Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
"There wasn't an error in the game. It was possibly the best-played game of the series," beamed Chub Feeney, president of the National League, after the Los Angeles Dodgers won the pennant in front of a record Veterans Stadium crowd pelted by a night-long rain.
This was by way of justification for having allowed the fourth game of the playoffs to be played in weather that to the undedicated, or those watching streaks of water flash vertically down their TV screens all through it, had postponement written all over it.
Dusty Baker and Tommy John, the Dodger heroes of the 4-1 win, didn't mind the soaking at all.
Apparently that applied to most of the athletes, because many were playing the most important game of their lives.
When the rain intensified as the second inning progressed, the umpiring crew, Bruce Froemming at home plate, consulted with Feeney, in the president's box alongside the Phillies dugout.
"Bruce came over and said It's raining harder,'" Feeney related, "and we started to have the ground crew come out with the tarp.
"The players (on both sides) said it's fine - go back out. We decided, O.K., we can keep fresh dirt on the pitcher's mound, the rain is coming straight down, no wind, everybody can see the ball at right. Let's go back out."
To prove his point, Feeney sat hatless and unbrellaless through nine innings. So did his nearly bald predecessor as league president, Warren Giles. Not much advertisement for the product one of the NL's 1976 record-breakers, a certain St. Louis outfielder, is hawking - the Brocabrella, a umbrella hat modeled before the game by the Phillies' resident flake, Jay Johnstone.
John vs. the elements? "I thought the wet AstroTurf might have hurt Steve (Carlton) more than me. No matter what the surface, I want them to hit on the ground. I never saw a home run on a ground ball. Well, hardly ever. I just made sure Bruce Froemming put sand in back of the rubber as well as in front, because I take a big step back. Bruce did a great job."
Asked when he started planning how to pitch for tonight's game, John said. "After I left the first game a (7-5 victory for the Phillies) in the sixth inning. I watched the game in Tommy's office on TV.
"Sometimes you learn more by not pitching, than by pitching. The first game I was nervous, you know it was my first time out in this type of competition."
John helped the Dodgers win the 1974 pennant with a 13-3 start, then went out with that terrible arm injury and missed the playoffs and World Series, not to mention the 1975 season. "Tonight I threw 80 per cent fast balls."
Carlton, whose five walks in five innings perhaps testified to trouble with footing, or damp hands, threw a 100 per cent fast ball as far as Baker could tell, on the 2-0 pitch that the Dodger left fielder belted for a two-run, second-inning homer that gave John the lead and all the batting support he would need.
"That was on the game count as I hit my slam (off Jim Lonborg to win Game 2 and start Los Angeles to the three-game streak that ended the Phillies' year)
"Was it a high fast ball tonight? Let's say whatever it was, I was looking for it. Seems like every time you hit one they try to take the credit off you and put the blame on the pitcher for a high pitch, or a bad one. I'll take the credit.
"And how great that the record I broke (eight RBI, a league playoff high) belonged to Hank Aaron, a guy I played alongside and admired so much. I think I'll call Hank tonight.
"How happy am I? You ever watch 'Love, American Style' where all that stuff (fireworks) go off . . .?"
To Lasorda, "This is it, the greatest thrill of my life . . . to win in Philadelphia, my hometown (actually nearby Norristown). Especially when we saw in the papers where (Greg) Luzinski said we didn't belong in the playoffs; (Danny) Ozark said it would be over in three games, we couldn't win at the Vet . . ."
To the Phillies, it may have occurred that Richie Allen, their old wayward one let go after last season, still haunts them in spirit. Tommy John came to the Dodgers, from the Chicago White Sox, Dec. 2, 1971 - in a swap for Richie Allen.