Collage of Los Angeles Dodgers who starred In the 1977 National League Championship Series
The Los Angeles Dodgers were down to their last out
On the road
The best of five series was tied one game each
The Phillies led 5-3
Relief ace Gene Garber was pitching
The Dodgers sent Vic Davalillo to pinch hit
As Garber threw the ball, Davalillo prepared to catch it with his bat
The ball bounced between first and second base
By the time a surprised Ted Sizemore got to it, Davalillo was already at first
Manny Mota went to bat as a pinch hitter
Garber had two strikes on him
Then Mota golfed a low pitch deep to left
Greg Luzinski went back and got a glove on the ball
But could not catch it
Then his throw to Sizemore went astray
By the time the play ended, Davalillo had scored and Mota was on third
Davey Lopes slammed a chopper to third base
The ball bounced off Schmidt’s glove to shortstop Larry Bowa
Who in one motion caught the ball and whirled it to first
The umpire called Lopes safe
Some Phillies fans are still upset about this call and call this game “Black Friday”
But after watching the game on DVD, I am not convinced it was a bad call.
Earlier in the game there were worse calls than this one against both teams.
Anyway, the game went on.
Garber tried to pick Lopes off, but he threw it away and Lopes got to second.
Bill Russell then lined a single up the middle to bring home Lopes.
The Dodgers got the Phillies out without any runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Final score: Dodgers 6, Phillies 5.
The Dodgers beat the Phillies again the next day and went on to the World Series.
Graig Nettles played with a Golden Glove in the World Series!
1978 World Series Game 3.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are up two games to none over the New York Yankees.
Top of the fifth inning. Yankees lead 2-1. Dodgers at bat.
Two outs. Steve Yeager on second. Davey Lopes on first.
Reggie Smith smashes a ground ball down the third base line.
It looks like it is headed for the left field corner. Yeager should score and the speedy Lopes should score as well…
Third baseman Graig Nettles gets his glove on the ball to stop it. It is too late to get a force out or to get Smith at first so the bases are loaded for Steve Garvey.
Garvey slams the ball down the third base line on a hop.
Nettles manages to back hand the ball and then whirls to fire it to Brian Doyle
to force Smith at second.
By this point, the game could easily be 4-2 for the Dodgers. In fact, in reviewing the statistics of this game, it is hard to believe the Yankees would go on to win by a score of 5-1.
Yankee pitcher Ron Guidry, who averaged a little more than two walks per nine innings that season, gave up seven in this one. He also gave up eight hits.
In the next inning, the Dodgers got two of those hits and one of those walks to load the bases with two outs.
Lopes smashes the ball down the third base line. It could have been good for as many as three runs…
But Nettles again makes a sensational play to stop the ball. Then he throws to Doyle for another force play to end the inning.
With these three plays, Nettles saved as many as six runs. The game doesn’t always end up the way it should or the way it could. That is why we watch.
Los Angeles Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda watches the 1977 World Series against the New York Yankees
As an avid fan of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball in the 1970s, I enjoyed watching a DVD of the first game of the 1977 World Series. The Dodgers took on the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
The game resembled a boxing match between two evenly matched fighters. The Dodgers punched, then the Yankees punched back. They traded blows until they wore each other out.
There’s no tying in baseball. Or at least not that often.
The Yankees finally prevail in the bottom of the twelfth. But it was not the end of the game that makes this contest memorable.
In the top of the first, Bill Russell hits a triple to deep left-center to drive in a run and comes home on a fly ball hit by Ron Cey. In the Yankee half, Chris Chambliss drives home a run with a single.
Then the game turns into a pitcher’s duel between Don Gullett of the Yankees and Don Sutton of the Dodgers. Gullett was starting the first game of the World Series for the third year in a row! Neither he nor Sutton seems perturbed by the early runs.
With two outs in the top of the sixth, Steve Garvey takes off from first as Glenn Burke hits a ground ball between first and second base. The ball trickles so slowly to the outfield that when center fielder Mickey Rivers picks up the ball, he realizes the play will be not at third base, but home plate! His throw goes to Thurman Munson, who catches it and then reaches out to tag Garvey.
Garvey jumps up and protests the call. Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda joins the argument. Replays appear to show Garvey’s foot touching the plate before Munson’s tag. Here is a picture of the play at the plate in the following day’s Telegraph.
But the call, right or wrong, prevails.
Yankee second baseman Willie Randolph opens the bottom of the sixth with a home run down the left field line to tie the score at two. In the eighth, Randolph walks and scored on a double by Munson.
This gives the Dodgers one last inning to produce at least a run to keep the game going. Dusty Baker leads off with a single.
Then came the kind of play that makes the game unpredictable and worth watching.
Pinch hitter Manny Mota fakes a bunt and then swings and misses at the pitch from Gullett. Baker, apparently on a hit and run, is on his way to second when he finds himself staring at a Yankee with the ball in front of him. Baker doubles back as the ball is thrown to first baseman Chambliss.
Ordinarily, the first baseman then tags the runner out. But Baker dives away from Chambliss AND the base! A confused Chambliss hesitates for a split second while Baker lunges again, this time for the base.
Baker’s play helped the Dodgers to tie the game. After Mota flies out, Steve Yeager walks. Then pinch hitter Lee Lacy singles to left to bring Baker home.
Watching this game again reminds me how much this rivalry and the three World Series that these two teams played in during my youth helped me to appreciate baseball.
The game of baseball reached its peak on October 21, 1975 when the Cincinnati Reds played the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston.
Both teams challenged each other until exhaustion. No one caved in, quit or wilted under the pressure and when it was over the spectators probably cared less about who won than how well they played.
The game starts with Luis Tiant, a man who came from Cuba to the United States before Castro but who could not return. He waited fourteen years, until the first game of the series in which he pitched a shutout, to see his parents (they came to Boston on a special visa).
He pitches from a corkscrew wind up and challenges the “Big Red Machine.” He gets them out without allowing a run for four innings even though the Reds do not have an easy out. Pete Rose, to be known later as the all time leader in base hits, pecks away at Tiant’s pitches. He faces Ken Griffey (Senior), Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, all of them stars and all of them headed for the Hall of Fame except for Griffey.
While the Reds were having trouble with Tiant, the Red Sox gain the upper hand in the bottom of the first when Fred Lynn, the Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player, drives a Gary Nolan pitch down over the wall in right field with two on.
Red Sox 3, Reds 0.
The Reds get untracked in the fifth inning. With two Reds on base, Griffey drives the ball to dead center. Lynn goes back and makes a leap…but just barely misses it. The ball bounces back toward the field and the runners round the bases.
But forget about the score for a minute. Lynn does not get up. He would say later that he could not feel his legs and could not move.
Lynn would get injured a number of times attempting (and frequently making) spectacular catches. It probably curtailed his career. But no one who refuses to take risks can stake claim to be the best.Lynn gets on his feet and is ready to play again.
Griffey winds up on third with a triple. He comes home when Bench gets a hit.
Reds 3, Red Sox 3.
Then the “lower” part of the Machine put the Reds ahead. In the seventh, George Foster drives home two runs with a double and Geronimo tags Tiant for a home run in the eighth.
Bye bye, Tiant.
The home town crowd roars, to pay tribute for Tiant’s World Series performance. The Red Sox go to bat in the bottom of the eighth six outs away from elimination.
Lynn smashes a hit off the Reds’ pitcher, Pedro Borbon. Rico Petrocelli gets a walk.
But then new Red pitcher Rawly Eastwick comes in to get two outs.
Up comes Bernie Carbo. The great thing about the World Series is that not-so-well-known players have the chance to become part of folklore. This was Carbo’s chance.
Eastwick looked like he had him down for the count. Carbo barely made contact with the ball.
Then he swung the bat well. “Deep center field…way back…way back…we’re tied up,” yells announcer Joe Gariagiola.
This is Carbo’s claim to fame. His fifteen minutes.
But the game is not over yet.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox load the bases with no one out. Lynn hits the ball down the foul line in left. Left fielder Foster makes the catch.
Nine times out of ten, the outfielder fails to make a good throw, or the catcher drops it.
Nine times out of ten, the base runner hears the third base coach telling him “Don’t go!”
The throw arrives to Bench on a hop. Doyle tries to maneuver around the tag. But Bench catches the ball and tags Doyle.
The Red Sox can’t score in the ninth. The game goes to extra innings.
In the top of the eleventh inning, with Griffey on first, Joe Morgan slams a ball that looks sure to go over the short wall in right field.
But Dwight Evans gets his fifteen minutes by leaping high to catch the ball. And then throwing to first to double up Griffey.
Evans claims to this day that he has no idea how he caught the ball.
Baseball games rarely end in ties and World Series Games really can’t. The series had been delayed three days due to rain and November was getting close.
The only question left was who would be the hero.
In the bottom of the twelth, lead off hitter Carlton Fisk took one pitch. Then he hit a ball directly down the left field line.
All the questions of life can be stated so succinctly: yes or no, in or out, fair or foul. Fisk pleads with the ball to stay fair. The Reds are saying otherwise.
The ball smashes into the pole.
Thirty-eight years later and it never has gotten any better than this. 
I ran across a video of the sixth game of the 1977 World Series. This game is better known as the game in which Reggie Jackson hit three home runs on three consecutive pitches to help the New York Yankees finish off the Los Angeles Dodgers 4 games to 2.
That the Dodgers were and are my favorite team probably accounts for why I have not seen this game in thirty-six years! But watching the last half-inning reminded me of how I felt watching the game live.
Yankee Stadium was near pandemonium. The team and their fans had waited fifteen years to win the World Series and all they needed were three more outs. The Yankees led the game handily, by a score of 8-3. Five of those runs had come in by way of Jackson’s long drives into the stands.
Some of those fans now sat on the outfield wall so as to be prepared to jump onto the field and celebrate upon the last out. Some of them threw things at Jackson, who went into the dugout to get a batting helmet! (Why the Yankees did not simply put another player in right field for this last inning is beyond me. They should have known Jackson would be mobbed later.)
The YouTube reminded me of some of the details I had forgotten. Ron Cey starts off the inning and takes a called third strike. Steve Garvey then bounces it to Bucky Dent at shortstop and beats the throw to first base. Dent had fielded the ball, but slipped trying to plant his foot to make a throw. The official scorer says “single.”
Dusty Baker follows by driving a ball into left field for a hit that sends Garvey to second base. Rick Monday, my favorite player, attempts but fails to bunt the ball. Then he sends a long drive to right field. For a second it looks like a home run, but the ball comes down in Jackson’s glove near the wall. Garvey tags second and goes to third base while Baker remains at first.
Two outs. Then the part I will never forget. The Dodgers send Victor Davalillo to the plate. At about five foot seven, he was one of the shortest players in the game and at forty-one he was one of the oldest.
On the first pitch, he releases his bat at just the right moment and lays down a bunt that catches the Yankees by surprise. Graig Nettles, the brilliant third baseman for the Yankees, finally gets to the ball and throws it to a surprised Thurman Munson, the catcher, at home plate.
For a moment, the Yankees look…ticked. After Jackson used a sledgehammer to knock out the Dodgers, Davalillo picks the Dodgers up and pokes the Yankees in the eye! I couldn’t help but laugh again as I saw the bunt single!
Those poor Yankee fans had their celebration delayed by about two minutes. The next batter, Lee Lacy, pops the ball up on a bunt of his own. The pitcher, Mike Torrez, catches the ball and the big celebration commences. The Yankees all hug each other, then they get out of the way of hundreds of fans who pour onto the field.
Inning over. Game over. Series over. But the memories never end!
See the game here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_QiPpMzclk
The top of the ninth begins at the 1:45:00 mark.
The zenith is the highest point above us in the sky.
If we look high enough, we will see one star distinguished from all the rest.
Sometimes we look to "stars," or people who excel at what they do.
We know them for one great thing they did that really matters.
There was Mark "the Bird" Fidrych, still remembered 37 years after his rookie baseball season in which he brought joy to his teammates, the fans and baseball itself.
There was the "Tank Man" in China, famous for his resilience in standing in front of a tank poised to run him over.
There was Robert F. Kennedy, a candidate for president, whose heartfelt plea for peace to a mostly black crowd in Indianapolis informing them of the assassination of Martin Luther King may well have saved lives.
What did these achievers have in common?
They expected nothing in return for their efforts. None of them demanded anything of those around them. And each changed the rules of victory and defeat.
Can you think of other examples of true "zenith"?
I am an avid sports fan and wrote the book A Fan’s Folklore: Six Seasons of Triumph,
Tragedy and Tough Luck to revive baseball and football in the 1970s. By writing about the athletes, coaches and games, I learned some things about myself.
I remember Lyman Bostock, an outfielder who signed a large contract with the
California in early 1978.Though he was an exceptional (.300) hitter, he batted a dismal .147 in April 1978.
He went to the owner of the Angels, Gene Autry (the singing cowboy) and
told Autry that he was giving his money back because HE HAD NOT EARNED
Bostock’s integrity was exceptional. His shocking murder a few months later was tragic.They simply don’t make athletes like him anymore.
Writing books allows me to reach people I would not otherwise reach. My writing about the “Immaculate Reception” is a case in point. On this controversial football play, it is a mystery who actually touched the ball, a question the referees had to guess in order to rule on the ending of a playoff game.
Using social media, I got the attention of one of the players involved in the play,
John “Frenchy”Fuqua. He emailed me back and told me he was going to show people like me that the play, which benefit his team the Pittsburgh Steelers, was “miraculous.”
A Fan’s Folklore informs the reader as to some of the most remarkable players and games in baseball and football history.It asks the reader to place themselves in the position of those who played the game and ask what they might have done.
Consider the so-called “Holy Roller” in which Oakland Raider quarterback Ken Stabler was about to be tackled by an opposing player as time ran out on the game.As the other player was about to grab his throwing arm and toss him to the ground, he had a split-second to decide whether to “cheat” by rolling the ball forward in the hopes a teammate could make a play or to quit by falling on the ball.
How does that sound – Be a cheater or be a quitter?
From this context, the players teach us about ethics in a way that nothing else
could. So grab this book and learn a little about yourself!
Book available here
This fan at an Oakland Raider game
Sports legends don’t just happen. They get made up! Listen to a sports fan get things right about some of the most controversial plays in football and baseball history.
The Immaculate Reception is legendary, but you will learn how and why the referees called it wrong! Imagine the headlines if the referees had called the pass, which really struck Frenchy Fuqua before its reception by Franco Harris, an incomplete pass!
“Bedlam at Three Rivers Stadium! Fans Riot to Protest Last Play Call in Steeler Defeat!”
The Reggie Jackson Hip Check doomed the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1978 World Series after the umpires missed the right call for Jackson’s interference of a thrown ball. Learn that the umpires DID NOT KNOW THE RULES! Instead of another Yankee championship, the story would read much differently.
“Dodgers Stop Yankees and Jackson in Their Tracks to Take 3-1 Series Lead!
The Rob Lytle Non-Call takes the award for not one, but two referee blunders on the same play. A premature whistle stopped a possible Raider touchdown on a Bronco fumble in the 1977 AFC Championship Game and the failure of the referees to huddle over when the whistle blew cost the Raiders possession of the ball. Instead of a Denver win and a boring Super Bowl XII, things would have been different!
“Late Stabler Pass to Casper Sends Raiders to Super Bowl to Face Cowboys!”
Read A Fan’s Folklore: Six Seasons of Triumph, Tragedy and Tough Luck by Dean T. Hartwell to see what sports legends are made of. Available now on Amazon and other fine sellers of books.
Rams safety Nolan Cromwell
I recounted Super Bowl XIV in my last article. In the end, the better team beat the underdog. The final score gave the Steelers a healthy 12 point advantage, but the score masked the closeness of the game.
While the Steelers had the sheer talent to come back to defeat the Rams, there was more to it than that. Plays that were a matter of inches, a player’s misfortune or other unforeseeable events turned on a dime and the game with it.
My purpose is to take one of these game-breaking plays and turn it in another direction and then estimate the result of the game from that point.
The play I chose took place with about nine minutes to go in the third quarter. The Steelers had the ball 1st and 10 from their own 44 yard line. In reality, Bradshaw passed the ball into the arms of Rams defensive back Nolan Cromwell, who, with only the Steeler end zone in front of him, dropped the ball!
Cromwell was an exceptional athlete who could have played quarterback or running back. I want this play back because his teammates have said he would have caught the ball 99 times out of 100. So here goes my projection of the rest of the game, using the real plays and results that followed to the extent practical.
Corral’s extra point after Cromwell’s touchdown makes the score 26-17 in favor of the Rams. On the kickoff, Larry Anderson takes the ball to the Pittsburgh 37 with 9:06 to go in the third quarter.
After two short runs by Harris, Bradshaw throws to Harris for a first down at the Ram 39. On the next set of downs, Bradshaw, again facing third and five, can’t find a receiver and scrambles for a first down.
A pass to Thornton gets the Steelers inside the Ram 10, but Bradshaw suffers his third interception when Elmendorf deflects a pass intended for Stallworth and Perry catches it in the end zone for a touchback.
Ferragamo and the Rams take over at their own 20 with 3:30 left in the third quarter. A couple of Tyler runs take them to the Ram 33, but a subsequent sack of Ferragamo costs them a chance at another first down. Clark’s long punt is returned by Smith to the Steeler 25 as the third quarter ends.
Harris runs left for two yards before Thornton drops a pass from Bradshaw. On third-and-eight, Bradshaw rolls the dice and hits John Stallworth in stride at the Ram 32. No one can stop the wide receiver from scoring on a 73-yard play. Bahr’s extra point makes the score Rams 26, Steelers 24.
The two teams exchange punts. The Rams get the ball back on their own 16 yard line. Two straight completions to Dennard put the ball on the Ram 48. Tyler runs for a first down and then slips on the next play. Ferragamo tries to connect with Nelson but the pass is overthrown.
This brings up 3rd down and 13 from the Steeler 47. Ferragamo finds Waddy on the right sideline for fifteen yards to get a first down at the 32.
Ferrago hands off twice to Wendell Tyler. The second rush gets the Rams to the 25. On third-and-three, Ferragamo tries Bryant, who is stopped a yard short of the first down.
After the 2 minute warning, Malavasi sends in the field goal unit. Corral runs up to the ball, but Cromwell pulls it away and makes a run for the right side. But the Steelers, who were familiar with Cromwell’s successful play against the Cowboys, stopped him short of the first down.
Steeler ball on their own 23 with 1:50 to go in the game. Both teams have all three time outs available.
Bradshaw starts by passing to Harris, who makes a gain of 14. Using a “hurry-up” offense, Bradshaw calls for a pass to Stallworth, but Cromwell breaks it up. After the Steelers are called for a false start, Bradshaw throws to Smith for a short gain before Smith gets out of bounds.
It is now 3rd and 9 from the Steeler 38 with 1:18 to go. Bradshaw decides to throw it deep to Smith, but Brown makes a spectacular catch in front of him for an interception.
After Ferragamo kneels on the ball twice, the game is over with the Rams 26-24 winners. Ferragamo takes the Most Valuable Player Award.See the actual Super Bowl XIV play-by-play here
Vince Ferragamo (15) waiting for the snap from center during Super Bowl XIV
It is almost time for the Super Bowl!
The best Super Bowl I ever saw was played between the Los Angeles Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 20, 1980.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had won the Super Bowl three times. Their all-star cast included future Hall of Famers such as quarterback Terry Bradshaw, wide receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, running back Franco Harris, defensive end “Mean” Joe Greene and linebacker Jack Lambert.
The Los Angeles Rams were the first team to make it to the Super Bowl with fewer than ten regular season wins. They had lost their owner, Carroll Rosenbloom, in a drowning accident in early 1979 and his widow, Georgia Rosenbloom had won a power struggle with Carroll’s son Steven. The team’s starting quarterback, Pat Haden, broke his finger in the middle of the season and was replaced by backup Vince Ferragamo.
Few gave the Rams much of a chance. I sat down to watch the game hoping they could keep it close.
As predicted, the Steelers ran and passed their way to several scores. Bradshaw connected with Swann and Stallworth for touchdowns. Harris pounded away for yards and for two touchdowns.
But what I will never forget was that the Rams, the underdog, matched the Steelers score for score. Running back Wendell Tyler took off with the ball in the first quarter for a 39 yard run. On third-and-goal a few plays later, Cullen Bryant plowed his way into the end zone.
When the first half ended with the Rams ahead 13-10, I started to think they could actually win it.
When Ferragamo responded to a subsequent Steeler touchdown with a 50 yard pass to receiver Billy Waddy, I realized both teams were fighting it out and the ending would not be predictable.
The play of the game took place next. Ferragamo handed the ball off to Lawrence McCutcheon, who then shocked the Steelers by passing to Ron Smith for a touchdown. I can still see the Steeler defender inadvertently knocking Smith into the end zone.
The see saw nature of this game and the story line of the underdog against the heavy favorite made it the essence of football. Anything could have happened after this point and that is what makes watching games like this so exciting.
In the end, it was the Steelers who pulled off the big plays when they needed them the most. Bradshaw hit Stallworth with a long touchdown pass to put the Steelers ahead 24-19. The Rams had a chance to go ahead when Ferragamo drove the team well into Steeler territory, but Lambert intercepted him to end the last serious Ram threat.
So there was no big upset here. But Ferragamo surprised by outplaying Terry Bradshaw, who threw three interceptions. The Rams surprised by forcing the Steelers to sweat it out until the final quarter. It is surprises like these that keep me watching the Super Bowl!