The most enduring World Series memory is Reggie Jackson, although he had to hit three home runs in the final game to beat out Boot Buttrey, who when last seen in the New York Yankee clubhouse was chewing the top off a beer can.
Buttrey is as versatile in his fashion as any of the athletes with whom he associates - and having watched him perform I can now say a significant void in my life is filled.
A character hunter, I had regretted never seeing Mike Battle gobble up lightbulbs and bite off chunks of beer glasses and Tim Rossovich set himself on fire and release live birds from his mouth and I often wondered if anyone with such flair would ever block my path.
Boot Buttrey fills canyons. At 6-foot-1, he is what Ernest Borgnine would look like if he consistently ate nine-inch pizzas in 17 seconds, six-pound cakes in 20 minutes and washed all that down with a can of beer every half-inning of a baseball game - 310 pounds and climbing.
"I'm like a legend here in Canton, Ohio," he admitted over the phone the other day, just before he volunterred a remarkably accurate immitation of Wolfman Jack, a pig and a dog and then insisted the folks who bring you the Bubba Smith beer commercial stole the idea from him!
(If you're eating breakfast, you might want to skip this next paragraph.)
In his 29 years, Boot has set eating records for sprints and distances. Also, he is big on dares, having eaten night crawlers and larger bugs simply because someone said he couldn't. For the right price - and $100 was exactly right once - he will bite the head off a live mouse.
Although he also sets off firecrackers in his hands and mouth to get attention now and then, Buttrey's specialty is using his mouth as a can opener. He learned the trick from the brother of the Miami Dolphins' Bob Kuechenberg and began perfecting it one night when a full-tab broke and conventional openers were unavailable.
"What you do," he said, "is clamp your eye-tooth onto the can, hold it tight, chew and twist it. And it pops ritht off. It's not harmful to me 'cause I know what I'm doing. I got that down pat.
"What Reggie says is: 'Boot rips cans and I rip home runs.'"
Boot grew up with Thurman Munson in Canton, but did not become a relative fixture with the Yankees "until George Steinbrenner saw me rip up a few cans in Cleveland one night this season. He said: 'You're going to New York.'
"So I went up for that big series with the Red Sox, 'cause I'm a pretty good heckler, too.They put me right behind the Sox dugout. Next year, he (Steinbrenner) said he'll hire me full-time, to heckle and go around and entertain people in the stands.
"I'd love that."
Boot (no one has called him Don in yeears) does not love the Miller Beer management. He said his friend Tom Heinsohn suggested he write and offer to do a commercial, using his teeth for the and-I-also-like-the-easy-opening-can finale. Instead Buttrey said, Miller stole his idea and hired Smith - and probably pre-cut the can for him.
What dreadful taste.
While Boot broods, we welcome him to the All-Antic team - and then sit back and wonder what Battle and Rossovich, two charter members, are doing with their lives. Both have retired from pro football, but surely not from revelry.
Probably, Battle is having a 75-watt sandwich this very moment and Rossovich is about to set the torch to himself once again, crash some unsuspecting party, put himself out and say: "Sorry, I must have the wrong address."
Hardly. Disturbing as it may seem both have reformed, sor of. Rossovich does set himself on fire sometimes, although strictly in the line of duty as a stuntman in Hollywood. He has not tasted glass in ever so long.
"When you're 31 years old," he said, "it's time you started eating different things."
In truth, Rossovich has been trying to live down the image he once worked rather hard to create, "because people think I'm sick if I don't show up for a party on fire. But I still have lots of fun."
But not quite like the time he drove his small sports car through a door of his University of Southern California fraternity, up the stairs, spun around on a rug and stopped near the kitchen.
"Car service," he said, and then ordered four hamburger patties and two bottles of ketchup. When the order was produced, Rossovich doused the patties, slammed two against each of his ears and drove the car back down the stairs and outside.
"You tell that guy Boot that the tops of cans are easy to bite off now, because they're aluminum," he said. "Back in our day, it was tough 'cause the cans were made of steel. Right now I'm going to star in a romantic feature film - as soon as they discover me."
Battle is almost totally born again, living on a 2,000-acre Texas ranch with his wife and two boys. The nearest town of any size is Panhandle, population 1,000, and grabbing live rattlesnakes is about as wild as his life gets these days. He laughed about the good times of a decade ago.
"I remember I haven't chewed any glass in three years," he said, "because that's when it took $3,300 to get my teeth all fixed up. I never wore a mouthpiece when I played, either. Actually, what I did was bite off the top of a glass, chew it some and then try and slide the pieces to the side of my mouth until everyone looked the other way. Then I'd spit it out.
"Of course, you did swallow some."
If others in the NFL played more consistently, only Billy Kilmer, Bobby Layne and a few others played with more abandon. For two years, Battle was the consummate reckless kick returner, an Eddie Brown with speed.
"My attitude now is that I would have done things differently," he said. "On the other hand, if I hadn't been so nuts I wouldn't have able to be the complete opposite I am now.
"I don't even drink now."
"But my wife and I did have a comedown period for a year or so after I was cut (in 1972). I flew off every once in a while because I was depressed. I really thought I could play - and I couldn't. It was especially tough for me, because Id played all my life; that's all I ever wanted to do.
"But all that's over. I am 31 and I'm healthy.Know what I mean?"