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"You should be careful not to think too much of yourselves," Cincinnati players were counseled at prayer services only an hour before this historic contest. "And," the Rev. Jerry Kirk intoned, covering all bases, "you must be careful not to think too little of yourselves." The Reds nodded their assent, and in the space of the next two hours and 33 minutes they found the truth of this ambiguous message.
They began the game as if not even Catfish Hunter, unbeaten till then in World Series play, could impede them. They finished it awash with humility. In truth, their 4-3 win was not so much the product of their own skills but of Yankee bad luck in both tactics and execution. Compared with the previous day's pallid encounter, this game, the first played on a Sunday evening in Series history, was a thriller reminiscent of the Reds-Red Sox matches a year ago.
It was played in temperatures better suited to ice fishing. It was a comparatively moderate 43� at game time—despite forecasts that had predicted temperatures in the 30s or even the 20s—but by the climactic ninth inning the thermometer had dropped perhaps five degrees. That baseball is not meant to be played after 8 p.m. anywhere north of St. Petersburg, Fla. after Oct. 15 had been ignored by the commissioner and the television executives who were responsible for such bizarre scheduling.
The guilty parties were reprieved by some superb play on the gelid AstroTurf. The Reds began as if to hammer Hunter into the ice floe. For four innings they launched his fastball into all the crannies of Riverfront, hitting, as it were, frozen ropes. In this productive stretch, they reached the multimillionaire, whose previous Series record was 4-0, for five singles, two doubles, a triple and three walks. And yet they scored only three runs, all in the second inning.
Dan Driessen, the first designated hitter in National League history, led off with a double to dead center field. Foster singled him home, then was erased when Munson tossed him out on a steal attempt. That did not seem to be an important gaffe at the time, but Bench followed with a double that would have eliminated the necessity of later heroics. Geronimo walked, Concepcion singled to score Bench and, after Rose walked, Griffey flied to shallow center. Geronimo tagged up and scored as Rivers' throw from the outfield bounced twice to Munson. All of this came so easily that Reds' fans, shivering in their seats, expected to see much, much more. But thereafter, Hunter, pitching expertly to the corners and inducing a succession of impressive but harmless fly balls, shut out Cincy until the bitter end.
The Yankees, meanwhile, pecked away at the Reds' starter, graying lefthander Fred Norman. In the fourth, Nettles singled home Munson, who had reached first on an infield hit and advanced to second on Chambliss' single. In the seventh, the Yankees tied the game. Willie Randolph led off with a single to center, little Stanley of subsequent woe looped a feeble but well-directed double down the left-field line and Randolph, who had been running with the pitch, scored. After Rivers flied to center, White singled sharply to left—too sharply to score Stanley. This finished Norman and brought on righthander Jack Billingham. He got Munson to bounce a little nubber to Morgan, whose only play was to force White at second as Stanley crossed home with the tying run.
An impasse seemed to have been achieved as both sides fended off the other with acrobatic defenses. Munson, who earlier had fielded a Morgan pop foul against the stands, outdid himself in the seventh, leaning into an enclosure bristling with cameras to capture another off the same victim. And in the eighth, Perez leaped high to deprive Nettles of an almost certain double down the right-field line. In both games, Nettles sent scorchers about the ballpark, but each somehow found a Reds' glove. As a result, he had only one hit, prompting from Martin the sour grapes observation, "Every time we hit a line drive, it's caught. Every time they hit a blooper, it falls in."
Billingham extinguished the Yankees easily in the top of the ninth, and it appeared that Hunter, who had allowed but one hit from the fifth through the eighth, would achieve similar results in the Reds' half. Concepcion lofted to center, and Rose, who endured a fate similar to Nettles' through the two games, flied out to left. The next hitter, Griffey, slowly bounced what appeared to be the third out toward short. Every Yankee infielder had been amply briefed on Griffey's considerable talent at beating out infield hits; he has had more than 30 of them in each of the last two seasons, and Stanley must have been tossing this over in his mind as he scurried toward this hopper. "The only thing I can do is try to get rid of it," he was to lament later. "If I take another step, he's safe. I'm throwing across my body. I don't have a chance to plant my feet. I could have taken it easy, taken an extra step and been surer of my throw, but then he would have been safe. I tried to get him out."
It was an unhappy gamble. Stanley's hurried throw sailed past Chambliss, and Griffey went to second base. It is here that Yankee tactics came a cropper. Martin decided to walk Morgan in the hope that Perez could be induced to make the third out. "Hunter was having pretty good luck with Perez, and he wanted to pitch to him," said Martin. "I'd rather pitch to him than to Morgan, too."