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Eureka!--Though for Iorg, It's Blue Lake : Game 6 Star Has Come Long Way From His Window-Breaking Days

October 27, 1985|GORDON EDES | Times Staff Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dan Quisenberry has given up trying to explain what is happening here.

"This was ridiculous, crazy stupid--this game is stupid," said Quisenberry, a Royal flush with the excitement of Saturday's 2-1 ninth-inning win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the World Series.

"I don't know anything about baseball anymore and I don't want to," Quisenberry said. "I want to win tomorrow and then go to sleep for two months."

Just as Rodgers and Hammerstein promised in "Oklahoma," everything is still up to date in Kansas City, even though the Cardinals came within two outs of turning the Royals into yesterday's news.

Instead, a broken-bat, two-run single by pinch-hitter Dane Iorg put the Royals within a game of making history. If they win tonight, they will become the first team to win a World Series after losing the first two games at home.

"It's like that story by Pericles," Quisenberry said. "The sword of Damocles has been swinging down and giving a lot of guys haircuts."

But the Royals have yet to lose their heads, primarily because Iorg didn't lose his when sent to the plate to pinch-hit in the ninth with the bases loaded against Cardinal reliever Todd Worrell, the recently ordained ace of a St. Louis bullpen that had not lost a game in the ninth inning this season.

"I'm sittin' on the bench, talkin' to God," Royal outfielder Willie Wilson said. "I said, 'God, let's take it away from them, because they took it away from us.' "

Wilson was alluding to the Cardinals' ninth-inning comeback in Game 2 against Royal pitcher Charlie Leibrandt, who appeared to be on the verge of another tough loss Saturday despite pitching splendidly.

And Wilson couldn't be blamed for seeking divine intervention. Iorg had been a World Series hero before--but that was three years ago, when he still was with the Cardinals and hit .529 as a designated hitter, and before he'd been sold to the Royals for a song in 1984.

Last season, Iorg had platooned at first base with Steve Balboni and batted .417 as a pinch-hitter.

This season, he had been hurt, played little and had come through just four times in 27 pinch-hitting appearances, a .148 average. He had batted once in this World Series, leaving a runner on third with a fly ball that was the final out of the Cardinals' win in Game 1.

"It's been a bad year," he said, "the worst year I've ever had offensively."

It was a year that was two outs away from Iorg going fishing for steelhead bass in Mad River, Calif., with his brother, Garth, whose own season had ended when the Royals eliminated the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League playoffs.

Mad River runs near Blue Lake, Calif., a lumber-mill town of about 1,000 that is near Eureka in the northern part of the state. "But don't say I'm from Eureka," said Iorg, who now lives in Utah. "My dad gets mad if I don't say Blue Lake."

It was in Blue Lake that the Iorg brothers broke almost a dozen windows at home playing baseball.

"But my dad never complained once," Iorg said. "My dad taught me the game, gave me the chance to play, sacrificed himself so my brother and I could play baseball. In some way, this was a way of paying him back."

Iorg broke no windows Saturday night. But it's possible he broke the Cardinals' back when he drove Worrell's second pitch into right field for a single.

He had taken the first pitch from Worrell, a fastball down and in, for a ball. And he knew another was coming.

"You don't look for the local when you know there's an express coming," said Iorg, a man who knows something about trains because he lives near railroad tracks.

And just as he blocks out the sound of the trains passing by, Iorg blocked out the sound of the crowd as he strode to the plate.

"I know they (the fans) are going bananas," he said. "I don't have to be physically aware of it."

Iorg was aware, however, of what a special moment this was.

"What I was thinking," he said, "was that it's important not to be scared in that situation, to feel the pressure. If I did, I'd probably have a heart attack on the way to home plate.

"I told myself to enjoy the moment, enjoy the experience. How many people have that opportunity. Everybody I know dreams of being a professional athlete, dreams about that situation.

"And this was like a dream come true, so why be scared, why feel the pressure?"

Iorg said he'd dreamed of just such a situation from the time he was a kid. And when it happened, and he rounded first base and saw that Jim Sundberg was going to beat Andy Van Slyke's throw to the plate for the winning run, what was his reaction?

"You're numb," he said. "It's like a time warp, I guess. Things stop. It's hard to describe."

Things did not stay stopped for long. For his trouble, Iorg received an accidental bloody nose from pitcher Mike Jones, who isn't even on the postseason roster but who led the charge of players from the Kansas City bench.

"He hit a bleeder, and he's bleeding," said the 6-5 Jones, who was a defensive end in high school. "But that was the most beautiful bleeder I've ever seen."

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