A blast from The Courier-Journal’s past: Dave Kindred chronicles Fisk’s homer

Good morning C-J readers. Normally, I’d have a column in Wednesday’s papers and on the C-J web site, but I took the week off. I’m tending to a flooded basement, among other matters. But I don’t leave you empty handed. Far from it. Today, I give you Dave Kindred.

A while back, I noticed something Kindred had written for his students in the National Sports Journalism Center out of the Indiana University system about writing on deadline. It struck me because at about the same time, C-J sports editor Harry Bryan had left on my desk an old column of Kindred’s, banged out on deadline, Oct. 21, 1975, from Boston in Game 6 of the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Enjoy this, and you’ll see that Kindred could practice every bit as well as he could preach. That he wrote this lively and entertaining a column off a classic baseball game is accomplishment enough. That he did it under the gun of a looming deadline — even one as late (12:30!) as we’d kill for today — on a typewriter (ask your parents, kids), is more difficult than you can imagine, unless you’ve tried it. But thanks to Kindred, you can imagine it. Thanks to him, somehow, you are sitting there, cold fingers and all. Even 35 years later.

A MARATHON: It took four days to play this game; when they started they couldn’t stop

Courier-Journal Sports Editor
Oct. 22, 1975

BOSTON — And you thought the Boston Marathon was a foot race. We waited four days to play Game Six. Sparky Anderson reworked the Reds’ bats into an ark, just in case. Then when the rain stopped, the game started. At midnight last night, it was still going. Wake me when it’s over.

By the nature of the business, a newspaperman lives and dies by deadlines. Given time to do his magic, he brings Pete Rose, semi-live, to the breakfast table. “I gotta speak in Louisville Wednesday night,” Rose said the other day. “It’s a thousand-dollar deal. We gotta win.”

Well, it’s now 12:03 A.M. on Wednesday morning, and we still don’t know if Rose is going to make it to Louisville to pick up his easy loot. “It’s only about 40 people, so maybe I can do it a couple of days later,” he said, dollar signs floating across his vision.

I have to be done typing this in 27 minutes. It’s cold in Fenway Park, maybe 55 degrees, and a nippy wind is blowing through the press box. It’s hard enough typing with cold fingers. Cold fingers, warm words? (Excuse that.) Anyway, now the wind is blowing the paper out of my typewriter.

It’s now 12:06. A guy on the press box public address system just announced, “For the record, this is the first night World Series game at Fenway. If you’ll look at the clock, you’ll see it’s also the first morning World Series game.” Hah hah. He’s got no deadline.

This has been a fantastic baseball game. At one time, both teams were dead. No way they could win. But the Red Sox tied it at 6-6 on Bernie Carbo’s three-run homer with two out in the bottom of the eighth. And the Reds somehow refused to let the Red Sox score with the bases loaded and no outs in the last of the ninth.

The Reds have used eight pitchers so far. The current thrower is Pat Darcy, a rookie. The only other pitchers available are Clay Kirby, who’s no good, and Don Gullett, who’s too good. Can Johnny Bench pitch and catch at the same time?

Excuse me. Something’s happening. It’s a line drive by Joe Morgan. The Reds have a runner on first with one out. I see the ball. Headed for the right field seats. A home run for Morgan. No. No. Wait. Dwight Evans, the right fielder, acts like he might catch it. And he does, just before banging into the low wall. Amazing.

It’s 12:11 now. Even two days ago Sparky Anderson thought the Red Sox would win game six. That’s why he’s saving his best pitcher, Gullett, for the last game. Anderson had an interesting explanation for why he didn’t use Gullett last night.

It was mainly — pardon me, papers are flying again — because Luis Tiant was pitching for Boston. He’d already beaten the Reds twice, and Anderson had a theory. “Luis is on one of those — Whatcha call it? — phee-noms,” the manager said. “Ever since his parents come up to America from Cuba, he’s been unbeatable. He’s got destiny with him.”

Destiny got tired last night. The Reds knocked out Tiant, a gallant warrior, in the eighth inning when Cesar Geronimo led off with a home run. That gave Cincinnati a 6-3 lead, and everyone started making plans to go home. I asked by colleague, Dick Fenlon, if we had enough beer back at the hotel to celebrate the end of our exile.

Then the Red Sox got two men on in the eighth before Anderson brought in Rawly Eastwick, his best relief pitcher. Eastwick is a precocious rookie of great confidence. Back in August, I asked him if he’d like to be in the seventh game of the World Series with victory in the balance. “Sure, I’d love it,” he said.

Well, after getting two men out, Eastwick gave up that cursed home run to Carbo. I looked at Eastwick as the ball sailed into the seats. The rookie looked terribly sad.

It’s now 12:21, and I have to tell you about the bonehead play of the series, perpetrated by Denny Doyle, the Kentuckian working for the Red Sox.

First Doyle led off the ninth with a walk. Then Carl Yastrzemski singled. That moved Sparky Anderson to bring in another pitcher, Will McEnaney, who intentionally walked Carlton Fisk to load the bases with no outs.

Bases loaded, no outs, last of the ninth.

No way the Red Sox can keep from scoring a run.

Unless they do something silly.

On a short fly ball to left field by Lynn, Doyle did something silly. He tried to score. No doubt with advice from third-base coach Don Zimmer — who in Game One ordered two runners into easy outs at the plate — Doyle headed home, testing George Foster’s arm.

I could have thrown out Doyle. It wasn’t even close. And on one pitch, the Reds had two outs. Two pitches later, McEnaney got Rico Petrocelli on a ground ball to Rose. Amazing.

So now it is 12:27. The game is 3 hours, 5 minutes old. I’ve been in Boston long enough to vote. I noticed at a restaurant today that I paid 8 percent “old age” tax. Good. I’ll need it pretty soon.

It’s 12:30. The Reds have men on first and second with two out in the top of the 12th. Geronimo just took a called third strike. Somebody get me some coffee.

Hold the coffee. Carlton Fisk just hit one. It’s high, going out to left, toward the Green Monster. It’s a home run. Pandemonium, as they say, is breaking out. It’s 12:33. Boston wins 7-6. Good night.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: