singled to left—on a pitch Eckersley thought Sabo should have hit for a home
run—to put runners on first and second with one out. Oliver bounced a ball down
the third base line that Lansford might have gotten had he been playing closer
to the bag and certainly would have gotten had the game been played on grass.
But the ball skittered past him, and Bates raced the cheetah home and was
nearly hit by a huge white streamer that fell to the ground. Bedlam ensued.
Russa uncharacteristically questioned the play of his right-fielder, Canseco.
Even more in question, though, was La Russa's strategy. If La Russa had sent
Eckersley into the game to start the eighth inning, the outcome might have been
entirely different. Little wonder some newspaper columnists described La Russa
as "Man Asleep," a takeoff on Men at Work, George Will's best-selling
baseball book, which includes a laudatory chapter on La Russa's managerial
The Billys could
have been goats, but they were the heroes. "To tell you the truth,"
said Bates, "things happened so quickly, I didn't even realize this was a
World Series game." Said Oester of Bates, "He's sort of like the mascot
of the team."
Hatcher is such
an unassuming sort that when he was told of the record he had broken, he said,
"Thank you." He also said personal records didn't mean anything to him:
"I want a ring. When I was with Houston, Yogi Berra used to show me all
those rings, and I want one. They're pretty."
the 55,832 people in attendance, another drama was unfolding underneath the
stands. Debbie Browning, the wife of Tom, went into labor during the game—her
contractions were coming one batter apart—and she left her seat in the fifth
inning to drive herself to the hospital. A van, however, was blocking her car,
so she went into the Cincinnati clubhouse to get help. Word of her predicament
was passed to her husband. Browning, who was scheduled to start Game 3, figured
he wouldn't be needed, so he left to drive her to St. Elizabeth South without
telling anyone. "She was in the driver's seat," said Browning later,
"and I just asked her, 'Can I go?' " The Brownings, who have two other
children, Tiffany, 6, and Tanner, 3, arrived at the hospital in 20 minutes.
In the meantime,
Piniella was running out of pitchers and asked pitching coach Stan Williams,
"Where's Browning?" Williams didn't know. Eventually, the Reds,
thinking that Browning was en route to a nearby hospital, had radio broadcaster
Marty Brennaman put out an APB on Browning, a bulletin that was picked up by
Tim McCarver on CBS, who passed it along in the ninth inning. That's when
Browning, who was watching the game in a hospital waiting room, got the
message. "When I heard that, I panicked," he said. "But I decided I
wouldn't leave Debbie until I knew she and the baby were all right."
He was still
dressed in his uniform, of course. "I looked kind of goofy, like some sort
of crazy fan who had wandered into the hospital," he said. The doctor made
him get rid of his chaw, and he had taken off his hat, but there he was in his
scrubs as a Caesarean section was performed on Debbie. The game ended at 11:57
p.m., and Tucker Thomas Browning came into the world at 12:37 a.m., weighing
six pounds, 11 ounces. "He came out crying, 'Win! Win!' " said Tom.
By the time all
parties had arrived in Oakland on Thursday, the A's were being hit over the
head with all those stone tablets the writers had brought. Canseco, in
particular, was hit hard. He had become the symbol of the Athletics' failure in
the first two games. Even Stewart had criticized his play. To be fair, Canseco
was hurt, with both a sore back and a sore forefinger on his right hand. Still,
La Russa thought he should have a heart-to-heart, or toe-to-toe, talk with
Canseco as the other A's worked out.
For their part,
the Reds were talking about Browning, who had boarded the charter with one
hour's sleep and was scheduled to pitch in 24 hours. The lefthander patiently
recounted his adventures for the press time and time again as Rijo patrolled
the outfield dressed in a T-shirt that read: IT'S OVER.
If Game 2 was one
of the best games in Series history, Game 3 might have been one of the worst,
at least as far as Oakland is concerned. Stewart threw out the ceremonial first
ball in recognition of his Roberto Clemente Award for community involvement,
but Mike Moore made the first pitch, and he had nothing. He dodged a bullet in
the first, giving up three singles and no runs, but in the second he served up
a solo homer to Sabo. The A's took the lead in the bottom of the inning on a
two-run homer by Harold Baines, but in the top of the third, Moore allowed five
more runs, two on Sabo's second homer. Mark McGwire made an error in the
inning, and centerfielder Dave Henderson made an egregious throw to third that
enabled a runner to advance a base.