Being a baseball fan, there’s not a more magical phrase than “Game 7 of the World Series.” And that is where I found my Minnesota Twins on this date twenty years ago.
I was confined to watching the game in the basement at home on this Sunday evening. Twins ace Frank Viola was making his third start in the series against the St Louis Cardinals. He was the winning pitcher in Game 1 but got shelled in Game 4.
In Game 7, Viola was touched for two runs and four hits in the second inning. However, he hunkered down and gave up only two more hits (and 0 runs) over his last six innings.
Unlike their previous three games at home, the Twins offense was scuffling in this one. While they were able to answer with one run in their half of the second inning they were hosed out of another. Replays showed that Don Baylor scored from second base on a Tim Laudner base hit. However, Baylor was called out, denying the Twins a run. I’m sure the neighbors heard me express my dismay.
Later in the game, the Twins received that run back courtesy of a blown call in their half of the fifth inning. With one out, Greg Gagne hit a chopper to first base. With Cards pitcher Joe Magrane covering, the umpire called Gagne safe saying Magrane never touched the base. However, replays showed that Magrane did indeed swipe his foot across the base ahead of Gagne. The next batter, Kirby Puckett, greeted new pitcher Danny Cox with a double to center, scoring Gagne and tying the game. From there, wackiness ensued. After Gary Gaetti walked, Cox threw a pitch in the dirt with Baylor at the plate. Both Puckett and Gaetti attempted to move up a base but Puck was thrown out at third. With Gaetti now at second and two outs, Baylor looped a single to left. Gaetti charged towards home plate in an attempt to give the Twins the lead. But the throw beat him there. Gaetti then rammed full bore into catcher Steve Lake in an effort to jar the ball loose. While Lake got the worst of that hellacious collision, he somehow hung on to the ball. Three outs, game still tied, and I’m practically bouncing off the walls due to the intensity of the game.
The Twins finally took their first lead of the evening in the sixth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Gagne hit a ground ball behind third base off cards pitcher Todd Worrell. Third baseman Tom Lawless made a diving stop, threw a one hopper to first but not in time to get the speedy Gagne. Tom Brunansky scored giving the Twins the 3-2 lead!! They would tack on another run in the eighth and closer extraordinaire Jeff Reardon faced the Cards in the ninth, leading 4-2.
With two outs and nobody on, my brother had a bottle of champagne ready to open upon the third out. We made a promise to our Mom that we would merely have a nice, celebratory drink when the Twins won it all. Nothing too raucous, we assured her. But once Willie McGee bounced out to Gaetti at third and Kent Hrbek squeezed the throw for the final out, bedlam ensued!! My brother immediately popped the cork on the champagne but it wound up on my head instead of in my glass. I hardly noticed as I was jumping up and down in pure delirium at what my Twins just accomplished. Of course, my mother was perturbed that we trashed her basement in celebration. But the laborious clean up we endured afterwards was well worth it. For the first time in over thirty years, a professional sports team in Minnesota won a championship!!
How sweet it was!!