drove both of them in. The tying run was on second with nobody out. But Jesse Orosco replaced McDowell and got out of the inning. Al Nipper pitched the eighth, despite Clemens being ready, desperately hoping to get the ball to redeem himself. It never happened. Strawberry gave the Mets a much-needed insurance run with a leadoff home run, and after Nipper got an out, Orosco came through later in the inning with an RBI single. Steve Crawford got out of a shaky eighth inning. McNamara had messed up again. The Red Sox were three outs away from elimination.

Shortstop Ed Romero led off the top of the ninth with a pop up to Hernandez at first. Wade Boggs grounded out to second base. Now the Red Sox were down to their final out. It would be up to Marty Barrett. Barrett had a terrific Series, collecting 13 hits for a .433 batting average. He worked the count to 2-2. Then Orosco came in with a high fastball. Barrett swung and missed. Game over. The Mets were champions.

(Gary Carter jumps into Jesse Orosco’s arms as the Mets rush to celebrate. Photo courtesy of¬†

Bill Buckner became the scapegoat for much of Boston’s baseball failures. The media never let up on him. Despite four more seasons, including a return to Boston, retiring in 1990. Despite 2,705 hits, two World Series appearances, and playing through immense pain, he was remembered for only one moment. He had to move to Idaho to escape the scrutiny, before finally coming back to Fenway Park in 2008.

Bill Simmons, a.k.a. The Boston Sports Guy, writes about Game 6 in the terrific book Now I Can Die in Peace. In painstaking detail, he goes through the events. ¬†In his 2002 “Levels of Losing” column, it is the worst type of loss on this list, described in only two words: “That Game.”

Fun Facts
Bruce Hurst was the presumptive MVP had the Red Sox held on. When the Mets won, Ray Knight was named MVP. Sadly, the Mets didn’t reward him, and he signed as a free agent with the Orioles in the offseason.

Bobby Ojeda later was involved with two off-field accidents. He almost sliced off a piece of his finger while gardening, and in 1993 spring training, as a member of Cleveland, was involved in a boat crash that killed pitchers Steve Olin and Terry Crews. Ojeda only survived because he wasn’t sitting up directly.

Dwight Gooden was never credited with the win in a postseason game. Similarly, Roger Clemens was 2-6 in playoff games that he pitched with the Red Sox (including two games where the bullpen blew it).

Because of the one day rain delay, Game 7 was broadcast simultaneously alongside a Monday Night Football game.

The end of Game 6 caused the first ever cancellation of the show Saturday Night Live, which which would have begun filming live at 1:30 a.m.

This Series is the first one to popularize the “Curse of the Bambino” that was said to haunt the Red Sox from 1918 until 2004. In 1990, Boston writer Dan Shaughnessy published the book The Curse of the Bambino, which led to much anger, sadness, and confusion for many years.

Bill Buckner was wearing a Chicago Cubs batting glove under his first baseman’s glove when he botched Wilson’s ground ball. Could this have played a part? Buckner had been acquired in a 1984 mid-season trade that sent Dennis Eckersley to the Cubs.

1986 is the most recent title for the Mets to date, and the most recent loss for the Red Sox to date.

Tom Seaver was on the Red Sox roster, but did not play due to injury. He attempted to come back with the Mets, then retired. He finished with the highest voting percentage to the Hall of Fame until he was passed by Ken Griffey, Jr. in 2016.

The Mets became the second consecutive team to lose the first two games at home and then rally to win the Series.

Kevin Mitchell was rumored to have killed a cat with a knife, according to Dwight Gooden’s autobiography. Because of his rumored affiliations with gangs, Mitchell was traded to San Diego in the offseason.

When Jesse Orosco struck out Kevin Bass to win the NL pennant, he threw his glove up in the air. It got stuck in the rafters of the Astrodome and never came down.

Orosco was trade from Minnesota for longtime Met Jerry Koosman in 1979. He also holds the record for most games pitched in a career (1,252), retiring in 2003, aged 46.

This is the first time I’ve reached 6,000 words in a column. As tough as it was to write, I hope¬†I’ve done you, the readers, justice.

Final Thoughts 
Because of their hard living, manager Davey Johnson said “The bad guys won.” Perhaps, but the Mets were the best team in baseball that year, as much as Red Sox fans must clench their teeth to admit it. But signs were clear about the Mets falling off during the victory parade. Dwight Gooden overslept, and was suspended for drug use the following year. The Mets were scheduled to become a dynasty. Within six years, they’d be at the bottom of the barrel again. The Red Sox, meanwhile, blamed Buckner, McNamara, Gedman, Stanley, Schiraldi, you name it. Eighteen years after suffering their greatest heartbreak, they’d finally celebrate their greatest joy.

References and Sources 
Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Getty Images
Bleacher Report
The Boston Globe.
New York Daily News. 
Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns
Catching Hell (ESPN 30 for 30)
The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame…Bill Buckner (ESPN Classic, available on YouTube)
Fever Pitch (Farrelly Brothers movie)
Game 6 (Michael Hoffman movie)
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)
The Baseball Hall of Shame: The Best of Blooperstown (Bruce Nash, Allan Zullo)
Now I Can Die in Peace (Bill Simmons)
The Bad Guys Won! (Jeff Pearlman)
The Rocket That Fell to Earth (Jeff Pearlman)
Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Blunders (Rob Neyer)
The Ultimate Book of Sports Lists (Andrew Postman, Larry Stone).
Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life (Ron Darling, Daniel Paisner)
The Baseball Codes (Jason Turbow, Michael Duca)
It Ain’t Over ‘Til the Fat Lady Sings (Howard Peretz)
One-Year Dynasty: Inside the Rise and Fall of the 1986 Mets, Baseball’s Impossible One-and-Done Champions (Matthew Silverman)
Tough as Nails: A Memoir of Life on the Edge (Lenny Dykstra)
Season of Ghosts: The ’86 Mets and the Red Sox (Howard Burman)
The Psycho 100 (Steve Lyons)
The Underground Baseball Encyclopedia (Robert Schnakenberg)
The Seventh Game (Barry Levenson) 


1985 World Series: Royal collapse

hThe 1985 World Series was the eighty-third year overall, and eighty-second played, of the modern World Series which began in 1903. In the second all-Missouri World Series, one team came in three outs away from a title. One blow call and several mishaps later, the collapse was set. Many believe that the winning team was punished for thirty years as a result.

1985 World Series 
Kansas City Royals (AL) over St. Louis Cardinals (NL), 4-3 

Managers: Dick Howser (Kansas City); Whitey Herzog (St. Louis) 

Hall of Famers 
Kansas City: John Schuerholz (executive), George Brett 
St. Louis: Whitey Herzog (manager), Ozzie Smith 

Series MVP: Bret Saberhagen, P (Kansas City) 

Ronald¬†Reagan, fresh off of his successful re-election campaign, became the only President¬†to be inaugurated on Super Bowl Sunday. Twenty-one years of military rule ended in Brazil. Live Aid and “We Are the World” lit up the music scene. Back to the Future became the highest-grossing film of the year. Gorilla advocate Dian Fossey was found murdered in Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains on December 27. Actors Rock Hudson and Orson Welles died eight days apart. And my parents moved to my hometown¬†that year.

For much of the year, it was a year of records and odd games. The New York Mets were involved in two strange games before the All-Star Game, both times with the Mets as the visiting team. The first one took place in Philadelphia on June 11. The Phillies scored early and often, with Von Hayes becoming the first person in MLB history to hit two home runs in the first inning, the second one a grand slam. After the first inning, the Phillies had scored nine runs. It was 16-0 Phillies in the second inning, en route to a 26-7 romp of the Mets. No NL team since 1944 had scored that many times.

The second was played on the Fourth of July in Atlanta. Not only did the game feature two lengthy rain delays, the game went to 19 innings. Mets first baseman first Hernandez (acquired from the Cardinals in a trade two years earlier) hit for the cycle, manager Davey Johnson was ejected, and in the bottom of the eighteenth, Braves pitcher Rick Camp was forced to bat for himself, with no position players left. He hit a home run to tie the game 11-11.

(Rick Camp hits a fluke home run. Video courtesy of YouTube.)

The Mets ultimately scored five times in the 19th inning, winning 16-13. The game ended at 3:55 a.m., after a total of six hours and ten minutes. Despite the lateness of the hour, the Braves brass decided to shoot off fireworks at 4:05 in the morning. Many concerned citizens called the police.

Nolan Ryan became the first member of the 4,000 strikeout club on July 11, striking out Danny Heep in a 4-3 Astros victory. It was also accomplished during the Astrodome’s twentieth anniversary.

(Nolan Ryan tips his cap to the Astrodome faithful. Photo courtesy of

Two records fell on the same day, August 4. At Yankee Stadium, the same day that they retired Phil Rizzuto’s jersey, Tom Seaver of the visiting White Sox won his 300th game. Rizzuto, now a broadcaster, incorrectly predicted that Seaver wouldn’t do it.

(Tom Seaver in action, winning his 300th game. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)

That same day, Angels star Rod Carew reached the 3,000-hit plateau, hitting a single¬†off of Minnesota’s Frank Viola. Carew would retire at the end of the year, becoming the first Panamanian in the Hall of Fame.

(Rod Carew gets his 3,000th hit in Anaheim Stadium. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)

The Yankees would have a strange season. On the final day of the season, Phil Niekro also joined the 300-win club, beating the Blue Jays in Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium. Yogi Berra had been fired as manager by George Steinbrenner early in the season, and vowed to never set foot in Yankee Stadium again, as long as Steinbrenner was owner. He would come back in 1999, after a reconciliation.¬†Billy Martin was brought back, and despite an MVP season from Don Mattingly, he cost the Yankees the division in utterly bizarre fashion. With the Blue Jays hot on their heels, the Yankees and Orioles faced off. Martin’s sign for a pitchout was to rub his nose. Suddenly, with a runner on first, his nose itched, and he scratched it three times. Each time, the pitcher did try to pitch out. Each time, the runner wasn’t going. The Orioles rallied, beginning an eight-game losing streak for the Yankees. It would cost the Yankees, who finished two games back. Of course, Martin would be dismissed for the fourth time by Steinbrenner.

Pete Rose, now player-manager for the Reds, tied Ty Cobb’s record for career hits. It would end in a bizarre 5-5 tie, because this was at Wrigley Field and the stadium didn’t have lights yet. Three days later at Riverfront Stadium against the San Diego Padres, Eric Show was on the mound. Rose lined a single to left field in his first at-bat, passing Cobb with hit 4,192. Rose was now the all-time career hit leader. New controversial owner Marge Schott was in the audience. The Reds wound up winning the game, 2-0.

(Pete Rose passes Ty Cobb. Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.)

Despite the oddities the Mets went through, they were in the pennant race for the first time in over a decade. Dwight Gooden won the Cy Young Award, going 24-4, one of the finest seasons from any pitcher. Despite a clutch home run from Darryl Strawberry in the first game of a crucial series, it wouldn’t be enough as the Cardinals rallied to win the division by three games, with Willie McGee winning the MVP award and the batting title. They would play the Dodgers, who won the West by 5.5 games.

Both LCS contests expanded to seven games. The Dodgers opened the series with Fernando Valenzuela against St. Louis’ John Tudor, who had won 21 games. A Terry Pendleton error led to a Dodger unearned run, and after three more in the sixth, the Dodgers were up 4-0. Holding on to win 4-1, Fernando had given the Dodgers the early lead.

The Dodgers took a 2-0 NLCS lead after Orel Hershiser, the “Bulldog,” beat past World Series hero Joaquin Andujar 8-2 in Dodger Stadium. Greg Brock and Bill Madlock paced the Dodgers offense.

Switching to Busch Stadium, the Cardinals got back in the series, winning the next two games. Because of the expanded format, it was now 2-2 with everything to play for. But before the fourth game, the Cardinals were dealt a major blow when Rookie of the Year Vince Coleman, one of the major stolen base threats, got caught under the automatic tarp which cracked his tibia. He would be out the rest of the postseason.

Game 5 at Busch Stadium saw a first from a future Hall of Famer. Valenzuela tried to get his second win, but a throwing error on a pickoff play led to two first inning Cardinals runs. Valenzuela stranded two runners in the inning. The Dodgers tied the score in the fourth on Madlock’s two-run homer. As the game went on, a fan spit out¬†water on the face of Dodgers second baseman Steve Sax. Sax had to be restrained from going after the fan, claiming there was beer mixed in with the water. The fan would be evicted by security with no other repercussions. The score would stay 2-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Tom Niedenfuer was on the mound for the Dodgers. Willie McGee popped up to third base. Up came Ozzie Smith. To that point, the switch-hitting Smith had never homered from the left side of the plate. What a time to start now, as The Wizard¬†golfed one down the right field line, ricocheting off the facade. Cardinals announcer Jack Buck said, “Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!” The Cardinals led in the series, 3-2.

(Ozzie Smith hits his walk-off home run. Video courtesy of YouTube.) 

The home team had won the first five games. The Dodgers scored in each of the first two innings, with Mariano Duncan scoring the first run and driving in the second. St. Louis got a run back when Andujar doubled and Tommy Herr drove him in. Andujar gave a run back on a throwing error, giving the Dodgers a 3-1 lead. After a sacrifice fly, Bill Madlock’s third home run gave the Dodgers a 4-1 lead. The Cardinals rallied in the top of the seventh to tie the game. Two singles and a groundout put runners at second and third. McGee singled to cut the lead to one run. Niedenfuer came in, and Smith barely missed his second left-handed home run, hitting a triple that tied the game. In the bottom of the eighth, Mike Marshall’s lazy fly ball caught a gust of wind that carried it over the fence. The Dodgers led 7-5 with three outs to go from a seventh game. After a strikeout, Willie McGee singled, then stole second. Ozzie Smith was walked intentionally, and Herr grounded out. Tommy Lasorda came out to talk to Niedenfuer, telling him not to give the next batter, Jack Clark, a fastball. Despite having the option to walk Clark, Niedenfuer wanted to go after him, despite Terry Pendleton and Andy Van Slyke both following, both of whom were struggling. On the first pitch, Niedenfuer threw a fastball. Clark smacked it into the left field bleachers for a three-run, go-ahead home run. The Dodgers never recovered and went down in order. The Cardinals were back in the Series.

(Jack Clark’s go-ahead home run gives the Cardinals the lead. Video courtesy of YouTube.)

In the ALCS, the Kansas City Royals survived a hard charge from the Angels to win the West. They would open the ALCS in Toronto, facing future Braves manager Bobby Cox. The Jays won the first game, 6-1, as Dave Stieb beat Charlie Leibrandt. Toronto took the second game as well under controversial circumstances. After trading runs, including a blown save by Dan Quisenberry, the Royals took the lead in the top of the tenth when Lloyd Moseby was ruled to have trapped a line drive, despite video evidence appearing to show he caught it. Willie Wilson got a single, stole second, and Frank White drove him in with a single. The Royals lost the lead in the tenth when Moseby singled in Tony Fernandez, who ignored a stop sign from third base coach Jimy Williams. A throwing error on a pickoff sent Moseby to second and Al Oliver drove in the winning run.

(Al Oliver drives in the winning run in Game 2. Video courtesy of YouTube.) 

The Royals needed some help, heading to Kansas City. Despite taking an early 2-0 lead, a five-run fifth inning gave Toronto the lead off of Bret Saberhagen. But the Royals clawed back in it and tied the score, and kept the Royals off the board. The winning run came in the bottom of the eighth, when Steve Balboni lofted a bloop single to score the winning run. Steve Farr got the win for the Royals in relief. George Brett got hot and hit two home runs and a double.

The Blue Jays won the fourth game with another ninth inning rally. It was 1-0 Royals going into the ninth, the only run scoring on a walk to Hal McRae in the sixth inning. The Blue Jays scored three times off Leibrandt to rally, and were one win away. But timing would find a way to work against Toronto.

Danny Jackson pitched a shutout for Kansas City in the fifth game, keeping them in the ALCS. The final score was 2-0, with both runs coming in the first two innings, from a George Brett RBI groundout and a Darryl Motley sacrifice fly. The series would head back to Toronto. Kansas City won 5-3 to force the first LCS seventh game. George Brett hit his third home run of the series in the fifth inning. All three of his home runs came off of Blue Jays pitcher Doyle Alexander.

The Royals took an early lead in the ALCS seventh game. It got to 2-1 Kansas City when the floodgates opened in the top of the sixth. Brett walked, McRae was hit by a pitch. A force out and walk loaded the bases. Catcher Jim Sundberg lofted a fly ball to right. With two outs, the runners would be off on contact. The ball hit the very top of the fence and bounced back in for a three-run triple. A base hit that followed made it 6-1 Kansas City. Despite a run for Toronto in the bottom of the ninth, it wasn’t enough as Quisenberry shut down the Blue Jays. Leibrandt finally had his win, and the Royals were back in the Series. It would be an all-Missouri World Series. George Brett was ALCS MVP.

(The Royals clinch the ALCS. Photo courtesy of 

The opening of the I-70 series opened in Kansas City. St. Louis took the first game 3-1, behind strong pitching from John Tudor. Kansas City got a run in the second inning, but Jack Clark and Cesar Cedeno each had RBI doubles.

The second game was scoreless into the fourth inning when three straight hits, the last two of them doubles, gave the Royals a 2-0 lead. The score held into the top of the ninth, with Charlie Leibrandt three outs away from tying the series. McGee doubled to lead off the inning. With two outs, Clark singled to get the Cardinals on the board. A double and intentional walk loaded the bases. On a 2-1 pitch, one out away from tying the series, Terry Pendleton rocketed a double down the left field line. All three runs scored and it was 4-2 Cardinals. Leibrandt fell apart again. With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Jorge Orta grounded into a double play to end the game. Orta would later have his moment in the Series.

Heading to St. Louis, Bret Saberhagen pitched the Royals back into it with a 6-1 victory. Frank White, the first second baseman to bat cleanup in a World Series, had three RBI, including a two-run home run.

The Cardinals were having trouble offensively, hitting just .207 in the first four games, but it was enough to get them up 3-1 in the Series. Game 4 was a 3-0 victory with light-hitting backup Tito Landrum hitting a home run. Willie McGee also hit a home run. The Royals were down to the felt.

But the Royals were still in it. In a mirror image of the ALCS, Danny Jackson kept the Royals in the Series. Each team scored a run in the first, before the Royals broke the game open in the top of the second. Light-hitting infielder Buddy Biancalana doubled to start the rally, and Willie Wilson tripled in two more runs. Two more runs scored and Kansas City survived with a 6-1 victory heading back to Kansas City.

Game 6 was one of the more memorable games in the history of the World Series, albeit for controversial reasons. Neither team generated any chances through the first three innings. In the bottom of the fourth, George Brett flied out. Frank White reached on an infield single. With a 2-1 count and Pat Sheridan at bat, White attempted to steal second. The throw was late, but White was called out anyway, ruining a golden scoring chance. This would be even more painful for the Royals when Sheridan singled. It would have given the Royals a 1-0 lead. Instead, the game remained scoreless. (I can’t find a photo of it, otherwise I’d post it.)

The teams traded zeroes through seven innings, each getting a double play to help their own causes. The Royals put runners at first and second in the bottom of the seventh, but didn’t score.

It was still 0-0 into the top of the eighth. Pendleton singled with one out to start a rally. Cedeno walked, and then Leibrandt struck out catcher Darrell Porter. Up to bat came backup catcher Brian Harper, pinch hitting for pitcher Danny Cox. Harper had come into this game with only 52 regular season at-bats. Leibrandt worked the count to 1-2, before leaving a pitch high and away. Harper singled to center, and despite the throw from Wilson, Pendleton scored and the Cardinals led 1-0. Ozzie Smith walked to keep the bases loaded. Quisenberry came in to relieve Leibrandt and got out of the inning with no further damage. It looked like Leibrandt’s bad luck would continue. The Royals didn’t score in the eighth. The Cardinals got an infield single but didn’t get any more runs. Coming into the bottom of the ninth of Game 6, the Cardinals had not blown a ninth inning lead the entire year.

Rookie Todd Worrell came in to try and clinch the title for the Cardinals. Jorge Orta came off the bench to pinch-hit for Motley. Worrell got two quick strikes. Then Orta hit a little squibber to Clark at first base. Clark tossed it to Worrell, covering the bag. Orta was out…except that first base umpire Don Denkinger had missed the call. He called Orta safe. All the replays later showed the call was blown. But there was no going back. The Royals were still alive.

(Todd Worrell fields the ball, before Orta is called safe. Photo courtesy of NBC Sports.)

First baseman Steve Balboni came to bat. He lifted a pop up into foul territory. Clark at first base and Porter behind the plate chased after it. Porter had called it all the way, then all of a sudden, called out, “I don’t have it!” Clark was forced to try to make the play. It fell in untouched for a foul ball. Another break the Royals way. After another strike, Balboni singled to send Orta to second. Onix Concepcion came in to pinch run for Balboni.

Jim Sundberg tried to bunt the runners over, but instead, bunted back to Worrell who got the lead runner at third base. Still, the Royals had first and second with one out. Hal McRae was up next. With a 1-0 count, Darrell Porter inadvertently became the goat. He and Worrell had a code that when they wanted to change the sign, Porter was to adjust his mask. Because of the sweat and the pressure of the moment, Porter adjusted his glasses through his mask. Worrell read this as the change of sign. Porter called for a fastball. Instead, Worrell threw a slider. It bounced away from Porter and each runner moved up a base. In order to set up the force play, Worrell was now forced to walk McRae intentionally to load the bases. Dane Iorg, a member of the ’82 Cardinals title team, was due to hit next.

Iorg took ball one. A ground ball could still end the game. On the next pitch, Worrell came middle in. Iorg hit a little looping fly ball that fell in. Right fielder Andy Van Slyke charged the ball and played the high hop. Concepcion scored from third to tie the game. The slow-footed Sundberg rounded third and headed for the plate. Van Slyke made the throw on line to Porter. Sundberg slid around the tag, as Porter tried to tag him. Safe! The Royals had improbably rallied to win, 2-1, to force a seventh game. The Cardinals were indeed robbed, but championship teams close. Instead, the Cardinals choked. Adding insult to injury, Denkinger was scheduled to work behind the plate for Game 7.

(Royals catcher Jim Sundberg slides around the tag to win Game 6 for the Royals. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.) 

(You can watch all the drama of the ninth inning unfold here. Video courtesy of YouTube.) 

The Cardinals were so upset about the blow call that they didn’t even show up for Game 7. Bret Saberhagen was dominant, allowing only five¬†hits, Darryl Motley homered, and George Brett had four hits. Cardinals started John Tudor failed to make it through the third inning. The big blow came in the fifth inning. The Royals were already up 5-0. They scored six times, batting around. On a close pitch during the inning, Denkinger called it a ball. Herzog stormed out of the dugout and argued with Denkinger, who tossed him out of the game. Having brought in the volatile Joaquin Andujar, largely to settle scores, Herzog would now have to watch the rest of the game from the locker room. Soon after, Andujar was ejected as well after arguing the strike zone. He attempted to charge Denkinger, and had to be restrained by his teammates. Commissioner Peter Ueberroth would suspend Andujar for the first ten¬†games of the ’86 season.

(Joaquin Andujar is held back by the Cardinals. Photo courtesy of 

Game 7 was anything but a classic. The Royals wound up winning in dominating fashion, 11-0. George Brett lingered around the mound as Saberhagen got Andy Van Slyke to fly out for the final World Series out. Under the strangest circumstances, the Royals were champions.

(Members of the Royals celebrate their World Series title. Photo courtesy of 

Fun Facts
Lonnie Smith was traded from the Cardinals earlier in the season to the Royals, becoming the first player to play against his old team in the Series in the same year. Smith won three titles in six season with three different teams (1980 Phillies, 1982 Cardinals, 1985 Royals).

The Royals were the fifth team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series, and last to date. They joined the 1925 Pirates, 1958 Yankees, 1968 Tigers, and 1979 Pirates.

The Royals are the only team to rally from two 3-1 deficits in the same postseason, and the first to win the World Series after losing the first two games at home (the other teams that did it all lost the first two on the road).

The Cardinals set a record by scoring the fewest runs in a seven-game World Series, with 13. Had they won the sixth game, they still would have ben outscored 15-13. They also finished with a .185 team batting average, which stood for 16 years.

Bret Saberhagen became a father during Game 6. One night later, he pitched the Royals to the title.

Herzog was ejected for complaining the call in Game 7, saying “We wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t missed the call!” According to Denkinger, he responded, “You also wouldn’t be here if you weren’t hitting .120 in the Series.”

Tudor punched an electrical fan after being pulled in Game 7, resulting in a cut on his hand. Viewers were confused when the announcers said that Tudor had hit “a fan,” thinking they meant an actual fan (i.e. a person).

This was only the second time in nine tries that the Cardinals had lost a seventh game.

Whitey Herzog managed the Royals in the mid-to-late 1970s.

This was the final time a pitcher would bat in an AL ballpark, as the following year, NL hosts would have the pitcher bat, and AL teams would have the designated hitter.

Final Thoughts
This was a seven-game Series, but not a great one. Al Michaels even called it “boring.” The Royals would fall off, failing to make the playoffs until 2014, and would have to wait thirty more years to be champs again. The following year’s postseason (LCS and World Series) would all be amazing, full of ups, down, joy…and utter heartbreak in Boston.

References and Sources
Baseball Almanac
Baseball Reference
Getty Images
NBC Sports
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)
The Baseball Hall of Shame: The Best of Blooperstown (Bruce Nash, Allan Zullo)
Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Lineups (Rob Neyer)
Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Blunders (Rob Neyer)
The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame…Don Denkinger (ESPN Classic video, available on YouTube)
The Underground Baseball Encyclopedia (Robert Schnakenberg)
The Ultimate Book of Sports Lists (Larry Postman, Andrew Stone)
You’re Missin’ a Great Game (Whitey Herzog)
The Seventh Game (Barry Levenson)
Sports Illustrated. September 1985.

1984 World Series: Bless You Boys

The 1984 World Series was the eighty-second year overall, and the eighty-first played, of the modern World Series which began in 1903. The Motor City had every reason to cheer as the Tigers dominated the league that year, going wire-to-wire, and being one of the best teams in the ’80s, even if it was a one-year dynasty. It also saw the return of the Chicago Cubs, who would fall in one of the most heartbreaking moments in team history as the NL representative won its first pennant.

1984 World Series 
Detroit Tigers (AL) over San Diego Padres (NL), 4-1 

Managers: Sparky Anderson (Detroit); Dick Williams (San Diego) 

Hall of Famers 
Detroit: Sparky Anderson (manager), Jack Morris, Alan Trammell 
San Diego: Dick Williams (manager), Goose Gossage, Tony Gwynn 
Umpires: Doug Harvey 

Series MVP: Alan Trammell, SS (Detroit) 

Los Angeles hosted the Summer Olympics in 1984, dominating after a Soviet boycott in protest of the Americans doing the same thing in Moscow four years earlier. A commercial for Apple directed by Ridley Scott implied viewers not “let 1984 become like 1984.” One day before his 45th birthday, Marvin Gaye was fatally shot by his own father. Marcus Allen and the Raiders won the Super Bowl with Allen setting a record 74-yard rushing touchdown. Wayne Gretzky won his first Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers, upsetting the New York Islanders and ending their four-year run. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson faced off in the NBA Finals for the first time, with Bird’s Boston Celtics defeating Magic’s Los Angeles Lakers in seven games. In a controversial radio joke, President Reagan made his infamous “We begin bombing in five minutes” statement. Despite this gaffe, he would win re-election in the highest electoral college landslide in history over Walter Mondale (whose “Where’s the beef?” comment to disgraced challenger Gary Hart also made national news). Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi was assassinated. Milos’ Forman’s film Amadeus, about the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, won eight Oscars and made F. Murray Abraham a surprise star. The baseball film The Natural was released, giving Glenn Close an Oscar nomination.

On the diamond, the Mets chose not to re-sign Tom Seaver, leaving him to go to the Chicago White Sox. Kirby Puckett made his debut in Minnesota, whose home ballpark would be home to an unusual moment of its own. During a game, Oakland slugger Dave Kingman hit a pop-up. The ball never came down, slipping through a tiny crack in the stadium’s roof. Kingman was awarded a ground rule double. Two dominant rookie pitchers made their debuts – in Queens, Dwight Gooden made his debut with the Mets at the age of only 19. In Boston, a fiery, hard-throwing Texan debuted for the Red Sox, by the name of Roger Clemens. The Mets had also acquired Keith Hernandez from the Cardinals the previous years, setting up a future World Series matchup within the next two years. In the other league, Yankees pitched Phil Niekro joined the 3,000 strikeout club, the second pitcher to do it on July 4. Pete Rose became only the second player to reach the 4,000 hit club, in a brief tenure with the Montreal Expos. Rose would be traded back to Cincinnati, filling in as player-manager for the fired Vern Rapp. And seventeen years to the day after his first home run, Reggie Jackson joined the 500 home run club.

But it was obvious that the league leaders would be the story of the year. In the AL East, the hottest team all year resided in Detroit. Sparky Anderson dubbed the ’84 Tigers the “Bless You Boys,” and the Tigers started 9-0. Jack Morris no-hit the White Sox at Comiskey Park in April, the first Saturday afternoon game broadcast by NBC.

(The final out of Jack Morris’ no-hitter. Video courtesy of YouTube.)¬†

The Tigers dominated the majors that year, going 35-5 in their first forty games of the season, and setting a franchise record with 104 wins against only 58 losses. Relief pitcher Willie Hernandez converted 32 of 33 save chances, winning both the Cy Young and MVP Awards. Surprisingly, none of the players have been inducted into the Hall of Fame (with only Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell getting close). Their only Hall of Famer was manager Sparky Anderson. On paper, they shouldn’t have had the best team. But the Tigers rallied, and for one year, were the cream of the crop in the AL East.

After years of futility, the San Diego Padres finally began coming into their own. Goose Gossage came over from the Yankees and Tony Gwyn became a star. The Padres’ mettle would be tested during a visit to Atlanta to play the second place Braves. Braves pitcher Pascual Perez hit Alan Wiggins in the back with his first pitch, and San Diego pitchers kept trying to get revenge on him all game. The problem was that Perez kept ducking out of the way, until reliever Craig Lefferts hit him in the eighth. The game ended up finishing with two brawls, and numerous ejections. Even injured Braves player Bob Horner was suspended for fighting while on the disabled list. Even several fans got involved. It’s widely considered the best baseball brawl in history. After the game, Joe Torre gave us one of my favorite baseball quotes, by saying “Dick Williams is an idiot…you spell that with a capital ‘I’ and a small ‘w.'” Despite the Braves winning the game, the Padres rallied around the incident and won the NL West for the first time.

(The famous Рor infamous РPadres-Braves brawl. Photo courtesy of The Sporting News.) 

The bigger story was who won the NL East. For the first time in thirty-nine years, the Cubs would be in the playoffs. Acquired in a mid-season trade with the Cleveland Indians, pitcher Rick Sutcliffe would take Cy Young honors. The breakout star for the Cubs was second baseman Ryne Sandberg. For much of the year, the Cubs weren’t taken seriously. On May 27, the Cubs had some controversy of their own when Ron Cey was incorrectly ruled to have hit a home run, but the ball had landed foul. Reds pitcher Mario Soto shoved umpire Steve Rippley, who then conferred with the umpires and ruled it a foul ball. Now the Cubs protested, which led to another brawl. Soto would be suspended for five games. Earlier in the year, Soto was one out away from a no-hitter when he brushed back George Hendrick of the Cardinals. Furious, Hendrick hit a home run to tie it at 1-1. The Reds eventually won the game.

On June 23, the Cubs and Sandberg had their breakout games on a nationally televised game on NBC. To Cubs fans, it’s known as “The Sandberg Game.” In a game against the rival Cardinals, the Cubs were down by two runs with a runner at first in the bottom of the ninth. Hall of Fame closer Bruce Sutter was on the mound, and earlier in the game, Cardinals outfielder Willie McGee had hit for the cycle. Sandberg took a strike on the first pitch, and then Sutter came high. Harry Caray made the call: “Sandberg hitting .327 now. The pitch…(crack)….there it goes! Way back! It might be…it could be…it is! Holy cow! The game is tied! The game is tied! Ryne Sandberg did it! Listen to the crowd!” But there was more to come. The Cardinals took a two run lead into the bottom of the tenth. For the second time, Sandberg came up representing the tying run. And again, Sandberg homered off Sutter to tie the game for the Cubs, this time with two out.

(The “Sandberg Game,” with calls by Bob Costas. Video courtesy of YouTube.)

The Cubs went on to win that game 12-11. It also helped broadcaster Bob Costas become a breakout star in his own right.

(Cubs third base coach Don Zimmer congratulates Ryne Sandberg during the “Sandberg Game.” Photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune.)¬†

Finally, on September 24 in Pittburgh, Rick Sutcliffe pitched a two-hitter to give the Cubs the NL East title. The Cubs were back in the playoffs for the first time since 1945.

(Harry Caray’s call of the Cubs clincher in 1984. Video courtesy of YouTube.)

The 1984 NLCS would be one for the ages. The Cubs won the first game in a rout, 13-0. Bob Dernier led off the Cubs first inning with a home run, and the Cubs had five in total, including one from Sutcliffe on the mound. Steve “Rainbow” Trout pitched the Cubs to the verge of the NL title with a 4-2 victory. Cubs fans could sense it. But the Padres rallied around the movie Ghostbusters to call themselves the “Cub-Busters,” and took the third game in San Diego to stay alive, 7-1. Future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley was on the mound for the Cubs and took the loss.

Game 4 remains high on the list of Cubs heartbreak. The Padres scored twice in the third inning, thanks to Tony Gwynn and former Dodger Steve Garvey. The Cubs rallied back in the fifth on consecutive home runs by Jody Davis and Leon Durham. Each team rallied, until the game was 5-5 going into the bottom of the ninth. Lee Smith was on the mound for the Cubs. Although he would eventually set the record for career saves (since passed), Smith never was all that intimidating, and was certainly hittable. The Padres put a runner on for Garvey. Garvey launched a fly ball to right field. Henry Cotto gave chase, but the ball was over the fence for a walk-off home run. San Diego broadcaster Jerry Coleman called out, “And there will be tomorrow!” The NLCS was tied at two. Perhaps Smith lost his Hall of Fame chances because of this moment. Garvey finished the game with five RBI.

(Steve Garvey breaks Cubs’ fans hearts with a home run. Video courtesy of YouTube.)¬†

There was a tomorrow for San Diego. Durham and Davis both homered again for the Cubs in the first two innings to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead. But then the Padres rallied on Rick Sutcliffe in the sixth with consecutive sacrifice flies. The seventh inning would be the back-breaker for the Cubs. With a runner on second and one out, Tim Flannery came to bat. He hit a ground ball to first. Durham went to field it….and then watched hopelessly as the ball went through his legs, in a play eerily similar to Bill Buckner’s gaffe two years later. The game was tied. The Cubs had blown it.

(The ball goes through the legs of Leon Durham. Video courtesy of YouTube.) 

It was about to get worse for the Cubbies. After another single moved Flannery to second, Tony Gwynn came up to bat. He came through with a double that hit a rock and bounced over Ryne Sandberg’s head with Alan Wiggins barely beating the throw. The Padres led 5-3.

(Tony Gwynn’s bad hop double. Video courtesy of YouTube.)¬†

Garvey followed with another single to score Gwynn and make it 6-3. Despite the Cubs getting runners on in each of the last two innings, Goose Gossage closed the door. The Padres had rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win the pennant. The Cubs drought continued.

The Tigers uneventfully swept the Kansas City Royals, and the Series got ready to open in San Diego. The Padres were in it for much of the Series, but never got that break. After Detroit scored in the first, Jack Morris gave the Padres two runs back when Terry Kennedy drove in two runs to give the Padres a 2-1 lead after one inning. Mark Thurmond took that lead into the fifth, but with a runner on and two outs, Larry Herndon gave the Tigers the lead again with a two-run home run. Morris worked around a jam to keep the score tied, and then in the seventh, Kurt Bevacqua led off with a double, but Detroit was gifted a break when he was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple. Morris was never threatened again and pitched a complete game 3-2 victory to give the Tigers the early Series lead.

The Padres would rally to tie the Series in the second game. The Tigers took an early lead in the first inning, leading 3-0. The Padres began to rally, getting it back to 3-1 in the first, and Andy Hawkins kept the Tigers off the board for the rest of the game. After getting it to 3-2, Kurt Bevacqua came up in the fifth, and smashed a three-run home run off of Dan Petry to give the Padres a 5-3 lead. The lead held up, and the Padres had their only win in World Series history to date.

The next three games switched to Tiger Stadium. This time, the Tigers scored early and kept the lead, as Tim Lollar failed to get out of the second inning. Marty Castillo hit a two-run home run. That was enough to give Milt Wilcox the cushion he needed. After 2.1 scoreless innings from Willie Hernandez, the Tigers took the Series lead with a 5-2 win.

Jack Morris and Eric Show faced off in Game 4. Alan Trammell hit a pair of two-run home runs in the first three innings, giving Morris all the run support he needed. Morris pitched his second complete game of the Series, and the Tigers were one win away from the title.

Game 5 was the final World Series game ever played at Tiger Stadium, but it was a memorable one on Trumbull Street. Three early runs gave the Tigers the lead in the first inning, and Mark Thurmond was knocked out early. However, the Padres rallied to tie the score by the fourth inning, with Alan Wiggins tying the score on a bloop single that Chet Lemon couldn’t come up with. Dan Petry was out and the bullpen was in. The Tigers retook the lead on a sacrifice fly. Larry Parrish increased the cushion with a solo home run before Kurt Bevacqua got the Padres to within 5-4 with a homer of his own. Going into the bottom of the eighth, the Tigers put two runners on¬†base for right fielder Kirk Gibson. With first base open, Dick Williams came out to visit Goose Gossage on the mound. Despite conventional wisdom, Gossage didn’t want to walk Gibson intentionally and decided to pitch to Gibson. Even Sparky was shocked, mentioning to Gibson that “he don’t wanna walk you!”

(The meeting on the mound leads to Gibson’s heroics. Video Courtesy of YouTube.)¬†

On the first pitch to Gibson, Anderson knew that Gossage had made a mistake. Gibson crushed a three-run home run to right field to give the Tigers an 8-4 lead. The Tigers had the cushion they needed.

(Kirk Gibson celebrates his three-run home run in the eighth inning. Photo courtesy of 

Willie Hernandez put a runner on, before Tony Gwynn came to bat with two outs in the ninth. He lofted a fly ball to left fielder Larry Herndon. The Year of the Tiger culminated with Detroit’s fourth championship.

(The victorious Tigers stream out of the dugout. Photo courtesy of 

Fun Facts 
Both managers were attempting to become the first manager to win the World Series in both the American and National League, with Sparky Anderson becoming the first.

Padres pitcher Eric Show was a member of the right-wing John Birch Society, and mentioned that he thought Ronald Reagan was “too liberal.” He also was the only pitcher to win 100 games for the Padres, winning exactly 100.

Show had two other claims to infamy in baseball: he sat on the mound and pouted after giving up Pete Rose’s 4,192nd hit in 1985, and then hit Andre Dawson in the head in 1987. Show died in 1994 of a drug overdose.

Alan Wiggins of the Padres was also seen as an outcast, being traded to the Orioles in 1985, and then was released in 1987. He died of AIDS in 1991 as a result of intravenous drug use, and Steve Garvey was the only Padres teammate to attend the funeral.

This was the fourth and most recent title for Detroit to date.

Andy Hawkins is the only pitcher to win a World Series game for the Padres. He later went to the Yankees, and pitched a no-hitter in 1990…and still lost, 4-0, thanks to two errors.

Game 2 was the last time the DH was used in a National League ballpark.

Jack Morris, were he to make the Hall of Fame would have the highest ERA at 3.90. He was the winningest pitcher in the 1980s, but also led the league in wild pitches for several years.

Because of new broadcast rules insisting that all World Series games begin in primetime, had the Cubs made the World Series, the Tigers would have had home-field advantage instead of the Cubs being scheduled to have it (they didn’t have lights at the time). Games 4 and 5 are the last outdoor World Series games to begin before 5:00. It’s also the last time that the World Series ended before October 15.

Current Giants manager Bruce Bochy was a backup catcher for the Padres. He has a hat size of 8 1/8, the largest in the majors.

Tiger Stadium became the oldest park to host a World Series game, until Fenway Park passed it in 1986.

In December 2017, both Jack Morris and Alan Trammell became the first players from the ’84 title team elected to the Hall of Fame, on the increasingly harder Veteran’s Committee ballot. They’ll be inducted in July 2018.

Final Thoughts
Many posited that the Tigers would become a dynasty. But neither team would make the World Series, and Sparky Anderson would only make one more playoff appearance with the Tigers in 1987. The Padres would also fall off, waiting until 1996 to make the playoffs again.

References and Sources
Baseball Almanac
Baseball Reference
The Sporting News. 
The Chicago Tribune 
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)
Bless You Boys: Diary of the Detroit Tigers’ 1984 Season (Sparky Anderson, Dan Ewald)
The Baseball Codes (Jason Turbow, Michael Duca)
Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Lineups (Rob Neyer)
Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Blunders (Rob Neyer)
Cubs Win! A Celebration of the 1984 Chicago Cubs (Bob Logan)
The Underground Baseball Encyclopedia (Robert Schnakenberg)
Los Angeles Times, January 13, 1991. “A Troubled Life, a Lonely Death : Former Padre Star Alan Wiggins Is Remembered by Friends Who Lost Touch With Him After Drugs Ruined Promising Career.” Bob Nightengale.
Men at Work: Inside the Craft of Baseball (George Will)


1983 World Series: The I-95 Series

The 1983 World Series was the eighty-first year overall, and eightieth played, of the modern World Series which began in 1903. This year’s World Series is rather¬†uneventful, so¬†I can’t think of a better title. It would be the most recent title for Baltimore, and the only appearance of Cal Ripken, Jr. in the Fall Classic. The Big Red Machine had one last run, if you will, albeit in Philadelphia instead of Cincinnati.

1983 World Series.gif
(The 1983 World Series logo. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.) 

1983 World Series 
Baltimore Orioles (AL) over Philadelphia Phillies (AL) 4-1 

Managers: Joe Altobelli (Baltimore); Paul Owens (Philadelphia) 

Hall of Famers 
Baltimore: Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken, Jr. 
Philadelphia: Steve Carlton, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Mike Schmidt 

Series MVP: Rick Dempsey, C (Baltimore) 

Music was one of the big stories of 1983. Madonna and Michael Jackson became household names, or at least bigger names than they already were. A rock group from Athens, Georgia known as R.E.M. released their debut studio album, Murmur. Karen Carpenter died a month shy of her thirty-third birthday. Posthumously, Bob Marley’s last album, Confrontation, was released. Motown celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary, and KISS appeared without makeup for the first time.¬†Carrie Underwood, Michelle Branch, and Amy Winehouse were all born.

Many believe the Internet, or at least a version of it, was introduced in 1983. A cell phone call was made for the first time. The television series M*A*S*H aired its final episode, reaching an audience of 125 million viewers, setting a record for the most-watched television program in history.  Return of the Jedi opened in cinemas. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space on board Challenger. The Jules Rimet trophy (given to Brazil to keep in 1970 for winning its third World Cup) was stolen from a glass case, likely melted down for gold.

On the baseball diamond,¬†Brooks Robinson and Juan Marichal made the Hall of Fame. Marichal had been passed up twice, which many believed was due in part to the John Roseboro incident (see the post for 1965 about that incident). But Roseboro campaigned on Marichal’s behalf, and Marichal would become the first Dominican born player in the Hall, and the last for 32 years. Nolan Ryan broke Walter Johnson’s record for career strikeouts, with number 3,509 coming on April 27 in Montreal’s Stade Olympique. Brad Mills was the victim. Steve Garvey’s National League record for consecutive games was snapped when he dislocated his thumb in July.

Tom Seaver returned to the Mets for one season, and Darryl Strawberry debuted there as well. Don Mattingly broke in with the Yankees. Yankee lefthander Dave Righetti no-hit the Red Sox on the Fourth of July. In Cleveland, one of the worst seasons in team history culminated when they ran off after a double play, forgetting there were only two outs. Manager Mike Ferraro wouldn’t last the season, and writer Terry Pluto called it the worst year of his life.

Four future Hall of Famers played their final season in 1983. Ferguson Jenkins finished his career in a return to the Chicago Cubs, with 3,192 strikeouts and 284 wins. Johnny Bench, the last holdover of the Big Red Machine, ended his tenure in Cincinnati, aged only 35. After 314 wins, Gaylord Perry finished his career in Kansas City, and had one more trick up his sleeve (more on that to come). And in Boston, Carl Yastrzemski became only the second person (after Brooks Robinson) to play 23 seasons with one team. On the final day of the season at Fenway Park, Yaz gave a speech and finished with five words: “New England, I love ya.” He then took a victory lap, shaking hands with as many fans as he could.

(Carl Yastrzemski takes his victory lap at Fenway Park. Photo courtesy of Boston Globe.) 

The All-Star Game celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in Chicago’s Comiskey Park. The American League snapped an eleven-game losing streak with a 13-3 win. Fred Lynn of the Angels became the first player to hit a grand slam, connecting off of Giants pitcher Atlee Hammaker.

(Fred Lynn hits the first grand slam in All-Star Game history. Video courtesy of YouTube.)

The Cubs had a tough season, and without lights, were forced to play their day games at Wrigley Field. Manager Lee Elia went on a tirade in late April after hearing booing and heckling, culminating in one of the harshest insults heard on a baseball diamond: “Eighty-five percent of the world is working. The other fifteen come out here.” The Cubs finished 71-91, fifth in the NL East.

On July 24, the Royals and Yankees faced off on a muggy afternoon in Yankee Stadium. With a runner on, two out, and Goose Gossage on the mound, George Brett of the Royals hit a massive home run to the upper deck of right field. But as soon as Brett crossed home plate, Billy Martin (yes, he was back in Yankee pinstripes) challenged to home plate umpire Tim McClelland that Brett’s bat had too much pine tar on it and was therefore illegal. The umpires agreed and Brett was called out, ending the game. Brett went into a rage, charging at the umpires.

(American League umpires hold George Brett back in the notorious “Pine Tar Game.” Photo courtesy of The Kansas City Star.)¬†

(The video of the Pine Tar incident. Video courtesy of YouTube.) 

Worrying about being reported to the American League, Gaylord Perry seized the bat and gave it to the batboy, before the umpires chased him into the clubhouse. The Royals protested the game to AL president Lee MacPhail (son of Larry), who overruled the umpires. The game was forced to resume on August 18, and in protest, Martin put Mattingly at second base rather than first base, and pitcher Ron Guidry in center field. Martin tried one last time by having his pitcher throw to each base to challenge whether Brett touched each base, but the umpires had been prepared for this, and called safe at each base. Neither team scored again, and the Royals won 5-4.

Steve Carlton of the Phillies won his 300th game in September, and the Phillies won their second division title in four years. It had looked for a while like they wouldn’t do much, as manager Pat Corrales was fired in June, at 33-32. Despite this, the Phillies were actually in first place, and Corrales was the first manager ever fired from a first-place team. Unlike the youth movement in 1950, these Phillies averaged an age of 32. Instead of the Whiz Kids, it was the “Wheeze Kids.” Former Reds Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez were nearing the end of their careers, but the¬†Phillies came together and¬†had one last division title in them, clinching on September 28 with a 13-6 win over the Cubs. Fellow pitcher John Denny won the Cy Young Award.

In the NL West, Los Angeles and Atlanta were battling for much of the season. Although Braves outfielder Dale Murphy would win his second consecutive MVP award, the Braves made a disastrous trade in August, acquiring Len Barker from Cleveland for Brook Jacoby, Brett Butler, Rick Behenna, and $150,000. He would go 1-3 with a 3.82 ERA and would be rewarded with a long-term contract. He would be a bust, while Jacoby and Butler made several All-Star teams later in the decade. It would also cost the Braves the division, as the Dodgers rallied to win the division by three games.

Despite their age, the Phillies would return to the Series for the second time in four years by winning the NLCS three games to one. A first-inning run on a Mike Schmidt home run was all that Steve Carlton needed to take the first game for Philadelphia. Behind Fernando Valenzuela, the Dodgers evened the series heading to Philadelphia. From there, identical 7-2 scores produced the Phillies as NL champions. Gary Matthews hit three home runs to win the NLCS MVP Award.

In the American League, the South Side of Chicago had reason to celebrate again. Led by catcher Carlton “Pudge” Fisk and manager Tony La Russa, and Rookie of the Year Ron Kittle, the White Sox popularized the phrase “winning ugly.” LaMarr Hoyt won the AL Cy Young, winning 24 games, and fellow pitcher Richard Dotson won 22 of his own. The White Sox won 99 games, taking the division title by twenty games over Kansas City. It was the first title of any kind for any Chicago team since 1959, the last time the White Sox made the postseason.

In Baltimore, Earl Weaver had retired and was replaced by Joe Altobelli. Cal Ripken, Jr. kept up his games streak and won the MVP award with a .318 average and 27 home runs. They didn’t have a twenty-game winner, but Scott McGregor won 18, and Mike Boddicker, a former worker in a grain mill in Iowa, won 16. Boddicker was a junk ball pitcher whose fastball couldn’t even hit 90 on a radar gun, but his variation of the changeup, which he called the “fosh ball,” confused hitters all year. Jim Palmer was nearing the end of his career, but would have one more moment in the Series.

The White Sox were heavily favored going into the ALCS, and won the opening at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium 2-1. Hoyt beat McGregor, with Ripken driving in the only run in the bottom of the ninth for the Orioles. As it turned out, the White Sox would score only one more run in the Series. Boddicker evened the series for Baltimore with his fosh ball, striking out 14 hitters and only five hits, all singles. Gary Roenicke was the hitting star, scoring three of the Orioles’ runs that day, including a two-run homer. Moving to Comiskey Park, Dotson was hit hard by the Orioles, losing 11-1, highlighted by a three-run home run by Eddie Murray in the first inning. The White Sox’s run in the second inning was their last in the series. Game 4 went to extra innings scoreless before La Russa made the decision to stick with starter Britt Burns in the tenth inning. Were it not for a baserunning mistake, the White Sox could have forced a game five in the bottom of the ninth. As it turned out, La Russa’s gamble failed. Hoyt never got in the game, Tito Landrum hit a solo home run for the Orioles, and two runs later, the Orioles were AL champions. The White Sox would have to wait another ten years to make the playoffs.

It was called the I-95 Series because both teams were along Interstate 95 in the U.S. The first game opened in Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, with John Denver opening the festivities by performing the National Anthem. All of the runs in the game came on solo home runs. John Denny looked a little flustered in the beginning, allowing a solo home run in the first inning to Jim Dwyer. But Denny would then settle down, and get a little help from the man in charge. Joe Morgan, 40 years young, tied the game in the sixth with a solo home run off of Scott McGregor. In the seventh, the game was slightly delayed when Howard Cosell interviewed President Ronald Reagan, who was sitting in the audience. Many observers think this threw McGregor off of his rhythm, and in the top of the eighth, he allowed a solo home run to Garry Maddox. After Denny began to tire, Al Holland came in out of the bullpen and shut the Orioles down the rest of the way. The Phillies had won the first game, 2-1.

The Orioles quickly got revenge in Game 2, with Boddicker pitching them to a series-evening complete game 4-1 victory. With his off-speed stuff baffling hitters, John Lowenstein paced the Orioles with a solo home run, and Rick Dempsey helped the cause with a single. Later in the game, Ripken hit an RBI single. The Phillies got their only run in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly.

The next three games would switch to Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium. The Phillies dove out to an early lead in the second inning of Game 3, with sol home runs by Gary Matthews in the second and Joe Morgan in the third. A solo home run by Dan Ford got the Orioles back in it, and it looked like Steve Carlton would give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. Then with two outs in the seventh, Dempsey doubled and went to third on Carlton’s wild pitch. Benny Ayala drove in the tying run, and after Al Holland came in, a single and Ivan DeJesus error led to the Orioles taking a 3-2 lead. Jim Palmer had come in out of the bullpen and picked up the win, going the longest time in between first and last wins in his Series career (seventeen years, winning his first in 1966).

Despite Ripken and Murray batting a combined .161 with one RBI in the first four games, the Orioles got clutch performances from their others. In the fourth, Rich Dauer drove in a run to break a scoreless tie, leading to two runs for the Orioles in the inning. Joe Lefebvre drove in a run for Philadelphia in their half, and then in the fifth, John Denny and Pete Rose drove in runs to give Philadelphia a 3-2 lead. In the sixth, Altobelli and the Orioles used four consecutive pinch hitters to gain a 4-3 lead, the last one coming on a sacrifice fly. Dauer drove in another run in the seventh, which proved to be the winning run, as the Phillies got a run back in the ninth. But Tippy Martinez got the save, and the Orioles were one win away from the title with a 5-4 Game 4 victory.

None of the big superstars had come through in the first four games. But Eddie Murray broke out of his slump, hitting two mammoth home runs, the second off of the scoreboard in Veterans Stadium, hitting his name on the scoreboard mentioning his RBI totals that year.

(Each of Eddie Murray’s two Game 5 home runs. Video courtesy of YouTube.)¬†

Rick Dempsey, on his way to MVP honors in the Series, hit a solo home run of his own. This time, Scott McGregor pitched the game of his life, and got Garry Maddox to line out to Ripken at short. In what would prove to be his only appearance, Ripken caught the final out and the Orioles had won it in five.

(Cal Ripken, Jr. catches the final out. Video courtesy of YouTube.)

The Orioles had won their third world championship, their last to date. They wouldn’t make the playoffs again until 1996. The Phillies would also have to wait until 1993 to get back to the playoffs. In the meantime, eighth hitter Rick Dempsey had his moment in the sun, winning MVP honors.

(The Orioles celebrate on the diamond. Photo courtesy of Baltimore Sun.) 

Fun Facts
Rick Dempsey is most famous for his Babe Ruth imitations during rain delays.

This was the only time in seven appearances (including the 1944 Series as the St. Louis Browns) that the Orioles lost the first game of the Series.

Jim Palmer not only played on every Orioles pennant winner, but he is the only pitcher to win a World Series game in three separate decades. He would play one last year before retiring.

Joe Morgan became the second-oldest player to hit a home run in the World Series, behind Enos Slaughter in 1956.

Steve Carlton was the first 300-game winner to appear in the World Series since 1928, when Grover Cleveland Alexander did it for the Cardinals.

The game 3 matchup featured three Cy Young Award winners (Palmer, Carlton, and Mike Flanagan), the last time it happened until 2012. It’s also the last time to date that both the winning and losing pitchers (Palmer and Carlton) are in the Hall of Fame.

Larry Andersen of the Phillies was the only member to play both their 1983 and 1993 World Series teams.

Orioles reserve Lenn Sakata, usually a second baseman, had a strange moment on August 24 that year. Forced into catching duties after the first two were replaced, the first three runners of the Blue Jays reached base. Figuring that Sakata would be easy to run on, they took large leads, and pitcher Tippy Martinez picked all three off of first base. Sakata then hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the tenth.

John Lowenstein was known for being a clubhouse prankster, notably smashing birthday cakes delivered to locker rooms with his bats ¬†if they didn’t meet his taste.

Final Thoughts
Although the 76ers had won the NBA title in 1983, many believed that the city started its own curse. “The Curse of Billy Penn” was born when the One Liberty Place skyscraper was built, the tallest building in Philadelphia. Rumor has it that because the William Penn building was no longer the tallest building, the city of Philadelphia wouldn’t win a title until it was rectified. Whether or not you believe in jinxes, the statue was restored to the highest building in 2007, and the next year, the Phillies would win the city’s first title in 25 years.

References and Sources
Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)
Kansas City Star. July 25, 1983
Boston Globe. October 1983.
Baltimore Sun. October 17, 1983.
The Curse of Rocky Colavito (Terry Pluto)
Baseball’s Greatest Insults (Kevin Nelson)
Throwing Heat (Nolan Ryan)
The Underground Baseball Encyclopedia (Robert Schnakenberg)
The Baseball Hall of Shame: The Best of Blooperstown (Bruce Nash, Allan Zullo)
The Psycho 100 (Steve Lyons)
Three Nights in August (Buzz Bissinger)