The Los Angeles Dodgers knew they would play with one extra man in last night's opener of the diamond jubilee World Series. Afte rall, they would be allowed to use a designated hitter.
What they did not know was what they would have an 11th man in their quest to beat the New York Yankees.
That man, unquestionably present in spirit, was former Coach Jim (Junior) Gilliam, who died on the eve of this Series.
Two of Gilliam's favorite pupils, Dave Lopes and Dusty Baker, delivered their eulogy last night with their bats in the Dodgers' 11-5 testimonial triumph over last year's world champions.
Los Angeles took a 7-0 lead after five innings, all runs courtesy of the grieving Lopes and Baker. Lopes followed a second-inning Baker homer with a two-run blast later in the inning, plus a three-run homer in the fourth. Baker then set up the seventh run with a hit-and-run single.
Tommy John won this opener of the 75th Series, and the 10th meeting between the Yanks and Dodgers. However, he will not forget that Series Superman, Reggie Jackson, who had two singles and a 450-foot homer off him.
There seems little possibility that this will not be remembered as the Wake Series. All Dodgers wear black No. 19 arm patches. Roy Campanella threw out the first ball, and the sixth game here next Tuesday would have been Gilliam's 50th birthday. That 11th man is not likely to disappear.
The Dodgers proved immediately that their dedication of this Series to their dead coach, Jim Gilliam, was in earnest. The two Dodgers most profoundly moved by Gilliam's death have been Dave Lopes and Dusty Baker Lops was Gilliam's protege at second base, while Baker was Gilliam's pet project as hitting coach.
Both players were spectacular in the playoffs, talking daily about the tips Gilliam had given them, the way he was helping them do incredible things. Against Philadelphia, Lopes had a single, double, triple and two homers in the first two games. Baker merely hit .467, a league championship series record.
Last night the inspired Lopes and Baker continued their testimonial to Gilliam.
They were aided, however, by New York starter Ed Figueroa, who continued his perfect record of being blasted from the mound in every post-season start of his career.
In three playoff and two Series starts, Figueroa has a 7.11 earned-run average. Those numbers are only lucky in Las Vegas.
Figueroa has always had a reputation for being too high strung, too serious in crucial situations. His vow to become the first Puerto Rican to win 20 games apparently contributed to a bad September in 1977 when he finished 19-10.
This Figueroa seemed to have mastered the pressure, finishing the season with eight straight wins and a2.13 ERA in his last 18 starts under Manager Bob Lemon, to end the year with a 20-9 mark and 2.99 ERA.
"Lem has let me pitch every fourth day," said Figueroa. "Not every seventh or eighth day like Billy Martin did."
In the last Series, Martin shipped over Figueroa, never using him and chosing Mike Torrez to work the sixth game when Figueroa wanted to pitch. Figueroa caused a flap, threatening to jump the team and go home to Puerto Rico if he was not wanted or needed.
The Yanks would have been better off had "DNP" (did not play) appeared next to Figueroa's name last night. In the first he escaped disaster, after Bill Ruscsel and Steve Garvey singled, when Ron Cey's blast was caught a foot from the top of the right field wall by Lou Piniella, who crashed into the fence but held the ball.
That was just a reprieve. Baker opened the second inning by belting a 1-2 meatball over the 370 mark in left. The two-strike pitch was a classic mistake - a limp slider down the middle.
Mickey Rivers followed with a blunder just as bad. Rick Monday's hard line, River's pursuit was non-chalant. When the ball hooked, Rivers could not recover, dropped the ball after a dive at it and handed Monday a two-base hit.
After Lee Lacy flied out, Steve Yeager tried bunting twice, botched it, then grounded into a double play. But Figueroa looked that gift horse in the mouth.
One of Gilliam's hitting adages was that a batter should seldom swing at the first pitch except in certain emotional situations-after a homer, or after a double play. Gilliam felt that in those situations, the pitcher would feel unusually mad or unusually confident and would lay a fast ball down the middle in either case.
Lopes followed that advice, jumping on Figueroa's first pitch and blasting it over the 370-foot sign for a two-run homer to make the score 3-0. The Yanks then called in reliever Ken Clay.
Lopes pumped his fist, making the No. 1 sign-and not for the last time. When the crowd of 55,997, largest in Dodger Stadium history (by two), called Lopes out for an ovation, the Dodger captain appeared to have tears in his eyes.
The Yanks' best chance to make this a game came in the third when Fred Stanley doubled and reached third with one out. However, L. A. starter Tommy John got Rivers to groonl out and Roy White to whiff to end the scoreless inning.
In the fourth, after Rick Monday walked and Yeager reached base when Bucky Dent made a spectacular stop but pegged the force throw past second. Lopes stepped in against Clay.
This time the 170-pounder, who has averaged just one homer every 33 atbats in the majors, picked on the second pitch and lined it over the 385-foot sign in left center. Lopes' three-run blast made the score 6-0 and gave him five RBI, the same Reggie Jackson had in the final '77 Series game.
Baker was back at work in the next inning. After Cey's infield hit, Baker smoked a hit-and-run liner to right, moving Cey to third. From there he scored on a Clay's wild pitch to make the L. A. lead 7-0.
With his three hits last night, Baker is 22 for 57 in the last two post-seasons.
One Yankee was not about to go home early. Jackson opened the seventh with a swing that made every other blow of the night seem puny. His home run on John's 3-1 pitch was a monstrous blast off the base of the back wall of the Yankee bullpen - about 450 feet.
On Jackson's six homers in his last four Series game, this might have been the longest, although his game five blow here last year and his finale of game six were both in the same tape-measure range.
The old record for homers in four consecutive Series games was five, set by Lou Gehrig im 1928.
Before the seventh inning was over, Dent had singled home two runs to cut the deficit to 7-3.
The Dodgers were hardly finished. They added three runs of their own in the bottom of the seventh as an answer.
After Garvey got his second hit, that man Baker was back, working another perfect hit and run. When pinch hitter Bill North chopped a two-run hustle double over Graig Nestles' head at third, then scored on designated hitter Lee Lacy's ground single to left, the Dodger cascade had reached 10-3.