PHILADELPHIA — It was like a slo-pitch softball game played by overweight men trying to recapture their youth in a Sunday beer league. Losers buy the suds. Winners put up the quarters for the dart game.
The only difference Wednesday night was that this was a bona fide World Series game, played allegedly between the best two teams in all of North America, while a nationwide audience sat home with mouths agape.
In what will be remembered as one of the wackiest games in World Series history, with the Toronto Blue Jays prevailing over the Philadelphia Phillies, 15-14, it could be years before this city recovers.
This was 1964 all over again.
Only more painful.
The Phillie clubhouse, normally a zany place with ear-piercing music, resembled a morgue. Players talked in mumbled tones. Coaches sat in their office smoking cigarettes without speaking. Players' wives waited in the hallway, their makeup smeared by tears.
"I still don't know what happened," Phillie third baseman Dave Hollins said. "I haven't woke up yet. I know I was there, but it's like I can't believe it really happened.
"It was a crazy . . . game.
"Believe me, we've had some crazy games before, but not like this. This is the World Series. This is the . . . World Series."
The sellout crowd of 62,731, which was so boisterous the first eight innings, was too numb to leave Veterans Stadium. It witnessed a game in which two teams scored a record 29 runs, combined for 31 hits and exasperated 11 pitchers during a 4-hour, 14-minute marathon.
It was so absurd that each player in the two starting lineups reached base by the seventh inning, and nine players had multiple-hit games. It was so bizarre that Phillie center fielder Lenny Dykstra had two homers and a double, drove in four runs, and tied a World Series record by scoring four runs . . . and everyone was asking how close he came to catching Devon White's two-out, two-run, go-ahead triple in the eighth inning.
It was so preposterous that Blue Jay Manager Cito Gaston actually had given up hope of winning, even allowing reliever Tony Castillo to bat for himself while leading off the seventh inning, his team down by four runs.
It ended with the Blue Jays scoring six runs in the eighth, four with two out, making it the most painful game Mitch Williams has blown in his career.
"I don't know if anybody was real confident about the outcome of the game, particularly with what was happening," said Phillie reliever Roger Mason, who pitched 2 2/3 innings and would have been the winning pitcher if Williams had held the lead. "But we certainly thought we had it in hand.
"Come on, who could ever have expected that?"
Actually, everyone should have known what kind of evening it would be when Phillie great Steve Carlton threw the ceremonial first pitch into the dirt.
By the end of the night, Carlton probably was wondering if perhaps he retired too soon, watching pitcher after pitcher forgetting how to throw strikes, much less retire batters in the dizzying affair.
Starters Tommy Greene of the Phillies and Todd Stottlemyre of the Blue Jays, perhaps trying a little too hard to emulate Carlton, combined for this pitching line: 4 1/3 innings, 10 hits, 13 earned runs, eight walks and two strikeouts.
The Phillie bullpen trio of David West, Larry Andersen and Williams gave up eight runs, six earned, in only three innings.
"We let it get away, we just let it get away," Dykstra said. "Everybody knows that.
"We've had tough losses before, but nothing like that one.
"I mean, how can you ever compare something to that?"
And what was the craziest aspect of this whole adventure?
The wind was blowing in.