SI Vault
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
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
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

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5

The Dodgers do not exactly storm through the clubhouse door after this pep talk, but they do come out swinging. Lopes, leading off, hits another long drive to left that caroms off the top of the bullpen fence and bounces crazily toward center, where it is retrieved by Rivers. Lopes hustles into third with a triple. He scores from there when Russell lines a single into left off Yankee Starter Gullett, a supposed non-combatant because of arm troubles, now starting for the second time. The so-called Big Blue Machine runs best when Lopes and Russell are functioning well, but they enter this game hitting .067 and .111, respectively. "Those little guys," Jackson will say of them, "when they get on base, things happen." Things happen fast today. The Dodgers, backs to the wall, doing or dying, tomorrowless, are out front, one-zip.

What the little men get started, the big fellows finish. In the fourth, after Cey drives Piniella to the fence again for a long out, Garvey lines a smoking double to right center, the ball hitting the wall on the short hop. Baker singles him home and takes second when Piniella fumbles the ball. It is the first Yankee error of the Series, but not the last. Lacy chops an easy hopper to Nettles, one of the game's finest third basemen. He unaccountably fumbles it, and Lacy reaches first safely. Baker holds at second. With a one-ball count on phrasemaker Yeager, Martin shuffles out for a conference. "Stop rushing your pitches," he advises Gullett. The pitcher slows down, but the pace does not suit him. With the count at two and one, Gullett throws his forkball, a favorite pitch. It does not do its customary dip, and Yeager drives it into the seats between the foul pole and the L.A. bullpen. The score is 5-0, Dodgers, and it seems certain there will be a Tuesday in New York.

The Dodgers add to this lead with three runs in the fifth—Yeager driving home his fourth of the game with a sacrifice fly—and two more in the sixth on a long Smith homer into the right center-field bleachers. Holding a 10-0 lead entering the seventh, Sutton grows careless. He gives up two runs in the inning, and two more in the eighth on successive homers by Munson and Jackson. "With that lead, I made up my mind I wasn't going to walk anybody," says Sutton. As a matter of fact, he doesn't. The 10-4 win not only staves off what had been considered an inevitable Yankee victory, it revives the moribund Dodger attack that had depended until this day almost exclusively on the long ball.

It also bandages wounded sensibilities. "This team is basically built on pride," says Garvey. "We had gone through two phases on the way to a championship, then found the third one seemed closed to us. At the meeting, Tommy said he was proud of us. We're professionals, but we're also human beings who get down mentally and physically. These meetings are an expression of warmth. And they work. I think we've had eight so far this year, and we've won after each of them. We've had one manager [ Walt Alston] who will be in the Hall of Fame, and now we have another working on it."

Strong words, but about what one expects from the Dodger happiness boys. Martin is welcome to his strife, Lasorda feels, no matter where it takes him. "I'd rather have it my way than his," he says. Lasorda and Martin may be stylistic opposites, the one a booster, the other an agitator, but they are not socially incompatible. On the night before this game they dined together with Sinatra at a restaurant inappropriately called La Dolce Vita. Life has been far from dolce for Martin this season. And while Lasorda has had it sweeter, he may soon know the bitterness of losing. But that is no reason to stop having fun. "Frank just wanted to show us that he was proud of both of us," Lasorda says, speaking of the singer as if he were a Don. "Think of it—two Italian boys in the World Series."

"You had dinner with Martin and Sinatra?" a newsman inquires.

"No," Lasorda replies, "I had dinner with Sinatra and Martin."

Guess who picked up the tab.

1 2 3 4 5