Cubs-Indians Game 7 was one for the ages, but not the best ever
November 4, 2016
Cubs-Indians Game 7 was one for
the ages – but not the best ever
By KEITH GAVE
I remember nothing at all about what took me to the dentist that day or what happened when they put the gas mask on to put me to sleep. But I remember with absolute clarity what happened afterward on that warm fall afternoon in 1960. It was shortly after noon when we left the dentist’s, and my mother, bless her heart, gave me the choice of going to school to finish out the day or just go home with her.
What a decision! I could go to school and listen to my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Englebrecht, drone on about diagramming complicated sentences. Or I could go home and watch Game 7 of the World Series. I smiled. We arrived home just in time for the 1 p.m. start to what remains to this moment the single-greatest Game 7 in World Series history – and I say this with conviction even after that glorious victory in extra innings by the Chicago Cubs in the wee hours of Thursday morning.
I was thrilled that the most-anticipated World Series in generations had the good sense to go seven games, even after Cleveland took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven matchup. And Game 7 lived up to every expectation and then some, even after the Cubs took what appeared to be an insurmountable lead midway through the game.
Then they were four outs away from their first World Series title in more than a century against a team that hasn’t won one in 68 years (and counting), when former Tigers centerfielder Rajai Davis hit a two-out, two-run homer to tie it, 6-6. I leaped from the couch and may have uttered an expletive or two. Not because I wanted one team over the other to win, but because what Davis had just done was so inspiring.
With one swing of the bat he brought the dreams of one great American city back to life and brought another one to its knees. In Cleveland, there was hope once more. In Chicago, only despair after a five-run lead had vanished.
Only once, since 1960, have I been so animated by a World Series moment, and that was when Kirk Gibson limped to the plate and hit a two-out, full-count home run that won Game 1 of the 1988 Series over Oakland. I can still remember the incomparable Vin Scully, who had the great sense to stay quiet for several minutes and let the moment speak for itself, finally say: “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”
To suggest the home run by Davis was improbable, especially against fire-balling closer Aroldis Chapman, would be a monumental understatement.
So was the one Bill Mazeroski hit in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 at 3:36 p.m. on Oct. 13, 1960 to give the underdog Pittsburgh Pirates a 10-9 win over the glamorous New York
Yankees, a team I despised with my entire being then every bit as much as I do today – just because they’re the Yankees.
For a kid in the throes of an early love affair with the game of baseball, that game had a little bit of everything – and it was all wonderful. The lead changed hands several times. Each of the five pitchers the Yanks used gave up at least one run. Only one of the four pitchers the Pirates used remained unscathed, and that was Harvey Haddix, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning and got the win thanks to that miraculous Mazeroski home run.
I can still see that ball clearing the left-field wall into the trees beyond Forbes Field. I can see Mazeroski rounding third into the waiting arms of his Pirates teammates led by Roberto Clemente. I can see all those famous Yankees, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra (four RBI in that game) and Moose Skowron walking off the field after one of the most memorable World Series games in Major League Baseball history.
I remember sitting alone in front of that TV (my siblings hadn’t returned yet from school), jumping to my feet and running around the living room. I remember that even though my mouth was hurting from that visit to the dentist, I somehow learned to whistle. The kind of whistle that big people do when they pucker their lips around their teeth to let it rip. And I did.
My mother came running from the kitchen wondering what had happened. I told her Dad was going to be real happy when he got home from work. He hated the Yankees too.
But today’s World Series hangover is all about love, whether your team was in Chicago or Cleveland. And if you are like me and didn’t have a dog in this fight, it was arguably even better, because we could just sit back and enjoy watching another great and memorable World Series. One for the ages. And a Game 7 we’ll remember forever.
. . .
Vikings, Bucks make us proud
Congratulations to two neighborhood football teams: Grayling and Roscommon advance after victories in the first round of the state football playoffs.
Grayling (7-3) had the unenviable task of going up across the big bridge to Kingsford, 282 miles and nearly five hours by bus from the banks of the Au Sable River. The Vikings returned victorious with a thrilling come-from-behind 27-17 win – their first-ever playoff win in the Upper Peninsula.
They did it with a defensive effort that included an interception in the end zone and a goal-line stand that ended a Kingsford drive at their own 1-yard line. A gutsy, hearty performance.
For an encore, coach Tim Sanchez and his squad returns to the UP on Saturday for a 3 p.m. to face heavily favored Menominee (9-1), 285 miles from Grayling.
Roscommon (9-1) is favored again this week when Maple City Glen Lake, 8-2. The Bucks moved on after prevailing for the second time in a month over archrival Houghton Lake, 36-28. My wife and I – along with just about every other soul in Roscommon County – had the immense pleasure of watching that game, another spirited tussle that came down to the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.
This was smash-mouth football at its finest. Bucks senior back Trey Lewandowski carried the football 49 times for 287 yards and three touchdowns. But Houghton Lake made a game out of it despite losing their fine senior running back Gavin Masse after the first series because of an injury.
Junior quarterback Jackson Blanchard kept his team in the game with his legs and his magic left arm. He completed a pair of 45-yard touchdown passes, and he always seemed to get the yards his team needed on third-down runs.
But for me the best part of this game, by far, was how hard these two teams competed and how much they respected one another. After almost every play, a player from either side would reach down and help an opponent off the ground, often patting them on the helmet or shoulder pad. Roscommon coach Steve Clements and Houghton Lake coach Joe Holloway should be proud of their players.
It certainly was inspiring to me, and I left the game feeling really good about the kind of kids we grow here in Northern Michigan.