Two months have passed, yet that October night in Yankee Stadium has not dimmed. Rather, it already glows with the dramatic simplicity of legend.

Out of a year's clutter of sports events, Reggie Jackson's three home runs in the last World Series game is the gift that is sure to endure.

There are other presents. And a few booby prizes, too. We will get to them. But the big bundle marked "From Reggie, Re-ggie" is worth unwrapping again.

One split-second in particular rushes back to mind.

The ball has just left Jackson's bat for the final time. In that moment only he knows that this comet streaking toward the moon is a 500-foot home run and not some gigantic broken promise of a fly ball.

Instead of pandemonium, the stadium is silent. For the space of one heartbeat the crowd chokes on its own disbelief.

No man in the history of baseball has ever hit four home runs in four consecutive swings of the bat.

No man has ever hit five home runs a World Series. And no man has ever hit three consecutive homers in a Series game, each on the first pitch.

Jackson just has. With 60 million people watching.

For an entire season the New York Yankee slugger has been tormented - by his own lust for fame, by teammates' jealousy, by his managers' undisguised enmity, by the resentment of fans who have seen his $3 million free agent contract as a symbol of greed and anarchy in a game of order.

With this final home run, a knuckleball driven halfway up the black center field bleachers, he gave his answer achieved his deliverance.

Even now Jackson seems to stand in Ruth's right field, blowing kisses to his captured throng, grinning as though he has not only been reprieved on the gallows but had suddenly slipped the noose around the neck of the hanging judge.

Jackson's dramatics were a particularly complex kind of mass theatre. Just when the public expected a final act with stabbed-in-the-back pinstripe corpses littering the stage, Jackson turned the show into a jubilant ticker-tape-parade: "All's Well That Ends Well."

In fact, much of 1977 ended well. Sports fans often fear that annoying year-end apprehension that they have been overfed and undernourished by their favorite games.

The sports big top has so many acts, each crying "We're No. 1," that the truly exceptional is often beaten down and almost forgotten.

A rigorous inventory of the year's memories is almost essential to weed out the imposters.