Shepard has great affection for his relievers. "Aw, anyone can start a ball game. But a pitcher must have a very special temperament to relieve. He's got to be high-strung and yet he's got to combine this with great poise and self-control—after all, he's coming into an inning which has been damaged. Relievers are different. We don't even allow starters out there in the bullpen unless they are ordered to go. That's the relievers' territory and we don't let anyone impinge on it. They're very special people."
His counterpart on the Red Sox, Stan Williams, was saying that the makeup of the relief corps had changed somewhat over the years, that the reliance on such fireballers as Dick (The Monster) Raditz, who came in and simply blew down the opposition, had shifted to the specialists who threw what he referred to as "freak pitches," such as the sinker, which was an especially effective weapon of the Red Sox' Jim Willoughby. Williams began musing about the paragon of these pitchers, Stu Miller of the Orioles, who threw a variety of soft junk so bewildering that Williams remembered Elston Howard of the Yankees waving at a pitch with such an erratic, desperate swing that he wound up clubbing home plate on his follow-through. "He was so fooled that he just beat down on that pitch like he was trying to swat it," Williams said with a laugh. "Miller was just a master of deceit, a real Van Gogh. Walter Alston once assured his players that they could really crowd the plate against Miller, that he couldn't blacken a guy's eye with his best fastball. 'So crowd the plate.' Well, Norm Sherry went up there, crowded the plate, and Stu Miller broke his wrist with a fastball."
"But I'll tell you one thing, the nicest sort of reliever—I don't care if he's Stu Miller or how good he is—-is the one who just sits out there and the situation never comes up to where you have to use him."
Williams' responsibility that afternoon was Luis Tiant, looking for his second win. Williams went out to see him in the fifth inning. Tiant told him, "I no pitching good with my right foot"—the Cuban's rather startling manner of revealing that he was having trouble with the rotation of his hip during his pitching delivery; his right leg was dragging slightly.
Darrell Johnson came out to see him in the ninth, the noise of the enormous crowd beating down as the Reds mounted their last rally. Tiant was weakening (he had thrown more than 150 pitches), a situation in which Sparky Anderson across the way would surely have called on his bullpen. Johnson told Tiant he had a lefthander ready. Tiant said, "I want to pitch." Johnson let him. The count went to 3-1 on Ken Griffey. Back in the dugout Johnson stared at the wood floor. Griffey hit a high fly to center field, pulled in over his shoulder by Fred Lynn, who said afterward that he was so weak with fright that he almost could not raise his arms for the ball.
The lefthander in the bullpen Johnson had referred to was Jim Burton. His catcher, Don Bryant, was perhaps the most frustrated player on the Boston team during the high drama of the ninth inning, since he had his back to the proceedings and could not turn even for a quick peek over his shoulder. He tried watching Burton's face to gauge what was happening. It was an alarming practice. Burton would glance over, his eyes widening at what he saw, his jaw dropping perceptibly, and then he would turn back and churn himself into a frenzy of warmup pitches. "He was as white as a sheet and he was throwing BBs," Bryant said of him later.
But then, suddenly, as he was in his crouch, Bryant saw Burton look up to the sky, his face light with relief and he knew a pop fly had been hit. He turned around to see it come down into Yastrzemski's mitt and watched him take a big hop of exultation toward Tiant.
Gullett's great game. He had a two-hitter going into the ninth and a five-run lead. But then Yastrzemski and Carlton Fisk singled, and out came Sparky Anderson, stutter-stepping to avoid touching the foul lines. A voluminous chorus of boos went up from the fans who assumed that their hero Gullett was going to be lifted. The crowd had good cause to think so. In 1972 Gullett was pitching a no-hit game against the Dodgers in the late innings. There was no score in the game. Then Anderson decided to take him out to rest him up for the playoffs. "Let's get him out," he said to Larry Shepard. Shepard said, "But Sparky, he's got a no-hitter." According to Shepard, Anderson said, "Oh yes," and shrugged his shoulders and let Gullett stay in, but only until Dodger Shortstop Bill Russell hit a flare down the line and the no-hitter was gone. "That's like him," Shepard said. "He doesn't believe much in the priority of the individual."
This time, though, it was Anderson's intent to let Gullett stay in. He said to him, "You've got much better stuff than that. Look here, I don't see anyone around here who can hurt you. You've got runners on first and second. Let 'em move up. You pitch better from the full windup. So let the runners go and forget pitching off the stretch."