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.