Peter, Peter Yankee beater

Cat and Emma… this one’s for you : )

81WS.pngWith the excitement of Game 1 in the 2009 World Series upon us, let’s roll back the clock and find ourselves a Yesterday’s Hitter for the ages.

It’s October 28,1981… Game 6 of the World Series is played in the Bronx between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees. LA had lost the first two games of the Series in the same ballpark and fell behind the powerful Yankees 0-2 before traveling back to the West Coast.

The friendly confines of Dodger Stadium were just what LA needed.

fmania.jpgThey swept 3 games from New York and took a 3-2 lead in the series for Game 6.

But, hold on a second.. a little history about this whacky season for Major League Baseball.

The 1981 season was marred by a strike.

wlbballstrikesm.jpgThe season was broken into two halves of approximately 50 games each. The strike began in June and ended in August. MLB commissioner, Bowie Kuhn, made the decision to crown the playoff teams as those who had won “the first half” and “the second half” in each Division.

The problem with that skewed thinking is that it left out the two best teams! The Cincinnati Reds had the overall best record in baseball at 66-42. They were left out of the playofffs because they did not win either “half” of the season. The same went for the St. Louis Cardinals who had the best overall record in the NL East, but failed to capture either one of the two “halves”. So, to put it mildly, the Playoffs and the Series were not representative of the best baseball had to offer in 1981.

However, it did feature the hottest commodity in baseball – Fernandomania!

bb-sakoguchi-112-valenzuela-dodgers-fernando-mania-mexico.jpgFernando Valenzuela’s rookie year with the LA Dodgers was nothing less than spectacular. He won his first 8 games (5 by shutout) and gave LA a force on the mound. He joined Jerry Reuss and Burt Hooton on the bump.

The Dodgers had their steady eddie infield of Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey and were Skippered by Tommy Lasorda.

Xqc6eoNT.jpg
 The Yankees featured sluggers Reggie Jackson and Dave Winfield. Their pitching staff was loaded with Dave Righetti, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage and Tommy John (who started Game 6).

steve_yeager.jpgWith John on the mound in Game 6, the Yankees rode the unexpected power of Willie Randolph to an early lead. Willie clubbed his second HR of the Series (a solo shot) in the bottom of the 3rd inning. The Bombers had the lead 1-0.

LA’s offense had been pretty hot in 2 of the last 3 games and they came right back to tie the game 1-1 on catcher Steve Yeager’s RBI single.

In the bottom of the 4th… the game began. This is where the blogging would go crazy (if they had such a thing in 1981).

Hooton gave up a leadoff double to Graig Nettles before settling down and getting two quick
tommy_john.jpgouts. Since the game had no Designated Hitter at the time, Hooton intentionally walked Larry Milbourne to get to Tommy John’s spot in the order.

Yankee skipper, Bob Lemon decided to PH for Tommy John and sent Bobby Murcer to the plate. TJ went a little haywire in the dugout (which was not lost on the Dodgers) when Murcer harmlessly flew out.

Buoyed by the controversy in the Yankee dugout, the Dodgers struck in the 5th. The Penguin (Ron Cey) knocked in a run to give LA a 2-1 advantage. Then Pedro Guerrero tripled home two more and LA had New York by the throat.

YankeesChoke-736122.jpgThey piled on again in the 6th when Yankee pitching committed the cardinal sin of walking the opposing pitcher with one out. If there were such a thing as a Rally Monkey… it would have been jumping in the Dodger dugout.

RallyMonkey.jpgDavey Lopes followed with another walk before Bill Russell singled home Hooton to give LA a 5-1 lead. Unfortunately for the Yankees… they were not done scoring. After the 6th run came home on an error, Pedro Guerrero stepped up and delivered another 2 RBIs on a 2 out single.

Pedro would go on to Homer in the 8th and ended Game 6 with an incredible 5 RBIs. Pedro, Ron Cey and Steve Yeager shared the first ever Co-MVP award in the World Series.
comvp.jpgAnd why not? There had already been so many firsts for baseball in 1981 – capped by the LA Dodgers being the first (and only) team to have ever lost the first two games on the road and wind up as the World Champs.

0805_large.jpg

 

 

Congratulations to Pedro Guerrero – You are Yesterday’s Hitter!

 

 

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11 comments

  1. crzblue2

    Buz,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    1981 ahhhhh. That was the first year I got season tickets and what a year for Fernandomania! I still have my Opening day and World Series ticket stubs, and W.S. program where I kept score. I also have a small record that was made by Monday, Reuss and Yeager where they recorderd “We are the Champions” and “New York, New York.” I had the cover signed by Mo and Yeager but still need Reuss. I’ve had my opportunities to have him sign it, but did not have the cover with me.
    .
    I remember Pedro Guerrero would always signal to his wife by wiggling his index finger when he homered. She used to sit a few seats away from me in the Loge level. good times, good memories! Good choice on the year and YH!
    Thank Buz!
    Emma
    http://crzblue.mlblogs.com/

  2. Buz

    Jane, hmmm.. that’s a probable for the next time we look back : )

    Jeff – Ya. The average power hitter would club 20 or so. There were a few exceptions of course, but if you had 2 or 3 guys with 20 on your team… you were pretty well feared! : ) It’s cool looking back at that footage isn’t it?

    Emma – Jerry occasionally joins us for lunch (although) I haven’t seen him in a while. I think he is still miffed over being let go by the Dodgers in the broadcast booth : (

    Diamongirl – It’s always fun to look back. You’ll do the same. In fact, this Series that’s upon us has the makings of one that will be remembered for a very long time. It has all the earmarks. : )

  3. crzblue2

    Buz,
    I forgot Jerry lives in Vegas. To tell you the truth, I prefer the combo of Mo and Reuss over Charlie and Mo. Charlie just doesn’t do it for me and I don’t care for the new guy either. Thank God we still get Vin for the first three innings on the radio. Don’t ask me what I will do after he stops broadcasting. How are you at broadcasting games? 🙂
    Emma
    http://crzblue.mlblogs.com/

  4. devilabrit

    Great post and a riminder of what it was really like…interesting to see where some of those guys are now too… but last night game 1 there was only one real candidate for the YH…. look forward to read about how you saw it…
    ~peter
    Outside the Phillies Looking In
    http://devilabrit.mlblogs.com

  5. Buz

    Matt, yes they were fun to watch. But, last night was awfully fun to watch as well. I guess it doesn’t really matter what year it is. : )

    Peter – You are so right. How could you even consider anybody else? He set the tone.

    Jenn – Who knows? They might have. The guy was everywhere in the media. It was kinda crazy. But awfully enjoyable to watch, given the fact I have blue blood ; )

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