Matlack had pitched well in the opening Series game only to lose 2-1, on two unearned runs. His performance in Game Four was even better, running his recent record to one earned run allowed in 40 innings. And this time the Mets got him some runs for a pleasant change. Three came in the first inning when sore-shouldered Rusty Staub followed singles by Garrett and Felix Millan with a home run hit on a lofty parabola over the boards in left-center field. Staub drove in two more runs with a fourth-inning single, but his throwing arm was a constant source of worry, still so wobbly from a crash into the wall in the playoffs that he could only throw underhanded.
One of the zaniest scenes in Series history occurred in the eighth inning when Andrews, fresh in from Peabody, was sent up to pinch-hit. As he walked to the on-deck circle the crowd of 54,817 spotted his No. 17 and commenced cheering. When Andrews went to the plate the crowd rose. The man was hitting .000 at the time and fielding exactly the same. After Andrews bounced out, the crowd rose again, and nobody seemed to be applauding him more fiercely than two men standing in the executive box-seat section to the left of the Met dugout. One was Warren Giles, president emeritus of the National League. The other was Charles Feeney, the league's current president.
"The ovations made me feel good," said Andrews afterward. "I don't think I ever had one before in my life. It gave me chills. I didn't think of anything, it just made me happy. Maybe the public was supporting my position. Maybe it's the little guy rebelling against the boss."
By the time the fifth game started another problem faced Charles O. Finley. His manager apparently was going to quit on him despite a contract extending through the 1975 season. Rumors circulated that Williams would become the next manager of the New York Yankees. The abrupt exit is not unknown in Oakland. This year three ticket managers quit and the entire switchboard staff at the Oakland Coliseum walked out. When Williams appeared on the field in the third inning of Game Five, an up-to-the-minute Met placard-waver lifted a new one high into the October night. YANKEE GO HOME, it said.
All the A's were eager to go home after what happened to them in the game. They came very close to being stopped without a hit and the three they did manage to get were suspect. Campaneris blooped a single to short center in the third inning and in the fourth Bando got a hit when his bouncer jumped up over Garrett's head at third and off his glove; Harrelson came sweeping over from shortstop and caught the ball in the air to prevent Bando from advancing into scoring position. The next man was Jackson, who was to be held to one hit in 12 Shea at-bats. He lashed the ball hard—into a double play. Oakland's third hit came in the seventh inning when Ray Fosse doubled past Garrett, who made a futile swipe at the ball, a gesture known to Chicago fans in years past as "the Zeke Bonura salute."
New York got only two runs off starter Vida Blue, who braved the cold in a short-sleeved shirt, but these were sufficient as Jerry Koosman and then Tug McGraw gave the A's short shrift.
McGraw, New York's animated bullpen specialist, had a terrible time during the early months of the season but then came on in spectacular fashion. In 17 appearances he had picked up four wins and 12 saves. " Tug McGraw," said Jackson after the game. "The man's a star. He gets extra energy from somewhere."
When the Series returned to Oakland for the concluding games the frenetic atmosphere dissipated. No one was happier than Jackson, the vaunted slugger whose bat had fallen strangely ill. "I missed the Series last year because of an injury," recalled Jackson, "and there were nights when I cried because I couldn't play. This time there has been such an undercurrent of animosity and turmoil that the Series has been tarnished. I wanted to slide and run and hit and get dirty, but the little boy in me was taken out by all the nonsense in New York. Nobody seemed to care anything about the players, just all that other stuff."
Well, sir, the little boy in Jackson had himself a time in Game Six. A double in the first to score Joe Rudi. A double in the third to score Sal Bando. A single in the eighth, which he stretched to a three-bagger when the Mets' Hahn lost the ball in center field. And after that he scored a run himself on a fly by Jesus Alou. A's 3, Mets 1.
Hunter again had faced off against Seaver, and after Catfish had extricated himself from a two-on, one-out situation in the first inning, he was just splendid. As for Staub, the hitting hero of Game Four, it was his turn to know the agonies of frustration. Fielding Jackson's hit in the third, he had to flip an underhand relay to Millan. What should have been a close play, possibly an out, was an easy Oakland run.