Allow me to set the stage: October 12, 1974, Dodger Stadium, Game 1 of the World Series, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Oakland Athletics.
The score was 2-1 Oakland going into the eighth inning. Oakland shortsop Bert Campaneris led off the inning with a single to center. Centerfielder Bill North sacrifice bunted him to second. Third baseman Sal Bando reached on a ground ball throwing error, with Campy scoring and Bando going all the way to third.
Up to the plate comes rightfielder Reggie Jackson. He hits a high, medium-deep fly ball to right-center. Dodger centerfielder Jimmy Wynn camps under it, waiting to catch it, and attempt to throw out the tagging Bando from third.
Okay, the stage is set.
Backup catcher/outfielder Joe Ferguson (for those who don’t know, Ferguson has the build of Jon Kruk) comes in from right field, stepping in front of the small, speedy centerfielder Wynn, and snatches the ball in front of his waiting glove.
Bando tags. The bulky Ferguson proceeds to throw an absolute strike over home plate—no bounces, no misdirection but a perfect strike right over the plate—like a missile to catcher Steve Yeager.
A split-second after Yeager catches it, Bando comes flying in, barreling over Yeager. Yeager rolls over, raising the ball in victory as the Dodgers thwart the potential big inning with an inning-ending double play.
The Dodgers got a run in the ninth, but lost the opener 3-2 and ultimately went on to lose the series four games to one.
I’ve seen many a great play, but this one is forever etched in my memory as one of the greatest plays I’ve ever seen.
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