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Andrews has a faulty glove, very limited range and a throwing arm that has been sore for several seasons. Mike Andrews making an error is not a novelty. The fact that Manager Dick Williams had him in the game at second base from the ninth inning through the 12th was the basic mistake. Andrews took the criticism for his misplays, but his manager was more than partly guilty, because of his own blunder. By tinkering with his second basemen—a well-documented Williams obsession—he ended up with the wrong man in the wrong place at exactly the wrong time.
By demeaning Mike Andrews, Finley brought on open rebellion, the logical progression for a team that has never deluded itself about being a happy ship. "Black or white doesn't make a bit of difference to Charlie Finley," said Reggie Jackson. "All people are the same color to him. Green."
The A's worked out at Shea with Andrews' No. 17 taped to their uniforms as a sign of sympathy with him. By then he was back home in Peabody, Mass. Although Kuhn refused to let Finley "disable" Andrews, the affair was getting bigger than the playing of the games. "For the sake of baseball," said Joe Rudi, "I would like to see the tension put back in the World Series, where it belongs."
There was tension aplenty in Game Three, which at the outset matched Tom Seaver against Jim (Catfish) Hunter, ace vs. ace. New York scored two runs in the first inning on a long, high home run by Garrett to right field and a wild pitch by the Catfish. Then the Mets started leaving runners on the bases in large and ultimately costly clumps. In 10 of the 11 innings at least one man was stranded. Meanwhile Seaver struck out nine Oakland batters in the first five innings, getting everyone except Rudi at least once and Jackson twice.
At the start of the sixth Seaver got a very difficult out when Rudi drove a pitch to right center. Don Hahn chased the ball to the wall, leaped and pulled it back into the ball park. Sal Bando, the next hitter, pounded a Seaver pitch over Hahn's head in straightaway center field. Hahn seemed bewildered. Hahn was bewildered. He admitted later that he was confused by the outfield, which had new dimensions because of damage to the turf by vandalistic Met fans following victory over Cincinnati in the National League playoffs. More than 1,000 square feet of turf had been moved from the outfield to the infield to cover bare spots. The warning track in the outfield was thus made two feet wider than it had been, and, as Hahn chased Bando's drive, that change affected his stride and judgment. Hahn reached the warning track and then pulled up when he got to where it normally would have come to the fence.
"I was playing deep, but not deep enough," Hahn said. "I played the warning track. What should have been, wasn't. The ball dropped for a double. After the game Seaver told me he knew about the field being changed, but forgot to tell me about it."
Vic Davalillo singled Bando home to narrow the Mets' lead to 2-1 and in the eighth inning Bert Campaneris singled, stole second and scored on a single by Rudi that Met First Baseman John Milner played so poorly he was unable to block the ball to keep it in the infield. The A's won 3-2 in the 11th when Ted Kubiak walked, got to second base on a passed ball by Catcher Jerry Grote and scored on a single by Campaneris. When New York threatened in its part of the 11th, Williams brought Reliever Rollie Fingers into the game. As he got the side out he was also adding to a remarkable statistic: the A's had been in 10 World Series games in two years and now Fingers had appeared in nine of them. Indeed, by coming on in the final three games Fingers tied a Series record for appearances by a reliever.
The best-pitched game of the Series came next as Jon Matlack held the A's to three hits over eight innings and beat them 6-1, despite the closer-in support of the A's wives. Relegated to faraway seats in terrible Shea for their safety the previous night, they had demanded, and won, field boxes.
When the Mets traded Nolan Ryan to California, it was Matlack who replaced him as a Met starter. Rookie of the Year in 1972, Matlack won 14 games this season. For the past month and a half he had been the Mets' finest starting pitcher, at 23 a man of poise and purpose. "People write that I am the best pitcher in baseball," says Seaver, "and I'm flattered, but it won't be too long before they will be saying that about Jon Matlack. He is getting faster all the time."
No stranger to adversity, Matlack dropped out of college in order to help support the family when his father was ill. This season he was struck on the head by a line drive. The ball had been hit so hard that it wound up in the Met dugout. And though Matlack was destined to be pounded in Game Seven, oh how he shone at home.