Q. What time did you go to bed?
A. About midnight. My 11-year-old daughter came in from Omaha to see the game and we talked.
Q. Was she excited about the game, interested in it?
A. She seemed mostly interested in her dress.
As Albert William Kaline, for 16 years a great and injury-prone player for the Detroit Tigers, reached the dugout before taking batting practice for the first game of the Series, he looked out at the red, white and blue bunting and the schools of newsmen darting around the batting cage. Long ago Kaline, now 33, had promised himself that he would never go to a World Series game until he played in one. He sat on the dugout bench and again and again adjusted the stirrups on his socks and the flaps on his spiked shoes that identify him in black ink not by name but simply by the number "Six."
Whenever some Tiger players talked of him they would say, "Six had a real good night," or, "You should have seen the play Six made in Fenway." (In the opening game of the Series Kaline doubled in four tries against Bob Gibson but freely admitted that on his first time at bat he was extremely nervous. Even during batting practice before that game the Tigers were overswinging. They knocked very few balls into home-run areas in Busch Stadium.) Kaline had been the reason why Tiger Manager Mayo Smith made the "great experiment" of moving Mickey Stanley, a fine centerfielder, to shortstop, though Stanley had played only six games at the position. By hitting hard and often late in the season after earlier injuries Kaline had forced his way back into the lineup, and somehow a Tiger team in a World Series without Kaline would be no Tiger team at all. Realistically, though, the decision was based to a great extent on sentiment.
After the first game Kaline and his longtime friend Norm Cash concluded that the Tigers were swinging too hard and that the Detroit team had enough power to generate home runs merely by swinging naturally. Prior to the start of Game Two they moved among the players, telling them to swing as they had during the regular season and to forget trying to hit everything over St. Louis' Gateway Arch.
With Gibson's excellent performance behind them and some ragged play by the Tigers still in their minds, the Cardinals started off as though they intended to end the Series in four straight. But with two on and one out in the first inning, Orlando Cepeda hit a high foul toward the seats deep in right field. Everyone assumed that it would drop among the customers. Not Six, however. He was off when he saw the ball come away from Cepeda's bat and he kept racing on recklessly, heading right at a wire gate in foul territory. At the last instant he caught the ball, plunged through the gate, which for some reason had been left unlocked, then spun and threw to third. Julian Javier, rightfully respecting Kaline's arm, stayed put at second. The next batter, Mike Shannon, hit the ball to right field. Kaline made a difficult catch look easy and the Tigers were out of a rough spot. The next inning Willie Horton hit a tremendous home run off St. Louis starter Nelson Briles. How often it is in baseball that an outstanding defensive play seems to perk up the offense.
Mickey Lolich, Detroit's left-handed starter who has a dandy little potbelly and a tremendous late-season record over the last two years, felt he would not be able to start the game because of a boil that had had to be lanced. "I was groggy," he said, "but once I began to warm up I felt a little better." In the third inning Lolich homered high and long to left field and got so excited watching the flight of his first home run in 10 years of professional ball that he missed first base and had to back up. ("I still won't believe that he hit a home run," said Denny McLain, "until I see the rerun.") Cash later homered for the third Tiger run, and then the Cardinals began to play like the lost battalion. The final score was 8-1, and Kaline had two hits and scored twice. After he had killed the first Cardinal rally St. Louis only once again got two men on base in the same inning. When they did, Stanley started a fine double play to take care of that.