As it happened, I was not the only person present who didn't have enough Tiant stuff. Neither did Tiant. When Cesar Geronimo led off the eighth with a home run over that short rightfield fence to put the Reds ahead 6--3, Tiant was relieved. And so was I.
And yet I felt ... ashamed. Maybe if I'd done my job....
Boston's Bernie Carbo did his in the eighth, tying the score with a three-run pinch homer into the frenzied centerfield bleachers. In the ninth the Sox loaded the bases with none out, but the Reds held. Then, in the 11th, with Ken Griffey on first for Cincinnati, Joe Morgan hit a shot right at me.
I sat there transfixed. Would the hopes of the Sox die right in my lap, and would 35,000 Bostonians look at me and say, "He's the one! See the guilt on his face? He jinxed Tiant! Get him!"?
No. The ball hooked down; Red Sox rightfielder Dwight Evans dashed back and made the best catch I've ever witnessed close-up, right at the fence. I unclenched my mind and turned the game over to the players.
One of whom, Carlton Fisk, in the bottom of the 12th launched a drive into the other corner at the premises, way, way up above the leftfield wall, then danced down the first base line, waving the ball, writhing it ... just ... barely ... fair.
The Fenway organist played the Hallelujah Chorus. Exultation reigned. Rose said afterward that he felt proud, even in defeat, to have taken part in such a contest. Tiant and I were off the hook (and the Sox, of course, lost the final game). I still feel grateful for that glorious sixth game, whose place in history turned out to be entirely independent of me. Well ... I may have helped Fisk just a bit with the body English.
By Lee Jenkins