I should tell you that my mother taunted me the entire evening during the Notre Dame-Syracuse game. Then, she harassed me with a phone call after the disaster on the court. I told her to turn on the YES Network and relive an night to remember in the Bronx with me. You see, she and I and my Dad watched the game live back in 1976. You know the game...the one where Chambliss planted one out in right field to beat the Kansas City Royals, win the American League Championship and head to the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.
It was incredibly interesting to watch the game that evening, as Thurman Munson crouched behind the plate helmetless, no throat guard and a chest protector that looked like the lining of my Northface winter coat more than something that would protect him from a swirling fast ball. As a matter of fact, he got hit in the throat with a foul ball and he struggled to swallow for a good several minutes. It was pretty scary, actually.
Then there were the fans throwing debris and bottles at the Royals' outfielders. It got so bad that public address announcer Bob Sheppard had to administer a warning to fans to essentially, "knock it off." Howard Cosell was one of the announcers in the box, which also added to the ambiance of the game. Chambliss stepped up to the plate in the midst of the chaos of angry fans and delay of game as umpires ran around clearing debris. He was fixed on the pitcher and the job he had as a hitter batting at the bottom of the ninth.
When Chambliss made contact, no one really knew if that ball had enough legs to climb over the right field fence, but when it eventually did, pandemonium ensued as fans launched themselves on the field and ran towards Chambliss who could barely see his way to home plate.
Experiencing this game with my mom the other evening, almost forty years after it originally aired was an incredible opportunity to relive something special. You see guys like Chris Chambliss represent a team of rutty young men who earned an A for their grit and determination every night, despite the "primitive" equipment and overall simpler times when guys didn't need nearly as much as they seem to need to today in order to perform at an A level. And re-experiencing this exciting rise to the Series after a 12-year absence as an adult with her mom made it extra special. This is the rise we need to experience again and I feel rejuvenated and hopeful that we can get there. I just needed a gentle reminder that anything can happen.
--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
BYB Hot Stove Columnist
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