"The only problem," says Hal McRae, "is Brett."
"You'll be the problem when I beat you in homers," Brett answers.
Their bickering is nothing more than clubhouse japery of the sort pennant winners seem to specialize in. Brett, McRae and the rest of the Royals do indeed get along. And on this happy team, 20 of whose members have signed long-term contracts, Brett and McRae are as invaluable leaders in the locker room as they are on the field. Brett had a hand in acquiring the now-famous gong, and McRae is a celebrated—and merciless—kidder.
Brett and McRae are not competing for the hitting title as they did in 1976, but they are doing everything else well. Brett has hit 16 homers—compared to six at this time last season—and he has struck out only 19 times in 436 at bats. McRae's homers are up from eight to 17, and he is among the league leaders in five offensive categories. "As they go, so goes the team," says General Manager Joe Burke.
Tonight the leaders go, but no one follows. Brett and McRae reach base seven times in 10 trips to the plate, yet the Orioles win 4-2. The rest of the Royals, including Herzog, who is outmanaged by Baltimore's Earl Weaver, deserve to get the gong. Fortunately for them, it isn't handed out after defeats.
Regardless of how the White Sox finish, Comiskey Park's Nancy Faust is a sure bet to be the American League's MVO (Most Valuable Organist). When the Sox do something good—or even threaten to—she plays the tune from an old rock hit, Kiss Him Goodbye. Nowadays that immediately provokes a boisterous sing-along by Chicago fans, who chant the song's nonsense lyrics, "Na, na, na, na! Na, na, na, na! Hey, hey! Goodbye!"
"If the White Sox win it," says Chicago columnist Bill Gleason, "Nancy'll be the only organist ever voted a full Series share."
There is a lot of singing tonight as the Sox keep coming from behind. Their third rally beats Milwaukee 7-6. Designated Hitter Lamar Johnson, a former high school defensive end from Birmingham who looks like he could tear apart the SEC, extends his hitting streak to 11 games with a double and a homer. Chet Lemon wins it in the eighth with a three-run homer. Hey, hey! Goodbye!