But both teams were playing championship baseball. George Hendrick and Oberkfell stifled one Brewer rally in the fourth. Hendrick with a brilliant throw from right after fielding Cecil Cooper's single and Oberkfell with a deft, sweeping tag of a sliding Yount at third. Then, in the sixth, there were ominous rumblings. Gantner led off with a double to the right-centerfield gap, and Paul Molitor, enjoying a banner Series—he'd finish with a .355 average—dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line. The sore-legged Andujar fielded it, but despite having no chance of getting Molitor, he threw off balance and wildly to first. Gantner scored on the error and Molitor moved to second. Could a pitcher's error once again open the floodgates as it had in Game 4, when St. Louis' Dave LaPoint dropped Hernandez' throw in the fateful seventh? Apparently, for Yount then hit a bouncer to second and Andujar failed to cover. Molitor went to third on that play and scored on Cecil Cooper's sacrifice fly. It was 3-1 Brewers now. The Cardinals were in a hole.
They got out of it quickly. With one out in their half of the sixth, Ozzie Smith singled and Lonnie Smith doubled. Kuenn lifted the floundering Vuckovich for the dread McClure, who would face—who else?—Tenace hitting once more for Oberkfell. But this time the DLO got the best of his nemesis. McClure walked him to load the bases, bringing up Hernandez, McClure's boyhood friend from Linda Mar, Calif. With the count 3 and 1, Hernandez was looking for a pitch he could handle, but McClure gave him what Hernandez later said was "a nasty pitch on the inside corner. I don't know how I hit it, but it sure was a great feeling." Hernandez singled to center to score the tying runs. Then Hendrick hit another good pitch to the opposite field to drive home the winning run.
The Cards got two insurance runs in the eighth, after Herzog had brought in Sutter to pitch the last two innings. Sutter's Series ERA at that point was 6.35, but Herzog hadn't lost faith. Herzog explained later that Andujar was starting to get his fastball up, and, besides, the pitcher might have blown his cool during an incident following Milwaukee's half of the seventh.
Andujar has many curious mannerisms on the mound, some of which—such as forming his hand into a pistol and aiming at the batter after a strike—are considered inflammatory. In the seventh Gantner hit the ball back to Andujar. When Andujar held onto it just long enough to keep Gantner running, Gantner turned in rage and called Andujar an unspeakable hot dog. Andujar replied that Gantner was an unspeakable unspeakable and that he didn't have to take that kind of unspeakable verbal abuse from anyone. Maybe the unspeakable Gantner would like to fight. Home Plate Umpire Lee Weyer, a huge man, stepped between the possible combatants and marched Andujar back to the Cardinal dugout, thus preserving the dignity of the Series.
In an appropriately zany aftermath to this episode, Andujar was asked in the press interview room to recount his exchange with Gantner. He, in turn, asked if he could possibly repeat language like that over a microphone. When informed that he could, he cheerfully obliged, peeling paint from the walls with the retelling of the blue dialogue. No one realized that Andujar's entire recitation would be routinely broadcast over the public address system to the many thousands still celebrating in the park. The fans, possibly regarding such salty talk as a welcome departure from the "wave-those-red-pennants" treacle that is their normal P.A. fare, gleefully cheered every single foul utterance from Andujar.
Any fears about Sutter's effectiveness were quickly dismissed. The Brewers went down in order in both the eighth and ninth. And what an order it was: Molitor, Yount, Cooper, Simmons, Oglivie and Thomas. Not one of the Brewer sluggers got the ball out of the infield, and Yount and Thomas struck out, Thomas not without a struggle. It was the Cardinals' ninth World Series championship, tops in the National League, and the National League's fourth Series win in a row.
Darrell Porter, the catcher whose acquisition made it possible for Herzog to trade Simmons, was named the Most Valuable Player for his timely hitting (five RBIs) and excellent defensive play, but the award could as easily have gone to Andujar, who won two games; Sutter, who had a win and two saves; Hendrick, who had the deciding RBI in Game 7 and hit .321; or Hernandez, who recovered from his early slump to drive in a Series-leading eight runs. And then there was Dane Iorg, who batted .529 as a DH, compared to the .125 of his more experienced Brewer counterparts.
The Cardinals' clubhouse was relatively subdued after the game, save for the usual wasteful champagne spraying. Hendrick, who doesn't speak to the press, left the park almost immediately afterward and disappeared into the off-season. The John Cosell Show signed off for the year. And many of the Brewers turned up to honor their conquerors. Sutton embraced Hernandez, whose homer had ruined him the night before. "You're supposed to take that pitch for ball two, you dummy," Sutton said, laughing on the outside.
More than 200,000 fans showed up for the victory parade in downtown St. Louis the next day. It was called the biggest celebration in the history of the city, and for some of the celebrants, it lasted all night. After the parade, Herzog escaped for lunch at Stan Musial's restaurant, where living legends appear in such plenitude that a mere World Series-winning manager can dine in solitude.
In the end, Herzog had been vindicated. Sutter had been there when he was needed. Herzog's park, with its slick carpet, had had the right surface and had been the right size for the game he wanted to play. The Cards had needed 15 hits to score six runs in Game 7, but that was Herzog's style. The Wallbangers had gotten only seven hits. "The strange thing," said Herzog, summing it up very nicely, "is that when you have defense and speed and your pitchers don't walk batters and keep the ball in the ball park, you can win every game." Well, maybe not every game, but certainly the big ones.