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The 79th World Series was awash in beer jokes; by the time it got under way, enough puns were in print to choke a Clydesdale. So it was no surprise that this game was won on a wicked hop, mashing by the Milwaukee Brewers and a stouthearted pitching performance.
But besides offering a match between a team owned by a man who makes Bud and a team owned by a man who's named Bud, this Oktoberfest presented the clearest Series confrontation between speed and power since the Dodgers met the Twins in 1965. Whitey's Rugburners vs. Harvey's Wallbangers. The Cardinals figured to run the Brewers ragged on the carpet in St. Louis, and the Brewers to mug the Cardinals once they got back to Milwaukee.
The fans in St. Louis' Busch Stadium, most of whom seemed to be dressed in red, should have known something was wrong even before the first pitch of the game. One of the eight Clydesdales pulling August A. Busch and his beer wagon around his stadium soiled the first-base coaching box.
With runners on first and second and two out in the first inning, Milwaukee's Ben Oglivie lined the ball—with some English on it—just to the right of Keith Hernandez at first. Hernandez, who normally makes this play look easy, missed the short hop. One runner scored, and a subsequent single by Gorman Thomas gave Milwaukee a quick 2-0 lead. This would be all the advantage that Pitcher Mike Caldwell would need, although his teammates gave him eight more runs to relax with.
The 10-0 score was the most lopsided in a Series opener since the White Sox beat the Dodgers 11-0 in 1959. The Cardinals took small comfort in the fact that Los Angeles went on to win in six games that year. "I don't like getting beat 10-0," said Manager Whitey Herzog. "It bothers the hell out of me. We just looked horse manure. It's a good thing we weren't playing a doubleheader."
The Brewers took to Busch Stadium as if they'd been playing there all their lives, even though most of them had never even seen the place. "I started liking it in batting practice," said Jim Gantner, who had two hits, including a two-run triple in a four-run ninth. "Great hitter's background." Milwaukee had 17 hits in all, only one of them a homer, by the beloved erstwhile Cardinal, Ted Simmons. By reputation the Brewer hitters are barbarians who pick their teeth with broken bats, but in reality they use their heads as much as they do their muscles. At the top of the order, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount and Cecil Cooper had a grand total of 616 hits during the season.
Molitor had five and Yount four in this game. Molitor's fifth hit gave him the World Series record, and Bill Guilfoile, public-relations director for the Hall of Fame, asked him for his bat. Molitor was only too happy to oblige, although he had actually used three bats in the game, having broken one while making his only out, in the first inning, and another while getting a bloop single in the fourth. After the game, Molitor had no idea he'd set a record, and he couldn't remember ever getting five hits in a game, even in high school. He had the nerve to say, "Even though we scored 10 runs, we didn't swing our bats that well."
Try telling that to St. Louis Pitcher Bob Forsch, who was relieved in the sixth inning by 43-year-old Jim Kaat. Kaat's appearance made him the second-oldest man ever to play in a Series—Jack Quinn was 46 when he pitched for the 1930 A's. Kaat was the Cards' only effective pitcher this night. By the time the Brewers were knocking around rookies Dave LaPoint and Jeff Lahti, the red sea in the stands had departed.
Even more surprising than the runs the Brewers scored were the runs the Cardinals didn't. Caldwell was so masterful that six of his nine innings were perfect, and he allowed a runner as far as second just twice. He induced so many ground balls that Oglivie in leftfield didn't touch a live ball all night. Caldwell gave the Cards no chance to show off their speed, which was good because his pickoff move isn't. His three-hitter was the best individual Series pitching performance since Steve Blass also had a three-hitter in 1971 for the Pirates. Caldwell's feat followed three outings in which he had given up 16 earned runs in 18 innings.