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Detroit Jumped All Over 'Em
Steve Wulf
October 22, 1984
The Tigers leaped to the fore in every game as they bounded past the Padres to win the 81st Series
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October 22, 1984

Detroit Jumped All Over 'em

The Tigers leaped to the fore in every game as they bounded past the Padres to win the 81st Series

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Not the end of excitement, though. Nettles and Kennedy led off with singles in the sixth, and Morris was one batter away from being hooked. But he struck out Bobby Brown, starting in centerfield because the formidable Kevin McReynolds had broken his hand in the playoffs, Carmelo Martinez and Garry Templeton. "Wow!" said Gwynn, the National League batting champion. "It was like he said, 'Hey, I'm going to throw my best stuff now!' "

One of Williams's trademarks is that he's not afraid to play a hunch. The hunch he played this night was Kurt Bevacqua, his DH despite a .200 average, one home run and nine RBIs during the season. Leading off the seventh, Bevacqua went with Morris's pitch and poked it into the rightfield corner. He smelled triple, and third-base coach Ozzie Virgil waved him on. But coming around second, Bevacqua stumbled. Whitaker, who took the relay from the Tigers' newly accomplished rightfielder, Gibson, said, "The fans gave a roar and let me know what was going on; the man was going to third. I thank the fans for helping me." Whitaker's perfect throw nailed Bevacqua.

"I don't know why I stumbled," said Bevacqua. "I wasn't pulling an Exorcist and checking the relay. I had a new pair of spikes. I guess I was running so damn fast. I was just about as helpless as the people on the Titanic."

Herndon, a quiet man, declined interviews after the win, saying, "This was Jack's game." One reason for Herndon's shell is that he misses his old teammate, Enos Cabell, now with the Astros. Herndon saw Cabell the day of the game, and Cabell gave him a scouting report on the Padre pitchers. He told him Thurmond's fastball was worth waiting for, and that's what Herndon got.

The Padres didn't seem taken aback by the loss. Said Garvey, "There's a little more longitude and latitude in a seven-game series." He really said that.

Sure enough, the Padres came back in Game 2 and created some new World Series lore in the process. Al Gionfriddo, Don Larsen, Moe Drabowsky, Al Weis, Brian Doyle.... To the list of unlikely Series heroes please add the name Kurt Bevacqua. You might recognize the name. He was the goat the night before.

"I think I hold the record for most games watched, career," says Bevacqua, the 37-year-old utility man for whom the word "journeyman" was invented. He has been in and out of the majors since 1971, but his at bats add up to only four seasons' work. He has no speed, not much power and a few nearly useless gloves. He does publish his own monthly fan tabloid, Baseball Gold, and after what he did in the game, he said, "Maybe now I'll put myself on the cover."

What Bevacqua did was hit a three-run homer off Dan Petry in the fifth inning, the telling blow in the Padres' come-from-behind 5-3 victory. Bevacqua was the obvious hero, but as Anderson pointed out, "Their relief pitchers won the game for them." Andy Hawkins came in for starter Ed Whitson with two out and two on in the first inning, with three runs already in, and pitched 5? innings of one-hit, shutout ball. Craig Lefferts was next, and he handled the last three innings, allowing one hit while striking out five and earning the save. The Padre starters needed all the help they could get. In the playoffs only Whitson had gotten a victory. "I don't mind pitching," said Hawkins, "but I have some friends on the starting staff, and I'd like to see them do well."

Hawkins is an ingenuous 24-year-old from Bruceville, Texas (pop. 750). "I walked into that interview room tonight," he said, "and I got on the podium and shoot, man, I couldn't believe it! There was Sparky Anderson!"

Lefferts throws, and is, a screwball. "We call him Crazy Horse," says Kennedy. "We always talk about his eyes. He can look at a runner on first and at the plate for a signal at the same time."

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