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Sabes delivered to the Cards' Andy Van Slyke, who lofted a deep fly to right. Saberhagen drifted toward third, Brett toward the mound. Saberhagen made a move for Brett. "Not yet," said Brett. There they were, a few inches apart, watching the flight of the ball.
Now. As rightfielder Darryl Motley caught the final out, the two happy-go-lucky Californians leaped into each other's arms. The good guys had won. No one, anywhere—including St. Louis—doubted it.
"You're too young!" utility infielder Greg Pryor shouted to Saberhagen during the clubhouse celebration, spraying Sabes with a faceful of champagne.
"I'm too young!" Sabes agreed. Darn near every Royal came over to congratulate him on his MVP selection. World Series hero. "What more can I ask for?" he wondered. "It's like the world's at my feet."
SWEET DREAMS, SABY
Saberhagen went directly to the hospital from the park, arriving in time for Drew's 2 a.m. feeding and keeping Janeane up until four carrying on about the game, the Royals' comeback, the birth. It was the first chance they had really had to talk. She finally booted him out of there so she could get some rest, and he went home for a shower and a change. Then it was back to the ball park at 5 a.m., so he could make the rounds on the morning news shows. After that he returned to the hospital, a camera crew in tow; then back again to the ball park, so he could catch the 10:30 bus to the downtown ticker-tape parade.
That was about as much fun as natural childbirth. About 225,000 people armed with 60,000 pounds of shredded paper lined the two-mile route—the biggest parade in Kansas City since Truman's inaugural parade. No ropes, no barricades—this was open season on heroes. As the Royals inched through the throng in open, antique cars, their loyal fans slam-dunked them in the kissers with basketball-size clumps of ticker tape. How's Drew doing, Sabes? (Thwack!) How's Janeane? (Fwump!) You guys are just the greatest!
It went on for two hours like that. The shredded paper got caught under the exhaust pipes of the overheated cars, burst into flames and sent players and spectators fleeing for their lives. Miraculously, no one was hurt. But six vehicles were burned and a police motorcycle destroyed amid the gaiety.
Saberhagen, perched on a maroon '49 Packard, sniff-puffing his way through the pain of confetti whiplash, never lost his smile. What the hell were 300,000 rowdy people to a man who had done successful battle with an umbilical cord? He returned to the hospital after the parade, packed up flowers, held baby Drew with practiced ease and checked the family out at 3:55 p.m. "He looks like a chubby Bret," Linda Saberhagen, Bret's mother, said of her new grandson, who had already started slimming down, having lost three ounces since entering the world.
No one from Rainbows United, a center for mentally handicapped children, would have blamed Saberhagen for skipping its auction and golf tournament the next two days. Very few even guessed he would come. But Saberhagen had said he would be there, so the next morning he and other members of the Royals family climbed aboard the buses for Wichita. "Is Janeane mad you're here?" matronly Kansas women asked him as he struggled around 18 holes of cold, artless golf. Or in an affectionately scolding tone they said, "You should be home."