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THE GOOD GUYS AGAINST THE BAD GUYS
Ron Fimrite
October 24, 1977
Amid antagonism in the clubhouse and anarchy in the Yankee Stadium bleachers, New York took a 3-1 World Series lead. Then a 10-4 win in Game 5 kept alive the happy Dodgers' hopes of having the last laugh
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October 24, 1977

The Good Guys Against The Bad Guys

Amid antagonism in the clubhouse and anarchy in the Yankee Stadium bleachers, New York took a 3-1 World Series lead. Then a 10-4 win in Game 5 kept alive the happy Dodgers' hopes of having the last laugh

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Advised of these remarks, Martin smiles, though not beatifically. "That's wonderful," he says. The Yankees, too, are a family. A family like the Macbeths, the Borgias and the Bordens of Fall River, Mass. And their fans are equally playful. The Series settles into a battle between the good guys and the bad guys. Tonight the good guys have their innings.

There is some question before the game about the advisability of Martin starting Catfish Hunter, who has not pitched in a month, a time during which he experienced both arm trouble and a mysterious complaint finally diagnosed as a urinary-tract infection. The question is answered within three innings. With two out in the first, Smith doubles briskly to right center, and Cey powers a homer into the Dodger bullpen beyond a leaping Piniella. In the second, also with two out, Yeager also homers over Piniella. And in the third, after Russell's single, Smith hits a terrific shot into the bleachers in right center. The Dodgers lead 5-0. The game is over virtually before it begins. Hunter, once the proud winner of four straight World Series games for the Oakland A's, departs with one out in the third. "I just hope I don't have a bad year hunting deer," he says afterward, realizing that this season, in which he won and lost nine games and had a humiliating ERA of 4.71, is almost certainly at long last over.

If the game is a disaster for the Catfish, it is a vindication for the Dodgers' Burt Hooton, who suffered his own humiliation only five days before when he was apparently driven from the mound by shrieking Philadelphia fans in the third National League playoff game. Taunted by the crowd, he walked four hitters in succession during the second inning and departed in a rage. " Hooton can pitch," wags said afterward, "but only if no one's watching." The largest crowd of the year in Yankee Stadium—56,691—is watching him this night. He strikes out six hitters in the first three innings, mostly with his plummeting knuckle curve, and coasts to a five-hit 6-1 win, the final Dodger score coming on Garvey's homer in the ninth.

"I learned a basic lesson in Philadelphia," Hooton calmly informs the press. "And that is to keep your cool. I lost my head there, and I let my team down. The fans weren't the ones who drove me out of that game. There were some calls I thought were strikes, and I let them upset me. I lost confidence in myself. Tommy mildly chewed me out for letting my emotions take charge of my pitching. Tonight I kept my head."

That is more than can be said for the Yankee fans. Their active participation begins innocently enough in the seventh when a young man pops out of the left-field stands and gallops unmolested up the line to home plate, across which he jubilantly slides. He is even cheered. "I thought he executed a perfect hook slide," says Lasorda. "Sudol [Plate Umpire Ed] blew the call. He was safe." No real harm done there. But in the ninth, with the Dodgers batting, the byplay gets rough. Four youths drop from their seats onto the field at separate times. The last is tackled and buried under a pile of policemen, and no one is amused. A smoke bomb is tossed onto center field, and a green cloud envelops Rivers, who curiously does not budge, thereby creating the suspicion that he moves only when instructed to do so by the Yankee walkie-talkie operatives responsible for positioning outfielders. Dodger bullpen inhabitants are bombarded with refuse, rubber balls, even whiskey bottles. And when Chambliss flies to center to end the game, Smith is struck on the head with a rubber ball apparently pitched from the upper deck in right field. He leaves the battlefield hurt and dazed. It is an ugly show.

There is more ugliness ahead. In the clubhouse, Jackson fumes over the shabby treatment accorded his old Oakland teammate, Hunter. He is still fuming, for that matter, over his own treatment in the final game of the playoffs when Martin benched him on grounds that he could not hit the lefthanded Paul Splittorff. When asked if Jackson will play against Dodger lefthander Tommy John, Martin replies that he will, that John is not Splittorff. Jackson sees this as a further indictment. "I don't have to take that," he says, "especially from him. I know what I can do. If he did, we'd be a lot better off." But this time it is friend Catfish who, he feels, has been slighted. "The man hasn't pitched since Sept. 10," Jackson says. "It's like me sitting on the bench for a month and then expecting to get two hits and drive in a run. If you're going to pitch him in the World Series, then use him before then."

The Yankees believe in apartness.

GAME 3

They arrive in Los Angeles amid turmoil unusual even for them. Everyone is seemingly angry about something. Martin, learning of Jackson's comments on the use of Hunter, suggests that Jackson has enough problems playing right field without assuming the manager's responsibilities as well. Munson, rarely cheerful, is sick and tired of Martin and Jackson arguing. He wants to be traded to Cleveland, where life, presumably, is more tranquil and where he can be nearer his home in Canton, Ohio. Sensitive to the merest suggestion of criticism, he is also miffed at those who demean his throwing ability. Furthermore, he is sick and tired, period. He complains of dizziness and exhaustion. All of the Yankees are angry about the poor seats in Dodger Stadium that have been allotted to them for their families and friends. Some, notably Munson and Jackson, threaten not to play if this grievous oversight is not rectified. Yankee President Gabe Paul, the quiet man in these noisy surroundings, is angry because everyone else is angry. He publicly calls for a cessation of this "crap."

In this humor, the Yankees take the field in "Beautiful Dodger Stadium" for the third game. It is a typical Dodger production. Frank Sinatra is in his box behind the visitor's dugout, country-torch singer Linda Ronstadt performs the anthem (in 2:01), Roy Campanella throws out the first ball, and there is a moment of silence for Bing Crosby, who died this day on a Spanish golf course.

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