Early the next afternoon Rose stood by the batting cage and said, "Within a week I've learned everything about baseball that you have to know. One week ago I was the happiest I had ever been when Johnny Bench hit that home run and we beat Pittsburgh to win the National League pennant. I never felt so rotten, so low as I did after losing the game last night. Wait a minute. What the hell, the Yankees were down to Milwaukee three games to one in 1958 and won, didn't they?"
After the Reds completed batting practice, they walked into the clubhouse and started throwing things around. They threw garbage pails, ashtrays, cans, clothes, sand, mud, gloves. But they still had to hit Catfish Hunter, now ready for Game Live after winning Game Two, and Hunter doesn't throw anything as large as a garbage pail.
Still, Rose hit Hunter's first pitch of the game over the fence in right field. Of such things are leaders made. But in the second the implausible Tenace got Homer No. 4. He lifted it to the carry-out area in left with two on to give the A's all the runs they should have needed with Hunter pitching—not to mention a niche in history for Tenace beside immortals with names like Ruth and Gehrig. No one has ever hit more than four Series home runs. Menke found virtually the same spot in the fourth inning for Cincinnati and somehow, after failing to produce a single homer in 127 times at bat, Cincinnati now had two in four innings. Hunter was struggling. He made a terrible mistake by walking Joe Morgan in the fifth. Although the Reds were behind 4-2, Morgan lit off for second on the next pitch and Tolan's single brought him all the way home with the third Red run.
Morgan was walked again to start the eighth inning. He stole second and scored on a hit by Tolan to tie the game. It was in the ninth that Rose singled in what was to be the winning run. Up came the A's, trailing 5-4 and not at all eager to go back to Cincinnati. Tenace walked, and Odom, a speedball, went in to run for him. After a bunt failed, Dave Duncan singled to left and the A's had the tying run at third base. Bert Campaneris lifted a foul fly ball behind first and Morgan raced over to catch it, pivoting for an angle to throw home should Odom be foolish enough to tag up and go. Odom was. Bench extended his left leg to block the plate as Odom slid hard. Not hard enough. End of game. Hello again, Cincinnati.
Why was a travel day used to go West but not when the teams were coming East? Silly question. Television, of course, is the answer to that one. And so baseball was put in a position of delivering tired players to a crucial game in the sport's premier event. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn shed no visible tear. Is there any doubt who pulleth Bowie's strings?
And forthwith the world's swiftest sleepwalkers began rattling around Riverfront Stadium like a relay team, as Gary Nolan hooked up with Vida Blue in Game Six. The giant scoreboard in center flashed the words as the fans sang, 'The whole town's batty about Cincinnati...."
Bench, the man who had sung it best, got a homer and his only RBI simultaneously in the fourth inning to put the Reds ahead 1-0. Hal McRae, in the lineup because he hits fastballs well—the kind Blue serves—cracked a tremendous double high off the center-field wall in the fifth inning and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Dave Concepcion. And then the Reds hit and ran and stole and in general drove the A's crazy, eventually winning 8-1.
As in previous games there was some contentiousness on both sides. The A's did not like the way the Reds were taking liberties with their pitchers and catchers. Sal Bando slapped a hard tag on Tolan at one point, and Bobby heard familiar noises coming from the Oakland bench. When Williams was asked if a great deal of bench-jockeying had been going on, he answered, "Not really. It has been a pretty peaceful Series—up until tomorrow."
Once again the sleeping man, Billingham, woke up to face Odom, the one who does not sleep, in Sunday's decider. Both pitched well but Oakland got a strange run in the first inning when Tolan misplayed a line drive into a three-base error, and Tenace—playing first now—bounced to third only to have the ball leap off the edge of the artificial infield for a run-scoring single. Tenace also drove home Oakland's second run in the sixth inning, tying the score 2-2, and was removed for pinch runner Lewis. "I couldn't believe I was coming out," said Tenace later. Neither could most of the rest of the nation. Bye-bye any chance for Homer No. 5.
But by now home runs were of less importance than getting somebody home with the particular run. Lewis scored it on a double beyond Tolan by Sal Bando, and not even one final Red rally could bring Cincinnati even.