So what happened in Game 7? Why the el foldo? Tudor, who worked 305⅔ innings during the regular season and postseason, refuses to say he was tired. He won't even blame umpire Don Denkinger—Herzog's whipping boy—for "squeezing the strike zone" on him. "I can't really say any of the balls were close enough to call strikes," Tudor says. "No matter how hard I tried to throw a strike, I couldn't. When I walked [Jim] Sundberg to force in a run, I was trying to throw the ball right down the middle of the plate to let him hit it. I still couldn't do it." This, from a man who had walked only 49 hitters in 275 regular-season innings and who, until the third inning of Game 7, had gone an astounding 127 innings without walking a leadoff hitter.
"His fears became a self-fulfilling prophecy," says Freyer. "He knew that if he had to pitch again after the fourth game that the Cardinals were in trouble."
How else to ruin his sparkling year but to be forced to go out and prove himself one more time in the biggest game of his life? He approached the game thinking about how much it might cost him, not how much he might gain. "You could sense before the game that he was talking himself out of it," says Bettencourt. "It wasn't that he couldn't handle the pressure. It was that he was afraid of letting his teammates down. He's been that way since he was a kid." Apparently, Tudor isn't quite as stoical as he thinks he is.
It was 3-0 when Tudor left Game 7 in the third inning, but he was charged with the next two K.C. runs in the 11-0 debacle. Say this for Tudor: After he was stitched up at the hospital he returned to face the press, some members of which had risen to applaud when he was pulled from the game—hardly the act of a gutless fellow. No, guts is not what Tudor is short on. Tact, perhaps. And a certain affection for the frailties of his fellow man. As the poet Elinor Hoyt Wylie wrote in 1921: Avoid the reeking herd/Shun the polluted flock/Live like that stoic bird/The eagle of the rock.
At least to hear him tell it, John Tudor, a Cardinal, would love it out there.