Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Three Home Runs

It happened thirty-five years ago.  That seems almost impossible, but it is true.

The Yankees won the first World Series of my lifetime.

After coming close, and making the Series in 1976 (but getting destroyed by the Big Red Machine), 1977 was meant to be different.  Oh, that it was.  For starters, the Bombers added a big straw named Reggie Jackson.  Now, let's be quite clear.  Reggie did some good, even great things as a Yankee (including 35 years ago tonight).  But he also at times embarrassed his so-called beloved pinstripes.  His comments about Thurman Munson (the infamous "straw that stirs the drink" comment) got things off to a bad start.  He loafed at times (in a way more offensive than Robinson Cano is accused of today).  He famously fought with Billy Martin in plain view at Fenway Park.

To be honest, I didn't like Reggie.  In a lot of ways, I still don't.  I've seen him personally - rude, brash, arrogant.  I've heard more stories that back that up.  He essentially made a deal with the Yankees to get his number retired in exchange for putting an "NY" on his Hall of Fame plaque.  In that same deal he got a job as a "special assistant", or whatever he is.

Maybe Reggie is just fine.  Derek Jeter likes him.  Guess that says something.

Oh, and there's no way in the name of George Herman "Babe" Ruth that his number should have been retired.  I've done that debate before here.  My opinion hasn't changed.

But my god did he cement his legacy 35 years ago tonight.  Jackson homered off of Don Sutton in his last at bat of Game 5, as the Dodgers pounded New York, 10-4.  It was a Tuesday night and, given the chance that the Yankees could win the World Series that night, I was allowed to stay up past my bedtime.  Jackson walked and scored on a Chris Chambliss home run in the second.  Then the fireworks began.

He came up with the Yankees down 3-2 in the fourth and hit a two-run shot off of Burt Hooton to make it 4-3.

He hit a two-run shot in the fifth off of Elias Sosa.

Then, with the old building rocking, he launched a shot to "the black" in dead center field off Charlie Hough in the eighth.

(By the way, if I was Keith Jackson, calling the play-by play, I would have thrown both Tom Seaver and Howard Cosell out of the booth that night.  Never cut the play-by-play voice off.  Jackson barely got the word "high" out of his mouth.  Bad.)

Between Games 4 and 5, Jackson had homered four times...on four straight swings; each home run coming on the first pitch he saw.

The Dodgers added a run in the ninth before started Mike Torrez closed out the 8-4 win.  At home in Mahopac, eight-year-old Robbie began to jump before remembering that my father had already gone to bed (he always got up for work early).  It was the quietest jump in this history of celebrating.

In the Yankees locker room, Bill White interviewed the Champions for ABC.

Side note: I miss these days.  It's all too scripted now.

The Yankees would win again in '78, of course, before going into the silence of the 80's and early 90's.  Then we were blessed with '96, '98, '99, and 2000.  Then, with Sean sitting on my lap in 2009, we watched the Yankees wrap up that 27th Championship.

Sean quickly went back to sleep, but celebrated the next day.
Sadly, I don't think a corresponding photo exists of me from 1977, but you get the idea.

You never forget your first time.

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