On this night when President Carter nearly was struck by a hard-hit foul ball, the Pittsburgh Pirates became the fourth team ever to overcome a three-games-to-one deficit and win a seven-game World Series.
The 4-1 victory and the night were worthy of presidential eyes, a fitting conclusion to a tense Series memorable for rain and snow, brilliance and butchery afield.
Carter became the sixth President to attend a Series game (following Coolidge, Wilson, Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt and Eisenhower). He saw two home runs, a heroic performance by the Pirates' Willie Stargell and baseball's answer to a filibuster by Orioles Manager Earl Weaver in the ninth.
But he missed the most poignant moment of the night by leaving his seat, walking over ground where Bucs catcher Steve Nicosia had pounded an Orioles fan into a heap seconds before and into the winning clubhouse immediately after the final out.
As a surprisingly high number of Pirate fans were pouring onto the field, the Orioles' most intense and loyal fans put their team's season into proper perspective. From Section 34, where the spirit that infected an entire city began unnoticed seven years ago, came one final salute.
Section 34 is the team's strongest rooter -- perhaps the one that kept the team here -- and its leader, bearded cabbie Wild Bill Hagy -- mustered enough strength to gyrate that familiar cheer: "O-R-I-O-L-E-S -- ORIOLES".
Carter participated in the presentation ceremonies after the game and personally congratulated Stargell, whose two-run homer in the sixth gave the Pirates a lead they held for good.
What were the presidential words?
"He told me he didn't have any peanuts," Stargell joked. Seriously, he added: "He congratulated me. He told me it was a very thrilling game."
If the presidential heart was aflutter during the game, the president kept it well hidden. He mustered weak applause when Orioles Rich Dauer smacked a third-inning homer and almost no emotion as Stargell rounded the bases with his blast.
He was not neutral when a Washingtonian made two postgame inquiries about the future of baseball in the nation's capital. Would he like to see the Orioles remain in Baltimore?
Did he suggest to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn during the nearly three hours they spent together that Washington ought to have a franchise?
"No. No, I'm trying to stay away from that."
What he nearly was unable to avoid was being smacked by a nasty foul from the bat of big Dave Parker in the third inning. He was seated at about a 45-degree angle and on the third-base side of home -- and all of a sudden the ball came whistling toward him.
Either the ball came so swiftly or his reflexes, from softball, were honed sharply because Carter appeared not to flinch. The boxmate to his left, Speaker of the House Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill, pointed to a spot about a foot from the top of the box, just between himself and the president.
Carter's presence caused a weird scene: several men with the best seats in the park paying no attention to the game. They were the Secret Service, of course, eyes trained on the crowd, backs to the action.
The game was as dramatic as even the most casual fan could appreciate -- and the night showed Baltimore at its best and worst.
In the 20 or so hours between Games 6 and 7, the thermometer measuring Orioles fever took a dramatic dip. The O's had a chance to win the Series both nights, yet tickets outside Memorial Stadium were commanding a pricely sum before Tuesday's game and scarcely face value tonight.
"Amazing," said a man who bought tickets both nights.
If some of the town was suddenly tepid about the Birds, Hagy and the Section 34 birds were not. He looked about the stuffed park, then at his own orange-and-black clad banner-waving faithful and pointed to those present at the creation of this special mood.
"The guy over there with the binoculars," he said. "Couple of others over there in the hard hats. There were maybe 15 of us up here in the beginning. Me? I'm the eternal optimist. This'll be a piece of cake.
"Where'll I be at the end of the game? In the clubhouse. Drinking champagne."
The champagne belonged to the Pirates this night, their second Series of the '70s against the Orioles and the second time they have won after being down by two games. They lost the first two games of the '71 Series.
As center fielder Omar Moreno was gathering in the final out of the Series, the room adjacent to the Pirate clubhouse was hit with an explosion of noise. Cheers and whistles resounded with Pirate wives hugging each other.
Meanwhile, the scene in Pittsburgh was one of sheer bedlam, according to wire service reports.
When Stargell hit his two-run homer they raised the roof in Pittsburgh's Gandy Dancer Saloon.
And when the Pirates won the game the same roof fell in.
"They did it! They did it!" shrieked an unruly mob of about 200 fans who had been glued for three hours to a large television screen suspended from the ceiling.
Downtown in Market Square, hundreds of screaming Pirate partisans, some waving pennants, celebrated in front of film crews set up by the city's television stations.
"The Bucs are No. 1 and we'll be the World Series champs again next year," said Willie (Wild Bill) Lonero, 38, of Pittsburgh, wearing a tan cowboy hat and working furiously on a bulb horn.
In the Gandy Dancer, Joe Bludis of suburban Point Breeze cheered for Stargell. "That old man really can hit," exulted Bludis.
Enthusiastic fans tolled the final Baltimore outs with loud clangs on that bell and when Moreno gloved the last Oriole fly, the bell spun on its stand and the crowd erupted.
One moment in the Oriole eighth was as dramatic as any in sport: bases full of Birds and slugger Eddie Murphy at bat with the team down by 2-1; much of two cities on their feet screaming and wringing their hands.
The Orioles' season had been filled with so many such scenes: the team falling behind, only to rally for victory in the late at-bats. Would it happen once more? Would Baltimore's Hagy be making that joyous journey to the clubhouse once more?
On a 2-2 pitch, Murray flicked at an outside pitch and sent it surprisingly far to right. On the warning track, Parker made a one-handed catch.
It was time for two cities to begin crying: one in ecstacy, the other in frustration.
The bartender at Turkey Joe's in the Fells Point section of Baltimore muttered, "Aint nothing to be ashamed of at all."
The comment loudly cheered by diehard Oriole fans at Turkey Joe's perfectly captured the mood of folks all over town in the wake of the Birds' defeat.
But victory, which the whole town so fervently expected, never came. Baltimore police, who had girded themselves earlier in the day for possible pandemonium in the wake of an Oriole triumph, quietly pulled off the extra detachment of officers they had stationed in a dozen parts of town.