The 79th World Series was awash in beer jokes; by the time it got under way, enough puns were in print to choke a Clydesdale. So it was no surprise that this game was won on a wicked hop, mashing by the Milwaukee Brewers and a stouthearted pitching performance.
But besides offering a match between a team owned by a man who makes Bud and a team owned by a man who's named Bud, this Oktoberfest presented the clearest Series confrontation between speed and power since the Dodgers met the Twins in 1965. Whitey's Rugburners vs. Harvey's Wallbangers. The Cardinals figured to run the Brewers ragged on the carpet in St. Louis, and the Brewers to mug the Cardinals once they got back to Milwaukee.
The fans in St. Louis' Busch Stadium, most of whom seemed to be dressed in red, should have known something was wrong even before the first pitch of the game. One of the eight Clydesdales pulling August A. Busch and his beer wagon around his stadium soiled the first-base coaching box.
With runners on first and second and two out in the first inning, Milwaukee's Ben Oglivie lined the ball—with some English on it—just to the right of Keith Hernandez at first. Hernandez, who normally makes this play look easy, missed the short hop. One runner scored, and a subsequent single by Gorman Thomas gave Milwaukee a quick 2-0 lead. This would be all the advantage that Pitcher Mike Caldwell would need, although his teammates gave him eight more runs to relax with.
The 10-0 score was the most lopsided in a Series opener since the White Sox beat the Dodgers 11-0 in 1959. The Cardinals took small comfort in the fact that Los Angeles went on to win in six games that year. "I don't like getting beat 10-0," said Manager Whitey Herzog. "It bothers the hell out of me. We just looked horse manure. It's a good thing we weren't playing a doubleheader."
The Brewers took to Busch Stadium as if they'd been playing there all their lives, even though most of them had never even seen the place. "I started liking it in batting practice," said Jim Gantner, who had two hits, including a two-run triple in a four-run ninth. "Great hitter's background." Milwaukee had 17 hits in all, only one of them a homer, by the beloved erstwhile Cardinal, Ted Simmons. By reputation the Brewer hitters are barbarians who pick their teeth with broken bats, but in reality they use their heads as much as they do their muscles. At the top of the order, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount and Cecil Cooper had a grand total of 616 hits during the season.
Molitor had five and Yount four in this game. Molitor's fifth hit gave him the World Series record, and Bill Guilfoile, public-relations director for the Hall of Fame, asked him for his bat. Molitor was only too happy to oblige, although he had actually used three bats in the game, having broken one while making his only out, in the first inning, and another while getting a bloop single in the fourth. After the game, Molitor had no idea he'd set a record, and he couldn't remember ever getting five hits in a game, even in high school. He had the nerve to say, "Even though we scored 10 runs, we didn't swing our bats that well."
Try telling that to St. Louis Pitcher Bob Forsch, who was relieved in the sixth inning by 43-year-old Jim Kaat. Kaat's appearance made him the second-oldest man ever to play in a Series—Jack Quinn was 46 when he pitched for the 1930 A's. Kaat was the Cards' only effective pitcher this night. By the time the Brewers were knocking around rookies Dave LaPoint and Jeff Lahti, the red sea in the stands had departed.
Even more surprising than the runs the Brewers scored were the runs the Cardinals didn't. Caldwell was so masterful that six of his nine innings were perfect, and he allowed a runner as far as second just twice. He induced so many ground balls that Oglivie in leftfield didn't touch a live ball all night. Caldwell gave the Cards no chance to show off their speed, which was good because his pickoff move isn't. His three-hitter was the best individual Series pitching performance since Steve Blass also had a three-hitter in 1971 for the Pirates. Caldwell's feat followed three outings in which he had given up 16 earned runs in 18 innings.
"That was as good as you'll see Mike Caldwell," said Simmons. "He changed speeds and threw sinkers and sliders. When he started, he was low and away, on the black. I said to myself, 'This will be nice for a while.' It stayed that way."
Caldwell, 33 and sporting something of a paunch, is known as Mr. Warmth. Actually, his T shirt says MR.—— WARMTH. By his own admission, he's grouchy and irritable. "I've put my fist through more things than you can find," he says. According to Sal Bando, the Brewers' morale coach, "Caldwell's a very grumpy, sarcastic, gross person. The name is from Don Rickles. You know, Mr. Warmth. Simmons used to call him Trash Can and Roto-Rooter. He's very filthy."
The Cardinals also thought he was being unsanitary. "He might have been throwing me screwballs," said Hernandez, "but I never saw a screwball drop like that. I didn't ask the umpire to look at the ball because I fouled off all the screwballs, or spitballs. When the balls rolled on the ground, they dried up."
Said Caldwell, "Sometimes it bothers me when I'm accused of throwing a spitter because it detracts from what I've done. But I also take it as a compliment because, evidently, I had pretty good stuff." Caldwell took another pull of his Lite beer. "Right now I'm going to sit back and get as drunk as I want to get."
That the Brewers were drinking Lite and Miller High Life was also something of an upset. The Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee had 10 cases of each delivered to Busch Stadium, unbeknownst to the top Cardinal management. Said Buddy Bates, attendant in the visitors' clubhouse, "When it came in the door, I walked the other way. Mr. Busch doesn't kid around about stuff like that. I could be collecting unemployment."
Mr. Busch had something else to worry about. His Cardinals were flat.
Herzog assessed the St. Louis chances beforehand. "Their guy has won 280 games, our guy has won nine. Their guy makes $900,000 a year, our guy makes $35,000. It don't look too good for us on paper."
It don't look any better on the field in the bottom of the sixth. Milwaukee's Don Sutton, who has actually won 264 games, counting postseason victories, and who actually makes $700,000, is nursing a 4-2 lead. He has two outs, with a man on third. But he walks the Cardinals' George Hendrick after going 0-2 on him. And now he faces Darrell Porter, once booed in St. Louis, now cheered.
With the count 1-2, Sutton throws Porter, a lefthanded pull hitter, a high outside slider. With the Brewers in a dramatic overshift against him, Porter hits the ball into the leftfield corner to drive in two runs and tie the game. "Porter turned the game around," Sutton would say later. "He'll hit that ball down there about as often as Halley's comet comes around, but he did it."
After Porter had gotten his hit, Sutton said something to him. "He told me, 'Nice hitting,' " related Porter. "I nodded to acknowledge the compliment."
Porter's double set the stage for the Cardinals' 5-4 victory, which evened the Series. St. Louis didn't win in a walk, but rather on a walk with the bases loaded in the eighth. Pinch Hitter Steve Braun drew it from Pinch Pitcher Pete Ladd. Reliever Bruce Sutter got credit for the victory after 2‚Öì innings of his usual brilliance.
Herzog was worried before the game that he might never get to use Sutter in the Series, and indeed the Brewers were doing their best to see that he was kept in deep freeze. Charlie Moore doubled in their first run in the second, and Simmons again caused mass schizophrenia, by hitting another solo homer in the third inning off John Stuper, Herzog's $35,000 starter.
The Cardinals scored their first runs of the Series in the third, the RBIs coming on a ground-rule double by Tommy Herr and a single by Ken Oberkfell. But Milwaukee scored again in the fifth on Yount's double off the left-centerfield wall and Cooper's single.
Four of Sutton's first five innings had been perfect. He caught Herr looking to lead off the sixth, and even after Oberkfell singled, stole second and went to third on Hernandez' long fly to right, there was no reason to believe Sutton couldn't do to the Cards what he had done to the Orioles and Angels in recent crucial games. But then he walked Hendrick and gave up the opposite field double to Porter.
Only a few teams in the National League play Porter to pull as much as the Brewers were doing. Despite that, Porter maintained that the hit was unintentional. "That's the first time in three years I've put a ball in that corner," he said. "It was an accident—I was just trying to get my bat on the ball."
The double was further vindication for Porter, which, incidentally, is the name of a British brew. He hasn't been a popular player in St. Louis since he replaced Simmons two years ago, and averages of .224 in '81 and .231 in '82 hadn't done anything to ease the situation. He was also shaking drug and alcohol addiction. But he has been an excellent handler of pitchers, and he felt he began to hit well in the last weeks of the regular season. Herzog prophesied that Porter would be his most valuable player in the playoffs, and he was.
The Cardinals nearly fell behind again in the seventh. Doug Bair, who pitched well for two innings, gave up a two-out double to Cooper. Herzog didn't hesitate to bring in Sutter, who walked Simmons intentionally and then got Oglivie to hit a high chopper to the right side of second. Ozzie Smith came all the way over from shortstop and made a magnificent play to nail Oglivie and end the inning. "It was nothing special," said Smith.
The Brewers found trouble in the eighth. Bob McClure walked Hernandez and failed to cover first on a possible double-play ball hit by Hendrick to Cooper. When Porter then singled up the middle, Milwaukee Manager Harvey Kuenn summoned Ladd, the celebrated turnkey from Cumberland County, Maine with the size 15 E feet.
With the count 3-2 on Lonnie Smith, Ladd threw a fastball that Umpire Bill Haller called a ball. "I thought it hit the outside corner," said Smith. "Frustration!" said Ladd. "The inside edge of the ball caught the outside edge of the plate, if you can figure that out." When Kuenn was later asked what he thought of Haller's call, he said, "Could I just smile and not say anything?"
In any case, the flustered Ladd then threw four straight balls to Braun, and not a one of them was close to the strike zone. "I feel I had nothing to do with it," said Ladd. "I feel I got taken out of the game before I ever pitched to Braun. That's right—taken out of the game when the umpire made a bad call." Simmons, though, refused to put the blame on Haller. "Ball four on Braun is the thing that beat us," he said. "Ball four on Lonnie Smith did not."
There might have been further damage to the Brewers had a shot toward right, off the bat of the next hitter, Ozzie Smith, not struck Braun on the back of his left heel as he ran between first and second. Two more runs would have scored. Fortunately for the Cardinals, Sutter retired the Brewers without much trouble in the ninth, thus making Braun's gaffe a footnote, so to speak. "Some of us are born to run," said Braun. "And some of us are born to hit—and walk."
One of the newer Cardinal traditions is the John Cosell Show, a mock interview program hosted by Stuper with regular correspondents LaPoint, Lahti, Glenn Brummer and Mike Ramsey. The show runs to the scatological, and the various interrogators use Budweiser bottles as microphones. After Game 2, they took out after Braun. "Steve Braun, the Golden Eyeball," said LaPoint. "Tell us, Steve, how come you can eyeball a fastball at 90 miles an hour but you can't get your lousy feet out of the way of a ground ball?"
This time the last laugh belonged to St. Louis.
Willie McGee seems to walk with the weight of the world on his shoulders, like Atlas, but he runs like Mercury. He's extremely shy, yet his deeds demand that he stand in the limelight. Once overlooked, now he will be long remembered for his performance as a rookie in the third game of the '82 Series, the first played in Milwaukee.
McGee's display of power came as something of a surprise, because he had hit only four homers in the regular season, and one of those was inside the park. But on this night he had two home runs, one producing three runs, and made two remarkable catches, one a classic, as St. Louis stunned Milwaukee 6-2. "I don't know of anybody who's ever played a better World Series game than he played tonight," said Herzog.
The game was scoreless in the fifth, with the Cardinals' Joaquin Andujar dueling the Brewers' Pete Vuckovich, when McGee came up with runners on first and third and one out. Vuckovich's first pitch was a weak slider, high and on the inside part of the plate. "I knew when the ball was not four feet from my hand that it was bad," said Vuckovich. "I knew, just like a bowler knows as soon as the ball is out of his hand, that it's not in the pocket, not in the groove." McGee, however, didn't know the ball was going over the rightfield fence when he hit it. "I'd never played in this park before, so I didn't know how well the ball would travel."
In the seventh, with two outs and nobody on, Vuckovich backed McGee off the plate with an inside pitch. "I didn't know if that was a brushback or knockdown pitch, but it got pretty close to me," McGee said. "I barely got out of the way. It's all part of the game." The next pitch was a changeup, and McGee put it into the stands in right. This time he knew the ball was gone. "I've never hit two home runs in a game before," he said. In the process he tied a Series record for most homers in one game by a rookie with Charlie Keller of the '39 Yankees and Tony Kubek of the '57 Yankees.
And then there was McGee's defense. He reached high for a ball that Molitor hit to the 402-foot sign in center in the first inning, but he saved his best catch for the last inning. With the score 6-2, a runner on first and nobody out, Thomas drove a high liner deep to left center. McGee, on the run, timed his leap perfectly and robbed Thomas of a home run. "I thought I might have jumped too soon," he said.
McGee's heroics overshadowed the play of Lonnie Smith, who broke out of his postseason slump—3 for 19 in the playoffs and Series—with a double in the fifth and a triple in the seventh. His hits came as a relief not only to Smith and the Cardinals but to Smith's wife, Pearl, as well. "The last week and a half I've been sleeping three to four hours a night," he said. "When I don't sleep, I toss and I turn and I kick, and I usually wind up kicking my wife, and she loses sleep."
The seventh inning was nearly a nightmare for the Cards. Andujar was working on a two-hitter when, with one out, Simmons lined a one-hop shot off the pitcher's right leg, just below the knee. It was a frightening sight as Andujar writhed on the ground. "He went down just like a big old oak tree," said Porter. Andujar was taken to Mt. Sinai Medical Center, where X-rays proved negative. Although he showed up at the park the next day on crutches, the Cardinals said he could start a seventh game.
Until his injury, Andujar, who's from the Dominican Republic, was never in serious trouble, except maybe from frostbite. "He always wears shirtsleeves," says Porter, "no matter how cold it is." Andujar is such a creature of habit that he insisted on taking batting practice before the game even though the DH rule was in effect.
When Andujar left the game in the seventh, Herzog brought in Kaat again, then Bair, and then, with the bases loaded, Sutter. Sutter got Moore to pop up to end the inning, as Oberkfell made a courageous and difficult catch on the top steps of the Cardinal dugout. In the eighth the Brewers finally touched Sutter, with a two-run homer by Cooper. Sutter finished the game, but for the first time in four postseason appearances he looked vulnerable. "I thought maybe they'd bring Willie in to pitch," said Herr. "It was his night."
During last year's World Series, nobody noticed when the Yankees traded McGee from their Nashville Class AA team to St. Louis for journeyman Pitcher Bob Sykes. Even the Cardinals had no idea how good he was. "The first I heard of the trade," says McGee, "was when I read it under the transactions in the newspaper. Nobody called me. I had to call the Yankees two weeks later to find out where I was supposed to go."
The Cards did like what they saw of McGee in spring training, but he was sent down to Louisville before the start of the season. An injury to David Green necessitated his call-up in May, and he simply played too well to be sent down again.
One of the reasons McGee is so easily overlooked is his demeanor. "He sort of looks like he's sorry to be here," says Ramsey. "He has an aura of apology about him." Ozzie Smith, who befriended McGee in spring training and offered him lodging in his house when he was called up, says, "I can see how people might miss something about him. He's just very shy. He's really a lovely person."
McGee looked anguished as the Series media besieged him after the game. But he tried to answer each question politely and thoughtfully. "It's just happening too fast," he said. "I'd rather come to the park, play ball and keep a low profile. But that ain't going to happen."
Being in treacherous waters was nothing new for the Brewers, who now trailed two games to one. Said Thomas, "We were in the same boat in Baltimore at the end of the regular season, the same boat when we went to California in the playoffs, the same boat when we went to St. Louis to play on their rug. We're still riding the same boat whether it's PT-109 or the Love Boat or whatever. When the ship is in the harbor, they try to bomb it. And the submarines are always out there waiting for us." Again, Milwaukee was listing.
It was the seventh-inning stretch, and the Brewers were trailing the Cardinals 5-1 as the fans in County Stadium sang the traditional Beer Barrel Polka. The lyrics, "We've got the blues on the run," seemed like a joke.
Thomas popped the ball back to Porter for the second time to start the home half of the seventh. Then Oglivie hit a high hopper to Hernandez, and he fed the ball to LaPoint, who was working on a five-hitter. LaPoint arrived at first and the ball arrived at LaPoint in plenty of time to record the second out. The ball hit high in the pocket of his glove—but fell out. "It landed like a brick," said La-Point. "Any other part of the glove and I catch it." Said Oglivie, "At the time, it seemed so unimportant."
But quicker than you can say "Mickey Owen's passed ball," the Brewers had a rally going. "I was sitting next to Harvey on the bench," said Gantner, "and he turned to me and said, 'Hey, maybe that's what we need to get us going.' "
Don Money followed with a broken-bat single to right, and the County Stadium crowd of 56,560 came alive. But Moore popped up to short. With two outs, Gantner came to the plate with a chance to redeem himself. In the second his two-base error had cost the Brewers a run, and in the fifth he had hit into a rally-killing double play on which the only Milwaukee run had scored. This time Gantner lined the first pitch from LaPoint to right center for a double to drive in Oglivie. "I was just trying to make contact," said Gantner. "That was the biggest hit of the inning," said Cooper.
Bair came in to replace LaPoint, and when he ran the count to 3-1 on Molitor, the crowd rose to its feet. Bair walked Molitor to load the bases. Yount tried to check his swing on a 2-1 pitch, but his bat hit the ball and sent it into rightfield for a two-run single. "I'll take it any way I can get it," said Yount. The stadium shook with the football cheer, "Here we go, Brewers, here we go."
After Herzog brought in Kaat, Molitor, standing on third, gestured for the batter, Cooper, to see how deep Oberkfell was playing. Cooper squared to bunt but didn't. Before the next pitch, Oberkfell moved in a step.
At 2-0, Cooper chopped the ball down the line to Hernandez. Home Plate Umpire Dave Phillips waited for what seemed to be an eternity before calling it foul. "I said, 'Thank you,' " said Cooper. He lined the next pitch off the heel of Oberkfell's glove to drive in the tying run. "I should've had it," said Oberkfell, and he might have—had he been playing deeper.
The stadium was a barrel of fun. The fans roared, and the Brewer players carried on like kids. "We were like a Little League dugout," said Pitcher Jim Slaton, the eventual winner. "Only worse."
When Kaat went to 2-1 on Simmons, Herzog brought in Lahti to intentionally walk Simmons. "I'd pitch to me, too," said Thomas, the next batter. "Why not load the bases? I hadn't been able to buy a hit. I think it was a pretty good move on their part."
This would have been the perfect spot for Herzog to bring in Sutter, but he had pitched to too many batters in the Series already. So there was Thomas facing Lahti. "It was an easy situation, really," said Thomas. "Coop had already driven in the tying run. All I needed was a walk or a bloop over the infield to drive in another run." With the count 1-2, Thomas spread his stance and cut down his swing, just looking to lay his bat on the ball. He got a slider up and away and lined it to left-center, driving in Yount and Cooper. Thomas went to second base on the throw, and there was pandemonium. Oglivie was walked intentionally, and Money flew out to left field, but, zing, boom, tarrerrel, the Brewers had exploded for a 7-5 lead.
"It was just like an avalanche," said Thomas. "The farther it went, the bigger it got. The fans got into it, and when they do, they can do some damage. They were as much a part of the rally as the players were."
"You create something like that," said Simmons. "I don't know what it is. Maybe it's just an energy force created by the fans, the players. It has its own life."
Until the unlucky seventh, the Cardinals had kept things well under control. They had scored once in the first, on a double by Oberkfell and a chop single by Hendrick, and three times in the second. The key blow was, of all things, a two-run sacrifice fly. With runners on second and third, Herr sent a ball deep to center. Thomas slipped on the warning track after making the catch, and Ozzie Smith streaked all the way in from second to score, trailing McGee, who had moseyed in from third. "I just wanted to put Tommy [Herr] in the record books," said Thomas when told the two-RBI fly was a Series first.
The Cardinals scored their last run in the sixth on back-to-back doubles by Lonnie Smith and Dane Iorg. When they reached Slaton for a walk and a single in the eighth, Kuenn summoned lefthander McClure. "We wanted to turn Willie McGee around," said Kuenn.
McClure induced the switch-hitting McGee to hit a grounder just to the right of second. Gantner swept it up, stepped on the bag and threw to first for the DP. "If it was hit any other place, there was no way we would've gotten McGee," said Gantner. McClure quickly dispatched the Cards in the ninth, striking out Herr and pinchhitter Gene Tenace on sliders.
"The submarines have drawn back, submerged," said Thomas, continuing his nautical metaphor from the night before. "They've been struck by our depth charges."
Yount and Milwaukee were both expecting. The shortstop, who singled twice, doubled and homered in the Brewers' 6-4 victory, was eagerly anticipating the birth of his third child. And the fans were awaiting their city's first world championship in 25 years.
With each Yount at bat, the crowd shouted "Em Vee Pee," and with each at bat he proved them right. In the first inning, he singled and scored the game's first run. In the third, his double set up the Brewers' second run. His single went for naught in the fifth, but in the seventh, his solo home run to rightfield gave Milwaukee a 4-2 lead. As is the way with storybook heroes, he was humble. "I hit the ball pretty good today," he said.
He set a World Series record for most four-hit games (two), and when the fan who caught his home run ball tried to present it to him after the game, Yount said, "No, you can have it. Let me sign it for you."
Yount is not crazy about all the MVP yelling. "It's a little embarrassing," he said. "I appreciate that it's a compliment, but it's something I'm not that concerned about. I just want a world championship." When asked if he would like to win the Series and have his wife, Michele, give birth on the same day, Yount, who batted .521 in the first five games, said, "That would be very nice."
Of course, Yount didn't win the game alone. The Brewers played excellent defense, and Caldwell pitched a gutty, if somewhat motley, game. He allowed 14 hits in 8‚Öì innings before giving way to McClure, who got his second save in as many days.
The Cardinals seemed to take up where they left off in the seventh inning of the fourth game. They made mistakes, both mental and physical, and stranded 12 runners, at least one in every inning. "That's the way this game is," said Porter. "This stupid, great game." Even more discouraging was the performance of Sutter, who was again roughed up, this time for two important runs in the eighth.
St. Louis had a chance for an early lead, but in the first inning Lonnie Smith was thrown out trying to steal third just before Hernandez broke his 0-for-15 slump with a single. "If you make the play, it's good," said Herzog of the attempted steal. "If you don't, it's bad."
The Cardinals lost several runs to superb glove work by Milwaukee. In the third, Second Baseman Gantner made a diving stop of a Hendrick single to save a run. In the fourth, Third Baseman Molitor handled a difficult chop to nail McGee and then started a double play on a ball hit by the speedy Ozzie Smith. In the fifth, Rightfielder Moore made a diving backhanded stab of Lonnie Smith's liner to right center. Smith said he would have had an inside-the-park homer had Moore missed the ball. In the seventh, Cooper made a terrific diving stop on Porter's ball with two men on and two out. In the ninth, Molitor made another nice play, his throw beating Lonnie Smith by a step at first. "You read all about their hitting," said Hernandez, "but they've got it all around. They've played great defense this whole Series. They've got a bunch of gamers."
The Brewer hitters kept pecking away at Forsch, scoring their runs in the first and third on grounders to Hernandez. In the fifth, Moore led off with a double, and Molitor singled him home. But the Brewers left the bases loaded that inning and were within easy reach of the Cards until Yount hit Forsch's 2-1 outside fastball into the rightfield seats.
Sutter entered in the eighth, some would say a day too late. "I used him tonight because I wanted to stay close and take a shot at it," said Herzog. The Milwaukee fans were so cocky they were shouting, "We want Sutter! We want Sutter!" They got him, all right. After a single and a walk put runners on first and second with two out, Sutter allowed singles to Moore and Gantner, and the Brewers had a 6-2 lead.
With one out in the final inning, Caldwell gave up back-to-back doubles to Green and Hernandez and a single to Hendrick, making the score 6-4. Mr. Warmth, pitching in his shirtsleeves, exited to a standing O. "He's the kind of pitcher who can pitch a three-hitter or a 14-hitter and look the same," said Simmons.
Porter greeted McClure with a single, but then McClure got McGee to swing at and miss a two-strike breaking ball and induced pinch-hitter Tenace to fly to Oglivie in left to end the game.
The fans poured over the fences, turning somersaults, spinning cartwheels and hugging the outfield turf. They called for the Brewers to come back out, and Kuenn, Moore, Caldwell and Yount responded. They could get only as far as the top step of the dugout. "They're nice people but they're like a wave," said Yount. "You can't stop them."
Herzog tried to downplay the importance of the crowd. "They didn't get any hits," he said. "Maybe not," said Kuenn when told of Herzog's remark, "but I'm sure glad they're on our side."
The Cardinals were relieved to be returning to St. Louis, where almost everyone was on their side, because it looked as though they would need all the help they could get.