I rushed home in order to see some of the celebration I had been waiting 15 years to happen. It was not exactly what I had expected.
The 1963, 1964 and 1976 seasons don't count. George Steinbrenner-type New York Yankees fans would forget those years if they could. Losing the World Series and having a successful season don't go together.
The 1977 Yankees were often a team in turmoil, but they still won the World Series. Much of the credit went to Reggie Jackson, who hit three home runs in the sixth game to bury the Los Angeles Dodgers. The outfielder, who caused much controversy during the season, set a new World Series record by hitting a total of five home runs.
Despite the first World Championship since Bobby Richardson was nearly killed by Willie McCovey's line drive in 1962, several of the Yankees wanted out. Some Yankees didn't even attend the Broadway ticker tape parade the day after the Series ended.
Before the start of the sixth game, general manager Gabe Paul called Billy Martin to his office. Martin related that he was quite puzzled.
"I didn't know what he wanted. I wondered who had jumped the club now," he said.
It turned out that Martin, who thought that he might be fired even if the Yankees won, was told that he was receiving a bonus and that he would return in 1978.
Roy White, one of the bright spots during the lean years, left the clubhouse without taking part in the victory celebration. White had appeared in only two games and had only two plate appearances. When he was asked why he left early, he replied tartly, "I'm not part of the win, so why should I be part of the celebration?"
Lou Piniella, who replaced White in left field, was glad the season had ended.
"I'm happy it's over. I don't think this club can take another year, another two weeks, another week of all this. You don't have to be one big happy family to concentrate on playing ball. But if everything isn't going to be tranquil, next year we'll be a good fourth-place club."
Sport magazine, which printed some of Jackson's quotes that resulted in the classic feud between him and Thurman Munson, gave Jackson the Series MVP award. Some thought there was some irony about that, but not Jackson. "I don't think that the award is ironic at all. They [Sport] deserve to have to kiss my butt," he said.
During the celebration, Munson said that he wanted to be traded to the Cleveland Indians. He refused to answer any questions because he was trying to have fun.
Steinbrenner turned a deaf ear. "I'm not going to touch this team. How can you touch a club like this? We're just going to try to get them all back together and do it again," The Boss said.
Jackson put his arm around Martin, seemingly having no recollection of the fact that they had to be separated from killing each other during the season. Reggie expressed his loyalty to his manager.
"I'll tell you, nobody better catch Billy Martin and me in a bar together and try to give us some crap. We'll be hell together, won't we?"
"Sport: Now for a Long, Hot Winter: Time. 31 Oct. 1977.
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