"Al walked out there like a movie star in the spotlight," he says. "When he got to the on-deck circle, you could feel the electricity all through the ballpark. I still get goose bumps thinking about it."
"The crowd went wild when he went up to hit," recalls Dillon. New York manager Ralph Houk waved in Sparky Lyle from the bullpen, down the rightfield line. As Lyle passed first base, Andrews, Lyle's old roommate on the Red Sox, stood with his arms folded in front of him and said, "Hey, Sparky, you're in deep——-now."
Comiskey Park is filled these days with people who have a favorite Dick Allen moment, but the one against Lyle is many fans' keeper. Allen took a strike and a ball. He snapped the next pitch 370 feet into the leftfield stands. "It was one of those screaming liners that had no altitude," says Hemond.
Chicago won 5-4, and Allen was mobbed at the plate by teammates. The crowd refused to leave. "They cheered so loud and so long that it came through the building and vibrated all through the clubhouse," says Tanner. "We didn't take bows in those days, so we just sat there listening to the hollering and cheering. It seemed like we sat there a half hour. That sound, that excitement, that electricity is something I will always remember."
Such moments, as personal to those who lived them as the smell and feel of the park on a summer evening, are what longtime Comiskey dwellers fear they will lose to the wrecking ball. Jim Harvey and Pat Moran were sitting in right center one afternoon recently, looking at the vaulting upper reaches of the new Comiskey Park. "The new place will have real grass," said Moran. "It's got a facade that resembles the old ballpark's, and it has good sightlines."
Harvey thought about that a moment. "The only thing wrong," he said, "is you can't see Babe Ruth play here anymore. You won't be able to see Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio."
Or hear the voices again. "The most wonderful time to go into Comiskey Park is early in the morning," says Michael Veeck, who is now the president of the Miracle, an independent Class A team based in Pompano Beach, Fla. (SI, July 9). "Or late in the day, when everyone has left. You can hear the ball yard whispering, telling its stories. People will tell you it's just the wind, but I don't believe it. Babe Ruth hit home runs there. In a world that doesn't make very much sense, I like ballparks. Comiskey was like life itself."
As it was again on June 29. Sosa drifted under Barfield's fly to right. The whole yard was on its feet. Sosa raised his glove, grabbed the ball and squeezed it for the third out. Thousands stood swaying as they sang the White Sox anthem: "Na-na-na-na.... Na-na-na-na.... Hey, hey, hey, goodbye."
For a dazzling instant the Sox were leading the mighty A's in the West. Minds were racing, and more people were lingering in the park than leaving it. Masterson and Knight were waiting in the stands behind home plate. "If we won the World Series, they'd have to hire movers to get the people out of here," said Masterson.
"Wouldn't that be incredible," said Knight. "What a finish! They'd spend the winter here."