While the New York Yankees were battling the Kansas City Royals for the pennant, George C. Scott was drinking a shot of vodka in the elegant F Street Club surrounded by adoring, well-heeled opening-night fans.

"If I could find a TV, I wouldn't be here," Scott confided to another baseball fan at the party. He inquired about the score of the game. She inquired about the liner notes in the program for "Tricks of the Trade" that read, "In his fantasy world, Mr. Scott would like to . . . own a yacht and the Detroit Tigers."

"So why don't you?" the fan asked.

"Well, do you want to go halves with me?" Scott asked her.

"I love him," said Frankie Hewitt, director of Ford's theatre. "I could watch him reading the newspaper."

Last night, after the opening at the National Theatre of "Tricks of the Trade" -- in which Scott stars with his wife Trish Van Devere -- guests raved.

James Lynn, now a counsel to Ronald Reagan, told Scott the play had passed his "acid test -- when you've worked all day in New York, taken the Eastern shuttle back, gone to the office, had no time to freshen up, gone directly to the theater and come out smiling."

Actually, there had been the problem of the curtain going up prematurely on the beginning of one scene to reveal three stagehands. Scott, already in place, smiled and waved as they dashed off. The audience howled, applauded.

"I was a lit-tle steamed," Scott said calmly, nursing his vodka.

He shrugged about the play: "I don't think it's the greatest play ever written -- but it's some laughs for the audience."

Sidney Michaels, the author, was delighted. "These people took dross

Sidney Michaels, the author, was delighted. "These people took dross -- they took hay -- and turned it into gold," he said with Van Devere chuckling at his side.


"Oh, Sidney, no . . ." she demurred.

"Hay. Sure, sure," Michaels said, nodding.

"There are enough wonderful plays about people dying of cancer," Michaels said. "I just wanted something of joy for the theater."

Barbara Eagleton, wife of the senator, was greeted by Maurice Tobin, head of the National, at the door.She apologized for the absence of her husband.

"Out campaigning? Tough year to be up," said Tobin.

"He sends his best," said Barbara Eagleton, "and says for me to stay away from George."