Get out your handkerchiefs. If you're a Minnesota Twins fan—and there should be a few million more of you than there were a few weeks ago—wipe away those tears of joy and flick your Homer Hankies one more time for Sweet Music, Kirby, Herbie, Wrench, Dr. Crank, Groove, Lombo, Gags, Buck-Ninety, Bruno, the Dutchman, the Panamanian Express and the Terminator. "We are no longer the Twinkies," said second baseman Steve Lombardozzi. "We're the World Champion Minnesota Twins."
If you're a St. Louis Cardinals fan, dab your eyes and give your team a big hand. The Cards almost overcame their lack of power with true grit and determination. "It's amazing we got this far with a spring training B team out there," said first baseman Jim Lindeman.
And if you're a baseball purist, mop your brow and admit that the World Series actually survived, even though four games were played indoors and, for the first time in its 84 years, the Series winner failed to win a game on the road. You may not like the giant trash can liner that passes for a fence in rightfield and balls that are in play after bouncing off speakers, but you had to like Sunday's seventh game.
The Twins and Cardinals certainly played it the way the seventh game of a World Series should be played. Masterful pitching. Clutch hitting. Nice catches. Runners thrown out at the plate. Controversial calls. Thousands upon thousands of Homer Hankies. And noise, so much noise, as the Twins won 4-2. "It was a pretty good game," said Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog.
It didn't begin too well for Minnesota. St. Louis scored two quick runs off Frank (Sweet Music) Viola in the second inning on singles by Lindeman, Willie McGee, Tony Pena and Steve Lake, who was a surprise starter at catcher, replacing Pena, who became the designated hitter. That turned out to be a good move by Herzog, though not quite good enough to make a difference.
The Cardinals did most of their damage against Viola's changeup, so he decided to go with his fastball after that, and St. Louis could only get two more hits through the next six innings. The vaunted Twins attack, however, kept stalling. Leftfielder Vince Coleman threw out Don (Groove) Baylor at the plate in the second, although replays showed that home plate umpire Dave Phillips missed the call. The Twins did get a run in that inning on an RBI single by Lombardozzi. They could have broken the game open in the fifth after Kirby Puckett doubled in the tying run. But Lake caught Puckett trying to get to third on a pitch in the dirt, and Coleman unloaded again to nail Gary (Dr. Crank) Gaetti trying to score from second on a single by Baylor. Gaetti crashed into Lake, but the catcher held on to the ball.
The Twins scored the go-ahead run in the sixth after reliever Danny Cox lost his control and walked the first two batters. Cox also lost control of himself, and, shades of Joaquin Andujar (see Cardinals, Game 7, 11-0 loss, 1985 World Series), Phillips threw him out of the game after Herzog had already removed him. Reliever Todd Worrell walked another batter to load the bases, and with two out Greg Gagne hit a 3-2 pitch on the ground just inside third base. Tom Lawless stabbed the ball, but his throw to first arrived a tad too late as Tom Brunansky crossed the plate.
Dan (Wrench) Gladden got the Twins some insurance when he doubled home Tim (Buck-Ninety) Laudner in the eighth. By that time Minnesota manager Tom Kelly had decided that Viola had played enough music, and he brought on the Terminator, Jeff Reardon, to pitch the ninth. With the crowd on its feet and getting louder, Reardon got Tommy Herr and Curt Ford to pop up and McGee to ground to third.
It was poetic justice that the final out was a grounder that went 5-3, Gaetti to Kent Hrbek. The third baseman and first baseman have been the cornerstones of the Twins since 1982, when the team lost 102 games. "I think even then we knew we would be here someday," said Viola, who was also on that team, with Brunansky and Laudner among the regulars.
Gaetti also gives the team heart, and he wanted that last out. "I saw the ball and took off after it," he said. "It was like in a dream. I wasn't even there, I was the leftfield camera. I wasn't in my body at all. It's like I'd been there before, seen it before. But I hadn't. It was definitely an out-of-body experience."