The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Heroby David Maraniss
The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero
Game 1, on the Saturday afternoon of October 9, followed predictable form. Clemente doubled in the first off McNally—had he recovered fully from the food poisoning or was he just once again reinforcing the belief that he played best when sick? In either case,
Stargell stranded him by striking out, and the Pirates were able to scratch out only two more hits off McNally all day, another by Clemente and a run-scoring single from Dave Cash
, the young second baseman whose stellar play had relegated Maz to the bench. Stargell was now 0–17 in the postseason; Clemente had extended his World Series
hitting streak to eight games. Aside from a few uncharacteristic blunders in the second inning that allowed the Pirates to score three runs, the Orioles looked smart and dominant. Ellis, his arm as zipless as the double-knit uniforms, failed to survive the third, giving up two home runs and four runs before being yanked. Fans at Memorial Stadium
remembering his insults of their town’s hotels, showered him with boos, which Ellis said was nothing because he had once played winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
The key hit came in the third with Orioles shortstop Mark Belanger on second, left fielder Don Buford on first, and center fielder Merv Rettenmund at the plate. At breakfast that morning, kidding around with his nervous father, who supervised a body shop in Flint, Michigan, Rettenmund had boasted that he would hit a home run. Steady rains and football games had made such a mess of the stadium recently that groundskeeper Pat Santarone resorted to dyeing barren spots in the outfield. Now, as Buford led off first and studied Ellis on the mound, he detected wide splotch of dark green on the baseball and shouted down to the plate urging Rettenmund to ask for a new ball. Rettenmund did, and the bright white replacement never touched dyed ground, flying from Ellis’s right hand to Rettenmund’s bat and over the fence for a three-run homer.
2006 by David Maraniss