World Series Memories
(Not every story sent the publisher last fall made my book, If These Walls Could Talk. From time to time this offseason, I’ll dust off some of my stories that didn’t make the cut. With the 2014 World Series underway, here are my World Series experiences while working for Major League Baseball).
In the early 1970s, did volunteer to work All-Star Games and World Series games for Major League Baseball. MLB was always looking for PR people to assist with the jewel events. Felt it was good exposure for the Phillies and a great learning experience.
One of the early World Series experiences was in Oakland in 1972. I was assigned to go to the Coliseum from the hotel to get all the credentials for the MLB office the day before the series was to start. The A’s, run by Charlie Finley, had a small staff and the best security I’ve witnessed. The doors to the A’s offices were locked. No security guards or humans anywhere. Had to pound on the door numerous times until someone came to let me in.
The A’s mascot was a mule, yes, a BIG mule. The World Series gala held the evening before the first game took place in the Oakland Convention Center. Charlie Finley, who ran a tight ship, didn’t spare any expense for the party. Lobster was everywhere. I’m dining at a table with Warren Giles, President of the National League. We look up and almost nose-to-nose is this mule. Mr. Giles said a few choice words.
In 1975, the National League’s PR director resigned late in the season. Bill Giles was approached about “loaning me” to the NL for the Cincinnati-Boston World Series. I was willing. The series is best known for three days of rain in Boston between Games 5 and 6. The Reds won a terrific Series in seven. I was with a World Champion team, but, I really wasn’t.
Until we got to a World Series, my most memorable WS moment came in 1977, Game 6. I was in the middle of history, as it turned out. Female reporters were not permitted in MLB clubhouses at the time. I was assigned to Melissa Ludtke of Sports Illustrated. If she wanted to interview a player, I was to accommodate her but outside the clubhouse.
Reggie Jackson hit three home runs that night in Yankee Stadium and Melissa understandingly wanted to interview him. Reggie’s clubhouse locker was mobbed, so mobbed he was unable to make an appearance in the interview room. So, my job: get Reggie to Melissa, who patiently, yet impatiently, waited outside the clubhouse. A concourse jammed with fans was where I was supposed to bring Reggie.
One hour went by and I still couldn’t get to Reggie. I don’t remember how much more time elapsed before I was able to deliver him to Melissa. She was denied equal access and it simply wasn’t fair. A year later, she filed a civil action suit against MLB and won, clearing the way for other female reporters.
In 1979, was again working the World Series for MLB. To get to Pittsburgh from Baltimore, we were allowed to travel on the Pirates charter flight. Once in the Pittsburgh airport, we were waiting for our luggage to appear on the carousel. All of a sudden a red Phillies bag appeared among all the black and gold Pirates bags. Bill Robinson, a friend who had played with us and was now with the Pirates, took the chance to embarrass me in front of his teammates. “Hey, everybody. Look at this. A bag from the fourth-place Phillies. Who owns this bag?” I was trying to hide but couldn’t.
Two years later the New York Yankees were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers. Goose Gossage of the Yankees hit Dodgers third baseman Ron Cey in the head with a pitch in Game 5 at Dodger Stadium. I was dispatched to the Dodgers trainer’s room to find out what happened and Cey’s condition. He was lying on a table. He didn’t know me and I didn’t know him. “Excuse me Ron, I’m with Major League Baseball and wondered what happened on the pitch from Gossage.” He removed the ice pack from his head, “That’s what happened. Dumb bleeping question.”
The 1984 World Series is another one I’ll always remember, Detroit Tigers and the San Diego Padres. Series started in San Diego. I’m assigned to pre-game press box duty, something I enjoyed…answering phones, assisting media with information, seat assignments, etc. It was a beautiful afternoon, so typical of San Diego. All of a sudden, my seat rumbled for a few seconds, like I just went over a couple of bumps riding a bicycle. My first earthquake.
Game 5, the decisive game, was in old Tiger Stadium. Detroit won and the city began to riot. From high in the press box we could see fires and smoke. Sirens dominated the night noise. More than an hour after the last out, we could still hear sirens. The buses that were scheduled to take the media back to the hotel were parked on the street. For safety purposes, the police brought the buses inside the park. As we exited the park, a fan somehow got on the roof of the bus. Using great judgment, the bus driver stopped the bus, got out and said, “You hang on tight and I’ll drive very slowly.” There were unruly fans all around us and it was scary. Several blocks later, our roof rider exited.
Another somewhat harrowing World Series duty occurred in 1985. The St. Louis Cardinals were leading the series, 3-2, and had a 1-0 lead over the Royals going into the bottom of the ninth in Kansas City. ABC TV had set up a platform and a camera in the middle of the clubhouse for the trophy presentation to the Cardinals. My job was to cart the bulky World Series trophy. With one out, the Royals rallied for two runs extending the Series to Game 7. We had seconds to get out of the clubhouse before the dejected Cardinals arrived from the field. Compared to the ABC crew, I had an easy job.