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EL BIRDOS FLY HIGH
William Leggett
October 16, 1967
The St. Louis Cardinals, using a double-clawed attack consisting largely of Bob Gibson's pitching and Lou Brock's all-round skills, took an imposing grip on the 1967 World Series
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October 16, 1967

El Birdos Fly High

The St. Louis Cardinals, using a double-clawed attack consisting largely of Bob Gibson's pitching and Lou Brock's all-round skills, took an imposing grip on the 1967 World Series

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GAME 1

There is a large sign advertising bourbon beyond left-center field at Fenway Park in Boston, and three hours before the first game of the 64th World Series a couple of tons of rascals were already perched on every treacherous inch of it so that they could eventually see how the "Miracle Red Sox" of 1967 would do against the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals. The stands were filled with enough Irish politicians to make one wonder who was minding the wards. Harvard and Smith types, those greatest of all front-runners, sported big buttons on their tweeds reading, "Yaz sir that's my baby." A very well-organized lad lofted a grappling hook onto the roof in left and scampered up a rope ladder to see at firsthand, and in fair territory, what a Series was all about.

Since Fenway Park is not really a baseball park at all but merely a jai alai fronton with foul lines, everyone expected to see the Cardinals and Red Sox, two fine hitting teams, carom shots off it, over it and maybe even through it. Instead, they saw the wall used very little as Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Curt Flood and Roger Maris led St. Louis to a 2-1 victory which really wasn't that close.

The Cardinals rose early, boarded their team bus and started needling each other and ripping Boston on their way to Fenway. "Well," said Curt Flood, "it's a great thing for baseball that the Red Sox won. A great thing for a great game in a great town, and they have great spirit and they should put up signs on every great church saying, 'God bless the California Angels.' "

Bob Gibson sat alone near the front of the bus. On days when he is pitching Gibson says little. He thinks how much he hates the other team and what it means to win. However, as the bus moved slowly through the snarled traffic near Fenway, Gibson hollered, "Flood, that's the park up there. That's the pak, Fenway Pak, where all the cars are going." Three mounted policemen moved alongside the Cardinal bus to clear the way of youngsters trying to hang onto it. "Giddyap," hollered Gibson. "Spread the word. The Redcaps are coming; the Redcaps are coming."

The Redcaps started out as though they were going to ride right through Boston, whacking nine hits in the first six innings off Jose Santiago. But Santiago, a pitcher who seems to thrive on trouble, hung on—with the help of a double play in the first, a double play in the second, a marvelous throw to the plate by Carl Yastrzemski in the fourth and a running, backhand catch by Yastrzemski in the fifth—and going into the seventh was tied 1-1 with Gibson, thanks to a stunning fly-ball home run that Santiago himself lifted to the top of the wall.

But then in the seventh inning Brock stung his fourth straight hit and quickly stole second with a head-first slide. The throw from Catcher Russ Gibson was high, and Brock's hand got to the base under Shortstop Rico Petrocelli's tag. Petrocelli started to argue with Umpire Frank Umont, but Umont, on top of the play, gave three quick safe signs and said, "No, no, no!" to Petrocelli, and there was no further argument. Flood then advanced Brock perfectly by hitting a ground ball to the right side of the infield (ah, those little things that win ball games), and when Maris hit a grounder to Jerry Adair at second, Brock was across the plate almost before Adair fielded the ball. It was the second RBI for Maris, each coming on a grounder to the right side with Brock on third. "You're supposed to get the man in from third any way you can when there's less than two outs," said Maris.

GAME 2

Back in March the Red Sox were playing a spring-training game with the New York Mets. It was a wild, weird game, but it had significant moments. One of them found Bud Harrelson, the tiny Met shortstop who may weigh 150 rounds, facing Jim Lonborg, the 23-year-old intellectual who had been 9-17 for the Red Sox in 1965 and 10-10 in 1966. Lonborg was having a difficult time that day, just like everybody else (the final score of the game was a staggering 23-18), but suddenly he knocked little Harrelson down with a pitch at his head.

Could that pitch have set the tone for Jim Lonborg's 1967 season? Absolutely. Lonborg this year realized that in order to win consistently a pitcher must drop a few calling cards, and one of the most important is the knockdown pitch. Now, on the second day of the Series, Lonborg stood on the mound, glanced down at his glove with "$10,000" written on it (the anticipated winning share) and threw his first pitch of the game to Lou Brock. Well, not really to—at Lou Brock.

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