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31 years ago today

one of the greatest games in Dodger history is recounted by Jon Weisman. This game had it all. The incredible meltdown of Burt Hooten amidst the loudest baseball game I'd ever heard, the heroic relief pitching of Rick Rhoden, the oldest twosome in baseball breathing life into the Dodgers, and finally the keystone combo that produced the winning run.

If this had been a World Series game it might have been considered one of the greatest  World Series game of all time. It certainly is the greatest Dodger playoff game of all time on my ballot.

We were luckier then, even after the game, we had journalistic giants who could actually write and in the aftermath they caught the perfect tone. If the Dodgers were to play a game like that today, you can bet that TJ Simers and Bill Plaschke would not be upto the task like Jim Murray was.

Then again here is great 1st hand account by DT poster Hollywood Joe

I was 10 years old on October the 7th 1977, my Mother surprised me that day so long ago and made it a day I will never forget.

School was something I did in between playing ball and I was at the age when baseball becomes less something my father watched and more something I understood in my own way, 10 years old was about the time that baseball became my game and it has been that way ever since.

With the day game approaching and me beginning to understand the magnitude of what the post-season meant and how special your few chances at October are, I was prepared to stay close at hand with my beloved Dodgers no matter what the circumstances (or consequences). With a small AM transistor radio stuck deep in my pocket and with an ear piece hidden inside my shirt, I would stealthily choose my spots for quick updates which I would scribble down on a sheet of paper close enough for my best friend to see the score. It was not the first time I used that strategy, day games seemed to be more frequent back then and I never got too far from the sound of Scully even at that age.

The school yard was buzzing with excitement that October morning, fall in the Valley was warm and windy and full of possibility. I don't remember all that we spoke about as we waited for the morning bell to ring but I do recall hatching a plan to lobby our 5th grade teacher to use the AV equipment to watch the game. We knew the TV in the back of the room worked because she often had us set it up to play "The Electric Company" on channel 28 when she wanted to sit in the back of the room drinking coffee and reading her Ladies Home Journal. As with most of our plans that involved adults during that time of our lives the request fell upon deaf ears, looking back our powers of charm and persuasion were not quite developed and our overwhelming excitement and pleading could not have been seen as a good thing in her elderly eyes. There would be no baseball and no talk of baseball while class was in session, she quickly made that clear.

Resigned to my fate and yet comforted by the radio hidden my pocket pressed against my leg, I was prepared to listen as I could and catch the highlights on the TV news later that night. The clock moved slowly. I was unable to think of anything but baseball as I fidgeted at my desk and sketched small flip books of crushing swings and balls flying over fence in the corners of my notebooks. Recess came and went with a blur and still the day dragged on like an old dog on a hot day.

Sometime in that void between the joy of recess and the promise of lunch a student monitor came into our class room, these were the days when messages were still largely hand delivered by the best students of the 6th grade. We stirred in our seats and thought nothing of the note handed to our teacher, things like this were common enough then. As my teacher opened the folded white paper and read it silently, I saw her look in my direction, look down and read again, and look up again at me. My mind raced, "what could I have possibly gotten caught for?" I thought to myself, everything and anything that I could be guilty of within recent memory flashed in front of me – I was truly panicked for there were more than enough things that I was guilty of to warrant some serious consequences should they hit the light of day. Everything from spit wads, to the radio, to pitching quarters in the boys bathroom at lunch, and that's just the stuff I feel comfortable telling you about now.

"Please don't let it be me, please don't, please, please, please" was the sound of my mind reaching out for mercy somewhere above. My teacher calmly folded the note and handed back to the monitor, without an ounce of emotion in her voice she said aloud my name. Oh god, it was me.

She told me to collect my belongings, that my Mother was here and taking me out of school for the rest of the day. Glory hallelujah! I am saved, I am delivered. I knew in an instant that this was no punishment this was salvation. My mother, swayed by my love of the Dodgers, was here to bring me home to watch the game. I tried not to gloat and did what I could to maintain my behavior (and smile) as I quick grabbed my things and floated towards the door.

In the years that have passed so many days that I spent in school, at work, doing the right thing…so many of these days have faded into the black void of memories lost, but that day, when my Mother allowed me to play hooky, that day remains with me always. I remember…
My Mothers smile as I broke into a run when I saw her at the office, burying my face into her stomach and wrapping my arms around her so tight.
My Mom making me a hot waffle sandwich filled with ice cream, possibly the most delicious memory of my youth and letting me eat in front of the television (something she frowns upon to this day).
The Dodgers losing late and my chest being tight, the pain and anxiety which I have come to know as "dread" in my adult life
The improbable joy of Vic Davalillo, a name that I hold dear to this very day and a reference that I drop to people of my age and when they recognize the name I realize I may have found a friend.
The heroics of Manny Mota, on a team full of stars someone who I loved then for reasons I still don't know why
The clutchness of Bill Russell. I have come to not believe in clutch as a concept, but Bill Russell will always be clutch for me
The magic of victory snatched from defeat (the pain of defeat snatched from victory was a lesson soon to me taught to me by the hated Yankees but for this day I was yet unspoiled)

Many days have been lost to the ravages of time, but that day is always my day…an everlasting gift from the love of my mother to the love of this game.

I just called and told her this story.