World Series: Game 6 the greatest ever?
I met Steve Crawford this week. Well, that I remember, anyway.
Crawford is the major league pitcher, notably for the Red Sox, in the 1980s, from the great hamlet of Salina, Oklahoma. My dad’s hometown, in Mayes County, about an hour east of Tulsa. Me and my twin brother spent our first birthday in Salina, where we lived for a short time in 1961-62. On Jan. 20, 1962, JFK’s one-year anniversary in the White House, my mom threw a birthday party for us.
Then as now, birthday parties for 1-year-olds are largely ceremonial. My mom invited anyone she knew that had a kid — the list was short; she wasn’t from Salina — and Steve Crawford made the list. He was 31/2.
Anyway, he went on to be quite the pitcher at Salina High School, signed with the Red Sox as a 20-year-old in 1978 and made the Boston roster in 1980. Pitched with the Red Sox seven seasons, then spent three years with the Royals. Pretty solid career; pitched in 277 major league games.
I met Crawford, officially, Monday at my aunt’s funeral in Pryor. He stopped by to say hello to some cousins of mine he knew from Salina days. Crawford lives in Claremore now.
Funny how baseball and life work. Steve Crawford was the winning pitcher in the greatest baseball game I’ve ever seen. Until maybe Thursday night.
The Cardinals’ 10-9, 11-inning victory over the Rangers riveted with drama just like the game that’s No. 1 on my list. Game 5, 1986 American League Championship Series. It was a game so good, another friend of mine, Mike Sowell, wrote a book about it. “One Pitch Away.” Sowell, now an OSU journalism professor, wrote about the tormented life of Donnie Moore, who eventually committed suicide.
Anyway, here’s a condensed version of Angels-Red Sox, Game 5. California led the series three games to one. And led the game 3-2, after Bobby Grich’s sixth-inning home run, which deflected off the glove of Boston centerfielder Dave Henderson and over the fence. Henderson was a goat. But that status didn’t last the afternoon.
By the ninth inning, the Angels led 5-2, and Anaheim Stadium was buzzing for the advent of the Angels’ first World Series. But in the ninth, Bill Buckner — who soon enough would know goat status himself — led off with a single. These kind of historical reminders are priceless; they teach us a little perspective. Buckner’s later disaster in the World Series was possible only because he helped the Red Sox stage a rally. Anyway, Don Baylor then slugged a one-out, two-strike home run to draw Boston within 5-4.
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