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Jim Murray

They'll Recall This Series as Provocative

October 29, 1985|Jim Murray

The 1985 World Series was kind of like one of those parties you don't want to go to, you try to get out of--and then you go and have the time of your life. You wind up at 2 a.m. singing "Mother Machree" on top of the piano with your arms around guys you never saw before in your life swearing they're the greatest bunch of guys you ever met up with and why don't we do this more often?

It started out as the most silent Series this side of Mack Sennett, but then the calliope started up and they sent in the clowns and everybody kicked off their shoes and began to have a ball.

It's strange how two 11-0 final games, which normally you would expect to send the audience home snoring, can produce some of the most talked-about moments in Series history.

The last 11-0 finale in the annual classic was in 1934. Dizzy Dean pitched a six-hit shutout for the St. Louis Cardinals over Detroit, but no one remembers that. All anyone recalls is that Cardinal left fielder Joe (Ducky) Medwick had to be ejected from the game by the commissioner of baseball for circumstances beyond his control.

Ducky was batting .379 and having a great Series with a homer and a triple when he slid hard into third base with his three-bagger in the sixth inning of Game 7 in Detroit.

The score at the time was Cardinals 9, Detroit 0, and the mood of the auto workers in the seats ranged from ugly to homicidal.

The slide into third was apparently hard but legal, only third baseman Marvin Owen was having one of those World Series you scream about. A .317 batter during the regular season, he was 2 for 29 in the Series or .069 at the plate. He didn't even want to see Medwick much less get bumped by him.

When Medwick went to the outfield, he got pelted with everything but transmissions and hubcaps and Commissioner K. M. Landis had no recourse but to remove him from the game under police escort.

So you think ballplayers have changed?

Come with me then to the fifth inning of Game 7 Sunday night in Kansas City. Once again, one team is down, 9-0, in the final game and you could cut the frustration in the losing dugout with a knife.

There are two outs and a man on first and third and four runs across the plate when out of the bullpen comes Joaquin (Don't Blame Me) Andujar, one tough Dominican.

Now, Joaquin is nobody's mop-up pitcher. Joaquin is a 21-game winner with 110 major league victories. But, Joaquin is having a poor-to-terrible World Series and Joaquin does not suffer adversity in the way, say, a St. Francis of Assisi might be expected to. Joaquin, in short, is looking for somebody to blame.

At least one member of the media, longtime Joaquin-watcher Randy Youngman, thinks this combination of circumstances was well-known to Joaquin's manager, Whitey Herzog. Whitey, some feel, knew he was ordering a volcano to the scene at that juncture, and that it was just a question of a pitch or so before baseball's Vesuvius would be in fine furious eruption.

You see, the home plate umpire was one Don Denkinger. Don is a pretty good umpire, but he might have blown a call Saturday night that cost Whitey Herzog a World Series is all.

It's debatable, but the point is, Whitey had delivered himself of a white paper on the subject in post-game interviews Saturday night and the matter may have come to the attention of Joaquin, his terrible-tempered pitcher.

Joaquin, you see, takes things personally. Joaquin could not have taken too kindly to being called into a 9-0 game in the fifth inning with the count 2 and 0 on the batter. As the French General Gamelin said when he was flown over the German breakthrough in World War II, "They have handed me a disaster." Joaquin not only had a disaster, he was behind on the count.

He was shortly to be further behind when, after Frank White singled, Umpire Denkinger called ball three on a pitch Andujar rather liked on the inside part of the plate.

Joaquin began to wave his fingers wildly in the general direction of home plate, where these gestures either had to be directed at Denkinger or his catcher, Darrell Porter. Whitey Herzog then came out to keep Andujar from getting tossed out and in the process was tossed himself.

When Denkinger called ball four a moment later, all ambiguity was removed. Joaquin charged home plate like a kamikaze pilot swooping down the smokestack of a battleship with all guns blazing.

Kronimo never looked more ferocious. A molten lava of words poured down Joaquin's chin and rained down on poor Denkinger who was doing his best not to look frightened.

It was not baseball's finest hour. Herzog came running back out of the dugout. Like his pitcher, he appeared to be frothing at the mouth. Just why is unclear. Because the pitch that Denkinger had just called ball four was so obviously ball four everyone, including Herzog's catcher, knew it was. In any case, what is the sense of arguing about a single pitch or even a pair of them in a 10-0 game?

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