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"We've got one last chance," I mumbled to Kenny Kaaiohelo, my old college pal, who had just driven 10 hours and 500 miles from Edmond, Okla. with his two sons, Jason and Jared, to see the sixth game of the 1982 World Series in St. Louis.
"What's that?" Kenny asked, flashing his Hawaiian smile, trying to remain chipper and upbeat about my not being able to come up with the tickets I'd promised.
Jason, 12, and Jared, 10, apparently unconcerned about our lack of tickets, talked excitedly as we walked past NBC equipment trucks, souvenir vendors and calm Clydesdales, which would later steal the show by pulling Gussie Busch into the stadium on a beer wagon. Rabid fans were already streaming from the parking lots chanting, waving pennants, buzzing in anticipation of a Redbird comeback against the Brewers, who led the Series three games to two. Although tickets were hard to find, I had been able to get them for two of the home playoff games with the Atlanta Braves as well as both of the Series games already played in St. Louis. But now things looked bleak.
"Well," I said halfheartedly, not very hopeful about my last shot, "I met George Hendrick the other night."
My one brief meeting with Silent George had occurred in a rather unusual way. On the night of the first National League playoff game in St. Louis against the Braves, I was working at the local Playboy Club as a standup comedian. The crowd was sparse, and like everyone else in St. Louis, the members of my audience seemed to be pooped from the long day of rain and game delays and, finally, cancellation. But, despite the lack of enthusiasm in the nightclub, Hendrick and his two companions apparently enjoyed the show, and later they invited me to join them at their table, where we talked about baseball and comedy and laughed about the horrors of performing either athletically or comically in front of hostile crowds.
"I thought he wouldn't talk to the press," Kenny said.
"I'm not the press, I'm a fan," I replied. "And he said if I got to a Series game to give him a call in the locker room, and he'd have me down to meet some of the guys."
"Will he have extra tickets?"