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THE 70's: - 1976 - 1977 - 1978
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1976 World Series

"I don't want to embarrass any other catcher (specifically Thurman Munson) by comparing him with Johnny Bench." - Cincinnati Reds' Manager Sparky Anderson (after the 1976 World Series)

PINSTRIPE PERSPECTIVES: Events off the field

The United States celebrated its bicentennial, marking the 200th anniversary of its independence. During the Fourth of July holiday period, hundreds of sailing ships (most from the nineteenth century) from around the world converged on New York City's harbor to participate in the celebration.

Jimmy Carter was selected as the Democratic Party's nominee for president, and the American people elected him to office over the incumbent president, Gerald Ford. In choosing Carter, the voters took a chance on a president about whom they knew little and one who prided himself on being relatively unknown outside his home state of Georgia. A political "recluse", he had never been a national candidate and had no significant experience on the national scene or any close ties to Washington. In addition, as a candidate from the Deep South, Carter was distrusted by many in the New Deal coalition that had dominated his party since 1932.

FALL CLASSIC: Cincinnati Reds (4) vs. New York Yankees (0)

The 1976 season witnessed the return of baseball's most successful postseason-dynasty to the Fall Classic. After a twelve-year hiatus, the New York Yankees had rebuilt themselves and were the American League champions of old. After the team was purchased by a cunning businessman named George Steinbrenner in 1972, they filled several gaps with some shrewd trading and finished in third place during the ''75 season. This year, former "Bronx Bomber" Billy Martin was at the helm and his crew consisted of several standouts including Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles, Sparky Lyle and Jim "Catfish" Hunter (who had made good on his threat to Oakland).

It seemed fitting that the perennial champions were to face the defending champions as the Cincinnati Reds returned for their second consecutive Classic. Manager Sparky Anderson may not have had a ship, but he did have the "Big Red Machine" and it ran on cylinders like Tony Perez at first, Joe Morgan at second, Pete Rose at third, Dave Concepcion at shortstop and George Foster, Cesar Geronimo and Ken Griffey on the grass. They also boasted one of the best pitching rotations in all of Major League baseball. Gary Nolan led the pitching staff with fifteen victories, Pat Darcy won fourteen, and Fred Norman and Jack Billingham each won twelve games. Their bullpen was just as good with Don Gullett, Santo Alcala and Rawly Eastwick, who each tallied eleven victories for a combined 33-12 record. The Reds had also remained one of the most consistent ball clubs in the league, winning one hundred eight games in '75, ninety-eight in ''74 and ninety-nine in ''73.

Cincinnati hosted the Series opener at Riverfront Stadium and showed their hometown fans who was in charge. Morgan launched a first-inning homer. Perez added three hits of his own and Gullett and reliever Pedro Borbon combined on a five-hitter for the 5-1 victory. Game 2 looked much the same as Perez hit a two-out single in the ninth to score Griffey for the 4-3 win. Hunter had retired the Reds' first two batters, but New York shortstop Fred Stanley's throwing error on Griffey's roller put the National League champs back in business. The Yankees may have been back as well, but the dust and cobwebs were certainly showing. As the Series returned to the "not-so familiar" surroundings of Yankee Stadium, (due to the two year long modernizing process that had sent the Yanks to Shea from '74-'76), the Reds continued to dominate the home team. Perhaps "The Babe" was displeased with his new décor, as the "Big Red Machine" became the "Bronx Bombers" for a day. With the American League's designated hitter rule being used in the Series for the first time, Dan Driessen cracked a homer and went three-for-three while helping the Reds to a third 6-2 victory. On the other side, shortstop Jim Mason managed the only home run for the Yankees (in his only career at-bat ever in a Series).

Now on the verge of elimination, New York was determined to extend the contest, but the visiting team had a different idea. After blasting them for two and three run homers, the defending champions cruised to another title with a 7-2 sweeping triumph. Yankees fans were devastated. After all, losing in the Bronx was unacceptable. But Steinbrenner wasn't done yet and they would have their dynasty back eventually. Cincinnati became the first National League team to win back-to-back crowns since the New York Giants had in 1921 and '22. Seven of their hitters batted above .300, led by Bench's .533 and Foster's .429. Amazingly, Anderson did not make a single change during the entire Series among his nine regulars, forsaking the use of a pinch-hitter or a pinch-runner and never making a switch in either his batting order or fielding alignment. On the mound, his rotation boasted a combined 2.00 earned-run average and the franchise's two-year totals consisted of two hundred ten regular-season victories, a 6-0 record in Championship Series play, and two consecutive World Series triumphs. The mistaken fans at Yankees Stadium had witnessed the play of a dynasty. Unfortunately for them though, they weren't wearing pinstripes.


The 1976 World Series was the first ever to utilize the designated hitter. Those who played the "position" were Dan Driessen of the Cincinnati Reds (who hit the first home run for the position) and Elliott Maddox / Carlos May / Lou Piniella of the New York Yankees.

The Cincinnati Reds were the first National League team to win back-to-back World Championships since the New York Giants in 1921 & 1922.

The Cincinnati Reds were once swept by the New York Yankees during the 1939 World Series and when this factoid was brought up to Joe Morgan he replied, "How can you have a much better team than this one?"


1977 World Series

"Jackson with four runs batted in, sends a fly ball to center field and deep! That's going to be way back! And that's going to be gone! Reggie Jackson has hit his third home run of the game!" - Announcer Ross Porter (October 18, 1977)

PINSTRIPE PERSPECTIVES: Events off the field

In a seven-hour period during the night of July 19-20, at least twelve inches of rain fell in the mountainous region around Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The emerging flood swept through the area, resulting in the deaths of seventy-seven people and damage in excess of $200 million. Despite the disaster, it paled in comparison to the first major flood that had devastated the area in 1889 killing 2,200 people.

David Berkowitz, also known as the "Son of Sam" terrorized the New York City area for over a year with a series of random shootings. Berkowitz had typically made victims of people in parked cars with a .44-caliber pistol and later explained that he adopted the name "Son of Sam" because of the "demons" in his neighbor Sam Carr's dog that "made him do it." Originally the serial killer pleaded insanity, but was later found competent to stand trial for six murders and seven attempted murders. After being found guilty on all counts, he was sentenced to twenty-five years to life for each of the murders.

The American Agricultural Movement was organized to preserve the family farm system and to seek 100% parity for all agricultural products. The nationwide farmer's strike resulted when their demands were not met by the United States Government by midnight, December 13th, but eventually subsided by March 1978 without the farmers accomplishing their goals.

FALL CLASSIC: Los Angeles Dodgers (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)

After an embarrassing sweep by baseball's newest dynasty, the Cincinnati Reds, the American League champion New York Yankees returned to the Fall Classic determined to make amends for the previous year's disappointing finale. The bruised egos and mounting stress had taken its toll on the Yankees organization during the regular season, as Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson erupted into a huge argument at Boston's Fenway Park, for what the manager termed as "lack of hustle." The fight that followed in the dugout was caught on national television cameras broadcasting the Saturday afternoon game and both men were blasted in the papers. Both managed to settle their differences, but the damage to their reputations had already been done. The Los Angeles Dodgers, guided by rookie Manager Tommy Lasorda, dethroned the defending champion Reds in the National League West and steamrolled over the Philadelphia Phillies in the Championship Series. Like the Yankees, Los Angeles featured a potent lineup that included Steve Garvey (thirty-three home runs), Reggie Smith (thirty-two), Ron Cey (thirty) and Dusty Baker (thirty). It set the record as the first ball club to boast four players who had hit thirty or more home runs in the same season.

As the West Coast and East Coast remained locked in a bitter 3-3 tie going into the twelfth inning of Game 1, Paul Blair checkmated the Dodgers with a clutch single that scored Willie Randolph for the opening victory. Los Angeles had revenge the following day after Cey, Smith and Steve Yeager all cracked early inning homers off Catfish Hunter. Burt Hooton fared much better on the mound and tossed a five hitter that evened the Series with a 6-1 triumph. However, New York would jump ahead to a three-game lead as the "Pinstripes" bested Tommy John for a 5-3 decision in the third outing and lefthander Ron Guidry added a 4-2 win in the fourth. Pitching remained a key factor in game 5, as the hopes and dreams of the Dodger faithful were extended with a masterful, 10-4 complete game performance by LA ace Don Sutton. All contests up to this point would pale in comparison though to the legendary finale that was about to take place.

Game 6 was certainly the most memorable in the 1977 World Series thanks a spectacular performance at the plate by Reggie Jackson. The Yankees' newest "Bomber" was making his eighteenth appearance and it proved to be his greatest, as he became only the second player in history to smash three home runs in a single Series game (Babe Ruth did it in 1926 and 1928). In addition, the five home runs in one Series and four consecutive blasts over a two-Series game period were unprecedented.

As Thurman Munson stood on first, Jackson nailed Hooton on his first pitch, sending the Yanks ahead with a 4-3 lead. Later in the fifth inning, with two outs and Willie Randolph on first, Reggie launched another rocket off of Elias Sosa that landed in the right field seats. Finally, he electrified the home team crowd of 56,407 by leading off in the eighth inning with the historic blast into the center field bleachers. "Mr. October" indeed. Riding on the five RBIs of their slugging champion, the Yanks showed a glimpse of what was "Yankee baseball" and held on for the 8-4 victory that earned their twenty-first World Series title. It was the first crown for the "Bronx Bombers" since 1962.

Jackson's MVP performance against the Dodgers tallied a staggering .450 average with five home runs and eight runs-batted-in. His offense was the key to the Yankees' win, as their rotation (minus Torrez who finished 2-0, 2.50 ERA) lacked "the hustle" that Martin liked. Don Gullett and Hunter both went 0-1 and allowed a combined fourteen earned runs in seventeen innings.


During the Game 6 BP (batting practice), Reggie Jackson hit eighteen (18) balls over the Yankee Stadium fence. Teammate Willie Randolph told Jackson, "save some of those for the game." Jackson coolly said, "There are more where those came from."

In an interview years later, Reggie Jackson said this about Game 6, "It is the happiest moment of my career. I had been on a ball and chain all year, at least in my mind. I had heard so many negatives about Reggie Jackson. I had been the villain. Couldn't do this. Couldn't do that. And now suddenly I didn't care what the manager or my teammates had said or what the media had written."


1978 World Series

"I think the big thing is for us to relax, you know, over the course of this year we've gone into kind of like a little bit of a funk like this before, we've broke out. When this team breaks out, it's going to be big. So I think for them it's just to relax and keep trying to do the things that they're doing, remember the positives. Because we have a good hitting club." - Bucky Dent

PINSTRIPE PERSPECTIVES: Events off the field

On November 18th, nine-hundred twelve followers of American cult leader Jim Jones and his "Peoples Temple" died in a remote South American jungle compound called "Jonestown". Some members were shot, others were forced to drink poison, but most willingly participated in what Jones said was an act of "revolutionary suicide." More than two-hundred eighty children were killed and Jones himself was found fatally wounded by a gunshot to the head.

San Francisco California Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first acknowledged homosexual elected to office, were assassinated in their chambers at City Hall by former Supervisor Dan White. In 1985, White committed suicide in the garage of this Excelsior District home after a failed attempt to return to a normal life upon his release from prison.

U.S. President Jimmy Carter negotiated two controversial treaties with Panama's dictator General Omar Torrijos to return the Panama Canal to Panama. Many felt that both agreements were invalid as the Panama Canal was purchased from Panama by the 1903 Hay-Bunau-Varilla treaty "in perpetuity," which meant that it was to remain in U.S. hands forever.

FALL CLASSIC: Los Angeles Dodgers (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)

As the World Series celebrated its 75th Anniversary, the two teams that shared many chapters in its story met for a classic rematch of East versus West. The defending champion New York Yankees had struggled for several years on the way to recapturing their twenty-first crown, while the Los Angeles Dodgers were still stinging from the previous year's defeat. Both teams boasted strong pitching staffs, top-notch sluggers and several All-Stars in their lineups. Many experts had predicted a close, seven-game Series that would be decided in the closing minutes, but things did not appear that way in Game 1. Dodger Davey Lopes drove in five runs on two home runs and Dusty Baker added his own against twenty-game winner Ed Figueroa and the entire New York bullpen. Tommy John got the first Series victory of his career after tossing shutout ball for six innings in the 11-5 opener. The only encouraging performance from the Yanks was the familiar play of "Mr. October" Reggie Jackson, who picked up right where he had left off in '77 with a home run and two singles.

Little changed the following day, as the Dodger Stadium crowd was treated to its second win in a row thanks to Ron Cey, who knocked in all of Los Angeles' runs with a single in the fourth inning and a three run homer in the sixth. Rookie pitcher Bob Welch saved the 4-3 game in the ninth inning after Jackson came to the plate with two men on base. As the count went to 3-2, Reggie, who had fouled off three two-strike pitches, swung mightily at Welch's fastball and missed. Now up two games to none, the National Leaguers were thinking sweep, as the contest shifted to Yankee Stadium.

Game 3 promised to be a pitcher's duel as both teams brought out their "big guns." Don Sutton (a fifteen-game winner) started for the Dodgers against Ron Guidy (25-3, 1.74 ERA, nine shutouts) and both aces struggled despite their spectacular stats. Guidry allowed seven walks and eight hits while Sutton surrendered five runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. Roy White started the Yankees rolling with a first-inning homer, but Graig Nettles was the star with outstanding play in the field. With two out and one man on base in the third inning, Nettles stopped the Dodgers by throwing out Reggie Smith after making a diving stop of his bullet down the third base line. In the fifth inning, with base runners on first and second and two out, he snagged another line-drive by Smith over the bag and held the power-hitter to an infield single. On the next play, with the bases loaded, he nabbed a hard grounder by Steve Garvey and forced Smith out at second. Finally in the sixth inning, he finished them off with another brilliant stop on a two-out bases-loaded shot down the line, while getting another force-out at second. In the end, Los Angeles couldn't beat the infielder and his team walked away with a 5-1 triumph.

Game 4 featured another controversial call that was becoming the norm in modern baseball. Tommy John entered the sixth inning protecting a 3-0 lead (thanks to Smith's fifth-inning homer), but a series of events turned the tide of the game and inevitably the Series. After White led off with a single, Thurmon Munson walked and Jackson followed with a run-scoring base hit. Lou Piniella came up next and knocked a sinking liner toward Bill Russell. As the Dodgers shortstop went to play the ball, it glanced off of his glove and fell to the ground. Munson, who had hesitated in case the ball had been caught, took off for third, but Russell went to second attempting to catch Jackson and complete a double play at first. Sensing this, the Yankee stopped midway down the base path and, with Russell's throw in flight, turned toward first baseman Steve Garvey colliding with the ball. Munson scored the Yank's second run, but the Dodgers argued (to no avail) that Jackson had intentionally interfered.

New York went on to tie it up in the eighth inning, after Blair rounded the bases on a single, sacrifice and double by his fellow teammates. After Goose Gossage (twenty-seven saves, 2.01 ERA) retired Los Angeles (in order) in the top of the tenth, the Yankees struck for the game-winning run in the last half of the inning after Piniella scored White for the 4-3 victory. Bob Lemon, who had replaced Billy Martin in July, started Jim Beattie in Game 5 and the rookie benefited from the "Bronx Bombers" at their finest. Bucky Dent, Mickey Rivers and Brian Doyle all collected three hits and Munson drove in five runs for an eighteen-hit, 12-2 romping that put the Yankees one game away from their twenty-second World Championship.

Hunter was given the call for Game 6 and with two innings of relief help from Gossage, the two emerged 7-2 winners and World Champions. Dent and Doyle both repeated their three-hit efforts with the shortstop's three-run homer proving the deciding factor while Jackson topped it off with a seventh-inning homer off Welch, who had fanned him in Game 2. In addition to their first back-to-back championships since '61-'62, the Yanks set another postseason record as the only title winner ever to trail before winning six straight games.


Reggie Jackson batted .391 and finished with two (2) long balls, but one of the most memorable moments of this series occurred during Game 2 when the Dodgers called the young (twenty-one) rookie fireballer Bob Welch from the bullpen to face the fireball hitting Jackson. The crowd roared on every pitch as raw strength faced brutal strength. Fastball after fastball was served up by Welch and the count was 3-to-2 before Jackson swung for the fences, but missed.

Brian Doyle led the Bronx Bombers in batting average (.438) during the 1978 World Series, but only hit .192 - two-hundred forty-six points less during the regular season.

END 70's


Copyright 2006 by Michael Aubrecht
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