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LOU PINIELLA: Guidry wasn't as quick as usual. Munson told me that his breaking ball was hanging, so I played Lynn a few steps closer to the line than usual. I saw the ball leave the bat and then I lost it in the sun. I went to the place where I thought the ball would land. I didn't catch it cleanly, but kind of in the top of my glove. It would have short-hopped to the wall and stayed in play. Without any doubt two runs would have scored. But it was catchable.
I watched the ball, trying to judge how deep it was hit. I realized it didn't quite have it, but I envisioned a double. Piniella seemed confused. I wanted the two runs. I felt 4-0 in my heart.
Piniella's catch was an indignity. He had appeared bollixed and off-balance, lurching about under the glaring sun in the rightfield corner. That Lynn had unleashed so potent a smash and would go unrewarded, that I would go unrewarded, that the game itself would remain within the Yankees' reach, struck me as an ominous signal that things would not, after all, work out in the end. The game and the season—the losses in Toronto, Butch Hobson's floating bone chips, Rick Burleson's injury just before the All-Star break, a thousand things that had created this day in the first place—all had spun through the early autumn sky with the ball that Lynn had struck, the ball that Piniella held in his bare right hand all the way in from rightfield, across the diamond, through the third-base coach's box and into the dark sanctuary of the visitors' dugout. He had caught it, he had held on to it, he held it even now, sitting there on the bench. The play could not be called back. The score still stood at 2-0.
In the top of the seventh inning I went into the solitary phone booth on the first-base side of the roof. I dialed my secret air-check number, realizing it was the first time I had ever sought it out as a local investment.
It was a Jim Woods inning, which frightened me all the more. Woods, like a child fumbling with a lie, cannot hide the truth of any Red Sox situation. One can tell immediately if Boston is in a favorable or thorny position, if the game is lost or won, or even tied.
Even with a 2-0 lead, Woods was somber. For Pittsburgh, New York, St. Louis, Oakland and Boston, Woods had been broadcasting baseball games ever since Dwight Eisenhower's presidency. The importance of Piniella's catch had not eluded him. Then he was presented with singles by Chris Chambliss and Roy White that brought the lead run to the plate. I had dialed in for the security of the radio's familiar rhythm and was suddenly faced with potential disaster.
I hung up on Woods and ran back to the photographers' box, taking the steps of the ladder two at a time. Jim Spencer was pinch-hitting for the Yankees. I remembered a Spencer home run earlier in the year. Could it have been against the Angels? Jim Spencer, of all people. Spencer hit the ball fairly well to left, but Yaz was with it all the way.