Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie," say the signs in right field in Yankee Stadium.
Tonight they were right.
Reggie Jackson, the man who kept New York on tenterhooks since the day he was bought at modern auction for $3 million, saw three strikes thrown over the plate tonight and smashed all of them for home runs to bring the World Championship to the New York Yankees.
Jackson's three homers - a two-run shot to put the Yanks ahead of the Los Angles Dodgers, 4-3, the next another two-runner for 7-3, and the last, a 500-footer - were the heart and soul of New York's 8-4 sixth-game victory tonight.
Mike Torrez went the nine-hit distance for the Yankees, winning his second game of this Series.
But Jackson, who lives for the spotlight and wants desperately to beloved, stole this game and the entire Series.
Jackson's three homers tonight tied the one-game record set by Babe Ruth, who did it twice. Jackson's five homers for the six-game set made a new all-time record. Several players had hit four.
Amazingly, Jackson hit four homers in his last four swings of this Series. He connected in his final at bat Sunday, and hit all three pitches he offered at out of the park tonight.
Jackson's records tonight would choke a computer. His 10 runs scored for a series surpass the nine by both Ruth and Gerhig. His 25 Series total bases are a new record (by one) despite Jackson's playing in only six games. And his four runs scored and dozen total bases tonight also tied records.
There were more fireworks in the first four innings of this game than there had been in the previous four innings of this game than there had been in the previous four games combined. In the last 40 innings before tonight the Series had not seen a single lead change. That didn't last long.
The Dodgers posted two unearned runs in the first inning after two were out. Bucky Dent was handcuffed by Reggie Smith's hard grounder in the hole and bobbled it. N.Y. starter Mike Torrez hit a wild streak, throwing five straight balls low, the last three to walk Ron Cey, then two to Steve Garvey.
Torrez finally got as fast ball up to the knees and Garvey neatly clipped a low textbook liner into the right-field corner. Since the ball was a sure double, Reggie Jackson should have charged the corner carom. But he is error-shy after all the flack he has taken for botched plays. So he was cautious in the extreme, letting the ball trickle to him, then throwing to the cutoff man, rather than toward the plate.
The result was an embarrassingly easy stand-up, two-run triple. Billy Martin gave Jackson a jawing as he entered the dugout, and Jackson responded with the same "Come-on, whatda ya want" gesture that preceded the incident between the pair in Boston. But this time was no time for punches.
Jackson helped get the run back when he led off the second with a four-pitch walk.Perhaps Dodger starter Burt Hooton had seen Jackson's awesome batting practice show when he reached the third deck three tims and hit an incredible 500-foot shot over the back bleacher wall in straight right. Jackson would have his say, but first slumping Chris Chambliss had to put in his two cents worth. Make that two runs worth.
It gives pitchers migraines to think of the kind of perfect knee-high curve that Chambliss drilled 400-feet into the right-field bleachers to tie the game, 2-2.
The Dodgers didn't stay down long. Reggie Smith crashed an 0-1 pitch even deeper into the same bleachers in the third for a 3-2 L.A. lead. It was Smith's fifth career Series homer and his third of this Classic, tying him with two others as the only three men to connect three times in a six-game Series. Little did Smith know how soon that record would be obsolete. The blow also tied a World Series record for most homers hit in a Series by an N.L. team, nine.
The Yanks sensed that Hooton was fair game. It didn't take ESP. They only had to look at the velocity of the outs they were hitting.
Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson, the two straws that stir the Yankee drink, started the fourth inning "Bank, Crash," as they nailed Hooton's first two serves of the fame.
Munson's was a ringing single to left. Jackson, however, makes louder noises. His vicious, hooking liner off a pitch low and in would have sunk at the warning track for almost any other hitter, or banged the wall at the wall at the most. In fact, Smith in right turned his back to play a rebound.
But Jackson's liner, never more than 20 feet high, kept on riding into the first row of seats for a two-run homer and a 4-3 Yankee lead.
Manager Tommy Lasorda came and removed Burt Hooton and his well-knuckled curve.
Elias Sosa relieved him, but it was shortstop Bill Russell who quickly needed an alias. He ran off a high Chris Chambliss pop to left, then lost it and watched it drop beside him.
Chambliss was given a double. Nettles, another Yankee slumper, gladly gave himself up with a grounder to second that advanced Chambliss. LouPiniella crashed a so-so Sosa fast ball 380 feet to left for a sacrifice fly and a 5-3 lead.
The Dodgers' chance of becoming the fourth team ever to rebound from a three-game-to-one deficit looked slimmer the more they helped the struggling Torrez.
In the third, after a Baker fly out to the base of the wall in right, Rick Monday chinked a single to left and Steve Yeager blistered a grounder inside the bag at third and into the left-field corner.
Yeager did not pay sufficient attention to the ball as it kicked off the box seat railing right to Piniella. Even Yeager's head-first dive into second was in vain. He flopped too soon, running out of momentum and getting thrown out by Piniella.
Instead of men at the corners with one out and the threat of a squeeze bunt, the L.A. rally ended quickly when Hooton fanned, stranding Monday at third.
Mickey Rivers opened the fifth with a single to center. But Sossa seemed to have escaped when Willie Randolph's sacrifice butn attempt became a forceout and Munson, who had run his Series hitting streak to 10-games in his previous at bat, lined out to center.
But that man Jackson, who thrives on the spotlight and seems to live for big games, was not finished.
Wouldn't it be wise to tempt such a torrid gentlemen with not-so-sweet nothings off the edges of the plate.
Not so Sosa.
Jackson's low, hooking liner went to almost the same spot as his last one - about 30 feet right of the 353-foot sign. This one cleared the fence by so little that it went between the railing of the first row. Three homers in his last three swings. And two for the night . . . and counting.
If any eye, just one eye, had not been on Jackson, the Candy Bar Man, the Three-Million Dollar Man, on his two previous first pitch homers, it was on him when he placed to the plate in the eighth.
It made no difference, Jackson was pumped up out of his mind.
Jackson calls himself a low-ball hitter and he flushed this one as well as he ever hit a ball in his life.
In future years perhaps those who were here will say that Jackson's third home run of this game, his record-setting fifth of this Series, hit the Marlboro sign 650 feet away underneath the facade. Who knows, perhaps they will say it cleared the facade and never came down.
In reality, if this game stayed within that definition, the ball landed on the first bleacher row above the exit way on the right side of the empty black bleachers in center. The ball's first bounce took it to the back wall beneath that Marlboro sign. Estimated point-to-point travel: very close to 500 feet since the fence near that point is marked 417. With one hop, close to 600 feet.